The Windy City (which I’ve come to learn did not get its name because of any blustery weather conditions, or because of how the Great Fire spread so rapidly, but did in fact get its nickname from New York journalists who were sick and tired of hearing Chicagoans boast about how great they thought their city was) was a lot of fun and a perfect road trip destination this summer.
My friends and I really did pack a ton of sightseeing into just a few short days. We saw Grant and Millennium Parks – where at night the summer dance programs were taking place and crowds of people learned different dances and practiced them in the beautiful park, and during the day, artists from all around the country were selling their work during the Gold Coast Art Show. In Millennium Park, we also saw “The Bean” and took our own tourist-y photos there, just hours before the area was evacuated because of a bomb threat! (It turned out to just be a scare, thank goodness!)
We walked around the clean and easily navigable city and periodically stopped for snacks and drinks and a bit of air conditioning in fun little places like The Purple Pig before going on an architecture tour along the Chicago River. (Chicago is very proud of how clean their river is becoming, by the way.) The tour offered so many great views of the beautiful buildings in the city and about half of the photos I took on the trip are from this tour!
The original pizzeria UNO was a must-see from the very beginning of our trip, and there we enjoyed a deep dish, Chicago style pizza. It was amazing, and I don’t know how anyone could ever eat more than once slice at a sitting! Because the franchise that developed from this little restaurant is so well known, the wait is usually very long. The owners opened a second location, just down the street called DUE and offer the same menu and accommodates some of the original restaurant’s overflow. When we were asking locals for restaurant recommendations, another restaurant name popped up a few times because they are known for their “stuffed” deep dish pizzas, Giordano’s. (I might just have to check that out the next time I’m there!)
Being the big sports fan that I am (ahem!) I just had to go to Wrigley Field. No, seriously this actually ended up being one of the highlights of the trip for all of us. I really enjoyed learning about the history of the stadium, the owners, the players, and the neighborhood that surrounds the stadium. The Cubs were not in town while we were there, so we didn’t get to see a live game, and that’s definitely another thing to put on the list for next time.
Navy Pier and the Willis Tower rounded out our third day in the city. Each location offered tons of photo opportunities…and a little souvenir shopping. And as if we hadn’t already eaten enough, we went to Italian Village for dinner. There, three different Italian restaurants are housed in the same building. We ate in the upstairs location (I think it was called Village) and had great food and a fabulous time. For a minute, you really did feel like you were somewhere in the middle of Italy.
The drive home, which we expected to do over two days, actually took us just one day. I drove for about 14 hours (with a few quick stops along the way) and though it was not originally something on my list of things to do, I can now say that I drove from Chicago to New Jersey in one day. It was nice to get home a day early and back to my beautiful New Jersey.
The Jersey Girl