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Visiting Chicago

Updated on January 6, 2015
Chicago Illinois
Chicago Illinois

Traveling To The Windy City

While staying in Chicago for the short time we were there I was able to explore the good, the bad, and the disturbing. It's a very open and modern city with a lot to offer the thousands of tourists that come each year to partake in the magic of this place. When you visit this city you will in no doubt have something to do around every corner and with it being the 3rd most populous city in the Untied States it surely won't disappoint. I share my trip and experiences while also giving valuable advice and cool places to visit and see while on your next trip to Chicago.

Hotel in Lombard
Hotel in Lombard

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Transportation And Hotel

We were fortunate enough to have our hotel accommodations paid for by an employer. Our vehicle was also provided in the same way. What better way to explore Chicago? We would not have been able to afford it on our own so we are both extremely grateful for our experience and would have otherwise never had the opportunity to make so many great memories . The hotel and car were nothing fancy but still very new and exciting none the less. They did add to the overall quality of the trip so if you can possibly help it I would not try to save budget on this particular subject matter. The hotel and your transportation do in fact affect the trip in many ways that you wouldn't even think of, although in most cases this cannot be helped especially if you are travelling on business like ourselves. Our hotel was not actually in Chicago itself but in the little city of Lombard which is about 30 min outside of the city. This was a decent, quiet outlying area away from the chaos and intensity of the urban atmosphere but still close enough to make the drive back and forth to the city everyday. If your from a small town I would highly suggest this area for the sake of relaxation and sanity. The only downside is that if you don't stay directly in Chicago finding places to park can become extremely troublesome if you are unfamiliar with this area.

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Our adventures

This being our first extended stay in Chicago, we thought it would be best to get the basic tourist attractions out of the way to see what all the hoopla was about. We mainly did stuff every tourist comes to chicago to do and other things no ones warns you about or at least I didn't do enough research on and ended up regretting it very much in the end. I'll inevitably get to these later as it is important.

Authentic Deep Dish Pizza
Authentic Deep Dish Pizza

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Grant Park, Buck's Grill
Grant Park, Buck's Grill
Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan
The Bean, Millennium Park
The Bean, Millennium Park
Family Pavilion
Family Pavilion

The Good

We had a lot of fun in the short time we were here. We were able to explore many of the main tourist attractions. We walked the streets more times then we can count. Had our very first rides in taxi's and was even offered a rickshaw ride but declined due to unfamiliarity. If this alone didn't make me feel away from home I'm not sure what would. It was not a negative so much as new and a little uncomfortable at times.

We got to enjoy the Skydeck and the fireworks at Navy Pier while inside the Willis Tower. This was the most romantic thing I had ever seen and apparently someone else thought so too as there was a marriage proposal sometime during the middle of it. How cute!

We explored every inch of the Pier itself including the smith museum of stained glass, taking a ride on the ferris wheel, the upstairs family pavilion and garden and, lastly, we stopped in to eat at the italian grill located near the front entrance just after buying some souvenirs from the shops located inside the Navy Pier.

We visited the Brookfield Zoo saving the other zoo for our next adventure to Chicago. it was there that we were able to touch stingrays for the first time. That may not sound like much but we don't have anything like that around here and my boyfriend is terrified of fish.

We were able to try some authentic Chicago deep dish style pizza. It was the most mouthwatering and delicious thing I have ever tasted. it was so thick and rich and the sauce was made from real crushed tomatoes. It was the freshest and most appetizing pizza I've ever had.

We visited both Grant Park and Millennium Park. we were able to see the Buckingham Fountain and even had a snack together at Buck's Grill located inside the park. We then went over to the Fountain Cafe and bought a watermelon kiwi smoothie to share for our long walk. Our purchases were well received and it was a very relaxing outing together. We also, of course, stopped by the bean to view and take pictures of it and ended up staying much longer than anticipated.

We got to see the Chicago Theatre up close and personal and even took a drive through the Chinatown located here. Which was in fact the first one I've ever been to. Due to our timeframe we did not get out and walk the area though it would have been a great experience. it was unlike anything I've ever seen before.

We got to experience the Chicago Symphony Orchestra just by luck and sheer being at the right place at the right time sort of deal. While we were visiting the parks we heard beautiful music so us being curious we got closer. We noticed a bridge and went for a walk on it. It was the best view in the house overlooking the exact area they were playing. It was beautiful.

We were also fortunate enough to visit during the air and water show that they hold. It was breath taking seeing the military jets fly above the whole city like they did. To top this off they even did stunts and trick so close to the buildings that it was almost shocking. At home we have air shows but it pails in comparison. It was mesmerizing, at the least, having never seen anything similar to this in the past.

The Wave Swinger, Navy Pier
The Wave Swinger, Navy Pier

The Bad

Not everything was fun of course, that mostly being anything having to do with parking, parking lots, parking spaces and parking meters. For someone from a small town this got old very fast seeing as I am use to open and free parking spaces anywhere and everywhere. Another thing we had serious problems with was finding restrooms, at home we know where they are located and in Chicago a lot of those same places didn't have restrooms so we had to do a lot of searching while hoping our bladders would not explode at the same time. This was extremely unpleasant as you could probably imagine. There was also a lot of homeless people which I did not expect. There was ten times as many people without homes then what I see back home which makes sense but is obviously very upsetting.

The Disturbing

There were things that I had not expected nor was I prepared for. I know you should always stay where there are other people but it seemed like such a lovely place at the time. I did learn quickly though that not everything is as it seems. While we were in Chicago we were walking in an area only to notice that a gas station had been robed at gun point and people had been hurt, we saw gang members and found ourselves lost. Where did we end up? On the side of an express way were we ran into many homeless people congrgating and living there to avoid the cold. We walked past thirty plus "homes" that these people had set up only to get to the end of this sidewalk that stopped. What? Yeah it stopped. It wasn't even a sidewalk. now here we are in the middle of this expressway after walking through all these homless and rather smelly areas with no sidewalk. We booked it to an off ramp had to jump a gap that fell 20 feet below and tailed it out of there. These were by far the worst parts of Chicago and being unprepared for and unfamiliar with the area. If you plan on visiting do your research beforehand.

Chicago Skyline
Chicago Skyline

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    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Being a Chicago native, you've pointed out some of the things that I love/hate about it, too.

      I'm very familiar with the hotel area where you were staying and it's convenient and comfortable. Used to live in Chicago proper for the first almost 30 years of my life and once I moved to the 'burbs, I swore never to move back... and haven't.

      The parking situation in the city is a nightmare and is precisely the reason I rarely go downtown. It's a huge, expensive hassle! And I don't care for the never ending commute by train/bus/cab. Did that for too long when I lived in the city. And you are absolutely correct, do your research.

      But I'm glad you got to experience some of the best that Chicago has to offer. The restaurants here are outstanding, even in the suburbs. Hope you'll decide to visit our area again someday!

    • BrandyMD profile image
      Author

      BrandyMD 2 years ago

      I'm glad that I wasn't too far off how the locals view it. I was actually worrying about that while writing this article.

      I love the big city but, like you, I would never leave the suburban life for it. These places are fun to visit but living here is another story. I really wonder how the people who live in Chicago, and other places such as New York, manage on a day to day basis. It must be extremely stressful.

      And thank you so much Heidi. I will definitely be back sooner rather than later, tt is a charming place and the locals have an unbelievable energy about them. Everyone is friendly and inviting to an extent I've never seen. It's truly incredible!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 2 years ago

      It's been some time since I visited Chicago and now I would love to plan a trip there in the near future, after winter of course. I remember those deep dish pizzas and there is no comparison in any other city.

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