Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Chicago: 3 days in Chicago

cheers to the rainy chicago.
When I was little, dad used to pronounce "Chicago" as "Cicak-go" (Cicak= lizard in Malay language). Who knew 10 years later I would fall head over heels in love, with the city of lizards... Chi-town is now "My Kind of Town". I am not sharing it with Frank Sinatra.

Day 1: Introduction 

Riverfront Walk
Arguably the best way to start day 1, is to jump on Chicago First lady cruise. On this cruise you can get an overview of the city, its history and architecture, not to forget it is one of the best ways to take in the grandeur of Chicago skyline! Another budget friendlier option is to stroll along the water.

Millennium Park
This a 25 acres picturesque park loaded with many excellent photo opportunities! Everyone is crazy about "the Bean", but don’t forget to pick up a map of the park at the visitor center near the bean and explore other not-so-hectic site of the park! The park is filled with public art, free concerts, free dance classes… includes the beautiful Lurie garden, a great oasis. On a warm day you can sit and watch the kids play in Crown Fountain, or take your shoes off and be a kid at heart yourself.

Cloud Gate/”The Bean”
Come and take a photo of your own reflection at the bean, along with the fun “fish-eye view” reflection of the Chicago skyline! This stainless steel bean shape structure had become synonymous with the city of “Chicago”.

Art Institute of Chicago
Hallowed ground for every Art buff, the collections here are eye-opening. Free entry on 5pm onwards.

Grant Park
During my trip to Chicago, I missed the Taste of Chicago in the Grant Park (ended a day before. Argh). However, I was not at all disappointed: Standing magnificently next to the food fair ground is the Buckingham fountain. If you visit in the evening, there will be a musical light fountain show to enjoy!

Try a Chicago Style Pizza
my deep dish ALL CHEESE
Oh you must, no matter how on budget you are. Believe me!
Try the classic Chicago Puzza-- the Deep dish!Thanks to Jorie and Claire, I’ve tried the “all cheese” and “vege”. Very filling. The best tasting pizza ever (although greasy and heart attack inducing)! Please allow at least 45 min waiting time (it will be worth the wait), so it is not a quick bite!
The best place to try a deep-dish: Giordano's or Gino's East
Reason: Multi-location, easy to find. A lot of seating so you can take your pace between slices.

Day 2: The busy streets

Chicago Cultural Center (highly recommended by my host!)
A Free exhibition well worth your time, see: Tiffany glass-domes.
Also, come here for the free events (check schedule online) and pick up a FREE visitor map of Chicago! The views of Michigan Ave. and Millenium Park across the street from the upper floors of the Center are interesting and educational.

The Magnificent Mile 
Situated on the north side of Michigan Avenue is the famous shopping strip in Chicago-- a window shoppers’ paradise! On a sunny day you can take a leisure stroll down the street (beautiful lights during holiday season) until you reach Oak Street Beach.

Michigan Avenue Bridge
Don't forget to check out the view from the bridge-- Great photo opportunities!

Tribune Tower
What iis interesting: Stones from all around the world! (from many of the great buildings including the Pyramids (Egypt) and the Taj Mahal (India).

Water Tower 
Located towards the end of the Magnificent Mile, this is the only building to survive the 1871 fire. Experience inexpensive shopping here.

360 Chicago Observation Deck (The best, recommended by my host Jorie and Claire)
Located right next to the Water Tower. If you loved Top of the Rock/ Empire state building in NYC, don’t miss what the Chicago skyline has to offer! Locals call this place the John Hancock observatory, and one great thing about it is: You can either buy a ticket for one visit, or for a morning plus night visit to see how the skyline changes!
When I was in the John Hancock tower, it was raining, then “out of no where” (just to make it sounds more dramatic), I saw a sign to the Signature room. One floor above the Observatory and I get a fancy lunch, with a fair price! What a good find!
Skydeck Chicago
Located in the Willis/ Sears Tower, this is another good place to see Chicago skyline. Four sided views from high in the sky and if you are up for some good adrenaline rush, take on the adventurous "Ledge"! Conquer your fear of height by stepping out from the edge, looking straight down to the city through the glass.
courtesy of skydeck

Second City
If you’re up for a laugh, “Second City” is undoubtedly the place to go! The performance will make your cheeks numb and sore (It’s hilarious). The show usually starts from 8pm.
Take a brown/ purple line 'L' to Sedgwick, then walk a few blocks.

Day 3: Shore

Lincoln Park Zoo
my skyscraper hair rule the skyline.
Easily accessible with the city bus, it is a free attraction and offers a lot of photo opportunities of the Chicago skyline. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy it under the hive structure.If you have time, check out the Lincoln Park Conservatory.

Museum Campus
Decide on the museum you want to visit according to your preference. One thing for sure, you can’t do all in a day.
Adler Planetarium is a cool place to hang out if you like stars, even if you don’t, the view of Chicago skyline near the planetarium is a W-I-N-N-E-R! And if you happen to be there on a Saturday evening, stay a little longer to watch the fireworks show from Navvy Pier.
The Field Museum is a go place if you are into natural history and is a fan of Jurassic Park.
Shedd Aquarium. With $8, you can easily spend all day exploring the aquarium. If your forehead spells “YOLO”, add on a shark feeding session (plan early).

Chicago Water Taxi
Cheap, local, scenic and efficient and a fun way to travel!Only $2-7 dollar for a ticket, there are 2 companies offering this taxi service: Chicago Water Taxi and Shoreline Sightseeing. Ticket booth is located below the Michigan Avenue Bridge.

Navy Pier
Must see for first timer in Chicago. If your budget allows, take the iconic Ferris Wheel ($6) for some great shots over the city.
** currently close for reconstruction, reopen summer 2016

Michigan Lake
Take a leisure walk along the shore and enjoy the soothing blue.

If you are in a rush but still wanna see Chicago:

Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Co.
The thing to do if you have very limited time. If you have plenty of time, I’ll recommend walking as you can see more and experience more.

If you have more time:

Wrigley Field
Don’t miss the home of the Chicago Cubs if you are a sports fanatic. Looking at the $25 tour tickets, I think I’ll just give it a miss.

Richard H. Driehaus Museum
Come and see Chicago in _______(insert time period). This is an amazing little hidden gem, showcasing beautiful restoration of Chicago architecture in the past.

Thank You for Reading! This post is based solely on my personal experience. 
Feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below!

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