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09 May 2024
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One of the best things about summer is the great American tradition of road tripping! It's been happening since America came to be. How do you think all those states were discovered?  And it's why stagecoaches were invented!  There are a few infamous bucket list road trips like Route 66 (AHEM, starts/ends in Chicago, people), the Pacific Coast Highway, the Appalachian Trail . . .  And summer is perfect because you can virtually road trip anywhere in the continental US, because inclement weather is usually not a factor. People who are road trip regulars not only see it as more budget-friendly, but also as a nomadic adventure – a chance to be one with the road, the surroundings – and they understand that it goes beyond being a mode of transportation., it's actually part of the adventure!  Even the term "road trip" spells FUN!  For example . . .

Say this out loud "We're driving to Chicago for the weekend". Boring, snoozy, I gotta walk away from you! Now try, "We're Road tripping to Chicago for the weekend" – And suddenly I'm intrigued . . . maybe enough to even ask if there's room for me and my gear!

Immediately you get that this is so much more than rest stops and gas stations ... Fact is, if you do it right, (and have the right company), it can be just as much fun as the destination itself! But, like many things, it entails some intricate thought – strategic planning . . . Take a gander below for some of our best Road Trip tips and ideas for turning it up a notch and getting from point A to point B. 

                                                   1. TAKE THE LUGGAGE, LEAVE THE BAGGAGE 
If you're trippin' to Chicago, there's really no reason to over-pack. We're a fairly casual people! But of course, it all depends on what your plans are. If you're coming to club, then sure, you'll need a different outfit for every night – But one pair of party heels are plenty. Plus, day clothes. If you're hitting the festival scene, figure one outfit per festival – it can get hot and crowded and nobody wants to walk around the second day with a beer splashed shirt! If you're just in to hang, a sundress or ensemble will be just right for day or night. We'd throw in a light sweater or jacket that's universal to everything – because Chicago . . . and a chill can set in when you're not looking! 

                                                                          2.  SNACKAGES
Keep it cool on the road with an awesome cooler to keep your food and drink chill! Igloo is a classic of course and comes in an abundance of sizes and colors. Craft yourself some sandwiches, maybe an awesome board, a pasta salad? Fruit and veggie bags – you name it. And don't forget, the cooler works both ways! Pack up your left-over deep dish after the weekend to chow down when you get home!  It's always nice to take home the taste of Chicago! Wanna keep your beverage stops to a minimum? One word Stanley. Hot or cold . .. Done. 

                                                             3.  BE ROAD TRIP PLAYLIST READY!

Terrestrial radio is great for your commute – but driving in and out of signal areas can be maddening! And if you're into Sirius, well that's cool, but the mood can alter with each song! Let loose, take command, and get into the groove, become one with the road with a customized Road trip Playlist! Follow your usual jam or customize a playlist that feels like FREEDOM! You know, the kind of tunes that drive along with you - propel you to your destination, and leave you feeling revved up for what's ahead – after all, the minute you buckle up, you're on vacation! Suggestions? Sure! Here's some of our top choices!
-    Born To Be Wild by Steppenwolf
-    Send Me on My Way by The Rusted Root
-    Shut Up and Drive by Rihanna
-    Don't Stop Me Now by Queen
-    Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen
-    Dog Days are Over by Florence + The Machine
-    Little Red Corvette by Prince
-    I Will Wait by Mumford & Sons

If you want to switch it up, there are tons of excellent, interesting and entertaining podcasts that you probably already know about. Afterall,  there's a podcast for virtually  every interest and topic. Load ‘em up!
Check out some of Wired's top picks!
-    Tech: Twenty Thousand Hertz
-    Culture: Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard
-    History: Something True
-    Music: Song Exploder
-    Comedy: My Therapist Ghosted Me

