Tuesday, January 4, 2011


I spent my childhood heading to the northern suburbs of Chicago at least once a year to visit my grandmother and cousins, but in the many, many years of doing this I think we only actually went to do anything in the city of Chicago twice. One time, I was little and we went to some sort of children's museum or something. The other time, I was probably in college and my brother and I went down into the city with one of our cousins so we could see the Shedd Aquarium. So prior to our trip to Chicago to celebrate our 1 year wedding anniversary, I couldn't really say that I had ever really seen the city of Chicago. I don't even remember how we decided on the Windy City, but I'm really glad that we did.

We flew up on a Saturday morning and headed immediately to our hotel to at least drop off our bags. Luckily, our room was ready when we arrived so we were able to drop off our bags and get cleaned up before heading out and about. Our hotel was in an excellent location. We were right by an L station and were within a 15 minute walk to Navy Pier. Since it was a fairly nice (although colder than we had expected) day we decided to walk along Chicago's Riverwalk to get out to Lake Michigan. The walk was really nice, but the closer we got to the Lake the clearer it became that Chicago truly is the Windy City. We got over to Navy Pier and picked up the tickets for the Architecture boat tour we were going to take that afternoon. Then we headed in to Navy Pier for lunch and had our first Chicago food - a Chicago Dog.

I don't usually eat hot dogs and I don't know who thought that all of these toppings would possibly work together, but they do and this delicious concoction was worth every bite. I would absolutely eat another Chicago Dog. After lunch, we spent a lot of time browsing the shops and pretty much just trying to stay inside. It was really cold along the water that day and we were not really prepared for that. We had fleece jackets, but they were not thick enough for that biting wind. We had the smart idea to get coffees before boarding our boat tour, but that warmth only lasted so long. I was shaking with cold by the time our boat docked again. The boat tour was really cool. It was a great way to see the city and hear about some of its history. I highly recommend it to anyone who visits Chicago. Just make sure you have weather appropriate clothing. That evening we drank wine at the hotel's complimentary wine hour and then went to dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. We were both fairly disappointed with Chicago's HRC. The food was decent, but the shop was terrible and the rest of the place was a bit lacking.

The next morning we spent a little time exploring the area around our hotel before heading to the L station so we could board the train and head to Wrigley Field. Our hotel really was in a great area. We were near great food and shopping and the neighborhood just had a really great feel to it. Joe and I agreed that, if Chicago wasn't so cold for so many months each year, we could totally move there. We arrived at Wrigley fairly early for the game so we walked around outside the ballpark for a while and then we headed in. Joe was so excited to finally be in a historic ballpark. Here's the view from our seats:

It was SOOOO cold at the game. I had to buy more clothing and I had to drink coffee without creamer just to try to stay warm. It was bad. We didn't even stay for the whole game because we were just too cold. After the game, we headed to a sportsbar in the near our hotel so we could watch the Redskins lose. Again. ::sigh::

Monday was a big, long day. We got an early start and headed down to the area of the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, and Soldier Field. We got down to that area pretty early so we started things off by taking a walk all the way around Soldier Field. I wanted to take as many pictures as possible for my Dad who gew up a Bears fan. The Bears were hosting Monday Night Football that night (against the Packers!) so things were hopping around the stadium. The pro shop was also open so I got to start my Christmas shopping early. After we finished shopping, we headed over to the Field Museum. Living just out of DC for my entire life, it was odd to have to pay to go into a museum. We had a good time strolling through and looking at their dinosaur bones. We had lunch in the museum - they had a Corner Bakery in there - and then we headed over to stand in line to get into the Shedd Aquarium. Yeah, we had to stand in line. They days that are free to go into the main part of the aquarium. No dolphin show or anything cool like that is included, but it's free. We opted to pay so that we could go see the dolphin show and some other things. They have the COOLEST dolphin habitat and show area. It looks like you're in the Pacific Northwest. And they have Pacific White Sided dolphins which are so much prettier than the dolphins you usually see.

After leaving the aquarium, we took a walk up through Grant Park (wher the Married with Children fountain is located) and Millenium Park. Then we realized we were a lot closer to our hotel than we thought so we just walked back to relax for a while before heading to dinner. We decided to head to Lou Malnati's for deep dish pizza for dinner. Lucky for us, the Bears MNF game was keeping the crowds down. We took the waiter's recommendation as to what we should order and he was OH so right. The pizza was amazing. I don't think we can ever eat at Uno's again because nothing they could offer us will compare to this pizza:

After diner, we headed back to the hotel to watch MNF. Chicago is such a great sports town. I swear everyone we saw on Monday was wearing Bears or Cubs gear (occasionally White Sox or Blackhawks too).

Tuesday was our final day and we had just a few things to wrap up. We had breakfast at our hotel and then headed to the John Hancock Tower. The views were so amazing! And David Schwimmer did the voiceover for our "guided tour". We got a little touch screen thing with headphones at the top and it walked you through the whole observation deck and pointed out things you might have missed otherwise. Definitely a good time. After that, we walked down the Magnificent Mile and window shopped. Finally, we headed over to Portillo's for Italian Beef Sandwiches. I grew up with Italian Beef Sandwiches from Portillo's being the food to eat when we headed to Illinois and I couldn't wait to share the experience with Joe. It took a while to get our sandwiches, but they were so worth the wait. And they sandwiches were so good, I forgot to take a picture of them until after we had both finished. Oops.

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