Whilst visiting a friend in Maryland, we decided to take a little trip to Chicago! If I’m being honest, I’d never actually heard anything about the city of Chicago and thought there wasn’t much to do…I couldn’t have been more wrong!
Upon our 9am arrival (our journey started at 3:30am in Washington Dulles airport!), we quickly checked into the Freemans Hostel and dropped off our baggage before starting the day. I’m a firm believer of extensive research into any new place I visit, so we were never stuck on what to do next. Although Chicago has a nickname of being ‘The Windy City’, we were blessed with sunshine and clear skies, which made the vast amount of walking bearable. TIP: If you’re going to Chicago, make sure you have comfortable shoes to walk in!
The first stop on our agenda was visiting the famous Bean in Millennium Park – better known at Cloud Gate. My first thought when we arrived was that it was a lot bigger than expected. Standing in front of the impressive sculpture felt surreal and it was incredible to be able to see the surrounding architecture in the reflection. Apparently, when the light is right you can’t see where the sculpture ends and the sky begins – we clearly didn’t go at the correct time, but it certainly helped us understand the meaning of the name!
Another Chicago tradition one must take on when visiting, is tasting a Chicago ‘Deep-Dish’ pizza. We crossed the city to go to the original Chicago Pizzeria for dinner, but definitely overestimated our pizza tolerance…Far, far from a Dominos margarita, the classic deep-dish pizza was layers of crust, cheese, tomato sauce and more cheese. When our meal arrived, we were staring at it in pure fear…a little word of warning: DO NOT even try to attempt eating one by yourself! We each managed 2 out of 6 slices and thought we were going to die of a cheese coma. Afterwards, we decided to walk half way back to our hostel to work off at least one mouthful of pizza, but ended up making it 20 minutes down the street before calling an Uber to rescue us.
The next day we went to the North Pier and got on an architectural boat tour. Named as one of the must-do things when visiting the city, we couldn’t wait to sit down and take in the views. During the 90-minute trip, we sailed down the Chicago River and were told all about the history behind the huge buildings and towers e.g. Trump Tower, The Willis tower, The Chicago Tribune and Lake Point Tower, to name a few. As mentioned before, we were blessed with another day of beautiful weather. I’m not sure we’d have enjoyed it as much if we felt like we would be blown off the boat as most visitor’s experience, so make sure you check the weather app before going!
One of the main tourist attractions in Chicago is visiting the Sky Deck at the top of the Willis Tower, reaching a height of 1,300ft. Once we got to the top of the tower, we were greeted with panoramic views of the city, as well as being able to see across 3 other states of America – Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. As well as looking across the city of Chicago, the 4 glass ledges allow you to look down 1300ft onto the streets of the city (not for the faint hearted!). The Sky Deck should be at the top of your list when visiting Chicago, as you don’t get views like that often!
To feel like real Americans, my friend and I decided to go to a baseball game held at Wrigley stadium. I feel like seeing a proper baseball game is a must when in the United States and it’s probably the best way to understand the American sport culture. The game was The Cubs vs The Brewers and what an atmosphere there was at the stadium – probably fuelled with beer and hot dogs (not complaining…). We sat down and realised we actually had no clue about the rules of baseball, so quickly turned to the trusty Wikipedia, whilst delving into a chicken box and Nachos. Again, when in America, going to a sports game is essential to get the proper ‘American dream’ feeling.
Our last adventure whilst in Chicago was visiting the Art Institute. My friend studies History of Art at Maryland University, so she was in an absolute dream once we arrived. Whilst appreciating art as much as I can to my level of knowledge, I was blown away by the interior of the building. The grand entrance was stunning and each corner greeted us with another corridor of beautiful features. I want to write a full blog post of this visit (don’t hold me to it), as there’s so much to share about it, so I won’t go into much detail. But the Art Institute is on another level when compared to other galleries and museums. It does have a $25 admission fee, but it’s so worth it!
If you’re planning a trip to the United States, I beg you to consider the understated city of Chicago and I hope this post gives you a little insight into what to do whilst there!