Living 2 hours away from Chicago has it's benefits. There are a couple options for us to get there. We can drive, which takes around 2 hours, but the parking becomes a problem. You can find a parking garage and pay the $35-50 for daily parking, but then you have to take Uber's or cabs the rest of the day. The city is spread out enough, to get a solid day in, you'll need a ride. We decided to take the South Shore train. This train runs from the South Bend Airport to Millennium Station in downtown Chicago.
Traveling on a Thursday worked out well. The fares were $13.50 a person, one way. This was certainly worth the cost, to avoid driving, avoid tolls, gas, parking, etc. We had to pay for Uber's when we got into the city, but we would have had to anyways. Plus, you can drink on the South Shore, if that's your thing. There are a lot of Cubs fans and city goers that get the day started with a drink on the train there.
We decided to do all the "touristy" things during our trip. We started with Millennium Park and Cloud Gate, aka The Bean. Each time I visit this, I'm more amazed and see something new in it. The sky was bright and blue, giving us a great reflection of the city.
We walked a over to the Harris Theatre, where there was an orchestra playing music.
After the train ride and visiting Millennium Park, it was lunch time. We grabbed an Uber and went to Portillo's on West Ontario. None of us have had a Chicago dog, and today was the day!
The Blue Moon hit the spot on this hot summer day. The hot dogs were better than I thought they would be. The combination of poppy seed bun, sport peppers, tomatoes and pickle made this something special! The french fries were amazing too!
Next up, was the Sky Deck at the Willis (Sears) Tower. I was told by a Chicagoan that everyone in Chicago still calls it the Sears Tower. The Sky Deck experience involved a decent wait and line. It probably took us an hour and a half to wait in line, get tickets, and head up to the 103rd floor.
Only takes 60 seconds to go up to 103rd floor. But if it's windy, 90 seconds... WAIT, WHAT?!?
Once we got up to the 103rd floor, the views are amazing. You walk around three sides of the floor to look at the views. You can see 4 states from the windows on a clear day, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. We had great views of Lake Michigan, the city, and Soldier Field.
The best part of the trip though, is the Sky Deck and clear platforms that you can walk out into.
For those with a fear of heights, this may be too much for you. There are four different platforms that you can go out on, get a picture or video or two, and move on your way. The pictures and videos are amazing! The wait is plenty worth it!
After the Sky Deck, we travelled over to Garrett Popcorn. If you're in Chicago, you have to try some of Garrett's Chicago mix, a 50/50 mix of cheese popcorn and caramel popcorn! This held us over as we Ubered to Navy Pier. We were running short on time, but we enjoyed a walk down the pier, grabbed a Goose Island 312 and enjoyed the views of Lake Michigan.
In order to make it back to our train, we headed to an early dinner at Lou Malnati's, Chicago deep dish.
One thing that keeps people away from Chicago deep dish pizza is the wait time. Lou's avoids this by allowing you to order your pizza before they seat you. When we arrived, there was a 30 minute wait for our table. We placed our pizza orders, and 20-30 minutes after being seated, the pizza was out. We had a great experience with the wait staff and the food was great. We ordered the calamari, which was great, and of course the pizza is special! It's deep dish, but not too deep. We ordered the Classic, which has sausage. Very good!
As we walked back to the train station to catch our train back, we walked passed the Chicago Theatre, which displays the Chicago Sign that most are familiar with.
It was a great day in the city. I love the grit and grind of Chicago. It's a tough city, and it certainly was on display for us.
The age of the buildings, couple with the new age buildings makes for a great view across the sky line. Chicago performed well for us this day, leaving us wanting more as we traveled back home!
Jack of All Trades, Master of None