I was looking back through previous blog posts a few weeks ago and I realized that there is one city I rarely blog about. It is one of my favorite cities and the one I spend most of my time in – Chicago!
Chicago is a great city, especially in the warmer months. I also love it during the holiday season when it is all lit up with Christmas lights. So really it is just Jan-March when it’s not such a hospitable place. Although if it’s snowing, it is also really beautiful and so peaceful. So as you can tell, I really like it here and need to do a better job of telling you all the Windy City has to offer!
One of the reasons I do not blog about Chicago often is because I feel like I do the same thing each day. It seems that I rarely explore new places or neighborhoods. So I am going to make a conscious decision to change this so I can experience more of what Chicago has to offer and share my recommendations with you on this blog!
Two weeks ago, I had my first opportunity to be a tourist in my own city when my cousin Brittany came to town. She had been to Chicago before but only briefly so I figured this would be a great chance for me to put my plan into action.
First up, dinner! On Friday night, we headed to a restaurant I hadn’t been to in a long but used to enjoy. We went to Mia Francesca’s, a small Italian restaurant in the Lakeview neighborhood on the north side of the city. I remember it being very good from the days when I first moved to Chicago many moons ago and lived in Lakeview and it turns out, it was still good. We enjoyed our meal and also the time they gave us to enjoy chatting and catching up.
On Saturday morning, we boarded the El (the Chicago city train and subway) and headed downtown. Our first stop was Beatrix in the River North neighborhood. I have been wanting to try brunch at Beatrix for a while. I have heard lots of good things. I had the steak and eggs with chimichurri sauce. Overall, I liked the atmosphere but thought the food was only okay.
After brunch, we had some time to kill so we walked along northern Michigan Avenue for a bit. There was a display of various hockey masks along the sidewalk and we couldn’t resist the photo opportunities (as shown below).
After posing for some fun photos, we boarded a boat for an Architectural Tour of Chicago via the lake and river. I have done this tour before but it had been many years since I last did it. I know the city has chanced a lot since I last went so I was looking forward to seeing the changes and getting some good skyline views.
Next up was a quick stop at Cindy’s Rooftop to see the amazing views (and use the restrooms. Ha!).
Cindy’s is located on Michigan Avenue across from Millennium Park. The bar is located on the 13th floor and has an outdoor patio with amazing views of the park and Lake Michigan. I have been to Cindy’s several times and can attest that the views are spectacular in both the daytime and at night.
There was a line when we arrived but it went pretty quickly. Apparently you can make reservations too so you may want to check that out if you want to go sometime. The good thing about the line and the crowd control was that the restaurant and patio were not overly crowded. We could stand along the patio railing and admire the views without be shoved about or feeling pressured to move on so someone else could take our place.
A quick stop in Millennium Park was next on our agenda. Millennium Park is one of the most popular parks in the city. It is home to the famous Cloud Gate sculpture (also known as “The Bean”) and the fountains with the faces on it. It also features the Pritzker Pavilion which hosts free concerts and events throughout the summer. In the winter, the park is home to a couple of ice skating rinks so you can skate while admiring the beautiful city views.
As I expected, the park was VERY crowded but we were able to weave our way through the crowds and see what we wanted to see and snap some photos.
To escape the heat and the crowds, we decided to finish our time downtown by exploring the Art Institute. The Art Institute is huge and we only had an hour and a half or so to explore it so we only saw a few of the different exhibits. Most importantly, we saw lots of interesting and famous art while enjoying the air conditioning and also the benches that allowed us to rest out feet for a few minutes (my feet were barking pretty loud by this point in the day!).
On Sunday, we decided to give our feet a break and enjoyed the beautiful day by hanging out by Lake Michigan. We were able to walk over there from my place and took Stella with us. It was such a nice day and a perfect way to spend a few hours. We took chairs with us and sat and chatted and looked at the water while people watching.
At one point, we walked over to the beach area and dipped our feet into the water. By “we” I mean Brittany and me. Stella loathes water and being wet and therefore, spent the entire time shaking in my arms hoping I wouldn’t drop her (I didn’t).
And with that, our cousins weekend came to an end. I had to much fun. I hope Brittany did too. I also hope she comes back and visits us soon!
Here is a summarized list of the places mentioned in this post:
-Dinner Friday at Italian restaurant Mia Francesca. We went to the Lakeview location. (http://miafrancesca.com/)
-Brunch on Saturday at Beatrix. We went to the River North location. There are also locations in the Streeterville and Fulton Market neighborhoods near downtown (http://beatrixrestaurants.com/)
-Checked out the views on Saturday at Cindy’s Rooftop. It is on Michigan Avenue across from Millennium Park. There was a line but the wait was relatively short at around 20 minutes. (http://www.cindysrooftop.com/)
-Saturday dinner at Income Tax Bar on the far north side of the city (https://www.incometaxbar.com/)
-Saturday ice cream dessert at Lickity Split also on far north side of the city. We went to the location on Broadway. (https://www.lickitysplitchicago.com/)
River architecture tour:
The two companies I recommend for this are Wendella and the Chicago Architecture Foundation. There are others that do these tours as well but I have no experience with those companies.
We went with Wendella because the times were more convenient for our schedule. (https://www.wendellaboats.com/)
The other great option is with the Chicago Architecture Foundation. I volunteer with the CAF each fall for their Open House Chicago event and think they are a great nonprofit organization. (https://www.architecture.org/tours)
Parks and Museums:
The Art Institute of Chicago located on Michigan Avenue (http://www.artic.edu/)
Millennium Park and Cloud Gate (also known as “The Bean) are also location on Michigan Avenue. https://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/millennium_park.html