Chicago was never really my dream destination, but when I had a chance to visit I took it. And I did right. There is so much to see. I’ve only stayed for two days, but I filled them up with activities, and I’m going to recommend a few places worth to visit.
My original plan was to go straight to Kansas city in Missouri where I will meet my friend. But as I took the cheaper option in flights, my first stop became Chicago. I stayed in Chicago Gateway Hostel which is a hostel in Lincoln park area which, according to locals, is the best area of the city.
Hint: From the airport you can take either uber, or cheaper option you can take the metro -blue line is going straight to the city centre.
App: I’m using Citymapper to get me around the city, and to find out all the best options how to get to places
Internet on the go: I purchased an U.S. sim card and bought a data package to get internet everywhere. Really recommend to do it! It doesn’t cost that much, and it saves you a lot of trouble.
Day 1: In the morning I went to see the Sears Tower, or now named the Willis tower which is the second largest building in the United States. You can go to the attraction called Skydeck, which is an observatory on the top of this building, and you can see the stunning view of Chicago. The skyscrapers really make it an amazing view. I went in the morning, right after the opening, and I only had to wait for half hour. Later when I was leaving I saw a long queue of people, and the security guy at the door shouted the waiting time is hour and a half. So when you decide to visit, do it in the morning.
After that I went to see Navy pier. If you’re in Chicago you really should check it out, it is worth it. I’m here in the winter time, so they don’t do cruise sightseeing, because the wind is really strong. But the place itself is nice. It has a lot of restaurants, and places for kids to hang out. But I didn’t actually use any of the facilities, I only enjoyed the atmosphere of the place.
Just take a warm clothes, and be ready to literally fight with the wind.
Day 2: In the morning I went on tour by Free tours by foot. I like them, because the tour guides are usually good, you can pay what you want, and you will find out interesting information about the place you’re visiting. I used them a few times, and never had a bad experience. This one particularly was the architecture tour around the city. If someone is telling you about the background of a building it stops being just a building, and it become an interesting object you should pay attention to.
Chicago itself has a very nice architecture, and it is really well organised. At least in the city centre (or part of the centre which I visited)
Because I was in Chicago, and had to see some of the famous places I went to the Millennium park to see the “bean” which is officially called the Cloud gate. It was designed by Anish Kapoor. He was an artist who wanted people to remember his art, so he made it interactive. There are few of his sculptures around the town. Honestly I wasn’t that impressed as I expected. I would say, go there, see it, take a nice picture, and move on to more interesting parts of the town.
I also recommend to walk around the Lincoln park area – it has great street architecture, a little restaurants/ fast food with food from around the world ( personal favourite – the venezuelan restaurant on Lincoln Avenue) you will feel safe, and you can take nice pictures of the area.
Facts about Chicago:
- It’s called the “Windy city” but it’s not for the weather conditions which can get a bit extreme sometimes. In 1890 Chicago won the bid to hold the World’s fair which was a celebration of 400th anniversary of Columbus discovering America. New York City thought they were in for certain win, but then Chicago won instead. The New York editor Charles Dana came to Chicago during the World’s fair, and said people shouldn’t pay any attention to it, because even when the “windy city” won the bid they can’t be the best in organising such event. Apparently this was the first time the term was used. So people of Chicago decided to embrace the name instead of fighting with New Yorkers, and that’s why the term is the nickname of the city.
- How Chicago got it’s name: The name comes from the times when Native Americans were still living on the land. They called it “shikaakwa” which in translation means “striped skunk” or “smelly onion”. And it is because onions used to grow naturally in this area. After the french came to the country and took over the land, they wiped out all the onions, and named the city Chicago. But this is just one of the theories where the name might come from.
- The “L (elevated) trains” were built in 1890’s before the World’s fair. They are giving the city a nice look, and are great to ride if you want to have a quick little stroll around the city, and rest your feet for a bit. When the rails were built people thought it is a great idea. Later on they started to notice other cities have the trains underground, which made much more sense, as the trains are heavy and really loud. But when the people of Chicago realised they would have to tear apart half of the city to built a metro, they decided to keep going with the “L trains” which is now a great attraction ( it is used like very common public transportation, and it’s not just for tourists )
You can also find many museums, and parks in the city which I haven’t visited, but I’m sure are worth to see. And now I’m on my way to Kansas city, Missouri. I will let myself to be surprised 🙂