Ahh, the Windy City. Oozing with charm, history and culture. Recently, I got the opportunity to spend three days in Chicago.
It would be unfair to say that any large city sporting over 9.8 million people and spreading a metro area of 10,856 sq mi is easy to do in three days. It is not an easy task. However, with a well-planned itinerary, one can experience Chicago in a short time.
Architectural Riverboat Tour-Day One
One of the best ways to capture the entire city in a brief time, is to take an Architectural Boat Tour. There are several companies who lead this boat tour through the waters of Chicago, we chose Wendella Boat Tours and bought a pass for the Architecture Tour only, however they offer many different packages. It is a 75 minute tour with a well educated staff (the company prides themselves on their in house educational training for their guides). The tour leaves from the base of Trump Tower and the tours depart almost hourly from April until November. The trip points out almost every skyscraper and large dwelling in the city that is located on the river. It was so relaxing to cruise easily hrough the city, gliding under the bridges and take in the variance in architecture. This is a MUST SEE trip, and if you have just one day in Chicago, this would be the trip to choose, as you see the city in the shortest amount of time–and without congestion from the roadways or pedestrians. Although, funny enough, we did hit a small boat-jam on the waterways, but it was more funny than it was stressing! After this tour, they drop you off at your previous start and then you can walk off and wander through to Millennial Park and grab lunch or dinner in one of the surrounding restaurants, or sip coffee and grab a bakery delicacy at the Magnolia Bakery.
Her statement is undeniably true! This museum was attacked in five hours in one day. (Disclaimer: Art is a passion of mine, and it was something that I was ready to tackle.) The museum can be absorbed or skimmed over in this time. As it is with most large museums, however, it is quite a task.
The Art Institute, voted the number one museum in America by TripAdvisor in 2013, is a beautiful building, yet somewhat confusing to walk through. At the ticket counter, be sure to pick up a map, and do not forget your ID to get one of the many discounts on your tickets. Once inside of the museum, it is helpful to plot out the days journey. Sitting down at one of the many cafe‘s inside of the museum, you can quickly plan your day. It is nice to find that an App has been created to help with this process. So whether you are a frequent Art Institute goer or a first timer, you can plan your trip depending on a theme, collection of works, or time in the museum using their App on the Iphone or Android. The museum itself offers a quick tour on the back of their publication/map that you receive when you enter the museum.
Even if you are not a museum fanatic, there is something for everyone inside of the walls of this institute: from the armor collection, where I heard men and boys exclaiming, “WOW, this is impressive,” to Georges Seurat’s massive, A Sunday on Le Grande Jette, where the crowds gathered in the museum. The museum houses also many prominent rotating exhibits that are featured at the doorsteps when you enter. At this time, Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926–1938June 24, 2014–October 13, 2014, is the spotlight exhibit.
The museum opens from 10:30-5:00 (with extended hours on Thursday to 8 p.m.), so after breakfast, you can wander inside the doors. After the first few hours of looking at the exhibits you have chosen, take a break for lunch in theMuseum Cafe and remember to look back at your notes on what you want to see.
I was exhausted at this point from seeing the collections that I chose to see and had to carefully plot out my remaining hours at the Institute.
A map locating the museum can be found here. ENJOY!
Day Three, it was a must that we see the Field Museum. Since watching the movie, The Ghost and the Darkness, I have wanted to see the Tsavo Lions who were responsible for the deaths of an estimated 34 people (although the hunter responsible for their deaths claim the lions ate way more individuals).
This museum houses another very large exhibit and it is true that one could spend many hours in this museum. A friend, however, pointed out, “You can only look at so much taxidermy.” However, there is more than just taxidermy at the museum. For example, the bones, fossils, and tour of how the earth must have looked from 4 million years ago to present were impressive. The gems, jade, Pacific Island people exhibits are all top notch collections that include no taxidermy.
And of course, there is Sue. Sue, the Tyrannosaurus Rex, greets you at the entrance and has captured the hearts of Chicagoans, myself and many others.
The museum is open from 9-5 on almost every day of the year. Tickets for adults start at $18, and you can add in the IMAX movies for an additional charge. Additional information on ticketing can be found here.
Travel inside of Chicago
You only need ONE letter – “L” to make your trip through Chicago effortlessly.
A map of the trains and buses are found here. Using this map, travel was quick and easy.
Food in Chicago-A Few Notes
One of the number one things that I was told to try was the deep dish pizza, Chicago style as it is named and the hot dogs. My personal diet does not usually include these foods, and so I did not try any of them while in Chicago. However, there are pizzerias a plenty and hot dog stands on many corners in Chicago.
A local Chicagoan of 30 years told me that the truth was that most Chicagoans do not eat deep dish pizza, but prefer more of a New York thin crust style. So, I did eat some of that! It is not unlike the styles of thin crust pizza found around the United States, but it was tasty.
I also did not indulge in the many and numerous top restaurants that were suggested to me when I travelled to Chicago. I ate quickly, as to take in my sights, and ate mostly salads and sandwiches.
I do however, have to recommend the one notable restaurant, again, suggested by a local. Ay Ay Picante! It was an interesting Peruvian restraunt located at 4569 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL 60630 near the Irving Park “L” station. I ordered the tilapia Ceviche, it was incredible. It is a BYOB establishment, which is something to note. Also, the staff is highly accommodating!