Posted September 17, 2010

Hotel Palomar Chicago

Destinations

What are three reasons to love Hotel Palomar Chicago, which opened this spring in the bustling River North neighborhood? Location, location, location. (Okay, that’s one reason; so, to be fair, we can also mention the throwback cocktails and New American food served at Sable Kitchen & Bar, located adjacent to the hotel.)

River North has come a long way since Irish immigrants settled there in the late 19th century, when trains trundled through largely barren streets. A century later, the clean, lively, and decidedly trendy area bursts with renowned galleries, restaurants, bars, and shops.

The neighborhood encompasses nearly half of a square mile. But you don’t need to travel the distance to get a handle on its varied fare. Within just one block of Hotel Palomar, we discovered these treasures.

To the south: thrills of discovery at Jazz Record Mart

Jazz Record Mart – In business more than 50 years, the sprawling shop is all about the thrill of the hunt. Pillage racks of used and new blues and jazz CDs (handwritten poster-board signs navigate the way) with the hopes of falling on rarities, such as a first pressing of the 1957 Art Blakey LP, Ritual ($200). 27 E. Illinois St., 312-222-1467.

After-Words Bookstore – The two levels of bibliophile bliss start with new and used reads upstairs (check the rare book case for an original printing of Jules Verne’s Yesterday and Tomorrow for just $7) and continue in the basement, where a children’s book section keeps little lit lovers entertained. 23 E. Illinois St., 312-464-1110.

Andy’s Jazz Club – The Chicago legend ropes in local and international talent, like Skinny Williams and Scott Burns, for bass-plucking, sax-blaring fun. There are performances in the dark, neon-lit space nightly. 11 E. Hubbard St., 312-642-6805.

Hubbard & State Cigar Shop – Blink and you’ll miss this teeny store, where co-owner Rhoda Bogardus sweetly doles out Padron Nicaraguan cigars. A thank-you letter from Mayor Daley is taped to one of the glass cases, giving everything instant street cred. 6 W. Hubbard St., 312-670-0687.

Marbles: The Brain Store – Try all the noggin’-sharpening games, puzzles, and computer software before you buy. Square Up sliding puzzles, Hive (an insect-themed take on chess), and prettily covered Posh Sudoku books cure the Scrabble weary. 55 E. Grand Ave., 312-494-7769.

Nordstrom – You might already know about the behemoth department store anchoring Westfield North Bridge shopping complex. So let us tell you about its secret weapon: the women’s shoe department, where 50 pairs of Louboutins encourage your wallet to do sinful things. 520 N. Michigan Ave., 312-379-4300.

To book a room at the Hotel Palomar Chicago, visit hotelpalomar-chicago.com.

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