Chicago, Chicago, Chicago...Where do I begin? It seems like Elizabeth and I always pick the best weekend to visit. The weather was perfect, the food was delicious, and our friends are the greatest. The general theme throughout the weekend was MOVE TO CHICAGO! Which sounds great in theory, but would also require me finding a new job (so if you want to hire me, just shoot me an email). Anyways, it was great to be back in Chicago. Let's go ahead and jump right into this trip report and get you up to speed.
How did I get there?
Delta was my airline of choice for this trip. Elizabeth and I booked Delta Comfort+ seats for $242.70 a piece.
I'm notorious for booking the cheapest fare when I fly domestically, but in this case it was only $15 more to fly Comfort+ so I decided to pull the trigger. I didn't think it would make much of a difference, but I loved having the extra leg room and seat space.
You also get free premium drinks, AKA alcohol, so that doesn't hurt the cause either.
Our routing was a little funky for such a short trip. Delta doesn't fly directly from Omaha to Chicago, so we had to connect in Minneapolis on both flights. The odd part was we flew into Chicago Midway (MDW), but we departed from Chicago O'hare (ORD). I didn't mind that airport change though, because I think the CTA Blue Line to O'hare is a little easier to access than the Orange Line to Midway.
Where did I stay?
My residence for the weekend was The Westin, Michigan Avenue.
It has arguably the best location of any hotel in the city. We were smack dab on Michigan Avenue and surrounded by every expensive retailer on the planet. I certainly can't afford most items sold on that street, but it's fun to walk around and pretend like you're a big spender.
The room itself was perfectly accommodating. If you haven't realized I'm pretty easy going when it comes to my lodging. As long as I have a place to get horizontal for a few hours each night, that's really all I need. In this case, we had a little more than that, but it wasn't over-the-top luxurious.
This was the first time I was able to try out the famed Westin Heavenly Bed. It was definitely one of the most comfortable hotel beds I've ever slept in. Look how happy Elizabeth looks jumping into it in slow motion.
The bathroom had a nicely lit mirror and a great rain forest shower head. I think I should note that the water in the room gets EXTREMELY hot, borderline scalding.
The staff was great and had our room ready well before the scheduled check in time. They even stored our bags for us after we checked out so we could do more sightseeing before heading to the airport.
What did I see?
On this trip Elizabeth and I made an effort to visit places we hadn't seen before. I don't think it's possible to see EVERYTHING in Chicago, but we're certainly going to give it a shot. We were able to catch quite a few glimpses of the Chicago Theatre.
We didn't get to see it last time we were in the Chicago, but we passed it a handful of times on this trip.
After getting settled in at The Westin, Elizabeth and I met up with our friends Caiti and Franz. We enjoyed a picture perfect afternoon at Lincoln Park and the Lincoln Park Zoo.
I would say I'm spoiled when it comes to zoo's. Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo is arguably the best zoo in the world, so I know a good zoo when I see one. Lincoln Park Zoo was free of charge and had a variety of animals and exhibits.
Whenever I think of a "free zoo," I always think of a crummy zoo with way too many farm animals. Lincoln Park Zoo blew those expectations out of the water. They had real zoo animals, like monkeys and lions, and all of the exhibits seemed very well kept and organized. For a free zoo, Lincoln Park Zoo is the best I've ever seen. I honestly can't believe they don't charge for it.
After the zoo we made our way over to US Cellular Field to watch the White Sox play Royals.
I know Wrigley Field is the mecca of Chicago baseball, but I was pleasantly surprised by how nice US Cellular Field (recently named Guaranteed Rate Field) is. I'd heard that the location (south side of Chicago) and ballpark weren't in the greatest shape, but I'm here to say that I don't think either are true. The Royals ended up winning, but a great time was still had by all.
Sunday Caiti, Franz, Elizabeth and myself all visited Chicago's China Town. For no particular reason I'm in love with Asian culture. I know that's an extreme generalization, but it's true.
The best part about China Town is roaming through the odd shops they have. I swear these people sell some of the weirdest stuff. They're definition of "candy" is some sort of dried fish or sea urchin. Franz and I did some taste testing last year, but I steered clear of the dry fish this time. China Town is easily one of my favorite parts of Chicago.
Just like any normal Monday, most of our friends had to go back into work. Since we couldn't hang out with them outside of work, we decided to visit them there! Our two friends, Franz and Jaime, both work at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. If you haven't been to the Merchandise Mart, I highly recommend you check it out. It's such a cool atmosphere and you wouldn't believe that people even work there. Imagine if you gathered 20 floors worth of the nations coolest companies and threw them all under one roof. That's the Merchandise Mart. It's hustling and bustling with a great, enthusiastic energy.
