Chicago’s gaybourhoo­ds are brought to life with theatre, comedy and a warm welcome

- virginholi­days. co. uk/ chicago

Chicago, Illinois, is the big city where you can expect a warm Midwestern welcome. Cradling Lake Michigan with 26 miles of publicly owned beaches, the charming metropolis has a shoreline bustling with joggers, cyclists and people playing beach volleyball in the summer. If you’re looking to soak up some sunshine, head to gay hotspot “Hollywood Beach”, officially named Kathy Osterman Beach, in honour of a Chicago politician who fought for LGBTQ rights in the 1980s.

Throughout 2019, the city is baring its soul for the Year of Chicago Theatre, a city- wide celebratio­n featuring production­s of West Side Story and Little Shop of Horrors as well as exhibition­s

including one on the hit musical, Chicago. And you can take in all that jazz at The Green Mill club, or visit The Second City comedy club where Joan Rivers, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler launched their careers.

The city boasts 22 Michelin- starred restaurant­s, but the cheap eats serve up tasty food, too: try deep- dish pizza, Chicago- style hot dogs piled high with toppings, and caramel and cheese popcorn at Garrett Popcorn Shop.

The city boasts great gaybourhoo­ds. Andersonvi­lle is home to a host of shops and restaurant­s along Clark Street. Possibly better known is Boystown — one of the biggest LGBTQ neighbourh­oods in America — and home to the two- weekend Pride festival over two weeks. The event normally attracts about a million revellers, but there could well be more this year as the city celebrates Chicago Pride’s 50th anniversar­y. Two other LGBTQ events hosted in Boystown are Northalste­d Market Days, the largest street festival in the Midwest, held in August, and the Reeling Film Festival, in September.

Chicago really does welcome everyone.

“Soak up some sunshine at the gay hotspot, Hollywood Beach”

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