CHICAGO DAY TWO

You'd better get started if you're going to search for Chicago's best pizza, which everyone in this city has an opinion on. Here's a short locals'-favorites list:

Nino's Pizza (4835 West 111th Street, Alsip, 708-423-9100)

Palermo's Pizza (3751 West 63rd Street, 773-585-5002)

Home Run Inn (4254 West 31st Street, 773-247-9696)

Arrenello's Pizza (325 East Glenwood Lansing Road, Glenwood, 708-758-6160)

Phil's Pizza (8932 Ridgeland Avenue, Oak Lawn, 708-599-4747)

Joe's Italian Villa (8807 South Harlem Avenue, Bridgeview, 708-599-1431)

Louisa's Restaurant (14025 Cicero Avenue, Crestwood, 708-371-0950)

For working off all that pizza sampling, Foster Avenue Beach (5200 North Foster Avenue, 312-742-5121) is tops for its typically uncrowded bike and in-line skating paths, free parking, and a beach house - not to mention an indescribable view of downtown. Northerly Island (1400 South Lynn White Drive, 312-745-2910), a 91-acre park, is also a haven for bikers and walkers. In the warm months, the park's outdoor Charter One concert pavilion is one of the best concert venues in the city.

Chicago also boasts some great one-of-a-kind boutiques, perfect for browsing or for finding little homecoming gifts. Stroll and shop along the Magnificent Mile (on and around North Michigan Avenue from the Chicago River north to Oak Street), the Rodeo Drive of the Midwest. Ladies can set their own fashion trends after a visit to Jade (1557 North Milwaukee Avenue, 773-342-5233), and men will find upscale denim to suit any style at Jake (3740 North Southport Avenue, 773-929-5253).

Other city secrets include Valhalla Wine Shop (3317 North Broadway, 773-296-6800) on the lakefront. The shop looks like it could be an art gallery, with bare walls and a huge wood table-setting with bottles of wine taking center stage. The best part is that many of the wines are well within reach (price and palate) of most wine drinkers. And with more author readings than just about any other bookstore in the city, Barbara's Bookstore (1218 South Halsted, 312-413-2665) is a locals' favorite that'll make you feel like one of the literati.