My Mom, Brother, and I just returned from an awesome 3 day trip to Chicago. I say 3 days, but really only ONE of those days was spent in Chicago… the other two days were spent driving! We were invited to my cousin Jeff’s wedding and we really wanted to be there with him on his special day. We didn’t want to spend money on flights so we braved the drive. We are so glad we did. We made some awesome memories along the way and really, the drive wasn’t all that bad. We took shifts and made it in about 12 hours each way. The above picture was taken from our hotel room, The Renaissance in Downtown Chicago. We had an awesome view of the night life when looking out our window to the right and we saw Trump International to the left. It was kind of surreal.
Brandon drove most of the way- doesn’t he look studly here?:
The first night when we arrived we went to a Meet and Greet at the Hotel Bar/Lobby. We got to see our cousins, Jeff and Steve, and visit with some of the other guest for an hour or so. We didn’t get any pictures from that event- we were so tired we just stayed for a short bit then headed back to our room to SLEEEEEEEEP.
The next morning we went searching for a good breakfast place. We stumbled on this adorable place called “South Water Kitchen” about 1 block from our hotel and we loved everything about it. We sat on the patio which gave us a great view of Chicago life. Each of us loved our breakfast. Here is mom outside of the restaurant. She loved all of the flowers of course. :)
I’m sorry, I had to include a picture of my breakfast: French Toast and Syrup with Strawberries and Blueberries and a lemon cream cheese in the middle. Um, the best breakfast I’ve ever had.
Mom and Brandon with some random statue:
This was hilarious- there was this guy dressed like a statue who offered to let you take your picture with him for tips. He spray paints his ENTIRE body, including clothes. He really looked like a statue! (There were also many random people along Michigan Avenue asking for tips for doing all kinds of random things- playing drums on plastic buckets, dancing, giving hugs, etc.)
The best part of our day was a Wendella Boat Tour that we took from 11-12:30. We sat on the boat and got a tour straight through the middle of Chicago and Lake Michigan. We got to see the amazing architecture up close and personal and then from a distance out on the lake. It was very educational and fun. Now and I can correctly identify each of the historic buildings in Chicago. (at least I can identify the MAJOR buildings!)
Brandon took this picture of us on the boat- we had to sit separate from mom because we got to the boat a little late. We did ending up getting to sit by her about halfway through the tour.
I loved these two buildings below- they are apartments on top with a parking garage on the bottom- can you see the cars? Parking is steep in Chicago- there are not a lot of spaces for cars so they have to get creative and go UP with their parking I guess! Marina City is the name of these two towers, the "corncob towers" made famous in the movie "Hunter," where a car chase scene ends with a car falling off the tower’s parking garage into the Chicago River. Each tower is 65 stories.
The ‘L’ (sometimes called "L", El, EL, or L) is the rapid transit system serving the city of Chicago and some of its surrounding suburbs.
Up-close view of the Willis Tower, formerly named Sears Tower, is a 108-story skyscraper. At the time of its completion in 1974, it was the tallest building in the world, surpassing the World Trade Center Towers in New York, and it held this rank for nearly 25 years. The Willis Tower is now the tallest building in the United States.
I love this building- it was created by a female architect, and won a lot of awards. It is named the Aqua tower: “At Aqua, the curved terraces vary slightly from floor to floor, giving the 82-story tower a soft, billowy look, like water.”
Carbide and Carbon building…This is real gold on top of this building… I bet that was pricey!
Trump International Hotel and Tower- opened in 2008.
Navy Pier with skyline in the background:
Tall building here is the John Hancock building. The famous Ferris Wheel is on the right. This was on our list of things to ride, but we ran out of time.
Boom, Me, and Mom with Chicago Skyline in the back
After our tour we ate lunch at a highly recommended pizza joint called “Gino’s East.” We had to wait for 15 minutes outside just to get in! Then we waited 45 minutes for our deep dish pizza. It was well worth the wait!
My mom signing her name on the grafiti wall- such a rebel!
Deep Dish Chicago style pizza- half pepperoni, half supreme. We each had ONE piece!!! Hmmm, french toast for breakfast, deep dish pizza for lunch. I can’t figure out why I gained 5 pounds on this trip!!!??
After lunch we did a little bit of shopping on the Magnificent Mile. We were mainly window shopping. We only went in 3-4 stores because we needed to get ready for the wedding.
Here Mom and I are outside of Tiffany’s. We went in and browsed for a few minutes. My brother and I died laughing- when we went in Tiffany’s there was a security guard standing right at the entrance and my mom said to him, “We’re just looking sir, we’re not buying.” I don’t think he cared mom but at least he knows now that we didn’t have the money to be shopping there. :)
I felt like I had to go in the American Girl store for Emma. I’ve heard a lot about it but never been. We get the American Girl catalog and Emma frequently talks about which doll she would like to get someday. I’m thinking when she’s about 5 years old we’ll make a trip to Dallas to the American Girl store. By the way, my brother thought this store was really creepy- he thought the dolls looked like “Chucky” dolls.
This is one of my favorite pictures- Brandon and I made a purchase at Payless Shoe Store on the Magnificent Mile. We were both having shoe issues and had to buy something more comfortable!!! So, you won’t see Tiffany’s sacks, Louis Vitan, Coach, etc. in our hands- nope we had Payless sacks. :)
So, overall, what was my opinion of Chicago? I loved it! It’s probably wrong to compare it to NYC but it did remind me of NYC. They both have a beautiful central park, beautiful buildings, beautiful bodies of water, wonderful food, crazy taxis, similar transportation, and wonderful shopping strips. I would love to go back to Chicago with Robin someday and spend more than 24 hours there. There is so much to see and do! Thanks for the visit Chicago- you’re pretty fantastic.