A Quick Look At My Trip To Chicago

Athena ScalziThis past weekend, I took a weekend trip up to Chicago. Also known as my favorite city! I absolutely love Chicago, despite only having been a handful of times over the past decade or so. This time was no different, I had an amazing time, saw lots of neat stuff, had lots of great food, and overall had a really great trip.

For this trip, I tried to live more in the moment than I usually do, so I made an attempt to not be on my phone so much. But of course I had to take a few pictures! So for this post, I’ll be sharing a couple shots I got of the city with y’all. I won’t be going into too much detail about the trip, but I will mention a few highlights. I’m also planning on doing a post in a day or two all about a super fun donut tour I did!

For now, please enjoy this handful of shots I got! And I know the website is going to nerf the quality of them, but let’s just pretend they’re not grainy, okay? Okay.

I took this on my walk to the aquarium. There was something about the rusty tracks and the contrast of the sleek, shiny, modern buildings in the background that really spoke to me.

In fact, here’s one of those shiny buildings close up!

Personally, I really like the design of this building. I quite enjoy modern architecture and how everything is just always glass. It’s pretty, if not blinding (though when I took this picture the sun was behind the building, but it definitely blinded me at different angles).

As previously mentioned, here is the aquarium! It took about fifty minutes to walk to it, but it was so worth it! The view of the skyline is incredible from the aquarium, and the water is so pretty. Plus, the fish inside are super neat, too! So, lots of pros to visiting the aquarium.

While I was visiting, I stayed at the Royal Sonesta (the one on the riverfront) so I was right next to this awesome view! The water is such an interesting color, don’t you think?

And of course, what trip to Chicago is complete without a trip to the Willis Tower? Here’s a view from the bottom.

And here’s the view from the top!

I really love how the buildings seem to go on forever, but then you look over at the vast expanse of water and see how that goes on forever.

So, yeah, these are just a couple shots I got that I particularly liked, and I hope you enjoy, too!

Have you ever been to Chicago? What’s your favorite thing to do there? Any good restaurants you think I should check out on my next visit there? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!


49 Comments on “A Quick Look At My Trip To Chicago”

  1. I also love Chicago; I grew up next to Lake Michigan up in Wisconsin so we fairly often went there. My brother lives there now. And this coming weekend will be a really special time: my nephew is graduating from a Chicago High School.

    We had an OUTDOOR party for New Year’s with electric heaters in my brother’s garage and a firepit in the backyard. Now we’re all vaccinated, so we’ll have our first INDOOR family gathering since December 2019.

  2. I grew up in Chicago, although I haven’t lived there since 1984. I really miss the Field Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, and Brookfield Zoo. I wish I’d known about the International Museum of Surgical Science when I lived there.

    Find yourself a good Chicago deep-dish style pizza. You won’t regret it (unless you actually like thin crust)!


  3. Fascinating! The impression of Chicago that we get in the UK is a desolate and lawless wilderness full of mad max gunman types but it looks really cool!

  4. I was born in Chicago metro, but we moved to Denver when I was six… that said, still have family in the area and spent a fair bit of time there for work in the early 00’s.

    Gotta have your Italian beef sandwiches… Portillo’s is a city-wide franchise that’s expanded outside and has the Name; but I honestly preferred a little hole-in-the-wall place in Schaumburg, not far from the home office of the company I was working for.

    Pizza is another Chicago favorite for me; Rosati’s is the chain and has the Name for a pretty good reason, but I also liked Lou Malnati’s. Giordano’s is another Name.

    If you have any interest in architecture, downtown Chicago is a treasure house; there are any number of websites listing some of the things to see and do, but the ones that stick out to my mind are the early skyscrapers (like the Monadnock and the Carson, Pirie, Scott store) and the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings scattered around the city.

    But apart from that… there’s just something I like about driving around the Chicago neighborhoods. Have you seen the PBS American Experience documentary on Chicago, City of the Century? https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/chicago/ Among the other things it covers, one interesting bit is how the Chicago neighborhoods have changed in waves of immigration; one ethnic group comes in and has to live in the poorest neighborhoods, then they gradually start moving into more upscale neighborhoods as they gain experience and money, leaving their old neighborhood to the next immigrant wave.

