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Monday, January 27, 2014

A Whirlwind Weekend in Chicago

I love Chicago.  Really, I do.  It's got such great everything (except mountains...but it IS the midwest).  Lately, the weather has been getting me down a little bit, what with words like "bitter," "frigid," "polar," etc. being thrown around with every.single. weather forecast.  I wrote this post up for Janssen awhile back, and looking at the pictures of fun spring and summer activities is reminding me that there's hope around the corner, and that, someday, the cold will go away.  So, don't come and visit us in the next couple of months (unless you REALLY want to see the inside of my apartment, or the nearest Target because that's probably as far as we'd venture), but, come spring, you should definitely visit!

 Hi!  I’m Nicole.   My husband, Nate, and I moved to Chicago in December of 2011 for his job.  He works right in the Loop, and we live in Rogers Park—the furthest neighborhood north in Chicago.  The kiddos and I visit Nate downtown a couple of times a month, so we’ve seen a fairly decent amount of the north side of the city.  With Katie (3), and Grayson (1) in tow, the things that we usually do are pretty child-friendly, but, honestly, if you’re visiting me, you likely are too.

The lines can be SO long, but the food is really good!
I'd take you out for Chicago Style Hot Dog at Hot Doug’s.  It’s a great little cash-only hot dog place that serves not only Chicago-Style hot dogs (which are vastly superior), but they also have a variety of other meat options:  Alligator, Venison, Foie Gras, etc.  You can order whatever you want, but people don’t line up for hours in the summer just for the normal hot dog.  I'd strongly recommend going with two people, and getting one regular (or the Elvis, deep fried), and one specialty.  Whatever you do, people will definitely recommend that you get the Duck Fat Fries.  Personally, I don’t notice a difference between whatever their fries are normally fried in and the duck fat, but you probably should try it anyway, because it’s different.  They’re served on Fridays and Saturdays, and perhaps you have a less plebeian palate than I.   We could also go to Superdawgs, if the line is too long at Hot Doug's.  Their fries aren't anything special, but the Chicago-Style Hot Dogs they make are really, really good.

They've been around since 1948, so they're doing something right.

Those are giant glass walls that project images--usually faces.  About every 10 minutes or so, the face "spits" out a large stream of water all over the children who happen to be underneath it.

It's famous for a reason! You shouldn't miss Millennium Park.  Right off the El, and several bus lines, and just south of all the shopping you could want on Michigan Avenue, this fantastic park is full of sculptures and an outdoor concert area where they regularly hold free concerts in the summer.  They also have a HUGE pair of fountains that kids (and adults) can run and play in between.  There’s ice skating in the winter (bring your own skates and it’s free!), and general awesomeness year round.  You can’t come to Chicago and not take at least one picture with The Bean (actually named “The Cloud Gate” but it mostly looks like a perfectly mirrored kidney bean).

Taken from Their Website.

Calories don't count on vacation, so we'll stop in and grab a treat at Lickity Split—The most adorable little ice cream shop in the Edgewater neighborhood.  Their custard is so delicious, and they’ve got a bunch of old-timey candies in jars and such.  Really, unless you hate sugar and cute, there’s nothing not to love. 

Closer to Evanston--but the lake is MASSIVE.
The weather is perfect and getting outdoors is a must. We'll take advantage of the gorgeous day at the beach.  I’m sure other major cities love their waterfronts, but I never fail to be astonished by Lake Michigan.  I’m certain that, had I been an early American explorer, I would have hit Lake Michigan and immediately declared it to be the Pacific Ocean (yes, I know it’s freshwater, but it has a tide!).  Then there would have been a lot of embarrassment back home, and the textbooks would have declared it “Murray’s Malady” or something like that.  Anyway—we’ll go to the beach, because it’s sandy, and swimmable, and awesome.  We’re all-season beach-goers, so this applies year-round…though I won’t be swimming in the winter.

So glad my two kiddos love the sand and water.

Katie's first Giordano's.  The pizza is literally an inch and a half thick.

You're so fortunate to have a Chicago insider showing you around. The locals would stone me if I didn't feed you some Chicago-Style deep dish.  Being no respecter of Pizzas, my husband and I have eaten at many different pizza establishments.  My dad’s favorite is Giordano’s, but I think I prefer some of the other versions.  Exchequer downtown makes a pretty awesome pizza, Pizano’s is great, and if we’re already at Millennium Park, we’ll be placed in a prime location to eat just about anywhere.  You’ll get lots of different opinions on where to eat it, so go with whomever you trust, really, just make sure you eat it, and make sure you’re basically starving before you get there. 

You didn't ask, but I'll tell you anyway that a trip to Chicago wouldn't be complete without a trip to Navy Pier.  It’s SUPER touristy, but, meh.  Sometimes you just need to be a tourist while you are one.  It’s a great place to people watch, and, if you’re looking for something of substance, they have a stained glass museum which is free, and beautiful.  Also, you can ride on a Ferris Wheel and look out at the city, or the lake, and, during the summer, they do fireworks a few times a week. 

There is so much more to Chicago than you can do in a weekend (I didn’t even mention the Lincoln Park Zoo, or any of the museums!), so I’d highly recommend coming for longer if you can.  It’s really a fantastic city.


  1. you should do one of these for any city we feel like visiting ;) like, what should be on our utah bucket list?

    1. Janssen at Everyday Reading did a whole series of cities that's pretty awesome. You can find Provo and Salt Lake there specifically too. :)

  2. We are coming to Chicago in April, so this PERFECT. I'm super excited.