Franz currently works at the Yelp! headquarters in Chicago.
Yelp! is your prototypical millennial work environment. There was free food, free beer, games, bumpin' tunes, and lots of creativity. I would love to work in a carefree atmosphere like that.
After visiting Franz at Yelp! We went upstairs and visited Jamie at Razorfish. Razorfish's office was a slightly more laid back version of Yelp! They still had all of the cool perks like food and beer without the loud music and fast paced hustle of Yelp!
Both were very cool offices and I'm extremely grateful that Franz and Jaimie were kind enough to show us around.
Our last attraction was actually the entire walk home from the Merchandise Mart. Elizabeth and I hit the Chicago Riverwalk and beat feet all the way back to our hotel.
The riverwalk has some of the best views of the city. The normal high rises look even bigger when you're down by the river.
Mr. Donald Trump has a great campaign trail along the riverwalk.
Where did I eat?
Anytime Elizabeth and I visit somewhere it turns into an absolute food fest. It seems like we're constantly grabbing food just so we can say we tried it.
First up on our list was Furious Spoon.
Furious Spoon is known for it's hot ramen and hot hip-hop. The ramen was delicious, but I would highly recommend getting their signature "fury sauce" on the side. I'm not a huge fan of spicy foods, but I enjoy mixing a little in here and there. The dish I had consisted of basically all of their ingredients thrown in a delicious mix. I know my picture doesn't look extremely appetizing, but I'm still getting used to taking pictures before diving into my food.
After slurping up some noodles, we went to Snow Dragon Shavery & Yogurt. Snow Dragon is known for it's shaved ice and it's exotic flavored snow, weird I know.
I got the doughnut ice cream sandwich, Elizabeth and Franz tried the macaroon ice cream sandwich, and Caiti had the flavored snow. Obviously I played it safe here because you literally can't go wrong with doughnuts and ice cream. Elizabeth and Franz both enjoyed their macaroons and after trying Caiti's flavored snow, I was a believer. It was actually pretty tasty.
Dinner that night was had at the ballpark. It's not a baseball game unless you have a hot dog. Since I was in Chicago I had no choice but to try the Comiskey Dog at the White Sox game.
It was twelve long inches of everything you love about Chicago (that's what she said....) It had the pickles, the tomatoes, the relish, the onions, the mustard, and the peppers. Now that my friends is a ballpark frank done right!
The food tour continued Sunday Morning at Little Goat Diner. Little Goat has arguably one the best brunches in the city. They offer a sort of gourmet twist on your more traditional breakfast dishes. I had the steak and eggs which looked more like a painting than anything.
After brunch we grabbed one of our favorite treats in all of Chicago: Joy Yee's fruit smoothies!
I had the mango papaya smoothie with tapioca. If there's one thing you have to get on your nest visit, it's Joy Yee smoothies.
For lunch we met up with some of Elizabeth's friends Bre, Dave, and Jamie at Happy Camper. Happy Camper goes against the grain by making a more New York style pizza in Chicago, but at the end of the day no one really discriminates against pizza. Pizza is pizza.
I wasn't able to get a picture of the pizza because I was extremely entertained by the great company we had. Bre, Dave, and Jamie are some of the most unique and genuinely nice people I've had the pleasure of meeting. They were even kind enough to invite Elizabeth and myself to a small cookout afterwards.
It seems like Elizabeth's list of friends in Chicago doesn't end. Next thing I know I was whisked off to Big Star for dinner with her friend Amanda. Big Star is a hip, street taco restaurant located in Wicker Park.
Last time we were in town we met Amanda for tacos too, so it's becoming some sort of taco tradition. The tacos at Big Star are you typical street tacos. They're a tad bit on the small side, but what they lack in size they make up for in flavor.
Our last note worthy meal in Chicago was Monday morning at the Original Pancake House. My Mom and Dad ate there the morning before Elizabeth and I arrived, so they insisted we go.
I ordered the steak omelette, which was gigantic! I always appreciate a restaurant with grown man size portions. Elizabeth got the banana pancakes which were equally delicious. I'd say for a classic pancake and egg experience, you can't beat the Original Pancake House.
WOW, what a weekend! I seriously had so much fun. I stayed at one of the nicest hotels in the city, I ate my way through a good portion of Chicago, I did some great sightseeing, and met some amazing people. I couldn't have asked for a better trip. Thanks again to Caiti, Franz, Bre, Dave and Jamie for the hospitality.
Until next time Chicago, Peace.