THE BLOG
08/20/2010 08:15 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Perfect Day in Chicago, POTUS-Style

Don't worry this is a Chicago story that has nothing to do with Blago. Every year for my birthday I have a tradition of taking a trip. Nothing too extreme like Eat, Pray, Love but just a quick getaway for a change of scenery. The only guidelines are that it can't be too far away from New York and the destination must be dog-friendly as I take my dog Z. with me.

This year, inspired by President Obama, I decided to head to Chicago for the perfect birthday that would make anyone very happy.

The place to stay in Chicago is the Trump International Hotel & Tower. It just won the "Best Large City Hotel in the U.S. and Canada" by Travel + Leisure. The award is well-deserved and the hotel is unreal. Besides the spacious rooms and views it's extremely pet-friendly.

To get your culture fix you must go to The Art Institute of Chicago and its Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century exhibition. The exhibit runs through October 3rd, 2010 and is worth a visit especially if you like photography. The exhibit is extensive so you will need a few hours and you will definitely work up an appetite. I suggest breaking up the exhibition and stopping for lunch at Terzo Piano, which is on the third floor of the Modern Wing of the Art Institute. Chef Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia runs the restaurant. It's definitely the kind of restaurant the Obamas would dine at, especially because Spiaggia is one of their Chicago favorites. At Terzo Piano the food is all local, sustainable, organic and delicious.

For the perfect dinner you can't top Graham Elliot. POTUS dined there for his birthday with Oprah and Gayle King for a 3-hour dinner. It is the yuppiest restaurant I have ever been to in my life. It's Chicago's first "bistronomic" restaurant, which means its creative modern food served by waiters clad casually in jeans and t-shirts. It's fun menu is filled with items like a deconstructed Caesar salad with a brioche twinkie. It's funny, when I went there for my birthday I thought I would be the only one and it would be cool to celebrate like POTUS. While it was a festive night it felt like everyone had the same idea, as there were many other birthday dinners in the restaurant. Of all the possible birthday dinner choices that I'm sure POTUS had, Graham Elliot was modern and low-key and it says a lot that he celebrated there.