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Trip Report 6 Hours to See Chicago!!!

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I was in Chicago to work (in the suburbs—close to O’Hare) and wrangled a grand total of 6 hours to see everything the city has to offer. HAHA.

My hotel was the Holiday Inn O’Hare – chosen strictly for proximity to my work venue. The hotel ($125/nt) was fine—no complaints—but it’s not a scenic area—unless you enjoy looking at industrial parks ;-).

Meals were not exactly an event. I had a microwave, coffeemaker, and fridge in the room. Bear in mind that I spend a tremendous amount of time traveling—so I do my very best to eat the same healthy, boring meals I would eat if I were at home. I was able to walk to Dominick’s market, and that was a godsend.

The restaurant at the hotel was pleasant, but offered what I’d call “bar food.” There wasn’t anything I’d call healthy. But Dominick’s had a terrific salad bar and rotisserie chickens. With some fruit, veggies, and delicious focaccia I had all I needed. I’d brought a little bag of oatmeal from home and was able to make it in the microwave—and resist the omelets and fried potatoes that were calling my name from the downstairs restaurant. But you don’t want to hear about my boring food and my time working in the ‘burbs. So on to my six hours of fun …

It was a two-block walk from the hotel to the Cumberland Station where I could pick up the blue line for $2.25. The hotel offered a shuttle service, but it was easy enough to walk to the station. 40 minutes later I was in downtown Chicago at the Washington Street station.

Frantically leafing through my Fodor’s guidebook, I must have looked pitiful. An angel (disguised as an elderly woman) asked if I was a tourist. I wonder what her first clue was? She insisted I follow her the couple of blocks to the Cultural Center. This was quite fortuitous because in the visitor center (located within the Cultural Center), in addition to free WiFi and brochures, I found “Insta-Greeters.”

“Insta-Greeters” offer a free 75-minute walking tour that includes the spectacular Cultural Center – and the surrounding area. The next tour was getting ready to leave.

The Cultural Center is one of the most stunning buildings I’ve ever seen. The entire building is a work of art—with two massive Tiffany stained glass domes, exquisite mosaics, and more. This is not to missed for any lover of beautiful, old buildings.

The walking tour’s highlights included a peek inside the former Marshall Field’s (now Macy’s) to see yet another exquisite Tiffany ceiling, then on to marvelous old theaters, Art Deco buildings, the massive Picasso and Miro sculptures, and a view of Trump Tower. There was lots of interesting info, but the best part was that after the tour, I felt a bit more oriented and ready to venture out on my own.

Next stop: Millennium Park. I loved seeing “The Bean.” Very impressive. It was a hot day and it was fun to watch kids splashing in the park’s fountains. Walked down to the lakefront with a quick view of the rose gardens and a wonderful fountain in Grant Park along the way. I would have loved to sit and watch the boats and passersby, but time was ticking, so I checked that off my list and headed to the Architecture Foundation to buy a ticket for a boat tour.

Lunch was a quick stop for a panini at the Corner Bakery. Nothing special … then more walking. Hurry, hurry, gotta catch the boat tour.

I had no idea that Chicago has such fantastic buildings—everything from Art Deco, to Beaux Arts, to minimalist, and ultra modern skyscrapers. The architectural boat tour was a relaxing and interesting way to view these amazing structures while learning about their history—and the city’s.

Sadly, it was time to head to O’Hare before I turned into a pumpkin. LOVED my day in the windy city.

PS. On a previous trip the only thing I’d seen was the amazing Art Institute—but someone had driven me there and picked me up, so I didn’t get any sense of the city. Now that I’ve gotten a taste … I’ll definitely be back!

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