Bold architecture? Delectable food? Astonishing art? Chicago, one of the largest cities in the states, has it all.
I’ve been looking for a chance to explore this city, and when I saw flights* for less than $100 round-trip (on a holiday weekend!) I took it.
I left Thursday, September 1st and returned Sunday, September 4th. During my stay, my friends Shawna & Shelly were kind enough to let me stay at their apartment that they just recently moved into.
Here’s what I experienced in my short time there:
First experience on the ‘L’
**The transit system- easy to use, only $20 for a 3-day pass (purchased from O’Hare station) and quite convenient.
A run on Lakefront trail
I convinced Shawna to squeeze in a 2.5 mile run early in the morning. Loved this view!
While I didn’t catch a game here, I could feel the atmosphere from outside the stadium. Cubs fans and gear everywhere!
Views from the Skydeck (Willis Tower)
The lines were absolutely terrible, but the view beneath my feet made it all worth the experience.
Chicago style hot dogs at Portillo’s
We got the tip that this local chain was the place for Chicago style dogs, and not only that, but they had delicious chocolate cake- plus it was all very affordable and had a very retro vibe!
Obviously, this was an event we didn’t plan. Shortly after we left Portillo’s, Shawna received an e-mail about a fraudulent charge on her card. Somehow, someone had gotten her wallet. The next couple hours were spent cancelling her credit and debit cards and accounting for everything that would need replaced. It was stressful, but it could have been much worse. Besides, what’s the full city experience without a little chaos?
Did I mention I love these colors? I could take my lunch break along the river any day.
Deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati’s
***Honestly think I am going to crave this delicious, heavenly pizza for the rest of my life.
Another must after a long day of walking. Shawna had this in her fridge, and I was a big fan. Spiced with coriander & orange peel.
For a holiday weekend + Lobster fest going on, this place = absolute madness. However, the crowds were no match for the views of this landmark.
I picked a great weekend to visit- the jazz festival was going on downtown and we caught a captivating performance in Millennium Park.
Lincoln Park Zoo is an incredible place to visit if you have kids, as it’s FREE! We walked through Lincoln Park to the beach.
The contrast of the sand & water with the city skyscrapers in the background was incredible to me. And as you can see, I was really enjoying the weather!
Because sometimes you have to treat yourself! This place was adorable, complete with swings for seats. May I present to you: The Ron Bennington, Blueberry Cheesecake, and Peach Cobbler cupcakes.
Tons of sculptures, cool architecture, and mesmerizing art. This is where a lot of concerts & large events are held.
Jumping for joy because I love this city!
Caught this right as the sun was reflecting off the buildings. An incredible ending! This is one of the largest fountains in the world.
I tried really hard to convince the manager to give me the hook up, since the hotel and I share a last name, but he wasn’t having it. He did, however, show us the crystal ballroom where there was a wedding going on. Beautiful, historic hotel.
Okay, people. I really loved this place. A wide variety of flavors, old fashioned charm, etc. The donuts were scrumptious, but don’t inhale them and chug your coffee like I did. Also, maybe avoid diabetes and get one donut like a normal person?
*Fly Frontier or Spirit– If you are flying into Chicago, look for cheaper flights on these airlines. If you can do it, only bring a backpack. I flew Frontier and they charge for carry on and checked bags, but a backpack that fits certain restrictions is free. If you’re only there for a short time, it’s all you need!
**Get the Ventra 3-day pass at the O’Hare airport. I only paid $20, and was told that anywhere else, they charge you for the $5 card fee. This lets you take both the L and the buses an unlimited number of times in that 72 hour period.
***Don’t be afraid to talk to locals. I would have gotten so lost if I didn’t ask someone for help, and we would’ve missed out on a lot of great spots if we didn’t take our new friends up on their recommendations. (Obviously, use common sense and your gut instinct when it comes to your safety to avoid any dangerous situations.)
So there you have it. There is PLENTY more ground to cover whenever I visit again, but this little getaway was all kinds of perfect.
Have you been to Chicago? What did you love/do/see/eat? Let’s hear all about it!