I love Chicago, I really do, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hate it sometimes, too (c’mon, you know what I mean). For me, the animosity starts to creep in around late February, when the thrill of winter is long forgotten and everything’s just … gray. And slushy.

But then, before we know it, the absolute greatest time to be a Chicagoan arrives: summer, when the lake turns a sparkling shade of blue that rivals any ocean, the beaches fill with people, and the city just feels so alive. And for three fleeting months of perfection, we’re willing to put up with a whole lot (read: winter), because summer in Chicago is better than summer in any other city in the world, and there’s nothing anyone could say to convince us otherwise.

This issue is all about celebrating exactly that — the absolute best this city has to offer. We love our annual “Best Of ” competition more than just about anything we do here at Make It Better, because we get to witness the excitement and passion of our audience as they lift up the businesses and organizations they treasure most.

This year, for our “Best of 2018” awards, we changed our approach and opened up the nomination and voting process to be exclusively write-in — making it anyone’s game. Check out the 214 businesses and organizations our readers have named the Best of 2018 in both Chicago and the suburbs. This year’s winners are a diverse group of old favorites and übercool newcomers that could well become your new go-tos.

Celebrating the best of Chicago doesn’t stop there. In every issue, we highlight the travel destinations currently sparking our wanderlust, but when we were preparing this one, we realized if there is ever a time to put away that passport and stay close to home, it’s summer! So trade in that suitcase for a stocked picnic basket and hit one of Chicago’s best beaches. We did the legwork to single out the perfect stretch of sand for every type of beachgoer.

Then, because we want you to spend all summer exploring and finding new ways to experience our city, Executive Editor Cara Sullivan asked influential Chicagoans from the city and ‘burbs to take us through an ideal day in their hoods. Read about three perfect Chicago-area “daycations” (including one in my hometown of Hinsdale).

We hope this Best of Chicago issue, our annual favorite, helps you remember all that’s so sweet about our home all year long. We also highly recommend that you hang on to it and pull out that beach story when you need a reminder come February.

– Brooke McDonald, Editor in Chief

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Brooke McDonaldEditor in Chief of Make It Better, Brooke McDonald is a Chicago native and Northwestern University grad who spent a decade away from home working for O, The Oprah Magazine and Shape magazine in NYC, and getting her master’s degree in English literature and working in book publishing in London. Back home in Chicago, she’s outnumbered by her husband and two boys, and the four of them are certifiable Disney and Star Wars fanatics. Other obsessions include Charles Dickens, wine and authentic Neapolitan pizza. Her favorite cause to support is Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

 

 

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