Chicago has been on my list of cities to visit for quite some time now. It was a place I had visited for work, so the only thing I knew about the city was the airport and the convention center. We decided to spend a few days in Chicago as tourists, similar to what we did in Las Vegas a few years ago.

Chicago is a quick 2-hour plane flight from the Boston area. The city is really walkable (We walked almost 11 miles on our first day! Proof.) and offers great museums and (a big selling point for me) great food. We planned our trip for mid-September, which is a great time to travel if you don’t have kids. School is back in session but it’s still too early for field trips, so you basically have every venue to yourself.

The Art and Architecture of Chicago

We really wanted to take in the art scene on our first full day in Chicago. There are a number of amazing art museums in the city, in addition to the architecture. We set out on foot toward Buckingham Fountain in the center of Grant Park. (If you ever watched the TV show “Married … with Children,” this is the fountain that is seen in the opening sequence.) Buckingham Fountain is gigantic. No, it’s ginormous. No, it’s … bigger than ginormous.

If you look at the photo below, you will see my husband in a red shirt standing in front of the fountain. I am several hundred yards away, trying to fit the entire fountain into one shot. 

buckingham_fountain_directpositivepreset_chicago_web

Also in Grant Park is the cool-but-kind-of-creepy public art installation in Solti Garden. The installation, called “Borders” features 26 life-size human forms in various states of standing, sitting, kneeling, etc. The people enjoying the park didn’t seem to mind the statues planted in the middle of benches, for example. According to the Chicago Park District, this installation will be around until Spring 2014.
Grant Park
Our next must-see stop was the Chicago Cultural Center,  first home of the Chicago Public Library and current home of the world’s largest Tiffany dome (photo below). According to the City of Chicago, the dome measures 38 feet in diameter and includes ~30,000 pieces of glass.

Chicago Cultural Center

The Cultural Center hosts free events throughout the year. On the day we visited, we were able to attend the first annual Chicago Music Summit, sponsored by Google. The highlight for us was a talk with Grammy Award-winning music producer and sound engineer Ed Cherney.

If you go to Chicago, check out these other museums, tours, and public spaces:

The Food

The dining in Chicago was so good that I have to pay homage to it. We ate our way from one end of the city to the other. Our first dinner in Chicago was a crowd-sourced place (thanks, Twitter friends!) called Friends Sushi. Amazingly fresh cuts of fish that rivals my favorite sushi joint in NYC. Our sushi dinner would set the tone for the food eaten during the rest of our trip: delicious, fresh, and amazingly good.

(Sorry for the cell phone picture of our sushi. I’m not a big fan of hauling out my DSLR with giant lens to take food photos.)

linda-friends-sushi

Of course, when you go to Chicago you have to try a Chicago-style hot dog and Chicago-style pizza, too!

 

A Chicago-style hot dog. I was dubious about the pickle spear, but I was so wrong.
A Chicago-style hot dog. I was dubious about the pickle spear, but I was so wrong.

 

We found pizza! “The Lou” from Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria.
We found pizza! “The Lou” from Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria.

If you go to Chicago, check out these other restaurants:

A few more photos from Chicago

And, finally, a few more shots of our trip before you go.

A view from the Skydeck, 103 floors above Chicago.
A view from the Skydeck, 103 floors above Chicago.
Museum of Science and Industry
The Museum of Science and Industry
The Field Museum
Inside the Field Museum