  5. Stunning photos! I’m a native of Waukegan, just north of the city, but when I was a child, my grandparents lived in the city proper and I spent a lot of time with them. I love the energy of downtown Chicago. The Art Institute is my favorite place there and there was an Italian restaurant not far from there that I loved to have dinner at after a visit. My parents, siblings and nephews still live there and I can’t wait to go back (haven’t been back due to the virus, but am planning a trip in September). I’m hoping that Italian restaurant survived.

  6. Visited Chicago for the last worldcon there. Anticipate going back for the next one.

  7. Highly recommend the cupcake vending machine, if that’s still a thing. I think it’s a couple blocks north of the mall at the tip of the Magnificent Mile.

    If you’re a tea person, the Russian Tea Time Restaurant is a great place to treat yourself. And no trip to Chicago (for me, a tea fanatic) is complete without stopping into Adagio’s.

  8. Lived about a half a year in Chicago. One of my favorite nights out was to BLUES at the Earl, to hear Jimmy Burns and his combo. I also love the museums/aquarium etc.

  9. Tip for visiting Chicago: several companies run Architecture Boat Tours from the River and the Lake. GREAT way to see the city from the water.

  10. My first and last visit to Chicago was in 1997. Because Chicago Comicon, then in the process of being taken over by Wizard Press if I recall correctly. To me, then, it was as much a place I wanted to visit because of Due South using it as a backdrop as to finally meet a bunch of Amateur Press Alliance friends (some of whom I’m still keeping in touch with).

    A quarter-century later, and I look at that skyline and, thanks to certain DC movies and TV projects, now I’m looking at “Gotham” in my mind rather than the landscape of the adventures of Cst. Benton Fraser, RCMP and his American friends…

  11. Did you take any picture of the Cloud Gate? Next time I drive through Chicago, I won’t miss it. I missed it last time by barely a year. I visited Chicago in 1989 and 2005. The Cloud Gate was built in 2006.

  12. Yeah, it’s no New York, but I like Chicago too. And I echo that deep dish pizza comment above. Or, if you want some really good homemade tortillas and chips and excellent fajitas, try Uncle Julio’s.

    My favorite picture was the second, the “shiny building.”

  13. Chicago is great. I grew up in Detroit so it was a reasonable drive. After law school, my starter husband had friends there, so reasons to visit. Favorite things? People watching. Museum-ing. Eating pizza of various sorts.

    Starter Husband & I used to refer to it as “Bring Money,” because even 30 years ago, it cost on average $400 per DAY for the both of us. And we weren’t flush, being young and all.

  14. My favorite thing in Chicago was the Printers Row Book Fair. I think the name is different now.

    They close off 3-4 blocks of Dearborn Street to cars, and book vendors set up tents and tables for the weekend.

    I lived right on that stretch of Dearborn from 1997-2002 and loved it.

    This photo is somewhat misleading due to lens effects. It makes the expanse of tents look much shorter than it really is: https://media.gettyimages.com/photos/visible-through-a-tower-window-of-dearborn-station-visitors-attend-picture-id2065510?s=2048×2048

  15. First of all, lovely pictures!

    Chicago in on The List of cities I’d like to visit. Probably the third city in the US on said list. (New Orleans and NYC being listed above it.) Just too much media I’ve consumed set there to NOT want to see some places there with my own eyes.

    I’m from The Netherlands, an ocean away. And, well, I’m not rich enouch to travel internationally every year. But I’m sure I’ll make it to Chicago in the next decade or two!

  16. There’s tons of great theatre in Chicago although probably not at the moment. Interesting to see your donut tour. Hope you made it to the place sort of near Navy Pier that has the rope swing inside the store. Not only for the swing, but for the donuts as well. (I think that’s a real place, although it’s possible I was a bit altered when I was there.)

