Every now and then I get anxious to travel and explore a city other than Philadelphia. When planning my next trip during this past fall I decided to check out Chicago for my first time. This seemed like a perfect destination too since I could visit a friend and I new nothing about the city except for Wrigley field, the bean, and they had good hotdogs! So, on the second Thursday of December I left with my backpack and small suitcase to take the mega bus to New York where I would then transfer to a different mega bus going to Chicago. With a three hour layover in New York City I had just enough time to see the Christmas sights that I always enjoy; including the Bryant Park Christmas market and Tree, Radio City Music Hall, the Macy's Christmas window displays, and the Rockefeller Christmas tree. Then just before 2:30PM I enjoyed a tasty Buffalo Chicken sandwich (on a baguette) and a perfect cup of tea from Pret, gathered my bus snacks (more food from Pret) and heading over the the mega bus pick up area.
*Fast forward 18 hours*
NEXT STOP: CHICAGO
When I first stepped off of the bus in Chicago I bundled up, made sure I had all of my things, and headed took the 'L' train to my friends apartment. After I regrouped, cleaned up, and did about an hour or so of work I was ready to begin my exploring! I began by exploring the neighborhood I was in and found a coffee shop to begin at, Kitchen Sink. I then walked around the neighborhood a bit and saw some cute houses before finding a second coffee shop, The Chicago Grind. Since I really had not eaten much in the last 24 hours and my last cup of tea was back in New York at Pret I went in to try my second Chicago latte. It was very good. Once I was sufficiently warmed up I ventured outside and went over to Lake Michigan to walk along there a bit; it got a colder the more time I spent by the lake as the sun was setting. After looking at the sun setting next to the lake and petting a wheaten terrier who was out for a walk I went back to warm up and charge up before going downtown with my friend that night. Being downtown at night was cool (and not just temperature-wise either)! We went to millennium park to see the Chicago Christmas tree lit up and saw the bean sculpture; which had a neat reflection of the skyline at night. We walked through the Christmas market and drank hot cider to warm up and then took the bus back out of downtown to eat Indian food, at a place called Annapurna. It was very tasty and a good first meal in Chicago!
Day two in Chicago was my tourist day. I spent the day walking downtown with my friend beginning at the river walk. I wasn't quite as cold as the first night either because I bundled up better. We admired the buildings lining the river walk, especially the design of the Trump hotel (although we both wished it did not have "TRUMP" written so boldly on it). We walked from the river walk over to the Navy Pier which is a neat place to walk around with a great view of the city skyline! We walked back to the millennium park area to see the bean in the daylight and then warm up with a cup of coffee and tea at Intelligentsia Coffee. After we sat in the coffee shop for a bit and felt that we stored up enough heat to venture outside, we took the bus up to Lincoln Park Zoo. It was dark by now and snowing, but a perfect time to see all their Christmas Lights display. They had tons of different animals made out of holiday lights all of over the zoo and even one area where they made a little lights show having the lights change with the Christmas song playing. This was a full day of being a tourist so when we finished at the zoo we got the bus back to the apartment to eat and relax.
That brings us to day three, and I was exploring the city some more on my own today. Sometime overnight I remembered that I needed to see Wrigley Field and the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower). Therefore, after some brief research on Google Maps before heading up I decided to do Wrigley Field second and then spend the afternoon walking around surrounding area of the stadium. I only admired the Willis Tower from the outside as it is not free to go up to the observation deck. After getting a few photos i hopped the bus again and headed to Wrigley Field. I, once again, only admired the stadium from the outside as it is December and not baseball season. It was very neat being outside of Wrigley Field. Once I was finished admiring and squished a couple pennies in the store across the street I walked down N. Broadway hunting for a coffee shop. I eventually came across a little place called Dollop Coffee Co and it seemed like the perfect place for me to warm up and charge up. It was while I was sitting here that I decided where to get my real Chicago hot dog.
Once I was finished my latte and warmed up I hit up Murphy's Red Hots for my hotdog! It was very tasty. i then felt I had the fuel to continue my snowy walk around the Lake View East section. I stumbled upon a vintage store with loads of "Christmas sweaters" and then went into a cool comic book store where I bought myself a couple new Archie Comic books before checking out the Dry Hops Brewpub across the street. I tried a Pistachio Milk Stout at Dry Hops and it was actually really good! By this time it was getting close to dinner time so I went back across the street to look in a cool record store, before heading back to the apartment to eat and relax.
Monday was the day I flew back to Philadelphia but I managed to try out one last coffee shop, Bow Truss, before taking the 'L' to Midway airport. I have been calling this trip my table of contents tour of Chicago. When I got to Chicago I hardly knew anything about the city, I did not even know what the layout of the city was like. During my three full days there I was able to learn the layout, learn the public transportation, and find out more about what there is in the city! This way my next time in Chicago I will be able to go more in depth than the basic tourist spots and maybe even catch a jazz show or two.
Check out all of my photos below!