2013 International Mr. Leather is just a few days away in Chicago! I am fortunate that IML is held in Chicago and I appreciate that most attendees come here from out of town to make IML such a great experience every year. If you see me and my partner around the host hotel feel free to say hi.
I have lived here all my life (except while I was out of state for college) so I wanted to share some general tips you may find useful while visiting Chicago:
- Arrival by Air:
- O’Hare International Airport – If your entrance to Chicago is through ORD you have a number of options to get down to the Host Hotel
- Public Transportation (via Blue Line “L” and Bus) – If you are traveling with light bags this is your best shot. Click here to see the route I have saved on Google Maps. More information can be found at the Chicago Transit Authority’s Airport Transit Page
- Shared Ride – Airport Express (Offering Discount for IML attendees – just follow the link). I will caution you that traffic on the highway between O’Hare and downtown can be terrible in the afternoon and evening. Especially on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend. It may take 1-2 hours to get from O’Hare to downtown in peak rush hour on May 24th.
- Do not rent a car. It is easy to get downtown from O’Hare via alternate means and parking over the weekend is very expensive. Instead would recommend saving that money and putting it towards some new gear
- Midway Airport:
- Public Transportation (via Orange Line “L” and Bus) – If you are traveling with light bags this is your best shot. Click here to see the route I have saved on Google Maps. More information can be found at the Chicago Transit Authority’s Airport Transit Page
- Shared Ride – Airport Express (Offering Discount for IML attendees – just follow the link).
- Grocery Stores
- Dominick’s – About 2 blocks east of the hotel you will find this full service grocery store. This location is open 24 hours a day and it sells beer and liquor.
- Jewel-Osco – Just 3 blocks west of the host hotel you will find a full service grocery store. This is open 6 am until midnight and it sells beer and liquor.
- Chicago is a city of distinct neighborhoods. There are plenty of neighborhoods to explore but the the ones with the largest gay populations are Lakeview and Andersonville/Rogers Park.
- Boystown is where the gay population of Chicago is centered. While the gay bars certainly extend beyond this boundary take a walk down Halsted St. between Addison St. and Belmont Ave. You can find gay bars in just about any direction within a few blocks of there. There are Redline L stops just west of Halsted on Belmont and Addison. Here are a few bars I would recommend in Boystown:
- Cellblock – Cellblock is a kink friendly bar on Halsted just north of Addison
- Sidetrack – Located on Halsted a bit south of Addison Sidetrack is a good bar to check out; especially if you need a break from IML activities for an hour.
- Roscoe’s – Also located on Halsted a bit south of Addison Roscoe’s is a good bar to meet friends at. If you want you can play pool, dance, or just listen to the music.
- Vic Theater – This theater will hold the IML contest/events on Friday and Saturday. The theater is just a little west of the Belmont Redline stop and a short walk from Boystown.
- Cheesies Pub and Grub – If you need some good greasy food and you are at Boystown head to Cheesies. The restaurant/bar is just a few feet from the Belmont Redline stop and Vic theater so it is in a good location and they serve great grilled cheese.
- Andersonville/Rogers Park – About 6 miles north of downtown you will find the Andersonville & Rogers Park neighborhoods. While the neighborhoods are nice if you are in town for IML I would recommend these are the three locations:
- Other Tips
- Skip Navy Pier – Although Navy Pier is somehow the #1 tourist attraction in Illinois you will find yourself hard-pressed to be entertained there for more than thirty minutes. Navy Pier is a great place for bored families to entertain the kids for a few hours.
- Skip the deep dish pizza – most Chicagoans I know do not actually eat deep dish pizza. I think it is food that was invented for tourists…the only time we eat it is when we have friends from out of town come in and want to try it. If you want some Chicago style food get yourself a Chicago style hot dog or Italian beef instead.
Finally, have fun and play safe at IML! My partner and I will see you there!
Update #1 – My friend (and sub) 31 thought it would be worth mentioning that the Art Institute of Chicago is just a short walk south from the host hotel. He suggested that the weekend patrons would enjoy the look of leather daddies amongst the Monet’s. In all seriousness though, the collection at the Art Institute is excellent