  17. My favorite spot is the Museum of Science and Industry. That may be colored by its long history and the fact that I read The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson before my first trip. Larson meticulously details the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and the building’s construction. Oh, yes, and there’s a serial killer. It’s all true.

  18. Chicago has a long tradition of magic, and I would recommend a visit to the Chicago Magic Lounge on your next trip.

  19. I love Chicago! Also, I’m a big fan of the TV show “Hill Street Blues”. In the opening credits, there’s a shot of the Hill Street precinct station, which was an actual Chicago police building. So, on one of my trips, nothing would do but making a pilgrimage to that building.

  20. My daughter surprised me by deciding to attend Loyola this fall (we’re not Catholic). I didn’t even know it was on her list. She is working extra hours so she can explore the city on weekends. Students get a pass good for all metro transportation and there is an L stop right across the street.

    I will be spending the next four years living vicariously thru her. Maybe she’ll even invite me up. One can hope!

  21. I fell in love with Chicago at a young age in part due to the 70’s Knight Stalker TV series with Darren McGavin.

    My wife and I have visited several time when our red Sox have played Chicago teams, we love so much in the city and look forward to visiting again

  22. I spent nine months in Chigago 1960-61, but as I was only three weeks old when I arrived sadly I don’t remember a thing about the place.

  23. I fell in love with Chicago in part due to the old 70s Night Stalker Tv series

    My wife and I have visited several times when our Red Sox were playing there

    There are so many things we like about the city, dining, museums, etc.

    We look forward to going again

  24. My Dad’s whole family is from Chicago–either born there or settled from Germany. I’ve only ever been to O’Hare, which is definitely not a destination I recommend, particularly if you’re entering the US on an international flight (also, the number of times I’ve been delayed in O’Hare due to weather is appalling so now we just avoid it). Still, I do hope to properly visit Chicago one day.

    All I can think about with that water photo is this line from The Fugitive: “If they can dye the river green today, why can’t they dye it blue the other 364 days of the year?”

  25. Oh, travel. I miss you. Once I can cross borders between our countries Chicago is high on the list (Philadelphia is number one).

    Thanks for stirring my wanderlust.

  26. If you’d be interested in having Persian food, go to Reza’s Restaurant. Dim sum at the traditional Chinatown places is a treat and can be remarkably inexpensive. I keep wanting to try a Georgian (as in the country) restaurant, but it’s a bit off the beaten path.

    In normal times, Chicago’s a great place for “straight” (non-musical) theater. If you’re more interested in musicals, it might be worth a train trip out to Aurora for one of the Paramount Theater’s typically superb and surprisingly inexpensive productions. (If you’re not accustomed to taking commuter trains, you might enjoy the ride, too. Sit on the upper level if you can.)

  27. No. No. No. No. No. NEVER. Willis. NEVER EVER EVER. It will ALWAYS be Sears. :D

    Kates, did you know that the product used to dye the river for St. Patrick’s is actually orange before it hits the water?

    And I need to know about Travis Butler’s hole-in-the-wall beef joint in Schaumburg.

  28. @Goody: Doesn’t seem to be there any more, looking at Google Maps. :( The office was on Lunt Ave., and the beef joint should have been on the south side of Wise Road between Wright and Rodenburg. I remember it being a stand-alone building, entrance facing Wise, and I don’t see anything like that along that stretch.

    Might have been a block further east; I remember getting to the office by driving south on Roselle to Wise, then going west on Wise until turning at Wright to get to Lunt Ave.

  29. Was the Schaumburg hole-in-the-wall Zippy’s by any chance? If so, it was gone last time I visited (3 years ago). They had a better Italian Beef than Portillos, but I have a lot of Portillos nostalgia (char-grilled chicken croissant w/honey mustard, cheese fry, small chocolate malt – sandwich switched to Italian Beef once they started using only gristly pucks for their chicken breast) but Zippy’s put garlic on the bun and toasted it, which, even if you got you Italian Beef wet, was a whole other level.

