Hi there everyone – I am posting this from Chicago, where I come every year around this time to enjoy all the diverse offerings of this great American city.

I planned this year’s trip around the Gold Coast Art Fair which is being held today and tomorrow in Chicago’s glorious Grant Park – between the world class museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the picturesque splendor of Lake Michigan. I visited the Art Institute yesterday and am pleased to say it was as wonderful as ever – and I visited my friends, the iconic lions who stand guard at the museum’s Michigan Avenue entrance.

In the coming days I will be sharing details of my trip and all my Chicago “finds” – so stay tuned. Meanwhile, today I will be heading to the Gold Coast Art Fair and Randolph Street Market.

Here’s a little primer of the Art Fair and a couple of Chicago’s street markets…

Gold Coast Art Fair

CGAFAbout the Gold Coast Art Fair: “The Gold Coast Art Fair, the ‘Granddaddy of American Art Festivals’, returns to Grant Park’s Butler Field, at the corner of Monroe and Lake Shore Drive, with more than 350 artists from around the world. Currently rated as one of the top 30 juried art festivals in the country, the Gold Coast Art Fair attracts hundreds of thousands of art enthusiasts annually. Extraordinary artwork of all mediums is offered at the Gold Coast Art Fair with prices ranging $25 to $25,000. Many activities such as artist demonstrations, live music, and fun art projects make the Gold Coast Art Fair a great way to spend the day!”

The 2013 Gold Coast Art Fair will be held June 29 – 30, 10am-6pm in Chicago’s Grant Park.

Randolph Street Market

RSMAbout the Randolph Street Market: “The Randolph Street Market Festival is home to the world-renowned Chicago Antique Market, Indie Designer Market, Modern Vintage Chicago and the Holiday Market. As seen in Travel & Leisure, the NY Times, Lucky Magazine and featured on TV news shows and web casts, the Randolph Street Market Festival is considered “a mecca of cool”, ‘the best hot spot for antiquing’, ‘the best Chicago venue for people watching’, and ‘the Barney’s of Vintage’. Celebrity designer Nate Berkus says, ‘I love this market…the quality is incredible!’ As one of Chicago’s most happening monthly parties, Randolph Street Market has become the summer destination! This European-style, indoor-outdoor urban antique market in the historic West Loop neighborhood features 200 select purveyors of high quality, amazingly priced ‘finds’, offering unlimited creative inspiration and hours of fun. Shoppers can find furnishings, vintage clothing, jewelry, collectibles, etc.”

The Randolph Street Markets are held one weekend a month – check here for a schedule.

Maxwell Street Market – Sundays

Meanwhile, down scale from the high-end annual Art Fair and the hipster cool Randolph Street Market, is the weekly Maxwell Street Market – a Sunday Flea Market that runs the gamut from household goods to vintage items to new arts and crafts. More than just an urban swap meet, the Maxwell Street Market is the legacy of an old world market held in this area for decades and still features produce and tons of food stalls – some touted by real foodies.

Maxwell Street Market runs Sundays 7am-3pm – more info here.