The "City of Big Shoulders" delighted us both architecturally and creatively from the moment we arrived at Chicago Midway airport. For a sprawling urban center with a skyline only rivaled by New York City, Chicago maintains a surprisingly relaxed pace and offers plenty of room to breathe.
Upon arrival, we snagged two L train passes with unlimited transportation for 72 hours. We stashed our luggage with BagBnB, an incredibly efficient way to get rid of bags for a few hours until we reached our home base later that night.
Next, we headed straight for the river, where my husband was in photography heaven.
The City Winery seemed to be the hot new Friday night spot for locals. We had fun spotting the Prudential building, where my parents first met in 1978 working at Leo Burnett before heading north on Michigan Avenue. We made our way to the 95th floor of the John Hancock tower to celebrate our anniversary at The Signature Room. The floor-to-ceiling window dinner table on the South side of the building was well worth the wait (particularly since we spent our wait at the bar on the 96th floor watching the sunset).
We woke up in the adorable suburb of Evanston, where we were staying with family, and grabbed a quick breakfast sandwich on Central Ave. We rented bikes at Divvy and rode sky-blue bikes from the Northwestern University campus all the way down the lakeshore path along the beach. It was a beautiful, clear day and unusually hot for May (a blistering 90 degrees).
After a long lunch and lounge at Montrose beach, we continued our bike journey southward past sailboats and joggers to Lincoln Park Zoo, one of the only free zoos in America. We were very impressed by the number of safari animals we met.
As the daylight dwindled, we enjoyed a sunset patio beer (Goose Island IPA) before heading to The Second City comedy club, where we watched the Gaslight District improv troupe of hilarious and talented comedians. We ended the day with some late night authentic deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati's. Classic.
Sunday morning we headed downtown to brunch at Revolution Brewing in Logan Square. Then it was off to the Musuem of Contemporary Art, which is a smaller, more intimate museum than the famed Art Institute of Chicago. The MOCA featured stunning post-1945 visuals, and we managed to see every exhibit in under two hours.
Next, we explored the Magnificent Mile shopping district and of course swung by Millennium Park to take selfies in front of The Bean. After that, it was time to cruise the Chicago River on an architecture boat tour. We chose Wendella Tours as our guide and learned so much about the history of Chicago's buildings. All the art deco bulidings were magical but my favorite building was the Carbide and Carbon Building.
For our last night in town, we headed to Cindy's Rooftop bar for a cocktail and beautiful view of the city lights.
On Monday we had a few hours before our flight, so we set off for one final adventure. At the urging of our friends back home, we decided to check out the Chigago location of the Nashville-based Escape Game. We were paired with strangers and successfully launched from the "mission to Mars" room in under 60 minutes. The game was a real adrenaline rush, and I highly recommend it.
Thank you, Chicago, for the delicous food, majestic skyscrapers and cool people. We will no doubt return to see you again soon. Until next time.