The Perfect J1 Day In…Chicago

Another week, another perfect J1 day.

I am very excited about this one. Having ticked a Perfect Day off our list in San Francisco and Boston it’s time to hit the midwest for a city which exploded in popularity last year. It might have had a little something to do with a certain match against the All Blacks, but we’d like to think that you J1ers just realised how awesome a city Chicago is. This perfect day is gonna take some beating…

Head For Breakfast With A Millenium Park Sunrise and Selfie

Get up outta bed! Lie-in’s when you’re in Chicago are strictly prohibited. There’s too much to do, so get up and get washed and begin your perfect J1 day with your squad in Millenium Park.

Never trust a J1er who doesn’t like pancakes for breakfast. The Wildberry Pancake Cafe is the place to be, their Chocolate Chip Banana pancakes are life-changing.

Via @laura_williams

A reflection selfie underneath ‘The Bean’ is a box which must be ticked, plus the distortion means you won’t need to suck in after the pancakes. Then, head over to North Avenue Beach for some volleyball or just some chilled out beach time as you gaze at the Chicago skyline. Lake Michigan is fresh water and a swim is highly recommended! Bet you didn’t think Chicago was a beach haven, did you?

Optional Extra: The Chicago Skydeck sits 1,353ft (103rd floor) above the city atop Willis Tower and offers a spectacular view of the city. If you’re not a huge fan of heights this is the one to go up, perhaps don’t take on The Ledge though.

Hit Navy Pier For Some Lunch And Some Sunshine

A 3,300ft long pier, invading Lake Michigan is arguably Chicago’s most famous area but ask the locals and they’ll tell you it’s basically Templebar on steroids (tourist trap). Unlike Templebar though, it has a reputation for being a bit ‘cheap’. It’s a 30-minute walk from the park, but unless you’re pressed for time don’t be lazy and stroll it up the Lakeshore Trail.

A revamp was needed and luckily for your perfect day, there has been one. A new Centennial Ferris Wheel opened last year, is now 50ft higher and with aircon in each glass enclosed seats. The food scene on the Pier itself is improving from a pretty modest reputation but this is your perfect J1 day, so head back ashore to Greenriver (Irish nod) for some great food and a stunning terrace view! Save the cocktails for later though, our next stop will require a settled stomach…

Tilt, If You Dare

Ready for some adrenaline and a bit of a scare? Time for Chicago Tilt, the cities coolest (and one of it’s newest) attractions.

You’ll get up to the 93rd floor of the and everything will be fine. Greeted again by Chicago’s stunning skyline, this time you’re heading out over the edge of it, over 1,000ft up…

Admission for both the Willis Tower Skydeck and Chicago 360 (John Hancock Building) are around $20 each and are open each day until 10pm and 11pm respectively. The best time to visit either is in the couple of hours leading up to the sunset. Hopefully, Chicago shimmers under a cloudless sky for the most memorable experience.

Deep Dish Dinner Followed By Music or Basketball

Tired yet? Suck it up, the perfect day in Chicago isn’t finished yet.

You cannot spend a dream day in Chicago without having a deep-dish pizza, it would be rude and foolish in equal measure. You won’t be short on options either but our favourite Italian joint (or chain in this case) is Giordano’s.  Get any deep dish you like, they’re all bravissimo!

Via Giordano’s, Chicago

Chicago’s music scene revolves around Lollapolooza (Aug 2-5 2018) but back in Millenium Park, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion is a stunning open-air modern amphitheatre that can pack 11,000 fans for a wide range of gigs throughout the summer. The best part is, they’re free and (providing you’re 21) are BYOB!

Via @emily_clifford

Alternatively, Chicago is a crazy sports town and the city’s mood is fundamentally affected by the fortunes of the Bulls (basketball, decent but struggling to recapture past glories, the Cubs (baseball, the celebrations from last year’s World Series win was the 6th largest gathering of people in recorded history!) and the Bears (NFL, they try so hard bless em).

Your chances of seeing the Bears in action are zero (lucky you) due to scheduling, and it’s a similar story for the Bulls but Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs will be heaving most of the summer.

If you’ve somehow got energy left, Chicago’s nightlife is awesome with almost too many options! Smart Bar and The Underground are two of our favourites!

Want to compare Chicago to San Francisco or Boston? Then do! Remember, the J1 Basic package is still available from €299 until Dec 15th with Premium now only €399 practically guaranteeing you a summer job. Head to or email 






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