20 North Michigan Avenue
With 10 locations in the city and six in the Loop area alone, Caribou Coffee is something like Starbucks—only way better. Where Starbucks is sterile and corporate, Caribou is charming and almost lovable; where Starbucks is forced to re-teach its employees how to make coffee, Caribou serves up brews that are just, well, better. If the promise of caffeine and cushy armchairs isn't enough to lure you and your PhySci study group in, the Turtle Mocha with its caramel drizzle and Snickers bits should be. The Michigan Avenue location is a Caribou highlight—right across from Millennium Park, you can contemplate the physics of your warped reflection (and the 25 other ones that appear around it) in the Bean and sip a Cooler at the same time.
Streets, tracks, and tunnels everywhere
Sure, it rattles, screeches, bumps, and moans, and yes, it has a distinct and not very pleasant odor. But the CTA's fleet of buses and trains is better than you'd think at creating the kind of creaking ambience that's perfect for catching up on the last four weeks of Civ reading before tomorrow's midterm, and you're sure to be stuck on it for at least an hour or two whenever you head north. Besides, CTA president Ron Huberman is a U of C alumnus, and not much tops getting stared down by fellow passengers as you peruse Plato's Republic.
HAROLD WASHINGTON LIBRARY
400 South State Street
Listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's largest public library, the Harold Washington Library, the Chicago Public Library's flagship facility, does the city proud. Boasting free Wi-Fi, some of the coolest roof decorations in Chicago (and this is saying something), and roughly three gazillion volumes, this is the place to go if the Reg fails you. Don't miss the ninth floor's Winter Garden, whose olive trees should be more than enough to bring out the ancient Greek in you.
1745 West Division Street
When the weather's nice and you feel up to the trek to the Bucktown/Wicker Park area, not a lot can beat Starfruit. Pick up some kefir—a frozen yogurt-esque treat that's slightly more sour and a lot better for you—with fresh fruit inside the shop, then cruise out back to grab a seat on the lovely brick patio. Enjoy the New Age music and let the gurgling of the fountain bring your mind from Sosc to zen and back again.
141 West Jackson Boulevard
Many an academic has turned to the bottle, seeking in its treacherous depths anything from inspiration to comfort. If Rockstar, Reg cubicles, and the soulless depths of Crerar fail to stir your working spirit, those of age might consider a jaunt to Ceres Café in the South Loop. While Ceres serves standard restaurant fare like tacos and pizza, it is its mixed drinks that give it its singular reputation: Drinks are typically served as a glass filled to the brim with the poison of choice and a can of soda on the side. Your liver won't thank you and several online reviewers note that Ceres is a bad habit at best, but you may find that the budget-friendly café has that je ne sais quoi that the A-level lacks. As the great Hunter S. Thompson once said, "I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me."