Chicago – the land of skyscrapers, famous for the Chicago hot dog (don’t even think about putting ketchup on it), deep dish pizza, blues, and loyal baseball fans. Chicago isn’t exactly known for being a country music city. However, country music takes over this lake-front city when Country Lake Shake comes to town, and thousands of country music fans flock to the windy city.

Chicago is one of our absolute favorite cities in the United States. We’ve put together the ultimate travel guide for first-time visitors. We’ve got a full list of some of our favorite tourist attractions, bars, and restaurants to check out before you attend the festival.

Country Lake Shake isn’t your average country music festival because it’s located in the middle of a bustling city. Be sure to make time to explore Chicago especially, if you have never been before. From amazing restaurants to shopping and sightseeing, there is so much to do in the Windy City!

Tip: Check for deals on Groupon or buy a Chicago City Pass before you purchase tickets to attractions.

Country LakeShake | Festival and Travel Tips

  • Traffic | Traffic in this city is no joke. Make sure you have plenty of time to get to the festival grounds.
  • Food | There are plenty of food and drink vendors onsite, but those can be expensive. Lake Shake allows one gallon bag per person, so consider bringing snacks to help save money.
  • Book early | Hotels in Chicago can be full at any time of the year. From conventions to events and concerts, tourism in Chicago is booming year-round. If you wait until the last minute to book your hotel, you might be far away from the festival grounds or a room might cost you an arm and a leg.
  • No tailgating
  • Ride Sharing | Parking is limited near the festival grounds. We recommend taking an Uber or a Lyft over to the concert.
  • Public Transportation | Chicago has a ton of public transportation options including a shuttle, the L train, and free trolleys. Visit the official festival website for complete information on how to get to and from Country Lake Shake Festival using public transportation.
  • Weather | The weather in the midwest can be unpredictable. If you’re not from the area, you could be in for a surprise. It’s not uncommon for the show to be cancelled because of thunderstorms. Pack a poncho just in a case, and keep an eye on the weather.
  • Safety | Remember, Chicago can be a dangerous city. Be mindful of your surroundings and don’t venture out alone after dark. Here’s a helpful safety guide that breaks down the different neighborhoods in Chicago.
  • What to Wear | Because the venue is located on the lakefront, there is a constant breeze. You might consider bringing a light jacket for night time. Check the weather! For other concert outfit tips, check out our style guide.
  • Festival Must Haves | Don’t forget your festival essentials. We’ve curated a list of our must haves for any country music festival.
  • Lockers | Don’t worry about bringing too much, the festival has lockers onsite available to rent by the day or overnight.

Sightseeing in Chicago

  • Cloud Gate | The mirror bean is one of our favorite landmarks in the country! Get there early to snap a photo without many people around. Don’t forget to walk underneath of it too, it’s pretty cool! Check out the other attractions in the area too, like the Buckingham Fountain and Millennium Park.
  • The Skydeck | If you’re scared of heights, this might not be the best attraction for you. Get a bird’s eye view of Chicago from 103 floors up! Buy tickets.
  • Signature Room | Located atop the John Hancock Center, The Signature Room is one of our must-visit places when we are in Chicago. Visit this one-of-a-kind bar during the day or at night for unforgettable views of Chicago. Note: There is a one-drink limit.
  • Architecture Boat Tour | You need to book this tour! On this 90-minute boat ride, you will discover the unique history behind dozens of beautiful buildings along the river.
  • Wrigleyville | Home to the iconic Wrigley Field, Wrigleyville is a great place to grab a beer!
  • Restaurants & Bars | The list of great restaurants just might be the longest in the country, other than New York City.
    • Gibsons – Holy steak! You have to try a filet pepper crusted, you won’t be disappointed.
    • Lou Malnati’s – Pizza! You can’t visit Chicago without having deep dish pizza. This legendary pizza joint is our favorite place to grab a slice of pie. They don’t take reservations, so be prepared to wait, but trust us… it’s worth it!
    • Portillo’s – Two words… hot dogs. They are cheap and a delicious late night meal after the festival.
    • Hash House A Go Go – Some of the best breakfast in town Portions are big, so you might want to share if you’re not a big eater.
    • Joe’s Seafood
    • RPM Steak
    • Smith & Wollensky
    • Girl & the Goat
    • Bars | Bar hop on Rush Street or have a beer at a local brewery. Eater Chicago has put together a comprehensive guide to touring local brewpubs.
  • The Zoo | If you’re an animal lover, then you will enjoy a trip to the Chicago Zoo! It’s located right in the heart of the city and admission is free!
  • Magnificent Mile | From Nordstrom, to Bloomingdales and H&M, they’ve got everything you can think of on Michigan Avenue.
  • Museums | The Country Lake Shake festival is located next to Soldier Field (home of the Chicago Bears), the Chicago Aquarium, and some some of the best museums in the city!