Between our time in Nashville and Washington DC, we had a couple of quick stops in Indianapolis and Chicago. Taking into account our travel time, we had less than two days in Chicago – which I now know was a huge mistake. In that short period of time, I’d pretty much fallen head over heels in love with this pretty city. From its spectacular architectural skyline to its beautiful lakefront, Chicago had me never wanting to leave.
We arrived in Chicago in the late afternoon, checked into our hostel HI Chicago and grabbed a bite for lunch at the cafe next door before making our way to Grant Park and Millennium Park. As we made our way through the city and past the scattered memorials and shrines towards the parks, I realized that Chicago felt to me like the perfect mixture of Paris and New York – perhaps that’s why I grew so fond of it so fast!
We stopped by the Buckingham Fountain, one of the largest fountains in the world and the most popular attraction in Grant Park. During the day the fountain was quite beautiful, but when the sun went down and the coloured spotlights illuminated the splashing waters, it became spectacular!
From the fountain we made our way through the park grounds, past the modern artwork and straight to the one and only Cloud Gate aka THE BEAN. You know that feeling that you get when you’re so excited to see a city/ monument and then you finally see it and it’s a huge let down? Well I definitely did NOT get that feeling, Cloud Gate lived up to my expectations, and I found myself constantly visiting the Bean throughout my next two days in Chicago.
By the time we explored a little bit more of the park including the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, our hunger had set in and our stomachs were rumbling. We met up with our friend from Australia, who had recently just moved to Chicago, and she lead us to one of the local restaurants Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria. We had a 40 minute wait to get a table, but luckily we were able to pre-order our special Chicago Deep Dish Pizza so that it would be pretty much ready by the time we took our seats. We ordered the Cheese Deep Dish, the Pepperoni Deep Dish and the Lou Deep Dish Pizzas. They were so cheesy, greasy and so delicious that they tasted like heaven melting in my mouth, although it was so filling that it was hard to eat more than two slices worth!!
The next morning Bec and I decided to get up very early in order to watch the sunrise over the city and Lake Michigan at the Bean (where else?!). Seriously guys, the Bean is great! The stainless steel sides reflect the lights and skyline of the city, and makes for some magnificent photos. Underneath the Bean is a large concave which was pretty trippy as it warps and multiplies your reflection!
We set off down the Lakefront Trail along the beautiful Lake Michigan to the famous Navy Pier. We made our way around the number one tourist attraction in Chicago, past all of the restaurants and amusement park rides, and of course we had to take a ride on the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel which gave an amazing view of the stunning Chicago skyline.
We also went on a lovely little boat cruise that left from Navy Pier and ran along the shore of Lake Michigan right down to the Planetarium and back again. Before we left Navy Pier we made sure to stop by Garret Popcorn to try some of the Chicago Mix; Caramel Crisp tossed with Cheese Corn popcorn. I know, it sounds like a pretty weird mix! I thought the same thing at first but it did work pretty well – the ultimate sweet and savoury popcorn!
After scoffing down the Chicago Mix, we made our way back into the big city. We literally walked right into the Tribune Tower on North Michigan Avenue by accident. This building stands out not only because of the different, gothic style architecture but for the fact that the building has bricks from famous historical landmarks around the world embedded into the lower level the building. From the Taj Mahal, Parthenon, Pyramids, Great Wall of China, Angkor Wat, and even a little reminder of home, the Sydney Opera House – it’s fascinating to go through and see all of the different locations that these pieces were collected from. We followed the Magnificent Mile back down to our hostel to have a quick rest and get ready for the night!
For our last night in Chicago we decided to see the beautiful city from above at 360 Chicago at the John Hancock Center. Standing at 1127ft tall, we were able to capture some absolutely spectacular views of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan as the beautiful sun set over the city.
With only two days to explore the city, we didn’t fit in everything we wanted to do such as visiting the Art Institute of Chicago, but we gave it a pretty good attempt. And don’t worry, we did get the chance to try a Chicago Style Hotdog while we were there as well. Definitely looking forward to visiting this city again sometime in the near future!