A Travellerspoint blog

Chicago

May 14th - 25th

I have to admit, Chicago wasn't on my radar as a destination but Ronnie was keen (thankfully) so I relented. After getting a heap of advice on sightseeing activities from a number of friends, I started to feel better about a trip to the Windy City. We decided on a 10 day stay to allow us 2 full weekends to see and enjoy as much of Chicago as possible. Alyssa has school during the week and although she is often finished around 1-2 pm, it generally doesn't allow enough time to travel too far for sight seeing. Our accommodation was booked through airbnb and like most of our trips was selected on price, reviews and access to public transport and grocery stores (usually in that order). We ended up settling on a 2 bedroom apartment in the suburb of Mont Clare, West of Downtown but only about 20 minutes on the train to Union Station. The Mont Clare train station is less than 5 minutes walk away, there are a couple of grocery stores within 10 minutes and 150m away is a park for Alyssa to play.

Although Chicago is the United States' third largest city, it is often called the Second City (New York being the First City). It is a haven of art and architecture, elevated trains, a wealth of museums and wonderful places to eat, drink and be entertained. Chicago was originally a small fort on the Chicago River, which was destroyed in a massacre. The city remained a small trading post until the Illinois and Michigan Canal and Chicago Union Railroad were opened in 1848, after which Chicago grew rapidly. In 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed most of downtown and the north side of town (the entire city was built of wood). So they decided to rebuild with steel and created space for bold new structures.

Which leads us to the Architectural boat tour. When talking to friends about our intended trip to Chicago, they all immediately urged us to do the Architectural boat tour. It turns out a number of companies offer the 75 minute tour with numerous time slots during the day. It is easily the most popular tourist attraction in Chicago. The city is the birthplace of the modern skyscraper with the Willis Tower (former Sears Tower) the second tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and the Trump International Hotel and Tower being the third largest in the US, the famous Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower where chunks of famous locations (Taj Mahal, Parthenon, Palace of Westminster, Great Wall of China and many more) are embedded in the lower walls. We decided to visit the John Hancock Tower on advice from the Lonely Planet as it is free to visit the 95th floor Signature room and get panoramic views of Chicago ..... so long as you purchase a drink. Now obviously the drinks were not cheap (still less than visiting the observation deck of the Hancock or the Willis Tower) but was totally worth it.

Chicago skyline

Chicago skyline


South view from Hancock building

South view from Hancock building


North view from Hancock building

North view from Hancock building

The Lincoln Park Zoo is the original zoo of Chicago, built in 1868 and located just North of Downtown. The zoo features many fascinating and exotic species including Tigers, Lions, Giraffes, Rhino, many varieties of birds and reptiles and even some kangaroos. One of the big perks is that the admission is free.

Grant Park and Millennium Park are located next to each other on the banks of Lake Michigan. Grant Park is home to the Buckingham Fountain, built in 1927 and having more than 5,700,000 litres going in its system, every hour the main water cannon launches a stream of water vertically 46 metres into the air for 20 minutes. Millennium Park is the city's showpiece and includes Cloud Gate (the bean), Pritzker Pavilion and Crown Fountain, a de facto water park that projects video images of locals spitting water, gargoyle style.

Crown Fountain

Crown Fountain


Cloud Gate aka The Bean

Cloud Gate aka The Bean

If you are in Chicago during Spring or Summer, you have to see a Baseball game ...... you know we did. We chose a Saturday game due to the 3pm start and caught a couple of trains to the famous Wrigley Field, the second oldest baseball stadium in the US. The Cubs were hosting the Pittsburgh Pirates and handled them with relative ease 4-1 however a day at the baseball is much more than just watching a sport. It's experiencing the atmosphere of 38,000 people, having a traditional Chicago hot dog (a wiener topped with onions, tomatoes, shredded lettuce and sweet relish) and seeing the food and drink vendors travelling the walkways servings all kinds of food and drinks directly to your seat.

Chicago Cubs Game

Chicago Cubs Game


Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field

On another day we partook in a Pedway Tour. What is a Pedway? It is a Pedestrian Walkway, a series of walkways that connect building to building so you don't have to go outside in either Winter or Summer. Interestingly each Walkway is administered by the building directly above it, so some are maintained better than others and the sections which run underneath the road are quite run down. In all it was quite an interesting and informative 90 minute tour. Afterwards we had to try the traditional Chicago style Pizza, deep dish style. Well let's just say we were Totally disappointed. The pizza is more like a quiche with a flaky type base instead of a normal dough and covered in way too much cheese.

Deep dish pizza

Deep dish pizza

Posted by V3USA 13:34

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Nickelarse you should get appointed Ambassador for Tourism USA. Chicago looks like "my type of town"; we will definitely have to visit. You must now be more than a third into your adventure and still having a ball. No doubt it will be good to see some familiar faces from home when the Samwells arrive. Keep healthy and safe, Wayne H

by Wayne Haller

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