Now that I finished all our Europe trip posts I can finally get to some other travel and adventures!
In the middle of July we made a trip to Chicago for the weekend. Well Eric was actually there for a conference that Monday-Thursday so we decided to also make trip out of it and fly to Chicago Saturday morning to enjoy the city for the weekend and then I would fly back Monday evening after working from the hotel room that day.
We left really early Saturday morning and arrived in Chicago O'Hare a little after 9 (our flight got delayed slightly). I had booked us the 10:30 am Architecture Tour because they said an hour was enough time to get from the airport to the dock where the tour left from (we were going to have to bring our luggage with us). We quickly realized that was not going to be possible as it took a few minutes to figure out where to catch the L, buy our multi-day transit passes, actually depart on the L and you have to switch lines part way there, etc. etc. so during our journey I called and they said we could move to the 2pm slot. Not ideal since we knew it would be hotter but it left us time to go to the hotel and not rush around so we were thankful they could move us.
So we took the L (if you've read other travel posts you know we usually like taking public transportation on trips) and checked in at the Renaissance Blackstone, where those attending Eric's conference had a discount. Although there was no free internet... why for a tech conference would you not insist internet be included or find a hotel that would include it for free... baffling.
After a quick minute of freshening up we walked over to Millennium Park for a bit.
Here is the famous "bean".
We then grabbed the L up to the Grand station to have lunch at Epic Burger on N. Clark St. There are several locations in Chicago.
I read about this place online and they do grass fed hormone free meats and natural products. Their slogan is "a more mindful burger". It was a place where you order at the counter and they bring you your food. It was of course pricier than a fast-food burger place but cheaper than burgers at a restaurant.
And let me tell you they were better than some burgers I've had at restaurants and you didn't feel terrible afterwards. I loved that they had a choice of sizes for the burgers for people like me who cannot eat a giant burger. I had a turkey burger and Eric had an epic burger. Eric got a skinny milkshake which was made with frozen yogurt instead of ice cream and it was delicious. I would love for them to open an Epic Burger in Charlotte!
After lunch it was time to make our way to the docks for the Chicago Architecture Tour. We ran into the Chickfila cow on the way.
The Chicago Line Cruises Architecture tour was on a medium sized two double deck boat that takes you through the waterways that run through Chicago while a very knowledgeable guide tells you all about the architecture, history and other tidbits about Chicago. It was extremely interesting and would be even if you aren't interested in architecture since there is some history and current day info thrown in there plus you get a view you cannot get by walking around. Oh and there is unlimited cookies, water and lemonade. You are about to see waaay too many photos from the tour but none of them have been edited which I am proud of since we were on a moving boat and it wasn't the ideal time of day for photography.
These are parking garages
This is a luxury gym
I wasn't meaning to get the bridge in this photo below but now I kinda like it
I learned all kinds of things I didn't know... for instance Chicago being called the Windy City actually had nothing to do with the weather even though it can get quite windy there.
It was pretty warm out during our tour (in the 90's) so the free water and lemonade came in handy but it wasn't nearly as hot as I've heard Chicago summers can get. Since we had such a mild summer in Charlotte this was the hottest weather we had experience thus far that summer.
Isn't the skyline just beautiful!
This is the boat we went on.
After the tour we relaxed indoors for a few minutes in the tour office. Next I wanted to make a quick stop by the H&M so we walked over to North Michigan Ave.
I didn't find anything but I did spot the American Girl store nearby so of course we had to stop in there. I had several American Girl dolls as a child and just loved them! The dolls I had are no longer made (beside Addy) as they have different ones now. They did have a doll named Emily! There was a section called Archives where they showed all the dolls no longer produced. If it wasn't for Eric's fear of dolls we might have stayed longer.
Next we made our way back to the L and took it to the Wicker Park area. This is a recent up and coming neighborhood of Chicago which cute shops and restaurants. We did some walking around and browsing.
I wanted to eat at Big Star, a cash only taco restaurant that is supposed to be wonderful. Well it must be because the wait was going to be over an hour long and we showed up around 6:15 too. So it is a must do on my next visit to Chicago. We walked a couple minutes to my second choice, Piece, a thin crust pizza place.
You may be wondering why we didn't do Giordano's or Gino's East or Chicago Oven Grinders for traditional deep dish pizza Chicago is known for but I have been to all of those and while they were great wanted to try some place new I read about. Plus it was filled with locals so thin crust in Chicago must not be a sin :)
Piece was crowded but the wait was only 25 minutes. We shared a salad containing crunchy and sweet candied pecans and a sausage and garlic pizza. It was delicious! If you like thin crust pizza, I highly recommend it.
After that the plan was to get dessert and go somewhere to watch the fireworks that are set off on Saturday nights from the Navy Pier. Well on the way back to the L to go find dessert it starting pouring and didn't seem like it was going to let up so we just made our way back to the hotel instead and called it a night. Sadly the fireworks did not happen. Maybe next time...
Stay tuned for Day 2 soon!