Chi-caaaaah-go!

Chicago! It has just as much to see and do as New York City, but it doesn’t move at the breakneck speed of the Big Apple, and I LOVED it. Chicago has plenty to see, do, and eat, and it has the same “go anywhere and find something cool” vibe but without the crowds and without the intense hustle bustle where you feel like you’re getting in people’s way. Also the architecture in Chicago is AMAZING. <3 So many gorgeous historic buildings that give Chicago this incredible “big city in an antique town” feel, if that makes any sense. If I had to sum up the trip in four photos it’d be these:

  • First, I brought three critters with me, and all three were found and confirmed! Thanks to everyone who joined the hunt! 🙂

  • THE WEATHER WAS AWESOME. So many people told me I got lucky and that the weather was pretty nasty up until when I showed up over the weekend. Temperatures were mild, the sun was out, good times were had. 🙂
  • Millennium Park: Admittedly I kind of wandered over to see the Cloud Gate (the bigass bean) with an “eh, seems like a touristy thing but why not?” attitude, but holy crap guys, the bean is actually really cool. The rest of Millennium Park is really nice too, I’m glad I didn’t let my skepticism take over. 🙂
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    There’s me!
    • On the other hand, I skipped the Willis Tower. I’m guessing I didn’t miss much?
    • The Chicago Cultural Center! I honestly didn’t know what to expect…I just had a lot of people suggest that I should “just walk through it,” and I’m glad I did. Beautiful, beautiful building with gorgeous architecture that I could look at all day, cool art galleries in every wing, and it’s all free to see. I love Keith Haring’s work so it was a particularly happy surprise for me to find a Keith Haring mural on display in there!

  • Almost every Lyft driver I had felt the need to apologize for the crazy drivers on the road. My friend and I honestly didn’t notice, and reassured them that Chicago drivers seem just as aggressive as the ones back home in Houston.
  • However, one way that Chicago drivers AREN’T like Houston drivers is that they’re crazy polite around pedestrians?? Like they REALLY go out of their way to stop for people in the streets, even if it wasn’t our right of way. It actually threw me off, I’m so used to holding back and letting the cars barrel their way through.
  • Lincoln Park Zoo: This place is FREE?? Being a free zoo, I really expected it to be smaller, and to have something along the lines of ducks, gators, etc. mostly animals found in North America. Instead I found polar bears, zebras, penguins, golden macaques, all sorts of animals from around the world that looked well taken care of and in nice enclosures. AND IT’S FREE. That’s amazing!

  • Pizza at Lou Malnati’s! It seems like Chicagoans have very strong opinions about their deep dish pizza, but it’s one of those beautiful battles where there’s no loser. I had several other pizza joints marked on my map, but Lou Malnati’s worked best for me at the time. The strands of cheese as you pull a slice out of the pan. The fresh tomatoes! DAT BUTTER CRUST. It was a big gooey mess and it was GLORIOUS.
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  • Drinks at The Aviary: I wasn’t able to get a reservation, so I tried my luck for a walk-in. The hostess told us there was only standing room available, and I went ahead and took it. Guys, if they tell you only standing tables are available, TAKE IT. It ended up being the best spot in the house because you get a full view of the kitchen and it’s like watching mad scientists at work. Showmanship and presentation are a big part of what makes them famous, but it isn’t just for looks, their drinks are legitimately delicious and well-made. Drinks were pricey as hell, but it’s an experience that I felt was worth the cost. I’d absolutely come back here.

  • Loved the Logan Park part of town, but I also found out the hard way that I should’ve visited in the evening. Lots of neat little places, but it was mostly bars and restaurants that I’d imagine would be pretty fun and active at night. I’ll have to revisit if I come back!
  • Also LOVED Wicker Park. So many fun little independent shops to check out.
  • Speaking of Wicker Park, Myopic Books was a fun visit! It feels like you walked into a librarian’s attic, with the smell of old paper, creaky stairs, and lots of cozy corners filled with books of just about any sort. I love the “get off my lawn” old man-esque rules: no cell phones, no cameras, no discounts. I’d also read that they’ll tack an extra $1 onto the price of any books that aren’t reshelved correctly although I didn’t see any signage indicating that? Either way it’s a great little spot to browse and get lost for a bit. I made it a point to hide a critter here because people would have to find it without a photo clue from the inside! 🙂

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  • Ramen at High Five Ramen! RAMEN. I’ll always make room for ramen. I showed up just 15 minutes past opening and it was already an hour wait, so I put my name down and grabbed some drinks in the meantime. An hour later I was eating a bowl of ramen that BURNED BUT BURNED SO GOOD. The broth was fantastic, and their chili oil uses Chinese peppercorns which are known for their numbing spice flavor…it’s the kind that’ll give you a burn and will get to your head a bit, heh. Delicious, and the wait is painless because there’s plenty of other stuff nearby for you to eat/snack on while you wait for them to text you.

  • (Side note: I also visited Slurping Turtle for ramen and wasn’t impressed. High Five all the way.)

  • The International Museum of Surgical Science! My dayjob is in healthcare so I was particularly curious about this place. It’s built in an old historic home, and it’s a bit unpolished compared to your average museum (no rhyme or reason to the layout, no flattering lighting for the objects, placards are just sheets of paper tacked to the wall), but I feel like it gives it a certain quirkiness. I was simultaneously fascinated and horrified by all the crazy oldschool medical equipment they had on display. It’s kind of cool to think that while we might think the things they have on display there are barbaric and primitive, someday people will look back on our medical technology today and think what we have is like using sticks and stones. It’s a pretty exciting thought to know that we’re always moving up when it comes to taking care of people. 🙂 The main takeaway: Be glad we’ve moved on from the days of iron lungs, animal-to-human blood transfusion experiments, and using ants to suture wounds.

  • The street art: Chicago has AMAZING street art. I saw gorgeous murals everywhere, and I felt like it added a lot of color the city, both literally and figuratively. The most impressive ones were unfortunately the ones I wasn’t able to photograph because I’d spot them from the trains or while driving past them on a freeway!

  • Things I DIDN’T get to do in Chicago: try a Chicago hot dog, see a show by the NeoFuturists (their show schedules didn’t work out for us and we opted for a show at the iO instead), go on an architecture tour, try some beer at the local breweries.
  • Chicago doesn’t feel nearly as condensed as New York City, and yet every time I thought I had covered a lot of ground, I kept finding more things that I didn’t notice before! I’ve already got a good mental list of things I’ll have to revisit or catch up on if I come back. Thanks again for a great weekend, Chicago!

    1 comment on “Chi-caaaaah-go!”

    1. I have been wanting to return to Chicago and this post makes it even more so!
      Sounds like a great time. So glad you had fun and for sharing your amazing photos.
      See you in San Diego.

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