I got way too busy with all kinds of life things to even think about posting this weeks ago when I actually wanted to, but getting it done is what matters most, right? Right.
With day one having started out as poorly and ending as poorly as it did, we were determined to make sure that the rest of our trip was amazing. We woke up pretty early and decided to walk across the street to get some breakfast, but the construction made that almost impossible so we ended up getting in the car and driving. I think that’s my biggest complaint about this trip. Chicago is supposed to be such an easily navigated city where you can take all this public transportation or walk everywhere and we were somehow stuck in our car for half of the trip. It wasn’t that big of a deal but to have to get in our car to go across the street was definitely annoying. We grabbed breakfast and coffee and set off for downtown once again.
We didn’t have a definite plan, but we knew that we wanted to show each other our favorite parts of the city. I had never been to Navy Pier and he had never been to Millennium Park. How he has been to Chicago multiple times and not seen the Bean is beyond me, but I’d fix that.
We drive into the city, use our app to find a place to park near Navy Pier and start there. The initial place we were going to park out turned out to be a total bust because we got there and couldn’t find it. The second place was even closer and seemed way less sketchy anyway. We walked about a block and a half to get to the pier. I don’t know what I was expecting. I think I’ve spent too much time in California and Myrtle Beach because I was expecting something more like Venice Beach/Santa Monica. I was pleasantly surprised that it was nothing like either of those.
To start off we walked through the building. I can’t remember what it was called, if there was a name to it or not, but there were a ton of shops and restaurants and a children’s museum. I made a Build-A-Bear because how can you not make your own Ewok?and we made our way outside. It was the middle of the week and there were hardly any people around which was nice because after the concert the night before I was so over crowds of people. We walked along the water edge and then up to where all of the rides are. The ferris wheel was still being built so that was kind of a bummer, but we were table to get some really awesome shots of the city and the lake before going into the green house.
I guess I should get better at remember the names of all of these places if I’m going to keep writing blog posts on them, but regardless the green house/botanical garden area of Navy Pier was probably my absolute FAVORITE part of the entire trip. I don’t know what it was about it, but all of the greenery and water and sounds it was so peaceful. I could easily have spent the entire day in there, but unfortunately we did not have that kind of time. We went inside, looked around for some sort of souvenir, gave up and called an Uber to take us to Millennium Park since it was my turn to show my boyfriend what had been my favorite part of Chicago.
This is where the day started to get interesting. When you’re at Navy Pier it asks you all kinds of questions, it’s not as simple as just putting in an address or a landmark and a car pulling up to you. The roads are really poorly marked, and maybe that’s just because of all the construction, but it made it hard for us to figure out what the proper location was that we needed to put into the app. We walked up the street away from the pier a few blocks, found a building with a clear address and called the Uber. The driver was so nice, I’m not the kind of person who doesn’t want my Uber/Lyft/Taxi driver to talk to me, especially when I’m in a different city. You can learn a lot from locals. We chatted and had a good conversation going, but once I was less distracted it was pretty clear that she wasn’t sure where she was going and I verified that by looking at the map on my phone ( a habit I picked up after a sketchy experience in LA ) . It turned out to be a blessing in disguise because the park that we had her drop us off at, this time I’m not going to be lazy because it’s important, was the Maggie Daley park.
I’m so biased, or weird actually, when it comes to parks because that’s what I do to a degree. I’ve been working in Recreation my entire working life, I’m going to school for Sports & Recreation Management. I’d looked pretty thoroughly into Chicago’s parks when my boyfriend was initially trying to talk me into moving there. I was impressed, but until actually walking up the hill and seeing this park in the middle of such a metropolitan city unfold before me I had no idea just how impressed I could be. There were trees, plants, grass, playgrounds bigger than I’d ever seen before, a rock climbing wall, mini golf and all surrounded by these towering buildings. I was too awestruck to take pictures, but here’s the official website and I highly recommend it if you are in Chicago.
It was probably a good fifteen or twenty minute walk for us to get from one park to the next, but we were walking slow and checking out everything. Finally we made it to The Bean. I know that I lost our little game because my boyfriend was no where near as impressed by it as I was Navy Pier, but that’s okay. Naturally there were tons of people taking selfies and mirror pics, which we did too so I’m not judging.We walked around, saw all of the art installments and then crossed the street for Shake Shack.
When we were in NYC we had wanted to go, but the line was literally wrapped around the building. I’ve waited in monster lines for In-N-Out (seriously, if you’re a sane, smart person you probably don’t need me to tell you not to go to the one closest to LAX) and even Chipotle on Halloween for a free burrito, but I don’t think any of us could have justified that. In Chicago though we walked in and walked up to the counter. It was also way better than In-N-Out, but we can save that debate for another time.
After lunch we decided to walk back through Millennium Park, check out some of the art that we had missed the first time around and the other half that we had completely passed over, then get an Uber back to our car so we could go to the hotel for a bit before the concert.
Almost two hours of sitting on the freeway later we got back to our hotel just in time to freshen up and head back into the city.
If I can offer any advice at all on where to stay, and our hotel was lovely!, spend the extra cash to stay IN the city. You’ll have a better experience, keep your sanity and have way more time to do things and see things than you will if you spend the majority of your time in traffic. If you can’t stay in the city, make sure (seriously double and triple check) that you’re close to a train stop. People always tell me that Blue Line is the best and to avoid the Red/Pink line at all cost.
I don’t know what happened to House of Blues between Night 1 of The Used and Night 2, but they got their shit together. This time there were ropes and barriers and actual employees corralling people. When we got there we were given wristbands and I joked about one color being for 21+ and the other under 21s. The guy at the door told me it was actually to differentiate between who had floor and who had balcony. When we got inside these rules were being enforced and I can only assume that the night before they hadn’t been doing so. The concert was amazing, we saw a proposal on stage and when we left we spent a solid hour trying to find a Taco Bell. Seriously, Chicago is lacking in late night Taco Bells but we finally found one and went back to the hotel.
I was going to make a separate post for Day 3, but honestly all we did was drive FOREVER, eat deep dish pizza, stop at a Super Target (I’m pretty sure this is the only thing Indiana has going for it) and drive more. I wish I had the snapchat story from our drive back, but unfortunately that gold is lost forever. Overall, I’d go back to Chicago because my boyfriend loves it. I’d be more vigilant about where we stay and probably more prepared going into it, but it’s not my first place for a vacation by any means. I’ll never ever go to House of Blues Chicago again (seriously Yellowcard, why are you going to hate on Ohio too?) but I’d be willing to give the things that we didn’t have time to get to a fair, fresh chance.