Picture: Famous Chicago Babe
Answer: Chicago. Question: What's the best city to be in on the Fourth of July?
Mrs. Linklater is sure that no one will agree with her, but here goes. If you ever have to spend time in Chicago -- and most people she knows do nothing but whine about it [until they get here] -- you couldn't pick a better time than the Fourth of July.
The city gets out its best weather -- polishes off the sun, shines up the sky, and dials the thermometer to around eighty degrees. San Diego should be so lucky.
Where to start -- well you're probably hungry, so there's plenty to eat at the Taste.
Every kind of ethnic food the city is known for is served up hot, cold, sweet, sour, spicy, and fresh for you at the Taste of Chicago for two weeks in Grant Park. With its big finale over the Fourth.
The Taste alone is reason enough to come to town.
While you're standing there polishing off your ribs, chicken and artichoke fritters, get a load of Monroe Street Harbor in front of you. Is that an amazing view, or what?
There isn't another city on the Great Lakes that has done so much to create such a fantastic and accessible shoreline.
[Not to mention the up close and personal views of the cityscape on a boatride down the stylin' Chicago River.]
The shoreline offers twenty miles of take your breath away sights along Lake Michigan, all decked out in its bright blue best for the Fourth.
Boat filled harbors and white sand beaches share space with Chicago's glorious city architecture and manicured parks, [including one for skateboards AND a golf course].
Then there are the family jewels -- Navy Pier, Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, the Planetarium, The Museum of Science and Industry and the only free city zoo -- Lincoln Park -- left in the country. Oops, let's not forget the Art Institute for the culture vultures. Each one of these star attractions is on the lake or an easy walk or ride away.
From north to south, you can cycle, walk, and jog through the miles of parks from one end to the other, if you're so inclined. With the lake on one side and the city on the other.
Maybe unload some of those caloriesyou're chowing down.
At night the view gets all romantic and sparkly when the lights are on. Looking back at the skyline from the Planetarium is never not spectacular. So bring someone to hold hands with.
This week the Mayor even has the moon in town to get you in the mood.
Once you've had a bite to eat, stroll over to Buckingham Fountain -- or come back for the rainbow light show they do at night.
And don't miss the fireworks at Navy Pier every Wednesday and Saturday -- not to mention this coming Sunday on the Fourth. Imagine what it's like to watch the fireworks light up the city from a boat in the harbor.
Mrs. Linklater could do a whole entry on Navy Pier alone. All the restaurants -- fourteen at least -- from takeout Thai to Riva, one of Chicago's finest eateries.
There's also every kind of boat ride -- although Mrs. Linklater recommends a dinner cruise at sunset. The huge ferris wheel has a great look back at the skyline. Kids love the IMAX 3-D theater. Shakespeare has his own theatre here, too -- the list never ends.
And that's just the lakefront stuff. The Cubs are playing their archrivals, the White Sox, this weekend. At Wrigley Field. All games guaranteed sold out for sure -- but you can easily soak up the excitement of their crosstown rivalry in one of the neighborhood hangouts.
You just know a city with two baseball teams would also have two world class zoos. Besides Lincoln Park there's Brookfield Zoo on the southwest side -- an amazing 380 acre habitat experience. From Union Station downtown, it's easy to take an air conditioned trainride out there. Especially with the family discounts.
There's flower power at the Chicago Botanic Garden up north -- walk or enjoy a tramride around its huge landscape. Or push your o-o-o-o and ahh-hh-h buttons as you linger along the lush green paths of the Garfield Conservatory on the west side.
At night there's Ravinia Festival celebrating 100 years all summer long. Where the awesome Chicago Symphony plays during the summer. After a gourmet picnic with friends, Mrs. Linklater sat out under the stars listening to Mary Chapin Carpenter perform last night.
The headbanging bands are rocking at the "Tweeter" on the southwest side in Tinley Park.
But the new rejuvenated Gehry-designed steel bandshell in the loop is the traditional home to all kinds of Chicago free concerts and music festivals. Jazz, blues, gospel, classical, rock n roll -- they've got your favorite tunes covered.
You can also hang with a million Chicagoans at the bandshell on the Fourth. That's where the city does some of its best stuff during the holiday.
There's so much going on this weekend. The whole summer for that matter..
Checkout www.metromix.com. for neighborhood festivals. The local museums. The art galleries. The pubs, playgrounds, parades, and freebies everywhere.
Chicago has always been a shock to anyone who's never been here. The streets are cleaner. The people are friendlier There's theater, music, food, art, film, and a great lake.
It is also the only major city Mrs. Linklater can think of where it is possible to leave the office and walk to the beach for lunch in the summer. She worked in the Hancock building and it was only a block and a half walk to a very nice restaurant right on the beach at Oak Street.
Or if you're not in the mood for a menu you can just grab a hot dog from a vendor, take off your shoes and tickle your toes in the sand.