Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Illinois - Chicago

A few years back, three friends and I visited Chicago as part of a road trip around Lake Michigan.  It was cheaper for us to spend the night in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, spend the whole day in Chicago, and then spend that night in Indiana.  You can see Chicago in a day if you really want to.  We didn’t take their subway system because it was so easy to walk around Chicago and see everything we wanted to see.  We did take a taxi back to our car at the very end of the day and it was pretty cheap.
We started our sight-seeing at the Buckingham Fountain.  It might look familiar if you ever watched the TV show – Married with Children.  It was in the introduction to the show.  It is a beautiful fountain along Lake Michigan that used to be the start of the famous highway - Route 66. 
Buckingham Fountain
Across the street is the Millennium Park.  It’s huge!  They have a reflective sculpture that is called “The Bean.”  It was pretty cool to take my own picture in front of “The Bean.” 
The Bean
My Reflection in The Bean
They also have a multimedia Crown Fountain where projected faces of Chicagoans playfully spurt water into shallow pools.  The kids there loved it. 
Crown Fountain
Walking down the edge of Lake Michigan, you’ll come to the Navy Pier, which has spectacular free fireworks on Wednesday and Saturday nights during the summer.  There is a carnival on the pier with a huge ferris wheel that I was just too chicken to go on and now regret it.  From the pier, you have a great view of the Chicago skyline.

After that, it was time to go find lunch.  Ever heard of the Billy Goat Curse on the Chicago Cubs (one of Chicago’s baseball teams)?  The man who put that curse on the team was Mr. William Sianis, the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern.  Mr. Wrigley (Wrigley Field’s name sake) told Mr. Sianis that he couldn’t bring his billy goat into game four of the 1945 World Series because the billy goat stunk.  Mr. Sianis officially cursed the team and said they’d never win another World Series.  After the Cubs lost that game, Mr. Sianis asked “who stinks now?”  That was the last time the Cubs reached the World Series.  Do you believe in the curse?  Whether you do or do not, go check out the tavern that has a lot of history and order a “cheeseborger and some cheeps.”  By the way, it’s literally in the basement of the Chicago Tribune!  You’ve got to look for it.
The Billy Goat Tavern
We didn’t visit Wrigley Field (home of the Chicago Cubs) because it wasn’t near the other sites we wanted to see, but it’s a place with a lot of history too so if you’re into baseball, you should visit it.

A cute photo opportunity we saw was the Chicago Theater with their marquee being “Chicago”.  You might want to take your picture here as well.
Chicago Theater Sign
Next was the Sears Tower, now known as the Willis Tower.  At one time it was the tallest building in the world, and is still the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.  We rode the elevator up the 103 floors to see the spectacular views of Chicago and we weren’t disappointed.  You can also visit the John Hancock Observatory down the street which has the highest open-air viewing area in the world at 94 flights up.
View from the Sears Tower
It was then time for dinner and we were told that Gino’s East is the best place for Chicago’s famous deep dish pizza.  It was awesome but filled me up so fast.  The restaurant was kind of cool because people had left their names everywhere – on the furniture and on the wall.  
Gino's East
Afterward, it was time to head to the next state and go to sleep for the night so we hopped onto the interstate and headed just over the border into Indiana, which we’ll talk about next week.

In my research for this post, I found four sites in Chicago that I’d like to visit if I ever went back:

1.  Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry800 hands-on exhibits including a submarine, underground coal mine, and an airplane.  It looks like kids of all ages would have a great time exploring this place.
Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry
Photo found online
2.  Shedd Aquariumfeatures a Beluga whale encounter that lets visitors wade in and meet these gentle giants up close, and kids can dress like penguins.  How cool?!
Photo from the Facebook Page of Miki, a Beluga Whale
3 and 4.  I have some people in my family tree from both Lithuania and Poland.  I don’t know much about the culture in those countries so I would love to go visit the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture and the Polish Museum of America to learn more about them.

These are just the places I’ve visited or would like to visit in Chicago.  If you know of anywhere else in Chicago we should check out, please leave a comment below.  Later this week, we’ll explore Illinois outside of Chicago.  Then, next week we’ll discover what’s just round the corner in Indiana.

** Photos taken by my friends and I unless noted


  1. The links are much better now! it doesn't look as busy ;)

  2. All comments and potential changes will be considered. Trying to make this a helpful blog. Thanks for reading!