Travel | Chicago: Where to Go

On our week-long vacation, we decided to road trip down to Chicago. Unsure of what to expect with regards to summer visitors, we purchased the city pass to avoid the lines. Being big foodies, we allocated enough time to enjoy our food and visit the sites. Since we visited many many places, I’ve divided my Chicago post into “where to go” and “where to eat.”

First Stop: Chicago 360 |John Hancock Observatory

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We went right before sunset and enjoyed the view from 94th floor.

Second Stop: The Cloud Gate aka The BeanDSC_0795The symbol of Chicago and every tourists’ photo site. We planned on visiting The Bean as early so we could to avoid the crowd, but the pull of “best doughnut in Chicago” necessitated us to line up at The Doughnut Vault at 7:45am before it even opened. (You’ll see the doughnuts in the “Chicago | where to eat” post.

Third Stop: The Field Museum

Meet Sue, the most complete and best-preserved T-Rex fossil ever. I was naturally drawn to the dinosaur exhibit, but if you are more into science technology, you’ll still love the Field Museum.

Fourth Stop: John Shedd AquariumSAM_0763Since the aquarium and the Field Museum are all on the museum campus, we compressed the two sights into one afternoon. My favorite part of the aquarium was the beluga whales. I literally spent half an hour looking at them swim.

Fifth Stop: Navy Pier Fireworks DSC_0701IMG_20140809_212158During summer, Navy Pier put on firework shows every Wednesday (9:30pm) and Saturday (10:15pm) night. There are a lot of people, but instead of crowding at the staircase where most people are at, try to go past the staircase and closer to water to get the best view.  (The fireworks is not in front of the staircase but more to the left and further end of the pier meaning the view from the staircase is quite horrendous.)

Sixth Stop: Art Institute of ChicagoIMG_20140809_142542

IMG_20140809_151214I see this painting so much, either in its original form, or parodied, the American Gothic is finally before my eyes. I chuckled as soon as I saw it.

Aside from this, there are an impressive collection of modern art. If you are into modern art, this is your place.

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Another interesting exhibit was the Thorne Miniature Rooms. There are more than 60 exhibits glimpsing into European and American furnishings in different period. And if you are curious, these are made by master craftsmen using a scale of 1 inch to 1 foot.

Seventh Stop: The Driehaus MuseumSAM_0653

This is a little gem tucked near the Magnificent Mile. This palatial home from the Gilded Age was the most expensive house built in its age. For $20-25, we wandered around the rooms admiring Tiffany glass masterpieces and artworks.

Eighth Stop: Skydeck Chicago

This is the only time that the city pass is truly useful. With the VIP pass, we skipped more than an hour wait in line and went straight into the elevators. There are only 3 skydeck “boxes” that you can look down. There are long lines for each. Some tourists are obnoxious and just end up in your pictures. We took about 30 pictures and most of them had one or several people in it. You can always opt to have it professionally taken and purchase it afterwards.

Ninth Stop: Chicago Cultural Center

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Chicago Cultural Center, one of the most visited attractions in Chicago, was surprisingly empty when we visited. I couldn’t believe that this was actually intended to be a public library, but I guess since its intention was “to impress and prove that Chicago had grown into a sophisticated metropolis”, it definitely succeeded.

Tenth Stop: Public Chicago

IMG_20140806_151958We stayed here closer to the north side to make our visit to Alinea easier.  But most importantly, I was so tired, seeing any bed makes me happy.

Where are your must visits that I missed? Let me know!
Patty

Categories: Travel