Can I just say what a huge city Chicago is? And I think it’s kind of underrated. It’s always, “New York” this and “LA” that. Before our wedding weekend trip, I wasn’t all that sure of what we would do while we were there, but in the end I was SO glad that we took off a few extra days to make it an extended weekend. There was a lot to see (and a lot that we didn’t have time to see)! Here are some of the highlights of our trip:
- We went to the Museum of Science and Industry.
This is really an entire post in itself, but this museum was INCREDIBLE. Some of Justin’s coworkers recommended that we go, and I am so glad we did! We had to choose between this and the art museum, because we didn’t have enough time to do both. So of course, we chose this one thinking it would be more Jake-friendly. He loved it! And though the entry price was steep (it cost about $60 for both of us to get in–Jake was free), there was so much to see that we spent pretty much the entire day there (and I still don’t think we saw everything!).
2. We tried our first Uber ride.
My mom will fall out of her chair in shock when she reads this (if she even knows what Uber is), but this was actually the perfect choice for getting into the city from our hotel (which was in a smaller town called Alsip, about 30 minutes outside of Chicago). When I looked up other public transit options, it required taking several buses and trains, and estimated that it would take 2.5 hours to get into the city. Driving our own car would be a parking nightmare, according to WikiTravel, and cost us upwards of $60 a day for parking. But our Uber driver ended up getting us downtown in about 45 minutes, and only cost about $25 for the ride (I’m sure we would have paid double if we had called a legit taxi service). And he was a really nice guy! We didn’t feel sketchy at all about hitching a ride with him. He had the registered Uber sticker on his car and everything.
So I loaded up Jake’s stroller for the day with snacks, a wedding gift, and even clothes for the three of us to change into for the wedding later, and we spent the day in Chicago, Uber-ing back to our hotel at the end of the evening. I looked slightly homeless (like one of those people pushing an old grocery cart full of their personal belongings), but it worked! And I would do it again. 😉
3. We stayed in a fancy hotel.
You guys, fancy hotels are NOT our thing. When Justin and I lived in China, we always stayed in economy-priced hostels when we traveled. And I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were a few hostels located in Chicago, but now that we have a toddler in tow, I think our hostel-ing days are over. Justin travels a lot for his work and he always stays in Wyndham-brand hotels (Baymont, Super 8, Wyngate, etc). He has racked up quite a few points, and he had enough for us to stay in a hotel for free one night. So we stayed in a cheap hotel in Alsip for two nights, but on our last night we stayed at the Wyndham Grand Chicago Riverfront. It was so much fun to stay in a fancy place! We were kind of disappointed to find out that parking was an additional charge (you guessed it–$60 a night), and we were having to tip people left and right–bellhops, valets, etc. But it was worth it. I think Jake could somehow even tell the difference in the fancy hotel. He was so excited to ride the elevator up to the 38th floor, and he spent a good amount of time jumping on the bed once we arrived in our room. It was fun to pretend to be “fancy” for a night. 😉
4. We ate a deep-dish pizza.
Lou Malnati’s was another suggestion from Justin’s coworkers, and it was definitely a good one! I had never had a deep-dish pizza before, so I didn’t know what to expect. The waitress gave us a recommendation for the size pizza that two people (and a toddler) could tackle, so we went with her advice. When the pizza arrived, I felt so disappointed because it looked so SMALL. Almost like a personal pan pizza. I was so hungry after waiting like 45 minutes after we ordered, I felt like I could honestly eat the entire pizza myself.
Boy, was I wrong.
Eating a deep dish is like eating two or three slices stacked on top of each other. The first slice was so rich and flavorful and buttery and GOOD. Halfway into the second slice, I started to slow down and felt slightly sick. Justin felt the same. It was just SO rich and salty, and it really was like eating six slices instead of just two. It was delicious (and I wish I would have just stopped at slice one!), but it’s not something I could eat every day. It really is DEEP, like a pie!
5. We explored downtown.
I am probably misusing the word “downtown,” because whenever I see a city street with skyscrapers and lots of traffic, I want to call it “downtown.” However, a true Chicago resident would correct me and say, “This isn’t really downtown! The downtown district is five blocks that way. You’re in the East Village,” or “You’re in Old Town.” I DON’T KNOW where we were, to be honest. But it was very downtown-looking, and there was some interesting artwork (like the BEAN!).
We walked through Chinatown and ate lunch there, though I was disappointed because most of the cuisine was Hong Kong style, not Mainland (we ate dim sum). We imagined what it would have been like if Jake had been with us in China (for the record, it would have been ridiculous). We got a small taste of that anyway, because Jake seems to attract attention wherever he goes. People on the sidewalk stopped to wave to him and talk to him, and an old man tried to give him some strange, Chinese candy (which we politely refused). It was easy to pretend we were in the real place.
We found an amazing playground. I know in these pictures it looks like we were here at night, but that’s because we were in the central time zone and the sun started setting at like 4:30 in the afternoon. Everything was well-lit and full of children and parents running around and having a ball. Jake loved it! But honestly, I loved it too. But I was too chicken to do the giant tube slide. 😉
Chicago was such a fun place! We’ll have to go back again sometime, with a more well-researched game plan in place (and more cash, LOL). I’ll try to write a second post about the museum and the wedding itself–stay tuned! :-)0