Monday, August 5, 2013

Road Trip: Chicago, Part One

After leaving Springfield we made the final haul to Chicago! Now, I have to say, we spent three days in Chicago, but they weren't consecutive. After a day in Chicago, we continued our journey up to Wisconsin, and then two days later, headed back to the Windy City to visit more family. But I'm trying to keep this post fairly succinct, so I'll post part two of Chicago later.

As we entered Chicago, we decided to drive along Lakeshore Drive, and immediately got caught in that infamous Chicago traffic.

Thank goodness there were pretty views of Lake Michigan!

There were lots of people out walking and biking along the beach. Heck, if I lived here and the weather was this nice (in the low 70s!), I'd want to be outside too!

Once we finally got off the main drag, we worked our way into Lincoln Park to get a real deep-dish pizza experience. We chose Pequod's, on Molly's recommendation.

And can I just say HOLY SHIT Chicago, your pizza is MASSIVE. When we were deciding which size pizza to get, I said I can usually eat two slices of pizza. That is, two Texas slices. I couldn't even get through ONE whole Chicago slice! This thing was like, more than an inch thick, and just melting with cheese and pepperoni and huge hunks of sausage. It was fantastic though, and I way overstuffed because I couldn't get enough of the crust.

We had planned to stay with a family friend that evening, so we hauled our stuffed tummies back into the car, made it to their house, and then passed out.

The next morning, we woke up ready to do ALL THE TOURISTY THINGS! First things first: we bought a one-day pass for $10 for the train and the CTA buses, and it was one of the best decisions we made. We rode that thing all over the place! (Luckily Matt's dad is a Chicago native, and despite being displaced in Texas for the last 25+ years, he still remembered how to get around!)

We planned to make the museum district our first stop, and so after riding the train into the city, we got off and walked to catch the bus to the Science and Industry Museum, the one place Matt really, really wanted to go. On the way to the bus, we stopped by the Buckingham Fountain.

 It's HUGE! I'm starting to believe that we are wrong when we say "Everything's bigger in Texas."

The second really good decision we made was that we decided to purchase a Chicago City Pass for the trip. Basically, you get discounted admission to five of the major attractions, and you get to skip lines when you get there. So right away, it saved us a ton of time and money. But also, it was nice because we wanted to see a lot of different things, but if you pay full price for admission to a museum, you kind of feel bad if you leave after an hour or two. Having the City Pass made us feel like we could see the things we wanted to see and then move on.

Therefore, we spent the next five or six hours at the science museum, and it was like a playground for Matt. :)

But I had fun too! There were several cool exhibits, my favorites being the train room and this one about innovation where they showcased these regular people that had brilliant ideas that are changing the way the world works. (I think the exhibit was called Idea Factory, if you're there.)

Wall quotes are my faves.

Once Matt had gotten his fill of science, it was my turn to pick.

The Art Institute of Chicago! I mainly wanted to see some Degas and Monet, so we stuck to the impressionists wing. (I also hauled my husband and father-in-law through an exhibit on Fashion and Impressionism, which I thought was super cool, but I don't know how much they enjoyed it. I think my sister would have loved it though.)

Bronzes by Degas. I didn't know he sculpted! But I love how his work is mainly dancers.

One of the Monet paintings that was not of haystacks. Did you know he painted a lot of haystacks? At all different times of year and times of day. There was basically a whole room devoted to haystacks. 

We came, we saw, my feet and back were hurting a lot. My only pair of tennis shoes hurts my feet, so I only brought flats on this trip, but they were not good enough. By the time we came back for leg two of Chicago, I had to stop and buy some cushier shoes. (These, and they are INCREDIBLE. No need to break them in, no need for socks, and they felt like walking on clouds. I've pretty much worn them every day since.)

After an hour or so in the art museum, we walked over to Millenium Park to sit down for a little while and enjoy the weather. (And some gummi bears, if we're being honest.)

When my feet didn't feel like they were being stabbed in the arches anymore, we headed over to the bean.

Does anyone know how this thing was made? We looked, but you can't see any seams!

I did cheesy touristy things.

Then we headed out of the park and toward the train for our next stop — the Willis Tower, aka The Artist Formerly Known As The Sears Tower! (YEAH, all this was in a single day. Going big.)

Saw this sign at a hot dog stand on the way out of the park, and it made me laugh. We did eventually wind up getting hot dogs, at Portillo's (thanks again, Molly!), and I was surprised that I really liked Chicago-style dogs! You wouldn't think that a pickle would be good on a hot dog, but it WORKS! I didn't get a picture though, that's why you're reading about it now.

Thankfully, because of the City Pass we got to bypass the insanely long line at the Willis Tower and head straight up to the 101st floor!

Chicago is really beautiful.

And we all stepped out onto the ledge! Which is kind of thrilling, even though it's pretty thick and looks really stable.

By the time we headed to dinner, my lower back was MURDERING ME. I had made an observation earlier in the day that you never see Chicago women running around in heels. In fact, I was keeping a tally in my head of how many women weren't wearing flats. (Spoiler: in three days, I only saw 10 women wearing heels. And I can totally see why they don't.)

That evening, we picked Matt's mom up from the airport, got a good night's sleep and prepared for the next leg of the trip — Wisconsin!

Spend time in Chicago — crossed off my Life List!

Do you like doing touristy things, or do you prefer to get off the beaten path? Which do you prefer on your hot dogs — pickles or ketchup? :)


  1. I like to do a combo of touristy things and off the beaten path things. I'm usually visiting a local, so they are really helpful with suggestions! I am itching to go to Chicago! It's high on my travel list.

    Also, I saw a lot of impressionist work over the weekend. I was also impressed and surprised by the Degas sculptures!

    1. I'll admit, we did way more touristy things in Chicago than I would normally do on vacation, but since it was a family road trip, I was open to doing pretty much whatever others wanted to do. The only thing I'm adamant about is eating local foods everywhere we go!

  2. Chicago is such a great city! Kudos to you for going on that ledge, I think I would be way too scared!
    Also, your hair looks amazing.

  3. Yay, it sounds like you had a great time, aside from your poor feet! I love Degas and his statues! So cool that you saw them in person. I have a little replica of his Little Dancer. She has had her head knocked off a time or two, but I always manage to glue it back on. :)

    1. Oh my gosh, that's hilarious! Poor Little Dancer!

  4. I definitely want to go to Chicago one day (and see everything you did)! It looks like a lot of fun.

    I love doing touristy things the first time I visit a place; any subsequent visit, however, I go off the beaten path. ;)

    1. That's a great way to travel! Best of both worlds. :)

  5. Looks like you had a blast! Next time try Lou Malnati's pizza--it's the BEST. I still haven't been on the ledge at sears tower, but I really want to!

    1. Spoiler alert! In Part Two we totally get pizza from Lou Malnati's. And it was delicious!

  6. Vacations always put my poor feet through the ringer. I still have scars from my own trip to Chicago--last year :( I heard about GOwalks on a few travel forums and just ordered a pair for my Europe trip. I am SO HAPPY to read that they worked for you!

    1. Yikes! I guess it had been a while since we'd taken a vacation where the plan wasn't to just lay on the beach as much as possible, so I was not prepared! You wil LOOOOOVE the GoWalks. I plan on taking them on every vacation from here on out.

  7. The pizza looks incredible!! I love to do touristy things and Chicago is on my list of places to go...except that tower, will gladly skip that lol!