It’s been two weeks since I got back from Chicago, and I finally found some time to blog about it. I had a GREAT trip! Chicago is a really awesome city and since I was there with some amazing friends, it was even more fun!
I stayed at Hostelling International Chicago. If you’re on a budget when visiting the city, I highly recommend it! The location is perfect… Safe neighborhood in The Loop, close to bus stops, the subway (straight shot to O’Hare), restaurants, shopping, Grant Park, Willis Tower, etc. I booked a bed in the six-person female dorm ($30-$32 a night). The room was spacious and clean and each person had their own locker. The hostel itself was huge! On the second floor there is a lobby with an information desk and the kitchen/dining area where free breakfast is served (toast, bagels, muffins, cheese, cereal, juice, etc.).
I arrived in Chicago around noon on Thursday and walked from my hostel past Grant Park and Millennium Park to Tavern at the Park, to meet my friends for lunch (about 0.8 miles).
Lunch was yummy but a little bit expensive. I had a 312 Urban Wheat Ale from Goose Island Brewery ($6.50) and the southwest chicken sandwich ($15). I also tasted one of Tessa’s duck egg rolls ($12). Everything was delicious!
After lunch we went to Skydeck Chicago on top of Willis Tower, the tallest building in America/the western hemisphere and the third tallest in the world (formerly Sears Tower and formerly the tallest building in the world). Admission was $18 but well worth the price due to the great views and the glass boxes that extend out from the Skydeck. I was too scared to stand in the boxes (fear of heights) but those who weren’t got some awesome photos!!
That night we went to dinner at Cantina Laredo. I had the white honey sangria ($7.50) and tacos de pollo ($12.49). We also had the top shelf guacamole made at the table ($9.99). My drink was too strong and the guacamole was a disappointment (I wish the server would have explained how she was making it or been enthusiastic about it) but the tacos were amazing! They also served chips with two kinds of delicious salsa.
After dinner Tessa and I went to meet David and Craig at a gay bar called Bobby Loves in Boystown and we also visited a gay strip club there called Lucky Horseshoe Lounge. It was a crazy and interesting night! Tessa and I ended up riding the subway back to The Loop at 2:15am, which was a fun experience (and we felt safe the whole time).
The next day Tessa was hungover so I spent the day by myself, which was just fine with me because I’m used to sightseeing solo! First I took the bus to Adler Planetarium because I heard that’s where you should go to get the best photos of the city. The bus passed the Field Museum and Soldier Field so that was cool too. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t great so my pics didn’t turn out so great either. They call it The Windy City for a reason!
I stayed for about two minutes, then hopped back on the bus and headed over to The Art Institute of Chicago ($23). I’m not a huge museum fan but it was raining so I thought why not? I was so glad I did! This was hands down the best art museum I have ever visited in the world (I’ve been to the MOMA, Met, Louvre, etc.). I loved the modern art wing and the Picasso exhibit! I also was really happy to see American Gothic and many of Dali and Van Gogh’s paintings. Tips: Bring cash if you need to check a coat, backpack, etc. ($1 per item). Do not wait in the very long line at the front entrance! (I made this mistake and wasted at least half an hour.) Go around the left side of the building and there is another entrance. Wish I’d known that!
I was starving so I left the museum around 2pm and got lunch at Haifa Cafe right down the street. The chicken shawarma, rice, pita bread, salad, and hummus were delicious!
After a nap, I went back out that evening to see Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park and enjoyed a lovely walk around the area.
Then it was time for the Jackpot Donnie concert at House of Blues! Craig is friends with one of the band members so we got free tickets and got to go backstage and party like/with rock stars!
But the night wasn’t over yet! Tessa and I headed out to F. O’Mahony’s to meet her childhood friend Cameron. We had a drink there and then went to Holiday Club for photo booth fun and dancing.
Saturday we went to a Cubs game! I had never been to an MLB game but it seemed like something you have to do when in Chicago. It was fun!! We bought tickets there, the cheapest they had ($23.50 each with fees). It was Derby Day so they gave all the ladies free hats. We watched the game and enjoyed some expensive nachos and hot dogs. But we left early to avoid the crowds!!
That evening we went to Navy Pier to take Seadog’s River and Lake Architectural Tour (regularly $31.95 but I got tickets on Groupon for $20). It was cold and I think the rest of my group was miserable (especially during the speed boat part around the lake) but I enjoyed the tour and loved taking photos of all the buildings.
For dinner we went to Pizzeria Uno. We had to have some deep dish and this was the place everyone recommended. There was a 45 minute wait but you put in your order when you put your name down and it takes the pizza 45 minutes to cook, so when you are seated your pizza is ready! That was nice but unfortunately, I HATED deep dish pizza! I had the individual size four cheese and pesto ($8.29) but luckily I ordered the Caesar salad too ($6.99) because I only ate a bite of my pizza. You would think it would be hard to mess up pizza, but YUCK! I can’t exactly explain what was so bad about it but the crust just tasted disgusting. I tried the pepperoni and sausage too and that one was just as bad. Oh well!
After dinner Tessa and I went to The Comedy Bar ($18 for four people on Groupon… Beverly and Jo Ellen ended up not going with us). It was fun but we were exhausted so after the show we called it a night. That was the end of the trip for me, as I headed to the airport the next morning.
A few more tidbits about my trip…
I stayed right near the beautiful public library! (Being a librarian, I thought this was pretty cool.)
I bought a three day CTA pass for $9 on Groupon (regularly $20). I used Google Maps for directions and it was super easy to get around! Just make sure to charge your phone!!
Here are the souvenirs I got…