When I clicked on "Snifff! 8 great smells," I expected Blommer's Chocolate factory to be at the top of the list. When the wind is right, the smell of fresh baked brownies sweeps through the Loop and River North, a nice contrast to the stink of diesel exhaust (I am assuming Blommer's reopened after being cited for pollution violations -- cocoa particulates floating in the air, yum! -- a year or two ago).
Then when I saw "4 great restaurant bathrooms," I figured that the women's restroom at the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor of the John Hancock Center just had to be on the list. Situated along an outside wall, it offers a breathtaking view of the city (a date invited me in to see it one night when there was no one else around). A tip for Chicago visitors: go to the Signature Lounge instead of the John Hancock Observatory. You get the great view plus drinks for the same price that less-informed tourists pay just to look. Incidentally, the Signature Lounge women's restroom is also at the top of my "blown opportunities for a memorable kiss" list.
The Tribune called for suggestions for other lists. Someone named Helen asked, "How about best places to ride your bike (BESIDES the lakefront)?" Since I have become a preeminent authority on where to ride a bike in Illinois, I had to respond. My book features 21 rides in northeastern Illinois, so I narrowed it down a bit. In no particular order:
- North Branch Trail
- Des Plaines River Trail (Lake County)
- Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve
- Fox River Trail
- Moraine Hills State Park
- Illinois & Michigan Canal State Trail
- Busse Woods
- Illinois Prairie Path
- Salt Creek Trail
- Almost any street at 5:30 AM on a summer Sunday
That leaves out the hardcore mountain biking spots and specific road rides, but I figure most lakefront riders are more interested in bike paths than singletrack or roads anyway. Unfortunately, the Tribune's comment system only allows 300 characters, so I had to cut the last entry and shorten a few others.