We may have had blisters all over our feet, muscles more reminiscent of eighty year olds, and hardly any sleep – but we made Chicago ours. I wish I would’ve had a fitbit to tell you exactly how much we walked but I’d put a rough estimate on about 20 miles. In only 48 hours too! That’s pretty impressive, but we wanted to make the most out of our quick trip to Chicago.
During the trip we only took two pictures together the entire time. I’m bad at taking pictures when I’m actually in them. I need to try harder on that. Here’s the airplane selfie we sent to the other cousins before takeoff. No, we didn’t intentionally match and actually didn’t even realize we had done that until I was editing pictures. Sorry for not the greatest picture quality, Apple really needs to work on their forward facing camera.
We stayed in the heart of the city right off Magnificent Mile. It has incredible architecture of old more gothic styles and new feats of technology everywhere! About every 10 feet or so I had to make Joe stop so I could admire all the tiny details of the buildings. I’m a huge architecture nerd! (I even have an architecture tag on my Tumblr where I just geek out about the world’s finest displays.) At least half of my pictures that weren’t our food tour was the architecture of Chicago around Magnificent Mile.
The shopping though! Magnificent Mile (Michigan Avenue) is definitely the Chicago mecca for shopping. I was overwhelmed with the wide variety of stores. The neatest thing? They were all three to five stories tall. How cool is that? Michigan Avenue was dangerous for my wallet as it had H&M, Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, American Apparel and my favorite Topshop! Seriously why do we not have one of those at the Mall of America! The store that took the cake was the five story Burberry though. First, because it was Burberry and my rich heart desires to own it all one day. The real reason was the building had this incredibly visual black and sleek luminescent checkered pattern covering the entire outside. At night different parts would light up. It was gorgeous and I was fascinated by it. We may have taken more than a few selfies and pictures in it. I enjoyed how you could see the older buildings meeting the newer building in one frame. Transcendental, I know.
We got up bright and early at 6am on Sunday morning so we could trek to The Bean before it got packed. I’m so glad we did! It made the entire experience and thereby our pictures so much better! That would be my one tip for any of you readers. There were two other people and one security guard around when we went. By the time we were done eating breakfast by 9am it was swarming with people. Who wants a bunch of randos in their pictures?
Being up so early means we crossed The Chicago River during sunrise and it was gorgeous. Serene and peaceful. The quiet of the city was very calming and rare in a place as big as Chicago.
The Art Institute of Chicago
One of our musts was The Art Institute of Chicago. Coming from our family we are all art nerds, but after hearing it was fan voted as the best in the world – I had to see if it held up to the test. It was cool seeing all of the most famous and my favorite artists from Picasso to Matisse, to an entire room of Monet. Joe thought it was pretty neat seeing all the big name works of art that he had grown up seeing in textbooks. I was a rebel and took a few pictures, but the guards didn’t catch me so bringing it back to the joke catch phrase of yesterday, yolo?
Chicago Cultural Center
Do you ever have those moments when you’re traveling where you find yourself completely struck with awe? Entering The Chicago Cultural Center and seeing the largest stained Tiffany glass dome ceiling in the world is one of those moments. I have no words over how absolutely gorgeous it was. Joe and I sat and stared for quite some time taking in all the intricate beautiful details. The parts of the building that aren’t Tiffany glass are marble and it’s just a pretty sight. You MUST see this in person if you have the chance! I wonder if you could have your wedding there. It would be the perfect backdrop. They had quotes about the importance of literature and books in various languages printed in mosaics scattered in the marble everywhere too.
Sears Willis Tower
I’m going to tell you that Apple maps suck. Don’t ever trust them. They screwed us up multiple times. Which normally is frustrating, but not too bad. When it’s -10 degrees and it’s freezing it’s really damn unfortunate. Fun fact: your iPhone also will die within a few seconds of being out in that temperature. Thank god I have a decent memory and sense of direction from briefly looking at a map or else we’d probably still be lost in Chicago. Once we finally got to Sears, I mean Willis Tower (It will always be Sears Tower, Ferris Bueller said so) I wasn’t quite sure what we were getting into with the skydeck. What a view! They had interactive videos showing you in comparison to Chicago’s biggest landmarks just how high up you were going to be. 103 stories to be accurate. The elevator ride up tells you as you ascend what you’re now up higher than. The only thing I really disliked is they cram as many people as possible in the elevator and it’s a bit uncomfortable, but the building being in such high demand I guess I get it. Back to the view. We went at sunset (definitely a must-do if you can as you get various views of the city in daylight and nightlight) and it was beautiful. It felt surreal being up that high over Chicago. Before I got to the skydeck I wasn’t sure if I would want to or be able to go out onto the ledge, but after waiting in line for almost an hour I successfully did it! I didn’t stay too long as Joe wasn’t very fond of being up there. I’d love to go back and really play around with fun pictures you could get. If you wanna hear something crazy the girl in front of me did a handstand on the ledge against the glass paneling. It made me incredibly nervous. The spanish mother behind me who graciously took my picture on the ledge had some colorful words about handstand girl that I giggled into my hand about.
The view from our hotel was straight up downtown! It was wonderful. On top of that due to when I booked the trip in proximity to our arrival we got a great rate on a much nicer hotel than I was originally planning for. It was super swanky. The room was massive – where was that for all those cramped hockey weekends? It had a lot of (to us) fun features like a sliding wood door on the bathroom and a 1975 album cover-esque mirror. Yes, there were plenty of selfies in that. I had a field day with all the fun light fixtures too.
If you ever find yourself stuck at Chicago O’Hare with a bit of time to kill check out the “Sky’s the Limit” art instillation! Full of flashing neon lights set to music it was really fascinating and worth the bit of the walk. I love when airports have neat and memorable elements to them. .
Now to go back in summer and get to all the things we couldn’t quite manage to squeeze in! The only thing I’m bummed we didn’t get to this trip was the Michael Jordan statue. This has always been my embarrassing no. 1 thing to see in Chicago. Michael Jordan was my absolute biggest hero growing up. There’s so many horrible stories from my childhood involving MJ that my mother loves to reminisce about – but I’ll save those for another post. Just like I’ll have to save my slam dunk pose until the next time around.
Writing this post made me realize I still have never shared my Miami trip (except for my weird Versace mansion story.) Maybe I should get on that. Let’s set a goal of before my next vacation.
Until next time,