Chicago is a big city with a lot of things to explore. I tried to cover as many things as possible during the four and a half days I stayed there. On my first day, I explored the parks, Lake Michigan and the Art Institute. On the second and third day I managed to do some shopping in between the sightseeing activities which I thought I’d share with you in this post. The weather wasn’t the best on either of these days so I did well bringing a rain/wind jacket.
Navy Pier is a must when in Chicago. To be fair though, it’ doesn’t offer much in spring time, until the Ferris wheel has opened. Still, it’s a nice area of Chicago offering lots of restaurants, a beer garden and here’s also where all boat cruises set off. This is the reason why I headed this direction. I love the water so a boat tour was high on my list of things to do.
On this day, not many people were interested in going on a boat cruise so the first tour was cancelled, the one I had tickets for. Luckily, I could reuse it so went for the afternoon tour instead, with a group of college students from Ohio. It’s funny how teenagers from all over the world act the same. Rocking up in t-shirts and shorts on a freezing cold and windy day.
Despite the boat tour being really cold, I did learn a lot about the architecture of Chicago. The guide new his stuff so it was really interesting taking the time to look at all the buildings along the river and others in the far distance. The Civic Opera House for example is looking like a massive throne, facing the river. The Willis Tower is the tallest building in Chicago, USA’s tallest building up till 2013. Of the 10 highest buildings in the US, 4 of them are in Chicago: Willis Tower (Sears Tower), Trump Tower, Aon Centre and the Hancock Centre.
The tour was meant to have ended with a speedy trip on Lake Michigan but due to the waves, we weren’t able to. By this time, I was relived as I couldn’t feel my cheeks, nose or fingers. I don’t want to imagine how the kids felt. Anyway, that’s the reason of lack in pictures from the trip.
Lincoln Park Zoo
I love a good zoo so was happy to learn that Chicago has one with free entrance. Due to this, it’s not the most or best taken care of zoo. It’s located lovely in Lincoln Park but it’s very run down. Even so, I got to see some beautiful animals and absolutely loved the flamingos. I’ve finally met some in real life, just a shame they were too shy/tired to say hi properly.
The zoo is a nice day out so if you’re travelling with kids, this is a good option. I took the train to get to the zoo in the morning but decided on walking to downtown on my way back. It was a really nice walk back seeing the skyscrapers in the horizon, knowing what to head towards. I had one tower in mind, the John Hancock Centre (Chicago’s fourth highest building).
John Hancock Centre
Once arriving it’s a very impressive building where you wish you had a neck that could bend a bit more to be able to see it properly. I really like the dark colour it’s got, makes it look extra powerful. On the top floors, they have the option of a 360 degrees experience, enjoy food in the restaurant or visit the bar for a refreshing view. Guess which one I picked!
Yes that’s right, I decided to go to the bar area and enjoy a cocktail whilst taking in all of Chicago. I can really recommend doing this after you’ve explored Chicago from the ground in a couple of days so you know what areas and buildings you’re looking at, makes it more enjoyable. The cocktails are around $15 so with tax, you’re looking at the same price as visiting the 360 degrees experience.
Fun fact! The ladies toilets have a stunning view as well. Completely opposite to the Shard in London, where only the mens toilets come with a view.
The Magnificent Mile
From the John Hancock Centre, you’re only a stone’s throw from the Magnificent Mile (Chicago’s famous shopping street). If you have money to spend, do go here and all the high end shops like Gucci, Prada, Marc Jacobs and so on are at your disposal. I was satisfied just looking at the display windows and the street decorations. As I mentioned in my shopping haul post, all my shopping was done in downtown in more affordable shops.
I hope you enjoyed this post and that it’s given you some inspiration of what to do when in Chicago. Have you been to any of these sights?