In a fashion similar to last year, we spent the Fourth of July week not together as a family. The kids all headed to the Sequoias in California for junior high and high school church camp. So that left us adults with some ‘free’ time. We took advantage of the opportunity and headed to Chicago, where the husband has been commuting to and from Los Angeles on a work assignment for the past nine months.
I’ve been to Chicago before. My family moved out to California from the Midwest when I was young, but we still have relatives living in the West Suburbs outside of Chicago. However, that said, it is much different traveling with your significant other compared to parents, and it was nice to travel as a tourist with no other agenda than to relax and explore.
I love Chicago. It has a different big city feel than Los Angeles and is so much cleaner. There is an electric feeling to the city, and there’s so much to do and see. Also for some reason, I’m drawn to cities that are on a body of water, like San Francisco, and of course, with Chicago being on Lake Michigan, it fits my bill.
We flew Southwest Airlines from LAX to Midway, the smaller (and easier) Chicago airport. Midway is only about 10 miles from downtown and is easily accessible via the L train. We stayed in the Loop, which is the official downtown area. This location was perfect for us, as we didn’t need to rent a car. We relied on public transportation and our own two feet. And this was great, as traffic could get dicey as in most big cities, and parking would have been expensive. Also as in most big cities.
Here are just a few of our walking adventures:
Millennium Park is one of Chicago’s most visited tourist attractions and is home to the Jay Pritzker Pavilion and probably most famously Cloud Gate, the jelly-bean shaped sculpture designed by Anish Kapoor. I didn’t get any good photos of the cloud ‘bean;’ it was super popular on this hot summer day. The husband actually has a great view from his office in the Aon Center across the street.
Grant Park was a nice walk and is located across from Lake Michigan. There are beautifully landscaped gardens and grassy areas to sit and enjoy the views. The photos above are of Buckingham Fountain, one of the largest fountains in the world with a capacity of 1.5 million gallons and installed in 1927. Kate Buckingham dedicated it as a memorial to her brother Clarence. It is now a designated Chicago Landmark. It is also famously featured in the opening credits of the show “Married with Children.”
We did walk over the Chicago’s main tourist trap, Municipal Pier 2, also known as Navy Pier. We’ve visited the pier before with the kids, but it has been built up since our last visit. There are still the typical boardwalk rides and Children’s Museum, but there are more shops and restaurants to patronize and enjoy.
This post is the first in a four-part series on the Windy City. The fun, food, and culture are abundant here, and I hope to share some of it with you. After all, life is an adventure meant to be shared. And Chicago is my kinda town.
Office photo credit: Michael Haas
For more info, visit Chicagoparkdistrict.com