We departed Richmond last Wednesday morning for Chicago & things got off to a great start when we realized that our neighbor, Diane, who is a flight attendant, was servicing our flight to Chicago. No kidding...we couldn't believe our luck! We took this as a sign of good things to come.
And boy were we right. We landed at O'Hare early...imagine that. And we'd heard nightmares about having to deal with the crowds & complexity of O'Hare, but we found getting to baggage claim a breeze & after a quick call to our car service, our driver, Al, pulled up at the front doors of the airport & whisked us off to the city.
We arrived at our hotel in the Loop, the Wit, a little before 10am & although check-in isn't normally until 3pm, they had a room ready for us to get right in to. Now, I had poured over photos of our hotel online for weeks, but I never expected us to get a corner room, so imagine my excitement when I saw these views from our hotel room:
We did a little exploring of our immediate area, which included scoping out a place to get a real Chicago hotdog & a little shopping at the original Marshall Field's, now known as Macy's. Then we met up with Chris's college roommate & our great friend, Lou, to hit up Wrigleyville for a Cubs game.
You know the saying "When in Rome, do as the Romans do"?? Well, we adapted the attitude of "When in Chicago, do as the Cubbies do" & it served us well! After purchasing some authentic Cubs gear & having a bite to eat at Casey Moran's, we headed in to see the second oldest ballpark in the country (next to Fenway Park). Lou scored us some amazing seats (thank you so much Lou!!) & we settled in for a great game against the St Louis Cardinals.
We quickly learned that Chicago's weather has a mind of it's own & can change on a dime. Crazy dark clouds rolled in behind us & before we knew it the wind picked up & the rain started coming down. We took cover (with about 400 other people) in a tunnel right behind our seats to wait out the rain. But it rained & it rained & it rained. We made the call to head out before the mass exodus, but atleast we can say that we saw a game at Wrigley Field. By the way, the game resumed after a rain delay & the Cubs went on to beat the Cardinals 11-4 while we paid a visit to the hotel bar for a nightcap.
Thursday morning the sun was out once again & the weather was perfect...upper 70's. We got breakfast at a well-known, tucked away spot on Wabash called Heaven on Seven. And OH MY GOSH did it live up to it's name!! Let me just tell you, the Bloody Mary's there are NO joke! And the food was devine!! It was exactly the fuel we needed to shop Michigan Avenue for the next 7 hours. I found out why they call it the "Magnificent Mile"...and it's not just because of the Tiffany & Co, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's and Neiman Marcus (which were all quite nice), but it's also because this is the sight of the city during the middle of May when all of the tulips are in bloom:
That night we hit up the popular Lou Malnati's for the infamous deep-dish pizza...mmmmm:
Then it was on to the Willis Tower (aka Sears Tower) to take in the city's skyline at night. After a quick & ear-popping elevator ride to the Skydeck on the 103rd floor, the tallest building in the United States (thanks to the two antenna on top) provided quite the thrill, especially to those who dared to step out onto one of the glass ledges that jut out 4 feet from the western facing side of the building. Yep, I did it! That first step out was a little intimidating & I definitely had that gut-dropping feeling of wondering if my feet were ever going to make contact with anything other than the air below the glass! And this is coming from a girl who has ZERO fear of heights!!
Then we finished off an amazing day by listening to a little live music in the lobby of our hotel. It was the perfect end to a perfect day.
Friday morning started off gorgeous. We walked to Millenium Park to see the Cloud Gate (affectionately known as the Chicago "bean"), the Pritzker Pavilion, the Lurie Gardens & the BP Bridge. We made our way over to Lakeshore Drive for a quick look around just as some low-lying clouds rolled in & the temperature plummeted about 20 degrees within an hour. It didn't stop us from enjoying an al fresco lunch at Tavern at the Park...this also happened to be my favorite meal in Chicago...
We ventured back to our hotel to grab our jackets, then we hit Michigan Avenue again to purchase a few things that we had taken the night to "sleep on." We wrapped up the afternoon by taking a famous Chicago Riverboat Archictectural tour...a chilly one at that!! But it couldn't rain on our parade. At this point, Chicago had been so good to us that it could have dumped 4 feet of snow on us & the perma-grins we had on our faces would have remained. There is only one way to see this city in all of it's glory & that's definitely by riverboat. Just take a look at these views:
To be quite honest, I almost completely ran out of gas at this point. I would have been content with ordering room service, but Chris encouraged me to rally back, so that we could enjoy one more dinner in the city. We didn't venture far though, just down to one of the hotel restaurant's, State & Lake, for a little surf and turf, then up to the rooftop bar for the sights & sounds of Chicago's nightlife. No one had to sing me to sleep that night, I'll just say that!
Our final morning we headed back to Heaven on Seven for one last heavenly dish & one more heavenly Bloody Mary! A few last minute shopping opportunities & one Starbucks coffee later, we were getting in the back of our car headed back to O'Hare for the journey home.
Chicago, you kept it "real"...we got to experience everything that this amazing city is known for...from Wrigley Field to the Magnificent Mile to the Chicago River to the crazy, unpredictable weather. We'll be back again one day. Thanks for the memories!
To make sure that you guys could experience our vacation along with us every step of the way, I tried to video & tweet as much as possible. I compiled some "snippets" into a little tour before our video camera died on us during the riverboat tour. Hope you enjoy...
I'd love to hear from you if you've ever been to Chicago. Let us know what your favorite thing to do/see there is, because we'll put it on our list for trip #2.