Chicago is a pretty amazing place to be in the summer—so great, in fact, that it’s apparently the second-most popular vacation destination for Chicagoans this summer. Hotel booking site Trivago analyzed hotel searches made by users with Chicago IP addresses for travel between June 1 and August 31, 2014. Its findings are all solid, if not that surprising.
Here are the top four picks, and ideas on what to see and do in each destination.
1. Las Vegas
While the goal has long been to stay on or as close to the Strip as possible, lately it’s Vegas’s off-Strip action that’s generating buzz. Stay at the new Cromwell (from $179), opened in May, in the former Bill’s Gambling Hall at the corner of Flamingo and Las Vegas Boulevard—one of the busiest intersections in Vegas. The 188-room hotel has its own 40,000-square-foot casino and Victor Drai’s Beachclub + Nightclub (which is the Vegas club of the moment), the first-ever restaurant from celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis, Giada), and a complimentary happy hour for guests.
The data isn’t just skewed by suburban Chicagoans wanting a weekend in the city. Trivago’s search focused on IP addresses in Chicago no further than 15 miles to the north or south, and seven miles to the west, with the core of users smack in the middle of the city. These results also revealed that the top three Chicago hotels booked are The Palmer House Hilton, Club Quarters and Hard Rock Hotel. Blame it instead on the boatloads of summer festivals like Lollapalooza, great new hotels like The Langham, rooftop parties and patio dining—basically, the same reasons anyone wants to be in Chicago during summer.
3. New York
A perennial Chicago favorite, NYC is drawing crowds in droves to the eight-acre 9/11 Memorial Museum (tickets from $24 for adults and $15 for ages 7 to 17, and free on Tuesdays from 5 to 7 p.m.), fully opened in May (the New York Times has more). In the Lower East Side, spoon up cool ceviche followed by a Dirty Horchata (a mix of sweet almond milk and Stumptown brew) at Danny Bowien’s Mission Cantina NYC. Stay on Central Park at the eye-popping Viceroy Hotel New York (from $359), designed by the uber creative duo, Roman and Williams, currently at work inside the forthcoming Chicago Athletic Association (opening Spring 2015). From the park, the hotel’s many illuminated windows are said to resemble one giant lantern.
4. Wisconsin Dells
No one can blame you for ditching the hassle and cost of air travel for an easy, kid-pleasing road trip to the Dells. Beyond the fudge, air-brushed tees and over-the-top mini golf courses (we like Pirate’s Cove), check out the new Paul Bunyan’s Northwoods Lumberjack Show. Watch professional and collegiate athletes compete in log rolling, pole climbing and other burly-man contests, then fuel up on family-style spreads and sugar doughnuts at the Cook Shanty also at Paul Bunyan’s. Still in the Dells but set apart on pretty Lake Delton, stay at the 81-room Baker’s Sunset Bay Resort (from $145) and swim in the newly salinized indoor pool.
A note on the survey: Trivago compares hotel prices across some 200 booking sites, including Expedia, Priceline, and Travelocity. The results Chicago shared here are based on “clickouts,” when a trivago.com user with a Chicago IP address clicked a hotel deal on Trivago and exited the site to make the booking via a hotel booking website.
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