Chicago: Where I Went

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hey friends!  I am happy to be back from vacation and get back to blogging! I am also ready to tell you all about my trip! In case you guys didn't see my instagram photos changing on the side of the blog, I was in....


If you are reading this from Chicago, you have a beautiful city and I hope to visit again! There is so much to see, do and eat! That is why I have broken my trip into three different blog entries: Where I Went, What I Wore and What I Ate.

This is the "Where I Went" blog. I'll take you day by day on my 4-day trip to Chi-town, let's get started!

Day 1:

Arrived at O'Hare International Airport at 8a.m. CST. Then went directly to the Ritz Carlton Hotel. I got upgraded to a suite! The room was on the 27th floor, so they views were amazing. The pictures below are both taken from the bed, one views into the living room and the other is out my bedroom window.

Once I unloaded my luggage and ate breakfast I headed off to Wrigley Field. I was hoping to go on a tour of the ballpark but it was 10:00a.m. and the next tour was 12 noon. I turned down the tour because I wasn't sure I could waste two hours in my current location. Oh well, got a picture of the famous sign!
Wrigley Field - Home of the Chicago Cubs
The rest of the day was spent familiarizing myself with the city. The only way to explore a city in my book is to shop it! However, shopping quickly became less fun when a 9.25% sales tax was added to everything.

One place I was excited to see was Target! Chicago actually has a city Target on State Street. The old building was beautiful and inside it was two stories high. Check out, stationary and beauty on the bottom floor and everything else (including groceries) on the top floor.
My feet were so sore after all the walking I had accomplished that day and being up at 4:30a.m. EST to catch my flight, I was exhausted. I went to dinner and then drifted off into a deep sleep.

Day 2:

Woke up 5:30 a.m. CST with just enough time to fix my hair, brush my teeth, get changed and get out the door. The destination was Millennium Park at 6 a.m. CST to get the perfect photo of Cloud Gate (a.k.a. the bean). I wanted to get there super early because I knew it was a popular tourist destination and I didn't want a lot of people in my photo.

I was successfully the only one at the bean besides an occasional runner stopping by for a quick photo opp. I have to say this bean may look ridiculous in the middle of a city but when you see it in person, it's is actually breathtaking. The smooth lines and playful reflection are just some of the reasons I am drawn to it. As seen above, I used the bean's reflection to take a selfie!
Millennium Park - Cloud Gate
After the bean it was close to 7a.m. CST and I was off to find the Chicago French Market (look for what I found there in my What I Ate blog). Along the way I happened upon a farmer's market and the most beautiful hydrangea. The owner of the stand said they were Annabelle hydrangea.

After the French Market I got some breakfast and headed off to an architecture boat cruise at 10:30a.m. The boat cruise was highly recommended by every travel site on the internet. I chose to go with the Chicago's First Lady and was very satisfied. The boat is equipped with an upper and lower deck. The lower deck had air conditioning, a bar and a bathroom. Everyone sat on the upper deck and the historian was on the upper deck as well explaining everything.
Trump International Hotel & Tower
The tour is 90 minutes long and very informative. The day I went on the tour, it was very hot out so the AC and drinks on the boat were a nice idea.

When the tour was over, I did a little more shopping that I didn't get to on my first day. After that, I went back to the hotel to freshen up and get ready for dinner. After dinner, I pre-ordered tickets online for Adler After Dark. Sounds risque but it's really just a program for Chicago's planetarium!
Adler Planetarium
Adler After Dark is for 21+ adults because there is a cash bar for you to enjoy while you look at exhibits or listen to panel discussions. Each month there is a new theme, this month's theme was future tech. They had different vendors showing new cars and gadgets of the future!

I have a nerdy side, so look at Saturn through a telescope was a major highlight of my trip! Another highlight at the planetarium was nigh sky live. You go into a round theatre and the screen is on the ceiling. You recline and get comfortable as your "host" teaches you about constellations and makes jokes. The "host" was hilarious and completely made the experience.
Chicago skyline from Adler planetarium
After the planetarium it was time to sit up with the stars and grab a drink on the 96th floor of the John Hancock building. While the views were filled with never ending twinkling city lights, the drinks were less than sparkly.
View from Signature Lounge
I ordered a blueberry mojito and it didn't taste a thing like a blueberry. It tasted like a regular mojito but deep red in color, definitely not worth the $16! Not to mention it took 30 minutes to get a seat. I recommend going with a large party because the large parties were being seated much faster!

Day 3:

Got to sleep in and went to get breakfast to start my day off. Next, it was time to explore what Navy Pier had to offer!
Navy Pier
Navy Pier had a beautiful Ferris wheel that was modeled after the first Ferris wheel ever made. It sits up 150 ft. They also had a carousel, remote controlled boats and mini golf to entertain you. There was a gift shop as well as various food stands. It reminded me very much of a New Jersey boardwalk.

After Navy Pier, I decided to walk a block to the beach. The beach was such a cool experience. The beach is not for an ocean but for Lake Michigan. However, what is even more mind boggling is that there is a city skyline behind you on the beach!
Ohio Street Beach - Chicago
The water was warm but was also dirty, which again reminded me of New Jersey beaches. It was refreshing to put your feet in the water but I don't think I would have gone in any further.

After a quick visit to the beach it was time to get some lunch. Lunch took more time than expected...more on that in my What I Ate blog. I went to see about getting into the aquarium but the line was out the door. I then went to the Willis Tower and the line wasn't long but the wait time was cutting it close to my dinner reservations.
Buckingham Fountain
After dinner, I went to go see Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park. Every hour, on the hour there is a light and music show for 20 minutes. The fountain is gorgeous both during and after the show.
Buckingham Fountain during the show
Since Grant Park is near Millennium Park I decided to see what the bean looks like at night. On my way to Cloud Gate I walked through the Grant Park rose garden, very pretty.

The bean was still beautiful but much more crowded this time. Which to me takes away the beauty on film. Oh well, happy to have photographed it in dawn and dust.
Cloud Gate at night
Day 4:

Final day meant cramming anything I missed in. I ate breakfast that I had picked up the night before and then hailed a cab for Willis Tower. It was time to walk out on the sky deck.
Sky deck walk out
Getting to Willis Tower slightly before it opened worked out perfectly. There was no line, no wait. I was immediately up to the 103rd floor of the former Sears Tower. The views were perfect in the morning and I even used some of the binoculars to see more landmarks.
Floating in thin air - Willis Tower Sky Deck
At first walking onto the clear platform was nerve racking but after the first time I became a pro. It's mind over matter! I must say it was hard to get a good photo with an iPhone because of the back lighting but with some editing I got some real nice shots!

Last stop, the Shedd Aquarium! I couldn't recall going to an aquarium in a long time so I figured now would be the best time. The line was out the door again already at 10:30 CST. Two Shedd employees were offering no lines if you did the express pass for roughly $12 more. Let me tell you...spend those extra $12 it was well worth it. No lines, got great show times for the aquatic show and 4-D movie. Finished exploring the aquarium by 2:15p.m.
Starfish at Shedd aquarium
The highlights of the aquarium were petting a stingray and the jellies exhibit. I though the aquatic show would be a highlight but there wasn't a lot of dolphin flips or jumps. It was a lot of waving to the crowd and spinning. Also, one of my favorite animals, the river otter, was no where to seen in it's cage.

After the aquarium, it was time to eat a big lunch and get back to O'Hare International Airport because it was time to go home.

I hope you enjoyed hearing and seeing about all the fun things I accomplished in my short four days! If you have any questions or want to learn more about anything I did, don't forget to leave a comment below! Be on the lookout for the other blogs in this series!

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