    Anyway, I spent my snot-nosed teen years living in (and despising) Schaumburg, so as the closest city, Chicago held a lot of mystique. As An Old, I think Chicago is my favorite city in the US. The theatre scene is phenomenal, their symphony and opera companies top-notch, they have possibly my favorite planetarium, and several excellent museums. If you are a sports person (which I am not) I can recommend the Hawks, Bulls, or maybe the Cubs. Plenty of sportsballs to choose from.

    I second the recommendations for the AIA Architecture river tour. My dad is a retired architect who worked in Chicago, and he was surprised that he learned something new. I gained some appreciation for modern buildings that I was previously lacking, although my heart is still with the beaux-arts frippery. Also second the Russian Tea Time, but I always do the full vodka service, so I can’t speak to anything besides that. I’m also a fan of the thin crust tavern cut pizza, which no one outside the midwest seems to make, but I’m sure you’ve had that.

    Anyway, now you’ve made me nostalgic for Chicago, even though I feel the most at home where I live now. Who would have thought that a foodie and food-cart culture like Portland would have no Italian Beef/Chicago Dog food cart?! WTF Portland?

  30. I was in Chicago a couple of years ago. I was actually in Rockford for a work thing, but we headed for Chicago on Saturday to check out the sights. I saw much of the same things that you did, the towers (dear sweet bejaysus it was pricey to go up to the Sears tower deck, plus potential hours waiting time, so no thanks), walked along the river and marvelled at the colour, Navy Pier, Miracle Mile, yadda yadda. Survived walking a long way back to the car after dark in Chicago, so I’ll add that to my list of accomplishments.

    My takeaway was the same as always when I’m in a big city. As a small-town Scandinavian, big cities are fine in reasonable doses, but I have a distinct sense of relief when I get out. The next day I went hiking in Starved Rock State Park, which was much more up my alley.

  31. Yea, yea, yea…very nice buildings I’m sure. Now where are the pictures of the food? I would kill for a Chicago street dog right about now. Not to mention one of those tomato and cheese casseroles they call pizza there.

  32. When I was atop your so-called Willis Tower it was the tallest building on the planet. Of course it’s the Sears Tower. Now git off my lawn. :)

    PS. At least one of the times I was on top of the Empire State Building, it was the tallest building on the planet. I was local enough, but missed my golden opportunity to be on top of the North Tower of the World Trade Center when it was the tallest building on the planet. I’ve always regretted that, but even more after 9/11.

  33. Looking forward to the donut tour. I miss American donuts, they cannot make donuts here. (It’s a cultural issue- friends rave about donuts here, but they are not right). Great to see the Chicago pictures- I have never been there, but my parents lived there for many years.

  34. I love Chicago! But then I’m biased, I met my wife there. As for restaurants, if you haven’t been to Frontera Grill before, you have to go. One of the best Mexican restaurants in the world (that’s not just my opinion, it’s frequently ranked as one).

  35. Chicago is the only city off the west coast that I would live in. It is a fantastic place. It has some of everything, and there is always something happening there.

    It is like NYC without the trash and the assholes.

    Useless Chicago factoid: Chicago is also the center of the known universe when it comes to railroads. Six of the seven heavy freight haulers own track there, along with one of the largest commuters in the country, Metra.

  36. @Granny Roberta: Honestly, the WTC North observation gallery was kind of a disappointment at the time I visited in 1999; the Empire State was a lot more impressive. The Empire State interior is made out of quality materials like marble and stainless steel, and Art Deco ornamentation; WTC looked like a typical office building, with no real character and worn carpets.

    The observation area on top of the roof looked like an industrial zone; a thin metal walkway on stilts with railings that looked like they came off the shelves at Home Depot. https://flic.kr/s/aHsmVXDct1 has some pics.

    Of course, given the history, I’m glad I got to go up there. But the only really stunning thing up there was the view.

  37. I like how there is a beach right in the city. I walked under a highway and there is Lake Michigan. Rather brisk for a swim.

