We spent the last full week of summer traveling to Chicago where we visited with cousins, watched baseball games, and enjoyed the art, architecture, and culture this great city has to offer. Mind you, we didn’t get to far out of the Loop and the adjacent areas, so we basically scratched the surface of what Chicago has to offer, but it was a good introduction for the kids first visit. Aside from some sibling bickering, everyone had a great time.
- We arrived early in the morning at O’Hare International Airport where I was delighted to see Michael Hayden’s Sky’s the Limit neon light display that I first saw back in 1991 is still gracing the pedestrian walkway with the accompaniment of “Rhapsody in Blue.”
- We rode the Blue Line into the city and checked into the vintage hotel Inn of Chicago, that stands among the fancy stores, gleaming hotels, and massive hospitals of the Near North.
- The bell staff recommended eating lunch at Giordano’s, so we settled in for some Chicago-style stuffed pizza. It was yummy.
- Despite being tired and cranky, we went to the Field Museum to see the dinosaurs and mummies. I felt the museum was slightly overwhelming, looking a little rough around the edges. But the Evolving Planet exhibition is very well done, and although Sue the T Rex was officially supposed to be off exhibit, I was delighted we got to peak through a window to see her in her new exhibit space under construction.
- Peter and I picked up breakfast at Stan’s Doughnuts whose super healthy baked goods were sold in the lobby of a hospital.
- Next came one of the highlights of our trip, a sort-of double header between the Mets and Cubs at Wrigley Field. Full report here.
- In the evening, we rode a free trolley bus (much to Kay’s delight) to Navy Pier. Kay and Susan rode the swings, and Kay and I soared above Lake Michigan in the Centennial Wheel. We finished the day with the weekly firework display.
- We walked up the Magnificent Mile and passed by the Gothic Revival structure of the Chicago Water Tower, one of the prominent survivors of the Great Fire of 1871.
- We ate delicious pancakes and omelets for breakfast at Wildberry Cafe.
- Peter wasn’t feeling well, so I took Kay Millennium Park where we explored Cloud Gate and the Crown Fountain. And then Kay played and played and played (and Daddy pushed the swings harder) in Maggie Daley Park. We also strolled through Grant Park to see Buckingham Fountain.
- We met up with Susan and Peter for dinner at Miller’s Pub in The Loop. The restaurant had kind of an old-school feel to it in the fact that the tables and booths were arranged in a way I haven’t seen since I was a kid. The food was good, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for it.
- We finished Thursday with more baseball as the Red Sox and White Sox played a night game at Guaranteed Rate Field. Full report here.
- We once again started the day with doughnuts for breakfast at Do-Rite Doughnuts. They were delicious.
- We sailed on the Chicago River on Wendella Boats to explore the architecture and history of the city. Chicago is known for it’s intensive architectural tours, but this 45-minute cruise was just right to satisfy a geeky Dad without testing the kids’ patience.
- While the rest of the family rested at the hotel, I took myself on a self-guide art and architecture walk of The Loop, where I could admire the works of Jean Dubuffet, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, Marc Chagall, Alexander Calder, and Daniel Burnham.
- In the evening we ventured out on the Brown Line to visit with Susan’s cousins. The kids got play, the adults got to talk, and we all enjoyed authentic Mexican takeaway food!
- Our final meal was brunch at West Egg Cafe, once again recommended by the bell staff at the hotel. It was both tasty and filling.
- Riding a double-decker Big Bus Tour around any city would not make my top 100 list of things to do, but Peter’s always wanted to take one of these tours, and since he was still not feeling well it was a good way to see the city without too much exertion. Peter and I did the full loop, while Susan and Kay hopped off so Kay could play some more at Maggie Daley Park.
Chicago is a great city! I must make sure to not wait over a decade before I return there again. I’d even consider living in Chicago, especially now that Rahm Emanuel is stepping down as Mayor.