So we decided to spend today doing everything Ferris Bueller did on his day off!
Well, not exactly, but we did a lot of cool things regardless!
Chicago was not the easiest stop for us to make in on our RV’ing route (it took us 2 hours each way with traffic from the closest campground), but since it has been on my bucket list for way too long, we decided to make the trek in this direction. John had been there twice before, but it was my first time and I was super excited!
As we approached the city, it became apparent just how large the city is – certainly bigger than Philadelphia! We parked in the Museum Campus garage which was next to Soldier Field (“Da Bears'” stadium) and the Field Museum.
Since we noticed that rain was projected for later in the afternoon, we decided to walk around the touristy outdoor areas first. We first walked down to the riverwalk along Lake Michigan, which had beautiful views of the water, the city, and the amusement pier in the distance.
We then stopped to see the “Married with Children” fountain (otherwise known as Buckingham Fountain). It was huge!
Right near it was the Grant Park Rose Garden, which was a picturesque little oasis established in 1963 by the Chicago Horticultural Society and the Chicago Park District.
Another block or so over was the now famous Millenium Park section of Grant Park in the city’s Loop district. We walked through the beautiful 5-acre Lurie Gardens, the really cool looking Jay Pritzker Pavilion and, of course, the famous “Cloud Gate” sculpture, known informally as “The Bean”.
“The bean” had tons of visitors around it, not unexpectedly. We were able to get close to it, though, to take in all of the different perspectives of it. From seeing ourselves at different angles, to seeing the cityscape and sky reflected, to the inside where you can see reflections within reflections, it really was a spectacle to see!
We then decided to walk up to pass by the famous Chicago Theatre, and walk back to the Museum along some different streets.
We ducked into a downtown Target store to use the restrooms along the way and stumbled upon bottles of Barefoot wine on sale for $4! Midwest, you really are selling me on your wine prices…
We also noticed a good number of unique looking large clocks on the corners of blocks. What we saw of the architecture of Chicago today really intrigued me. I also thought it was cool to see the elevated train go by, which admittedly seemed a lot nicer than the Market-Frankford El in Philadelphia, though I can’t speak for whether it is nicer to ride or not..
We then reached the Field Museum, our main attraction for the day. I was excited to go, but have to say I was not prepared for the amount of cool things we saw there! We spent approximately 3 hours there and could have used three times that amount of time. This was the third time John had been there, and he was still surprised by a lot of things he saw!
The cultural sections were interesting, but the most exciting parts for us were definitely the dinosaur and taxidermy exhibits. Living in Philadelphia, we enjoyed going to the zoo fairly often, but it was even more awe-inspiring to see and learn about animals from so many different parts of the world, or that no longer exist (even though I’ll admit, some of the ‘wittle taxidermy Bambi-like creatures tugged at my heart strings at first)!
It was also fascinating to think that when the museum first opened in the early twentieth century, that many people had never seen the types of animals they had on display. Imagine never having been taught about Alaskan brown bears, komodo dragons, or even dinosaurs in school, on tv, on the internet, or in books, and seeing them for the first time in person! How much would your mind be blown that these exist or once did!?! Seeing some of these animals was also a great reminder of some of the wildlife we are sure to see as we head out West and check out many National and State Parks.
Overall, I can say the Field Museum has now earned its place as my favorite museum! Upon the museum closing at 5, we had planned to get Chicago-style pizza for dinner, but thunderstorms, a healthy surge on Uber pricing, and a decent ride back that would not be fun in a food coma prompted us to get the drive over with and head to a place closer to our campground.
Giordano’s is a chain that specializes in the deep dish style pizza. If we had stayed in the city, we were going to try another chain, Lou Malnati’s, but John vouched that he had had Giordano’s and enjoyed it before and this was much closer to our campground. So John excitedly ordered his heaping pile of cheese, dough and sauce while I, not the biggest fan of cheese (I know, I know, what’s wrong with me, right?), ordered a Chicago-style beef sandwich with spicy giardiniera (hot peppers), an au jous kind of dipping gravy and a side of parmesan garlic fries, which was also very good. Even though I can’t appreciate the taste, it was pretty awe-inspiring to see the ooziness of the pizza in person…
We also saw this awesome sign in Rockford, the birthplace of America’s most prolific band, Cheap Trick.
Having grown up loving the movie, A League of Their Own, I couldn’t also help from thinking of the Rockford Peaches while passing through town…
I personally really liked what I have seen of Chicago so far. I liked how it was clearly a very expansive and diverse city, yet didn’t feel as overwhelming as say, a New York City. It also has very beautiful architecture and I love the breathtaking views over the water, as well as their impressive cultural hubs. The people seem very authentic, too, and the food amazing.
We can’t wait to go back for another day trip!