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Loyola University beach, shore of Lake Michigan, Chicago, in February. Braved the 61 degree weather.
— The Daily Eudemon (@TheDailyEudemon) February 21, 2016

Marie and I spent the weekend in Chicago with our niece, Mary, who's a nursing student at Loyola University.

I went to Chicago a few times with my parents while growing up. I went frequently while at Notre Dame. For the past twenty years, I have often taken advantage of the fact that I live about two hours from downtown, including annual day trips with my children. My law firm has held two planning retreats there, I attended a wedding there, I went to a Cubs game with business associates a few years back, and I once attended a Touchstone retreat there.

In short, I've been to Chicago far more times than I can count. Twenty or so, I'm guessing.

And over the years, I had come to realize something: I'm simply not a huge fan of the Windy City.

But that's my fault. I rarely went outside the downtown area. Whacker to the south; North Avenue to the north, Chicago River to the west. Beyond those contours, I rarely ventured.

I'd grown tired of it. When it comes right down to it, that entire area is a big tourist resort. It's a really cool tourist resort, yes, but still a tourist resort. Locals don't hang out there, not much anyway. I once complained to Mary about it, and she said she agreed. "I rarely go downtown just for that reason. You have to come see me on the north side and let me show you around. You'll love it."

I took her up on it this weekend.

And loved it.

We met her at the Beercade at Sheffield Avenue Saturday afternoon. It was one of the coolest bars I've been to: Expensive drinks, but scores of 1970s-1980s era pinball machines, video games, skeet ball, and domed hockey games . . . all free, as long as you're paying for the expensive drinks (and the drinks aren't more expensive than downtown Chicago prices).

From there, we took the train to Loyola, where we enjoyed its gorgeous campus in the middle of the brutal Chicago winter . . . of sun and 61 degrees. The picture above was taken on the Loyola beach. It's a gorgeous campus.

We then took a short train ride to Andersonville to walk through its quaint neighborhoods and eat dinner. Andersonville is known among Loyola kids as "Lesbian Town." We didn't have any lesbian sightings, but the dinner was great.

And then we went to the highlight of the trip: The Steep Theater, where Mary's boyfriend is performing in the play Posh. The Steep is one of 200 neighborhood theaters in Chicago, and, I'm told, one of the highest regarded such theaters.

I believe it. I was blown away by the performance. I will be blogging more about it later, but if you're in Chicago in March, try to get tickets. You won't be disappointed. The theater, the acting, the plot: 10 (well, the political/cultural slant of the playwright is a bit troubling, so maybe the script itself gets an 8). Warning: The dialogue is filthy, but not without reason. The characters are spoiled English kids at Oxford. Anything less than pretentious vulgarity wouldn't be believable.

Chicago Tribune review of Posh.

Posh, the play, Wikipedia entry. The play, btw, ha been made into a movie, but Mary's boyfriend told me it's horrendous, so don't bother.