I’ll be splitting my trip to Chicago into two parts – this post will outline the different attractions & landmarks I visited, and one post to be uploaded at a later date dedicated to the delicious (and vast amount of) food I indulged in while in the city.
As expected, the first day of my Chicago trip mainly consisted of traveling – a drive to the airport, two connecting flights to O’Hare, a train ride to the Airbnb, etc. so it was around 3 pm when we finally sat down for some food, and 5 pm when we settled into the Airbnb. Our place was a cozy apartment near Pilsen, and we were given our own room with a lock, that contained a closet, dresser, table, and bed in addition to the bathroom and kitchen, and definitely was a comfortable spot to come back to after exploring the city each day.
My initial thoughts regarding the city of Chicago were first that the architecture is outstanding. Because the train riding into the city rides above the city, it gives an incredible view of the neighborhoods you are traveling through.
Our second day in Chicago was spent more as a tourist. Although we were unprepared to be betrayed by the weather, it was actually quite a good day to be out & about due to smaller crowds, so we took full advantage of this.
Millennium Park sits directly across from the edge of downtown Chicago – a great view of the city. But I was especially enthralled by the garden, which is such a beautiful contrast to the tall skyscrapers. It kind of made me appreciate the fact that Chicago embeds the natural beauty of its parks, the Chicago River, and Lake Michigan right along with its more urban aspects.
The bean is possibly the most iconic tourist spot in Chicago, so naturally it was one of the first we visited. I was skeptical beforehand about it; I’ve seen pictures but it didn’t really “wow” me until I saw it in person. The fact that a wall of skyscrapers and a view of downtown is reflected on one side of the bean with the lake, blue skies, and pier on the other is actually pretty outstanding.
Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute was hyped up by online sources as well as friends of mine who have visited in the past, but it definitely met my expectations if not exceeded them. There is a long walkway that connects Mil park to the building and overlooks the city as well as the lake, but if that is not cool enough, the museum itself has such an overwhelming amount of artwork, sculptures, and exhibits that I barely had the time / energy for half of them. I think this is definitely a must-visit place in Chicago, and somewhere I could visit again and would be given a different experience.
The Chicago River again impressed me by the amount of green, even amidst the center of downtown Chicago. It was just as beautiful at night as well.
The Magnificent Mile not only includes a lot of places to shop & eat but you can also visit Chicago’s old water towers which are right across from each other, and near a Hershey’s store, Ghiradelli’s Chocolate, UNIQLO, TopShop, H&M, etc. The UNIQLO, which apparently just recently opened, reminded me of being in Korea again, and is a pretty impressive store – 5 floors with its own Starbucks inside. We bought an umbrella here after braving it through the rain, only for it to stop raining immediately after we stepped back outside. Even though luck was against us, I really enjoyed myself.
What was best about visiting the Skydeck was actually that there was a storm approaching. When we arrived, the skies were clear and the view of the city was outstanding on its own, but once the clouds rolled in, you could clearly see the rain pouring down and the city get darker and darker. I personally enjoyed watching this process take place.
Unfortunately, the “Ledge” that was so popular on social media and by tourists was taken out of the Skydeck due to it cracking at some point in the past couple months, but just viewing the city from all angles was breathtaking.
The third day, we were more prepared in terms of umbrellas and charged phones, but a little beat from all the walking from the previous day. We spent a lot of time with the water this day at the aquarium, pier, and of course in the rain.
Though a bit of a disappointment because it was blocked off by some event being held, and it was much hotter on Day 3 than I expected, I got to see Agora, a group of cast iron statues that I have always wanted to see in person.
Despite a very long line the Shedd Aquarium has a lot to offer. There is a lot of variety in the types of wildlife here, so it was really fun to search for the tiny frog in a big tank, watch seals cruise through the water on their backs, or see the dolphins swim in sync with one another.
By this point in the trip, I was pretty exhausted from all the walking and traveling, so the Navy Pier was a great digression from the busyness of the city and the stress from dealing with rain all week. We sat by the pier and watched the sun go down for awhile, and took some photos by the lake. The breeze from the water was especially relaxing, and it was another beautiful view of the lake on one side and the city on the other.
Gelato World Tour
What better way to end your trip to Chicago than by chance discovering a tent filled with a seemingly endless selection of gelato? Thankfully, we got our one free sample before it began pouring, then had to seek shelter at a nearby coffee shop.
Attractions I Missed
Three or four days in Chicago can only give you so much exposure to the city. If I visit again, I will try to visit the Field Museum, which was a little too pricey for me this time around. I’d also like to visit the Lincoln Zoo and maybe check out a show at one of the downtown theaters.
Coming up next… the best hotdog ever?!