I had a few days to kill and decided to spend them in Chicago doing very touristy things. I checked into the Central Loop Hotel on W. Adams also known as Club Quarters elsewhere. The hotel is located in the business district and was extremely quiet at night. The employees that I encountered were all very cordial and helpful. When getting ready to lay down, I realized that I had forgotten my toothpaste and I called down and in a few minutes, someone ran some up to me.
The room was cozy, I think that’s a good word. I knew that being in the heart of Chicago, that the room wasn’t going to be a mansion, but they seemed to shortchange us on the length of our bed. We ended up sleeping diagonally to fit our feet on the bed.
I booked the hotel from Hotels.com and got a great rate for two nights for around $200.00 The parking situation was weird, with self parking at $20. per twenty four hours and no in and out privileges which was also located about three blocks from the hotel front door. We opted for valet parking which was $30. for twenty four hours with as many trips as you please.
There were so many good options for food in this town. There was even a nice restaurant in our hotel, but we decided to venture out. We walked a couple of blocks from the hotel and and sat down at Miller’s Pub on Wabash, world famous for their BBQ and baby back ribs. Although, I would also suggest the Greek Burger, beef with green and red peppers and onions cooked into the meat and topped with a thick layer of feta cheese layed on a freshly made bun and served with fries and Greek garni, which is a Greek side salad. We also tried the sirloin burger topped with sauteed onions and served with fries. Although we were only there for lunch, they have my kind of hours with late dining until 2 am. The decor was interesting with a mish-mash of ideas from decades of running the place. It made since when I found out it was purchased by Greek brothers and they didn’t have the fee to change the sign from Miller’s back in the day.
Another iconic food item that everyone must have is a Chicago-style hot dog. I grabbed one from a street vendor. This is not your Kauffman stadium style dog. The bun is covered in poppy seeds and the dog is piled with tomato, onions, hot peppers and a long slice of pickle, yum.
We also stopped at the famous Bubba Gump’s from Forrest Gump. They pride themselves on seafood. Now, I’m not a huge seafood fan, but always willing to try something. We started off with some Cajun shrimp on garlic bread, which I really liked. The fruity alcoholic beverages are pretty tasty and pricey. Although, one of the glasses was a keepsake, the price was not worth it for us to get refills. We then ordered chicken and beef platters, both served with fries and pickles. I can’t remember exactly what I ordered, but I remember that I ate it all.
There are so many activities in Chicago to keep you busy for weeks. Like I said in the beginning, I kept it touristy and stayed close to Lake Michigan. Everything is walkable in the city, if the weather is nice and you have great calves. We decided to visit Shedd Aquarium, since I heard they had just opened a new exhibit in the museum. The line was long getting in and buying tickets. If you are planning on visiting, I suggest you buy the tickets online and you can walk right in and you will save some money. Once we got in, it was more people in our way. Lots of families that felt like since they had kids with them, they had the right of way to the exhibits. There were plenty of cool species as well as the normal stuff in lakes around here. I really enjoyed watching the otters and the Rockhopper penguins play in the water. The aquarium has a nice terrace that looks over the lake and you can even see Navy Pier way down the coast. Overall, this is an exhibit for families and kids and thus the price should be dropped. Although, I still had a good time.
Millennium Park is just a short walk from Shedd and Navy Pier, its actually between the two. The park is free for all to walk amongst and go photo crazy as there is so much fun art in the park such as Cloud Gate, also known as The Bean. There is the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion with a beautiful lawn to lay out on with loved ones and soak up the sun. There is the interactive Crown Fountain that was much loved by kids and people burning from the sun. The fountain shows two people interacting a bit with us with facial expressions and when we least expect it, they start spitting water on all that stand below.
We decided to finish up with a visit to Navy Pier. We were walking in on a Saturday evening with hundreds of others as well, tourists and locals alike. There was many places to choose from for eating and plenty of vendors along the sidewalk selling alcohol. We enjoyed just taking a leisurely walk down the pier after eating at Bubba Gump’s. There was a wedding reception going on in one area that was closed off to the public and the very end of the pier was closed off due to construction at the time. So, there really wasn’t much for the two of us to do besides eat, drink and pay for water cruises around the lake. We were pretty exhausted from a full day of walking and decided to call it a day.
So, my favorite things about my trip were the Chicago style hot dog, feeling like a kid with “the bean” and having a hotel room in the middle of the city that was insanely quiet at night.
Overall, the trip was a 4 “Dinosaurs taking over Chicago” out of 5.
by Angela Davis