The closer we got to the city, the faster people seemed to drive. I don’t know if it was excitement of coming into the third most populated city in the country or if they were just late for work, but the speed limit signs seemed to be mere suggestions.
When you think of Chicago, the first few things that come into your mind are deep dish pizza, Wrigley Field, the great fire of 1871 (probably not started by Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, by the way) and wind. It is, after all, nicknamed the Windy City for a very good reason. The wind blows hard and fast and can surprise you when you come around a corner. We only had a few days to visit this great mid-western city, so wanted to visit the must-see attractions and sights. We followed our normal habit when visiting a new city and found a hop-on, hop-off tour company. There are a couple of options, and we went with the “red bus tour” by Chicago Trolley. This double-decker bus is a great way to get an overview of the city by taking you on a circle tour of about two hours covering 12 stops where you can hop off and on all day for two days. Our tour guide spoke at least 5 different languages with ease and made everyone who got on the bus feel welcome. He had a great knowledge of the city and was very entertaining.
Many people recommended the Architectural Boat Tour of the city on the Chicago River. This was a fabulous tour that covered the various architecture of the city and the history behind it. Our guide was a font of knowledge, both of his city’s history and of the architecture that makes it unique. If you want to the best experience, get in line about 30 minutes before boarding and get a seat on the upper deck near the front.
You can’t visit Chicago without visiting the Skydeck of the Willis Tower (formally, and locally still known, as the Sears Tower). This observation deck, which has windows on all four sides of the building, is the 103rd floor of the tower and features an amazing 360° view of the city. The highlight of this stop is the “The Ledge”. The glass box, jutting out of the side of the building, 1,353 feet above the ground, allows you to have an unobstructed view that cannot be experienced anywhere else in the world. Each group gets about a minute to take pictures, sometimes with another group. (There are 3-4 boxes available and each is about 10 feet wide, so plenty of room for 6-8 people).
Make sure and visit Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs and “The Bean” (Cloud Gate), a magnificent piece of art located in Millennium Park. Another wonderful place to stop is the peninsula at the Adler Planetarium. From here you can get a fantastic view of the skyline and take a break to sit and watch boats on the lake.
Chicago is home to the deep-dish pizza and no one does it better than Giordano’s (in our humble opinion). There are over 50 locations all around the city and suburbs, so finding one is easy. The Chicago Classic Deep Dish is highly recommended.
The “Second City” is a great place to visit. There are an endless number of things to do and see, and we’ll have more information about this magnificent area in future posts.