So Chicago, my home for the last almost 48 years. My two older children lived here and my three younger ones were born here. I had know intention of staying this long, my business (radio) has a tenancy to make one a bit transient, however, have been lucky to stick around and I’m still lovin’ my adopted home. I guess I’m not the only one!
Chicago has been crowned the country’s Best Big City for a record third year in a row in the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards. The Best Big City category is a relatively new addition to the travel publication’s long-running readers’ choice awards, now in their 32nd year. New York City won top honors when the category first debuted in 2015, and the Big Apple repeated its win the following year. Chicago nabbed the title in 2017 and hasn’t let go since. Condé Nast Traveler reported an unprecedented number of responses from more than 600,000 readers around the world who cast their online ballots for the 2019 awards, announced Monday. Readers weighed in with their picks in an array of categories, from best cities and countries to favorite airlines, trains, cruise lines, resorts and hotels. Condé Nast called the city a “world-class destination known for its impressive architecture, first-rate museums, brilliant chefs, and massive brewing scene,” adding that it’s full of “some of the most pleasant people you’ll find anywhere.” Another Midwest metropolis came in second place: Minneapolis. Condé Nast praised it for having one of the best park systems in country, a robust culinary scene and “that whole, ‘Minnesota nice’ thing.” (Apparently kindness goes a long way with Condé Nast, and apparently the Midwest has a lot of it.)
Rounding out the list of 10 Best Big Cities is Boston (No. 3), New Orleans (4), Washington, D.C. (5), San Diego, California (6), New York City (7), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (8), Honolulu, Hawaii (9) and San Antonio, Texas (10).
Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the city’s tourism bureau, Choose Chicago, were quick to react to the glowing news. “This wonderful recognition not only reflects the beauty and excitement of our great city but also our tourism industry’s dedicated efforts to attract people from across the country and around the globe,” Lightfoot said in a press release that noted a strategic decision three years ago to focus on drawing more leisure travelers and overnight visitors from major feeder markets across the U.S.
“To be selected now for a third year in a row speaks volumes about the kind of city and destination that Chicago is and the incredible potential that we have to further build on our emerging reputation”.
Despite the city’s well publicized reputation for gun violence, Chicago tourism has shown no signs of slowing down in recent years. Annual visitor projections released in early 2019 by Choose Chicago recorded an unprecedented 57.6 million visitors in 2018 a 4.3 percent jump over 2017’s record of 55.2 million.
Thanks to Lori Rack. The Tribunes Travel Editor.