Chicago has been on our places to visit from last 3 years but unfortunately we have never been able to plan a trip to Chicago. This time in March, my hubby had to visit Groupon headquarters for work for 2 days and I decided to grab that opportunity to tag along and explore the beautiful city of sky scrappers :)
Chicago has lot of great things to-do but ours was a short trip, so we decided to explore some of the top ones :)
Before we get into the details, here are some fun facts about Chicago:
- Chicago is also called the Windy City.
- The ‘Historic Route 66’ begins in Chicago.
- The first Ferris Wheel made its debut in Chicago. Today, Navy Pier is home to a 15-story ferris wheel.
- The Willis Tower (formerly known as Sears Tower) is the tallest building in the western hemisphere.
- The Willis tower elevators are amongst the fastest in the world operating as fast as 1600 feet per minute.
- Four states are visible from the top of the Willis Tower (Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin)
- Chicago’s downtown is called "The Loop"
After our quick research, we found buying Chicago Explorer Pass worth buying to see some of the attractions in Chicago. It gives you an option to choose 3, 4 or 5 attractions from a list of 25. For more details, visit their website here. We got it from Costco at 76$ per person. Turns out to be a great deal!
Hotel and Car rental: Unless you plan to do a road trip away from the city, you wont need a car. For hotels, I would definitely encourage you to stay close or in the loop (downtown). If you are in the downtown, you don’t really need any car rental. We mostly used Uber for our commute. It is pretty easy and convenient way to get around in the city. You could also use subway trains.
|At the subway station!|
Day 1: (Saturday)
- We started our day at the Fourth Presbyterian Church. A beautiful church across the famous John Hancock Center.
|Same Church at night looks exceptionally beautiful!|
- Hop-on Hop-off Big Bus Chicago tour: (Included in Chicago Explorer pass) This is the best way to explore the city as it is a guided tour and the guide walks you through the history and architecture along the route. We started from stop # 13 (The John Hancock Observatory and 360 Chicago)
|Desi Boys ;)|
- Millennium Park. An absolute must visit while in Chicago. This park is an award-winning center for art, music, architecture, and landscape design. This is the place where you will see the world famous huge mercury drop called ‘The Bean’. It is also called the Cloud Gate. An Indian-born British artist named Anish Kapoor sculpts this bean. In its mirror-like surface, you will not only see your own reflection but also the downtown skyline. Give at least an hour to go around the park and see the sculptures in the park.
|The World famous Bean|
|urf Cloud Gate|
- Navy Pier: You can’t visit Chicago without making a stop at Navy Pier for the incredible views of the skyline and hours of fun time. We also went in the Ferris wheel (Centennial Wheel - $15) from where you can see the stunning views of the entire city.
- 360 Chicago (Included in Chicago Explorer Pass): This is the observation deck of the famous John Hancock building. 360 Chicago provides unparalleled views of Chicago’s skylines and shorelines. We went to the 94th floor on a high-speed elevator to see the stunning panoramic night views of the entire city. The observation deck is also a home of the thrilling and exhilarating TILT experience - an enclosed moving platform that literally tilts you out and over the edge at 30 degrees of the John Hancock building. (Not included in the explorer pass but it is just $8 per person) And believe me, it was an adrenaline rush experience!
Day 2: (Sunday)
- Sky Deck Chicago (Included in the explorer pass): Sky Deck Chicago is the observatory Deck of the world famous Willis tower (formerly known as Sears Tower). Be prepared to have a wait time of atleast 1 hour here. We arrived early in the morning but had to wait for an hour before we can get to the top of this building. The magnificent views of the city from the top (103rd floor) will make the wait all worth it. If you are brave enough, you can also step out on “The Ledge”, the all glass balcony that extends four feet from the building’s edge out into space.
|From the Ledge!|
- Chicago Architecture River Cruise: (Included in the explorer pass). Another one from the must-do’s in Chicago. Luckily, the weather was beautiful on the day of our visit. Cruise was led by professional guide who shared the dramatic story of Chicago's rise from the ashes of the Great Fire of 1871 to become the home of the skyscraper and the cradle of modern American architecture.
|From the river cruise!|
|In love with the beautifully architected Sky scrappers of Chicago!|
Must try restaurants in Chicago:
1 Giordano’s deep dish pizza
2 Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria
3 Grand Lux Café
4 Big Bowl
5 Eataly – Chicago
6 Goddess and the Baker
7 Xoco Mexican dinner
8 Garrett popcorn ;)
|At Chicago's famous Giordano's :)|