My husband had a conference in downtown Chicago beginning on September 22nd, the day before the first day of fall. It was a great time to go, because a cold front had just come through the Midwest. The temperatures were in the 60’s and 70’s the whole time we were there. Our hotel was on the beautiful Chicago River. The source of the Chicago River is Lake Michigan. Since I live near the ocean, I always think of lakes and rivers as small bodies of water. That is not the case with the Great Lakes. I probably should have realized their vastness just by looking at their collective name, “The Great Lakes.” However, reading about something, or looking at pictures, does not convey the same meaning as truly seeing. I had many misconceptions about the city of Chicago. The Windy City exceeded every expectation this SC Lowcountry girl conjured up in her mind. Let’s start with the spectacular views!
Spectacular Views of Chicago
My Favorite Views, clockwise from the top left
*The first two are a day and night view from our left hotel window. I love the way the city looks at night! Before this trip I’d never been west of Texas, north of Virginia, or anywhere near the Midwest.
*Trump’s hotel- the view from our right hotel window
*the view of the city from the upper deck at Wrigley Field. I was so glad that we didn’t pay for expensive seats, because it rained cats and dogs at the Cubs vs St.Louis game. Our humble seats on the upper deck were covered, but the more expensive ones weren’t.
A Little Help From Our Friends and Wrigley Field
My husband had a friend that he hadn’t seen in 35 years, who lived within 2 hours of Chicago. He and his wife picked us up at the O’Hare Airport, told us where to shop (Yes!), helped us get passes for the L Train, and took us to the Cubs game. Wrigley Field was built in 1914, and is/was one of the iconic ballparks on my husband’s bucket list to visit. After the game we went to Giordano’s, a restaurant that serves deep dish, stuffed Chicago-style pizza. I did not take a picture of the pizza because my phone was dead, but the memory of how good it was will never fade away.
The Art Institute of Chicago
I was amazed at the amount of famous paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago. I always think of New York, Paris, or the Netherlands when dreaming of artwork that I’d love to see. The Institute has one of my very favorite works- Bedroom in Arles by Van Gogh (bottom right). My husband wanted to see Picasso’s (top left) paintings, because he had a teacher in school that loved the artist. Admission was only $25 per person, and you could literally walk around all day and still not see everything. There was a nice cafe located on the second floor. You will definitely need to stop there and rest your feet a bit while you sip a nice latte.
The Magnificent Mile
The “Magnificent Mile” on North Michigan Avenue in Chicago is loaded with historic buildings, posh stores, and great restaurants. I picked up more than a few shoes that were over $500 per pair. Of course, I looked at the price on the bottom and put them right back. North Michigan Avenue is so long! I walked up and down that road, in and out of stores, for about 5 hours (lucky for my husband he was at the conference for most of that time). It was a great experience. The American Girl Store was there, a huge Disney Store with a mosaic Disney tile display in front, along with every store you’ve ever loved- only on steroids! We went in several historic buildings, and ate lunch at the Cheesecake Factory along the way.
Give My Regards to Broadway
Like dummies, we waited until the last minute to buy tickets for the Broadway Musical, “Hamilton.” We waited because we were debating between the theater, and an Al Capone walking tour. We walked to all the big theaters, and discussed prices and available seats with each box office. We decided that Hamilton was the best show for us, and bought our seats for a mere $55 each. The seats we purchased supposedly had an obstructed view, but we saw everything perfectly. Hamilton was an entertaining, yet informative hip-hop version of the story of our founding fathers. I would love to take my children to see this show! We absolutely loved it. As an added bonus, our show was performed in the historic CIBC theater, which opened on New Year’s Day in 1906 as the Majestic Theater. Harry Houdini was one of the acts that performed there in the past.
Getting Around in Chicago
Travel Modes- clockwise from the top left
*Both of us packed a small suitcase that did not have to be bag-checked, and had a personal carry-on. Using the small suitcases made leaving and checking in at the airports faster, and enabled us to take the “blue train” back to O’Hare, rather than paying for an expensive taxi. The small suitcase was also easy to carry on the elevator, to our room on the 26th floor. With the purchase of a $28 5-day pass (plus an additional $5 hidden cost) you can ride the trains all you want.
*getting on the “blue train” to go to the O’Hare Airport
*arriving at the Charleston Airport on the way back home
*a picture of us getting ready for take off from Charleston, SC
What to Know Before You Go to Chicago
What to Know Before You Go to Chicago, clockwise from the top left
*Dunkin Donuts is cheaper (half the price) than the fancier downtown Chicago coffee shops. We went to a different coffee shop every morning. If you want to save money, don’t visit the pricier coffee/donut stores.
*If you’re a southerner, you won’t find any sweet tea. The only place that served authentic sweet tea was the Cheesecake Factory. I usually bought hot tea, poured it over ice, then added sugar. Our airline stewardess, and a girl from the Billy Goat Tavern (a restaurant loaded with Cubs lore) were greatly concerned that the concoction they helped me make tasted ok, and came back to ask about it later. I didn’t tell them that it paled in comparison to the real sweet tea of the Deep South.
*The stores on Michigan Avenue don’t open until 10 am. After walking around for an hour to find only closed stores while my husband was at the conference, I sat down at 9:30 am in one of those 4 story city malls, and waited until the stores opened.
*Most of the doors in downtown Chicago are whirly doors. They make me think of Will Ferrel in New York City, in the movie Elf. You have to be ready to move in an out of these doors quickly during the rush hour.
What I Wore in Chicago
My OOTD, clockwise from the top left
*I had coffee at Dunkin, shopped, and ate lunch at the Cheesecake Factory in a cold-shoulder embroidered fall shirt with Madison Jeans and ochre suede Vans.
*I shopped for souvenirs and bought theater tickets in leggings from the Limited, and an olive green sweater from TJ Maxx. The patchwork crossbody is from Radley London.
*I wore a long-sleeved Kaari Blue peasant dress to an Italian restaurant to eat with my husband’s former director and his colleagues.
*On the last night I wore a Knox Rose dress with espadrille platform sandals to the theater. My husband was a good sport about taking pictures of my outfits.
Sweet Treats in Chicago
Sweet Treats, clockwise from the top left
*a huge peanut butter and jelly donut
*the donut case at Stan’s Donuts
*Adam’s Peanut Butter Cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory
I hope you enjoyed reading about our trip to Chicago. There were so many details I didn’t include, because Chicago was just so spectacular. I couldn’t possibly include everything in one post. I can’t say enough good things about The Windy City! I hope I get to go again someday.
Linking up here
If you liked this post, subscribe to Love My Little Cottage here, and receive every post in your email.