We stayed at the Chicago Essex Inn. (By the way, I'm a deal finder when it comes to trips and booked pretty much everything in advance through Group On, including the hotel.) The Essex Inn was right on Michigan Ave, close to Museum Campus. A bit further away from the Magnificent Mile, but still walkable. We walked multiple times!
So here are my top 10 recommendations:
1. You need to try Chicago deep dish pizza. We went to Lou Malnatti's, but I have heard good things about a number of chains. There was a Lou Malnatti's 2 blocks behind our hotel, but they are all over the place as well.
2. The Shedd Aquarium. This is probably personal preference, but this is the one museum that I would highly recommend you do. They have dolphins, belugas and penguins and a total of 32,000 fish and other animals in total.
|This Beluga was chatting away|
3. Second City. We did their Dinner and Show where you book a dinner reservation with a price fixed menu through them. Dinner was great and very filling. However, once at the show, you can order a variety of appetizers and small plates and their prices are very reasonable. So I would suggest you go early and just order food and drinks at the show. The show was hilarious and we both had a great time.
4. Check out the view from the John Hancock Building lounge. You can pay to go up to Chicago 360 observatory right on the Magnificent Mile. It's $19 per person. Or, you can wait in what is probably a shorter line and go to the lounge or the restaurant. We literally walked right in (to the elevator of course). You could go to the lounge and not order anything, nobody is checking that you actually get a table. But we ordered a beer for Ryan, a smoothie for me and an appetizer. They were expensive, but it was still cheaper than going to the observatory, plus we were able to relax and enjoy the view. Oh an check out the view from the women's washroom. Sorry men, apparently there aren't windows in your washroom.
|My Strawberry Smoothie|
|The Sears (or Willis) Tower - from the river|
6. The Lincoln Park Zoo. This zoo is a bit further north and takes longer to get to, but it's free! And it's actually a decent sized zoo. I was very impressed with the wide variety of animals they had there. The gorillas are always my favourite! The kangaroos were a bit lazy that day.
7. Food, food, food. Besides the pizza, there is lots of other delicious food in Chicago. I suggest Al's Italian Beef, for huge beef sandwiches that are dipped in gravy. We also had a sandwich at Potbellys, which are all over the city. I had chicken salad and it was unbelievable!
8. You need to get some Chicago Mix at Garrett's Popcorn. You know when you mix cheese popcorn with caramel popcorn? That's called Chicago mix and it was created at Garrett's. I think the line ups can get pretty long, so we were there right at 10am when it opened.
9. Walk out Navy Pier. Ok so we didn't walk all the way to the end. But that's because we stopped to play a game of mini putt (I lost badly) and by the time we were done we had to get moving because we had places to be!
10. Go to Cloud Gate, aka The Bean. However silly and overly touristy it is, you have to do it when in Chicago. We went twice, and I suggest going on a weekday if you can.
We had an amazing trip and it was so nice to get away with just the two of us before the little one comes. I can't wait to travel with kids, as it will be a new and exciting experience, but Ryan and I really enjoy travelling with just the two of us as well.