So my fitness journey got off to a great start. After trekking, and at one time getting lost in the streets of Chicago, Illinois, I actually lost weight despite ALL the food I ate. While I may have shed a few pounds, I did gain some great tips to share with you guys! The city was picturesque this time of year and the trip could not have come at a more perfect time. I was due for another adventure after New Orleans and I’d say that’s exactly what I got. I also got to spend quality time with my boyfriend’s family which is always enjoyable. My boyfriend is, Sam (Sammy). We arrived at the Midway airport in Southside Chicago early Friday morning, grabbed our one bag (no carryons-That was GREAT) and headed for the “L” to catch the Orange Line. (I hope you’re taking notes cause this is great advice). I’m one to want the full experience as best as I can get it so I was excited to take public transportation and catch the train. Not to mention it was $6 for two one ways compared to an always $50 uber ride when you’re leaving an airport. What was cool was the Netflix show, Shameless is filmed in Chicago and one of the train stops was right outside of the Gallegher home in South side Chicago.
Did you know? After the great Chicago fire in 1871 which burned dozens of neighborhoods, buildings and the city’s business district to the ground, the city rebuilt using steel and concrete. This rebirth gave rise to the world’s first skyscraper and now the city stands stronger than before as the illustrious Chicago, IL you know today? Hence, the name, “Tale of Two Cities.”
There is soooooo much to do in this beautiful city especially in the summer time when the weather is just right. TIP from the locals: the best time to visit the city is during the month of July as the other months are either cold or rainy or both. Luckily we didn’t experience either of the two or it would have made it impossible to do all of what I am about to tell you. Well you can still eat cause this city knows good eats.
- Catch a Cubs game at Wrigley Field
What a hell of a way to kick off your Chicago vacation by catching the 2016 World Series Champions play at home. I think what made it even more worthwhile was not only the fact that the Cubs won against the pirates but it was my first time at Wrigley Field as well as my boyfriend’s first time and he is a HUGE fan. Wrigley was like a dream come true for him. I guess our wedding doesn’t even stand a chance. The crowd was relentless and full of spirit as foul balls flew high into the sky. The stadium is an oldie but goodie with it’s original structure still in tact. And the ivy is just as lush and green as the first day of Spring.
Honestly, the tickets can get pretty steep but the atmosphere surrounding the park is only a little less cool but there are still tons of things to do and buy, sites to see and food to eat in Wrigleyville. But if you enter into the friendly confines grab you some concessions, a cold one of Old Style beer (Chicago’s Beer) and an official Cubs cocktail as you marvel is the postcard like view of the Chicago skyline.
2. Taste of Chicago This event does not happen often but if you listened to my advice and come in July, you won’t miss it. I believe it’s always the first week of July. It’s a really neat way to get all of the local food you can get in one place. There were literally TASTES of the various local diners, food trucks and restaurants in the Chicago area. I even got African food, catfish and I tried gator sausage. I would say budget at least $40-60 for two people to enjoy a “taste” of their preference and you should still have some leftover to drink a bit. If you don’t drink alcohol save yourself some money and pack up some waters. There may also be some good people out there giving away their leftover tickets. Sam and I were approached by two people with extra tickets so you know we grubbed.
3. Take Your Picture at the Bean While you’re strolling through the field of flowers on your way to the Taste, stop and get a picture taken at the famous Bean in Millennial Park. It’s just a huge silver mirror in the shape of a bean but hey, it’s the typical tourist thing to do. Right?!
4. Go Shopping on the Magnificent Mile (Michigan Ave.) I never really get the big deal of shopping in a big city but there was a two story Anthropologie, the official Cubs store and I managed to find a Calvin Klein dress, IVY PARK capris and Nike sneakers all for $100 from Nordstrom Rack. I got a steal for all this stuff so I can say there are way more options to choose from in a bigger city.
5. Find a Speak Easy Bar
I didn’t know what a Speak Easy was at first but my boyfriend’s mom was so excited about it and she had me all ears to know more. We made it to the bar and the walls were covered in old photographs of the famous patrons that entered through the original doors that still stood in place. The original bar was still standing after the Chicago Fire including many other furnishings and aesthetics like the burlesque shows that played at the top of every hour. We waited an hour and a half at least before we got to go downstairs where the magic happened. So while we waited we toasted with the locals and took shots of the nastiest liquor ever- Malort. But you gotta try it though. Yuck!
During prohibition era, all alcohol was illegal of course. Big names like Al Capone would smuggle their barrels of alcohol through underground tunnels and alley ways using these Speak Easy bars. I guess the name Speak Easy is due to having to keep these acts confidential during the time.
6. Find Your Crust This is for my pizza lovers! Have you ever had real deep dish or stuffed crust pizza and I don’t mean that cheap crust stuffed with mozzarella cheese. NO. Chicago style pizza opens your eyes to the limitless options of what pizza could be and it’s all about the crust. Do you like butter crust or do you like stuffed crust. I found that I prefer stuffed crust from the famous Giordano’s. What’s yours?
7. Take a a Stroll Down the Riverwalk Burn off those calories from eating all of the delicious food around the city or sit on the wall of steps with your honey and look out at the Chicago River as the dazzling city lights do a dance on the still waters. You may even catch the enthusiastic kayaking tour guide who tells all the jokes and the history of the city. Whatever you decide to do this is one of the many tourist attractions you must see before leaving. And it’s FREE.
8. Go Irish Pub Hopping If drinking is your thing then Irish pub hopping should be too. I didn’t realize that most of my preferred beverages were Irish libations and after waiting almost 4-5 hours in lines (yes plural) for the Ledge at the Skydeck, any kind of libations were what we all needed. So to get everyone back in good spirits we made a game of it. Any bar with an O’ or an Irish sounding name, we stopped for a shot of Powers, Tullamore Dew and a Smithwix… Or pretty much whatever they had. Nothing like day drinking with the Irish.
9. The Ledge
Don’t and I repeat, DON’T waste your time and money going anywhere near this place. We waited in line nearly 5 hours until we finally got to the Little box in the sky which we along with about 20 other people got to stand in for maybe 3 minutes before we had to rotate with the next group. I’m all smiles here but I was not a happy camper.
Also if you consider skipping the line and paying the extra $20+ I wouldn’t, essentially you will wait in line to watch a 15 minute introduction then wait a little longer to get on the elevator to the 103rd floor where you will wait in another line for the best 3 minutes of your LIFE!
10. Take It All In
Chicago is buzzing with tons of options to suite each pallet. You can easily make this a budget friendly trip using my 10 Things To Do in Chicago blog post. Or you can make your own list and share it with me! I hope this inspired you to get out and travel. Don’t forget to share this post and your next “Top 10 To-do List” so I can read all about it.