Road Trip

Where: Chicago

Guide: Richard Melman, chairman and founder of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises Inc., a company that creates, owns, and licenses more than 50 restaurants in Illinois, Arizona, Minnesota, Nevada, Washington State, and Japan. From four-star French cuisine to adult fast food, Melman's eateries are one of a kind.

Fabulous french fries: Doggie Diner on Armitage. Look for the red-and-white-striped awnings.

Best place to take children: The Lincoln Park Zoo, which is one of the oldest zoos in the country and has become a major force in wildlife conservation.

Most famous locals: Oprah and Michael.

Abandon your diet for: Heavenly, buttery, supersized, secret-recipe apple pancakes at Walker Brothers Original Pancake House. Go to the Walker's in Wilmette, on Green Bay Road. Victor and Everett Walker opened this one in 1960, and Vic's son, Ray, owns it now.

Best spot to people-watch while you pump iron: The classy East Bank Club, the best of its kind in the country. Two city blocks and five levels of the ultimate in fitness, and it's always mobbed. There are seven kinds of yoga classes, kickboxing, water aerobics, a quarter-mile indoor track, a fleet of personal trainers -- even a dry cleaner, a kid's activity center, and a car wash in the underground garage.

Fastest route to O'Hare from downtown: If the Kennedy Expressway is really jammed up, take Montrose west to the beginning of Higgins. Follow Higgins to Harlem and then get on the Kennedy.

Don't even think of leaving until: You've seen the Cubs play at Wrigley, walked the Magnificent Mile, tried deep-dish pizza, and set eyes on the city from the Chicago River on a 90-minute Architectural River Cruise.

Women like Chicago because: The men are friendly, the shopping is excellent, and the business climate is first-rate.

Men like Chicago because: The sports are great, the food is fabulous, and the business climate is first-rate.

Biggest surprise: It's not always windy.

The Inc Life

Please E-mail your comments to