Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Weekend Getaway to Chicago

Over the July long weekend, Kevin and I took a road trip to Chicago, Illinois. He’d visited once, years ago, and it was my first time. We loved it. We’re trying to make this the Summer of Road Trips because I still have 25,000 KM left on my car lease and only five months to use as much as I can. May as well! That explains the drive to Florida (~5000 KM round trip), the drive to Niagara Falls (~300 KM round trip), this most recent trip to Chicago, IL (~1700 KM round trip) and our upcoming trip to Boston, MA (~1800 KM round trip).

We stayed just outside of Chicago, which saved us big bucks on the hotel costs. My preference is to stay in nice hotels, but we knew we’d only be in the room for sleeping, so we were just looking for something inexpensive and clean. Our hotel was super dated, but very clean, and it came with Wi-Fi, a mini fridge, a microwave, and a free shuttle to and from the subway’s blue line, which went directly downtown – very convenient!

The best purchases of our trip were 2 CityPasses ($84 each) and 2 3-Day CTA passes ($14 each) for the train. We hmmed and hawed for a while about buying the CityPasses because we weren’t sure if it was worth it, but I highly recommend purchasing these! Just being able to skip the admission lines made buying these worth it! And even though we drove, we didn’t want to have to worry about parking and traffic, so took full advantage of the CTA passes too.

The weather was crazy that weekend. Super hot and humid with crazy thunderstorms every day. We were incredibly lucky and missed all of them though! The rain always came when we were inside or on the bus, but I had quite a scare when I checked the weather on my phone before leaving and saw this:
We visited a ton of places so I have lots of photos! I made a collage of Navy Pier because it was pretty easy to group those photos together.
Chicago - Navy Pier
For those who are interested in seeing some more photos (the architecture is stunning), keep reading after the jump!

This was our very first stop of the day: The Buckingham Fountain aka: the Married with Children Fountain. We drove straight through the night to Chicago (9 hours), and were only going on about a 2hr nap our first day! We spent the whole day walking around, trying to see everything and familiarize ourselves to the city.SDC11380
I told Kevin I really wanted to see the “silver bean”. He had no idea what I was talking about and didn’t seem very interested. When I told him it looked like a Tiffany bean and was huge I don’t think he really understood what I meant by “huge” lol. Long story short, he thought the bean was awesome. As did I. Very cool. SDC11416
Just past the bean was (I think) a very futuristic looking amphitheatre. We were there when an orchestra was performing, so we caught a bit of the show. SDC11418
The Public Library of the City of Chicago. Love the rounded windowsSDC11424
Kevin loved the Marina City Complex. The identical 65-story towers were designed in 1959 by Bertrand Goldberg and were completed in 1964. We gave them all kinds of nick names: The Honeycomb Towers, the Corn on the Cob Towers, The Wasp Hive Towers… take your pick lolSDC11432
This signage is pretty iconic for Chicago.. and they’ve got some pretty sweet shows coming up (Blondie, Fiona Apple, Barry Manalow, Nicki Minaj… just to name a few)SDC11434
We went up the SkyDeck and took shots on the Ledge. Kevin had the right idea, ducking down. I should’ve done that! D’oh!
SkyDeck walkout
On our way to the Field Museum, we saw these sculptures – dozens of iron(?) legs, with what looked to me to be wearing baggy pants lolSDC11512
The Field Museum – very stately looking!SDC11396
The world’s most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex, at the Field MuseumSDC11442
About to watch Space Junk 3D at the Planetarium, looking quite literally dazed and confused.SDC11521
Union Station. When we left the Planetarium, it looked like it was gonna pour so we hopped on a bus and visited Union Station. It poured like crazy the whole time we were on the bus, then it wasn’t so bad when we got off – the ground was just wet. We grabbed some food inside the station and when we came out, the weather was gorgeous. It’s funny because when we were entering the station Kevin said, “wanna just go back to the hotel after lunch?” and I replied with, “let’s see how the weather is when we get back.. If it’s nice, let’s go to Navy Pier!” and so off to the pier we went SmileSDC11524
The Hancock Observatory. There is an awesome audio tour, narrated by David Schwimmer. We wished we had gone here first and then seen the other CityPass venues because the tour gave us some really good information. Also, how cool is it that they give each person an iTouch to listen to the audio tour?? Faaaancy!Observatory
From one window, you can see the Navy Pier in its entiretySDC11548
From another you can see a huge stretch of beach. And honestly, it was about 40C with humidex every day we were there. With this view, we felt like we were in Miami, not Chicago!SDC11549
And finally, another view point back to the city and all the high rises. This building offered a much better view than the SkyDeck, in my opinion.SDC11551
At the bottom of the John Hancock Tower was this HOPE sign. I’ve seen similar LOVE signs. SDC11556
And finally, we checked out the Chicago Water Tour, constructed between 1867 and 1869. It’s special to the city because it’s one of the few buildings that survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.SDC11571
The inside of it looked just as cool as the outside.SDC11569

We're off to Boston next... any tips on where to go or what to see??

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