|Lurie Garden (Plus Aileen)|
On Independence Day, Aileen and I loaded up LaFawnda (our Honda Fit) and set out on our journey. After about five hours (and $6.60 in road tolls) we arrived at our hotel. We stayed at the Best Western Plus in the River North area of town, which is just north of the Loop and the Chicago River. It was within two miles of most of the activities and attractions we had planned, so it was extremely convenient. It also had free parking, which is very rare in Chicago! Once we were all settled into our temporary home-base, we struck off into the city. We walked south through the Loop and ended up on Michigan Avenue right next to Millennium Park. We grabbed a quick lunch and then took our picture at the Bean sculpture at the park. Next, we visited the Art Institute of Chicago. The museum is impressive and includes a large amount of Greek and Roman ceramics and one of the largest collections of Impressionist paintings in the world. They had a very interesting special exhibit there called 'Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity' which explored the use of fashion in Impressionist works. After the museum, we enjoyed a walk through the Lurie Garden, got a snack in Millennium Park and then walked to the mouth of the Chicago River and watched the fireworks!
|Us in The Bean|
The next morning, we woke up early (not on purpose, we were still on our non-vacation sleep schedule, plus we were in a different time zone) and began the day with a delicious breakfast at Hendrickx Belgian Bread Crafters. Aileen had a croissant filled with chocolate and almond while I chose chocolate and brandy. They were the best croissants I had ever tasted: extra flaky and only slightly sweet! Next, we set off for Oak Street Beach. It is a long beach that runs parallel to Lakeshore Drive along Lake Michigan in the northern part of the city center. We walked along the path and enjoyed the lovely weather. To finish off our morning, we rode the elevator to the observation floor of the Hancock Tower and enjoyed the magnificent views of Chicago from one-thousand feet up! Afterwards, we walked along Navy Pier and had a beer and our first Chicago style hot dogs (beef dog on poppy-seed bun, yellow mustard, onions, sweet relish, dill spear, cucumber slices, tomatoes, hot peppers, celery salt, and absolutely no ketchup). To finish off the afternoon, we took a cruise on the Chicago River that highlighted the city's famous works of architecture. The city is filled with some of the best examples of the Art Deco style and also has many modern and unique buildings. By the end of the cruise, we were starting to drag, so we opted for a relaxing dinner at an Irish pub near our hotel.
|View from Hancock Observatory|
|From the top of the Ferris Wheel on Navy Pier|
|Trump Tower from the Chicago River|
|The Chicago River|
|Dr. Evil's Yacht|
Unintentionally, we woke up early again the next morning: "Early to bed, early to rise..." you know how it goes. We had a delicious egg-centric breakfast at a place called Yolk a few blocks from our hotel then set off again to explore. We walked to Lincoln Park, by way of Oak Street Beach, and enjoyed a few hours at the free zoo there, followed by some more Chicago style dogs. We then rented some bikes from Chicago's new Divvy bike program. We rode south, back through Oak Street Beach and then checked out some of the stores along the Magnificent Mile. After freshening up at our hotel and stopping by the grocery store, we headed to Millennium Park next to the Loop in the heart of the city. They have a free concert series there throughout the summer and we enjoyed a picnic dinner, complete with a classy box of wine, as the sun set. It was one of the highlights of the trip for sure! Afterwards, we saw Buckingham Fountain, which is lit up with colored lights and "performs" along to music in the evenings.
|Oak Street Beach (Plus Sean)|
|Picnic! Keepin' it classy with boxed wine and Best Western cups...|
|Pritzker Pavilion (day)|
|Pritzker Pavilion (night)|
|Sean with Sue (Watch Out!)|
|Aileen with Brawling Elephants|
|Aileen with a bust of Pharaoh Michael Jackson|
|I never thought Aileen's feet could seem more skinny|
|Chicago <3 Stanley Cup|