    Since you live in a small town, I perceive the food choices as rather limited. Is there a particular food dish that you go out of your way to eat? Or your parents?
    Frozen Custard, India Food, Korean food, steak house?
    There is no frozen custard in New England, but we have some great India food restaurants.
    When my wife and I are two specks of salt in a sea of brown pepper customers, I know the food is authentic. On the buffet Goat is a regular item.

  38. I have lived in Chicago for 40 years, and love it, and also love seeing other people’s pictures of the city. Yours are gorgeous!

    One of the best things is the vast public beach. I grew up near Cleveland where most of the lakefront is pay to play. I do recommend the Chicago Architecture Foundation tours, on foot or by boat, they are fascinating. And The Writer’s Museum on Michigan Avenue, a great stop after the really big museums. Or get one of the online public art maps, there are dozens of amazing murals just steps from the AIC.

    Chicago is also BIG. My first few years here, I thought Schaumburg was in Iowa. But wherever you are, you can find something great to eat, whether you want bao or pizza or tandoori or pierogies.

  39. Go to Demera’s. It’s an Ethiopian restaurant in the Uptown neighborhood that is awesome.

  40. Chicago’s a great city, my wife and I went to college in Illinois and went up to Chicago a number of times. The Art Institute is a great museum, lots of famous paintings and lots of cool ones that aren’t so famous.

    Also if you like architecture go out to Oak Park, that’s where Frank Lloyd Wright first made his name. His home and studio was preserved as a museum and a lot of buildings in the neighborhood were designed by him.

  41. Museum of Science and Industry (I think—it’s been years). Nazi sub, working coal mine, lots of other stuff including an IMax theater.

  42. After my months in Boot Camp at Great Lakes Navy Base, I went to ET school, and had weekends off. We would buy round-trip tix on the commuter train and go to town if we had any money at all.

    This was the summer of 1970, so great music at the Aragon Ball Room, picture a middle-eastern palace full of hippies and rock-n-roll. Jethro Tull, lots of others.

    We also hit the Ravinia summer park that is the Chicago Symphony’s outdoor home, where we saw Frank Zappa, Janis, Procol Harum, many others. Lots of great buildings and sculptures, wish we had done museums, I love them but the other guys not so much.

    Love the photos! Esp the railroad yard with the skyscrapers in the background. We had adventures on the El-subway too.

    Blues shows in Grant Park, with anti-police riots after the show, which we avoided as much as possible. Amazing to see police cruisers rolled over and burning, and clouds of objects rising and falling above the crowds, for no discernible reason. From a rapidly widening distance, of course!

  43. I’ve been to Chicago a number of times, both for pleasure (e.g. a couple of Worldcons) and for business. I’ve hit many of the big tourist attractions (Sears/Willis Tower, Field Museum, Museum of Science & Industry, Oak Park), had quite a few pizzas from Giordano’s, and taken in a few games at Wrigley Field (a friend has excellent lower-deck season tickets).

    I am amused by your photos aiming straight up the towers. As a structural engineer and fan of architecture, if I find myself in a city with an observation deck-topped skyscraper (or similar feature) I am compelled to visit. And in the process of doing so, compelled to take at least one picture from the base looking straight up and one picture as close as I can get to looking straight down.

  44. Been through Chicago several times (before I swore off plane routings through O’Hare). I’ve only visited once, several years back when a touring MythBusters exhibit was at the Museum of Science and Industry. MSI is definitely worth a visit; go on the sub tour first thing in the morning to avoid crowds (not that it takes many people to crowd a Type IX), and see if they’re still doing the behind-the-scenes tour.

    Some friends and I already have our memberships to next year’s Chicago Worldcon, and we’re planning to drive out a few days early to play tourist.

  45. Never been to Chicago, but it’s on my list. Interesting that you chose to walk nearly an hour to the aquarium, though quite surprised you didn’t drive. Awesome pics by the way.

  46. I’ve been to Chicago a few times, the last time I was there I went to the Museum of Surgical Science, I like the niche museums!

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