Another last minute work trip, and since tickets were so cheap M decided to tag along. We ended up getting $69 round trip airplane tickets from LGA to ORD, but we bought them during non peak time and for weekdays so that may have been an anomaly.
We missed our first flight (Spirit isn’t joking when they say they will close their gates 15 minutes before! Seemed silly as they always just sit there and take off late anyway) but miraculously were able to get on a flight a few hours later. After many hours, we finally arrived in O’Hare, and took the blue line to downtown Chicago ($5 from ORD, and only 10 minutes longer than taking a cab. Traffic is always so bad!). I checked into my (free) hotel, dropped our bags, and were off to explore a bit before meeting our friends for dinner!
Navy Pier was always my favorite growing up, so that was our first stop. Unfortunately the Ferris wheel and swings were under construction until summer :(, so we settled on just exploring the indoors. The Crystal Gardens with its spitting fountains were decent consolation, although we vowed to go back in summer when everything would be open. At least it was the least crowded I’ve ever seen it! And we were even able to get some free Ben & Jerry’s without waiting in a huge line.
We then met our college friends at Mercadito, their favorite restaurant in Chicago. The tacos were AMAZING, albeit a little pricey (but worth it for friends!). We wanted some live music afterwards, and so drove to The Hideout…which is literally a warehouse in the middle of nowhere. There were separate sections for the bar and an actual stage with seating, and beer was pretty cheap. We were huge fans of the venue, and the music was…interesting- “MOMA-like”, as our friend described it.
We left the show a little early, around 11:30 pm, to go get some midnight dimsum in Chinatown. It was wonderful not having to wait in line for once! After many orders of chicken feet (lol), they dropped me off at my hotel- ending a wonderful night in a wonderful city.
The city seems to be an expansion of New York, like someone took a picture and dragged the top corner to expand it. The streets are so wide and clean, and everything is spread out- I would love to live there if not for the 8 months of freezing cold temperatures! We noticed this the next morning when wandering around the Magnificent Mile on our way to Millennium Park, where we were obliged to visit the Bean and Art Institute (Buckingham Fountain and Crown Fountain were also closed until summer). We ended up walking all the way down to the planetarium area, but since we were pressed for time decided to rent bikes ($10 a day) and bike around the city instead of going inside the museums or aquarium.
Our next stop was Lincoln Park, in efforts to visit the free zoo. After a 30 min bike ride down Lake Michigan Shore, we were able to wander a bit in the zoo- our favorites were the monkey and gorilla exhibits, where the animals were close enough to touch. Kinda freaky. We also had some time to visit the City of Chicago History Museum, which was well worth the $16. The final highlight of the trip was stopping to get some deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s– get the smallest dish possible, and be prepared to wait 40 minutes!
Getaway to Chicago for <$120 per person total, including accommodation, travel, food, and fun. WIN.