I’m sorry, Dallas, I spent the weekend in Chicago and simply fell in love with her. Just like those who have gone before me, I became infatuated with the intoxicating grandness of her architecture, mesmerized with the uniform hustle and bustle of her people, drawn in by the simple beauty of the river, the lake, the ability to walk, bike, or train to any destination…
And the homes, OH!, the homes. They are spectacular. I’m not sure if we love the street for the same reason but as Frank Sinatra sang, “oh State Street, that great street….” Well, it really is a great street (complete with original playboy mansion). And the trees make everything even that much more gorgeous.
ALL the streets are great, really. Astor Street is another fantastic one to walk down. Worn, exposed brick and limestone, ornate windows, unique roof lines, all connecting and different… fabulous stoops and doors and I wish I had taken pictures but I was too caught up in the moments to stop gawking and staring up.
I love Chicago.
The things that I LOVED doing/seeing in Chicago:
- Brunch at Little Goat Diner – We couldn’t have asked for a better suggestion (thanks, Tor!) for a place to brunch after a late night and early flight. Their creative but classic menu will have you warm and fed and ready for your day in no time.
- Doing the dorky tourist thing and taking a picture or a hundred by and in the Bean.
- First Lady Architectural Boat Tour – This is a must do for any borderline or full-blown geeks out there. You get to spend an hour and a half huddled on a pretty boat floating down the teal blue river, listening to a quirky, knowledgeable guy tell you the history and design of each tall work of art. But your experience doesn’t end when the boat docks. We did this on our first day in Chicago and spent the rest of the trip craning our necks and reminding one another of the significance of the buildings as we passed them on our way to other adventures. Very fun! Bring coat and gloves, and moolah for drinks.
- Chicago Food Planet Food Tour (Gold Coast & Old Town Neighborhoods) – We had the best time gallivanting around these two neighborhoods. Our guide (Amber) was a cute, quirky, tiny bundle of energy, creating a wonderful experience for us as we noshed our way through Lou Malnati’s, TeaGschwendner, Kamehachi Old Town, The Fudge Pot, Old Town Oil, The Spice House, and Delightful Pastries. If you have time, absolutely do one of the Food Planet tours while you’re in the city.
- The Second City’s 103rd Mainstage Revue – So hilarious, so fun. I typically go to sleep between 9:30 and 10pm but had absolutely no trouble staying out and about until 2am at this show because they kept me rolling in laughter. I wish I was quick on my feet and clever and smart and witty like them. It was super impressive and entertaining. Plus, maybe we’ll see them all on SNL and beyond someday like the greats who went before them!
- Lounging and shopping in The Gold Coast neighborhood – Find a great, relaxing seat at Whisper’s Café, grab a drink (to watch football while the girls are shopping, if you’re the boys in my family) or some really amazing-looking food at Hugo’s Frog Bar, and most importantly…
- Eat massive amounts of pizza at Lou Malnati’s, right down the street.
- Chowing down on dogs and burgers at Flub a Dub Chubs after…
- Seeing all there is to see at the Art Institute of Chicago.
- Garrett’s Popcorn! I am not the biggest popcorn fan but this stuff is addicting. My dad told me a story from his last trip to Chicago with my mom where they were leaving to head to the airport, walked all the way to the train with luggage and all, and discovered he had left the Garrett’s in the hotel room. He left my mom with the bags at the station to rush back to the hotel to get the popcorn. It’s that good. (Don’t worry, they made they’re flight.) Another story: the only thing my pregnant friend, Katie, wanted me to bring her back from Chicago was this popcorn. So you should probably eat it while you’re there.
- Eating at Bandera – Live jazz, cozy, private tables, heart-warming wine and giant loaves of cornbread… Yes please! We ate here our first night and absolutely loved it.
The things I did NOT love doing/seeing in Chicago:
- Walking ALL. the. way. to Wrigley Field and it was under major construction. No cool pictures were taken. Womp.
- All of the fountains were off for the fall/winter freezes. This includes the cool spitting one in Millennium Park, the Crown Fountain…all of them. It’s not a huge deal but…bummer. We’ll just have to go again in the warmer months!
- Feeling dumb thinking we could get to the top of Trump Tower (my bad). The swanky, modern bar there is only on the second floor and cocktails are around $15 a pop. No thanks. Next time maybe we’ll pay to get up to Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower). But maybe not. We’ll see. Worth it?
We did not do a whole lot of resting during our short spurt in Chicago but it was SO worth it. It was just the best birthday weekend for me and my dad. We haven’t had a ton of time to spend with just our little fam of five lately and that was incredibly refreshing. It was also really cool for Brent to get to be there and for my family to get to know him better, and visa-versa.
I’m thinking for next time…week long beach trip? Sound good, mom? Please and thank you. 🙂
and so it goes,