                                                                    4. MAKE ROOM FOR FIDO!

Paris is the city of lights, Chicago is the city of dogs – (we tried to get that changed officially, but too many allergy sufferers on the City Council). Jokes aside, many like to share the road trip experience with their favorite companions – But as most dog lovers know, there are some rules of the road to keep your beloved happy and healthy on the trip!
1.    Hydration is key. Be sure to bring bottled water and a collapsible bowl for your pet. Many vets say changing a dog's                   drinking water can cause disruptions in the digestive system.
2.    Nom Nom Nom: Take plenty of treats and dog food along for the ride – You never know if you might get delayed OR                 decide to extend your trip. Being prepared is key for your dog's wellness on the road!
3.    Stretch: Just like humans, dogs need to get out and stretch, feel the wind in their hair . . and relieve themselves. Make             sure to keep this in mind – Even if you're not ready . . . they just might be! 
4.    Better Safe . . . While some dogs are off-leash pros, it's never a good idea to take that concept out on the road. Being               unfamiliar with the territory, unknown distractions . . . best to keep even the best trained doggo's securely on leash for pit           stops.
5.    Some dogs love nothing more than to stick their head out the window and feel the breeze – and we all love to see it!                 Safety tip? Goggles. Truly . . . anything can fly off the road and hit precious in the eye! Plus, it'll be an IG winner as part of         your trip posts!

                                                              5. CONSTRUCTION DISFUNCTION
For all the great things summer is, it's also the Super Bowl of road construction in just about every highway and byway you see. And there's nothing worse than making great time getting to your destination, only to have that time sucked up by road construction! Sure, you can reroute, (we recommend the Waze APP for the source that best gets you around the heavy equipment), but remember, everybody else will be doing the same thing so traffic may still present itself as an inconvenience . . . 
What's another work around? Plan to arrive here during "off peak" hours. Yes, there is such a thing - sort of! If you're coming in for the weekend, try to make it in a day early - Thursday late morning or early afternoon are good alternatives to arriving on a Friday afternoon when the bulk of locals and Trippers arrive. Plus, you get a jump start on the weekend! But if you must wait until Friday . . . again - the immediate hours before and after lunch are your sweet spot!

Some other considerations? Find a point outside the city where the CTA L trains or Metra have stops . . . If you plan it right, you can find parking nearby for the weekend and take the train in! That'll also save you  a lot of dough – re – me on parking in the city! 

                                                                  6. NEED A LITTLE JUICE?
If your ride is electric or hybrid you'll be happy to know that Chicago is PLUGGED IN and CHARGED!  Check out for the closest charging stations – There are over 2,800 spots in and around the city to get the juice . . . including Superchargers! And if you're all petrol? We recommend gassing up once you're outside the city limits for your return home – You'll save yourself some green! 

                                                                          7.  BOOK IT!
People here love to EAT, and Chicago is a city bursting with amazing restaurants from Michelin star establishments to downright delicious dives! But no matter where you go, reservations are always recommended. If you don't do it before you hit the road, this is a great enroute project for your co-pilot.

Make your reservations the minute you know you're coming to town because some places will book months in advance! Of course, that doesn't mean you're totally out of luck. The good news is, with patio season in full swing, it's a lot easier to accommodate more people!  We've taken the liberty to share some of the most recent "BEST OF" lists below to help your decision-making process . . . 
Dig into some of these "best of"  articles we found  by  Chicago food experts – Maybe they'll inspire you!

Best Pizza
The Infatuation published a list of The Best Pizza in Chicago – from deep dish to thin crust to Neapolitan pies, and we agree with every single slice!  

Best Italian Food
When it comes to eating, Eater Chicago knows a few things about that topic! From casual to decadent, their selected best Italian joints will have you eating out of their hands. 

Best Sushi
If delectable raw fish is on your bucket list, look no further than this brazenly delicious Best Sushi list compiled by the Infatuation. That they place Momotaro and Kai Zan at the very top speaks to us . . . And it's saying only good things! Sushi-San made the top three and that's just down the street and around the corner from ACME!

Best Brew Pubs
Now we're talkin'! Choose Chicago put this Best Brew Pubs list together and we have one word to say for it – CHEERS! Def check out Crushed by Monsters Brewing Company – You'll see why . . . plus it's an easy saunter from ACME just off the Mag Mile. And this just in . . . Goose Island Brewery JUST reopened at The Salt Shed, and its fantastic!                                                                              

Michelin Star + James Beard Winners
If you're inspired by the award-winning, streaming-darling, The Bear, and consider yourself a bit of a foodie, you won't want to miss these James Beard and Michelin rated hometown favorites.  There are more stars in these restaurants than there are in the sky! Check out these highly lauded eating destinations next time you're in town.

So there you have it! Some of our best tips for the Road Trip Warrior. If you want to know what's happening in Chicago before your arrival, check out our PLAY page for the 411 on all the special events, shows, concerts happening this summer in Chicago! We can't wait to see you . . . and whether it's on the rode, or here at ACME, we just want YOU to

                                                                         DO YOUR THING!!