Chi-Town, The Windy City, Second City….
Call it what you want but this city [Chicago] is a GEM!
I have spent so much time exploring Europe over the last 5 years that my husband & I decided that we want to spend more time visiting and discovering the amazing places the U.S.A has to offer and CHICAGO was our first stop.
Where to stay?
In my opinion, Downtown is where it’s at. We decided to stay at the Raddison Blu Aqua and it was the perfect choice in a perfect location. We literally could walk to most of what we wanted to see and everything else was just a short 10-15 minute cab or uber ride away. The hotel in general was excellent and they had great amenities which include an onsite restaurant, outdoor and indoor pool, kids pool, hot tub, game room and fitness center.
What to do?
Like with all big cities trying to fit seeing everything in just a short weekend is not only tough but stressful. I always tell people to pick a few places or spots and if you end up seeing more – great! This is a list of the must-see favorites:
1. Millennium Park (Cloud Gate A.K.A The Bean)
2. Navy Pier
3. Art Institute of Chicago
4. Shedd Aquarium
5. The Field Museum
6. Museum of Science & Industry
7. Adler Planetarium
8. Skyjack Chicago
9. 360 Chicago (Formerly John Hancock Observatory)
10. Lincoln Park Zoo
I highly recommend purchasing a Chicago CityPASS.
Your CityPASS Includes:
1. Shedd Aquarium – PRIORITY ENTRY
2. Skydeck Chicago – FAST PASS
3. The Field Museum – VIP ENTRY
4. Museum of Science and Industry OR 360 CHICAGO – EXPRESS ENTRY
5. Adler Planetarium – VIP ENTRY OR Art Institute of Chicago – FAST PASS
What I loved about this pass was everything offered in it were places we knew we would visit during our time in Chicago. We went to all of the above with the exception of the Museum of Science and Adler Planetarium. The Chicago CityPASS is $100 for adults (savings of $113) and $85 for children between 3-11 (savings of $95) – Children 2 & under are free at all of the venues listed above. Another perk of purchasing the pass is the fast pass, priority and express entries you receive. Just to give you an idea of how much time the pass saved, when we went the the Skydeck there was a 2.5 hour wait but it took us a total of 20 minutes to get up to the top since we had the Chicago CityPASS. Not only did we save money with this pass but we also saved time.
Some other things we did while in town were eating pizza at Giordano’s, visiting The Bean both at night and during the day, visiting the Chicago Theatre, spending time in both Millennium and Maggie Daley Park, grabbing treats at Stans Donuts, hopped on the water taxi to explore Navy Pier and went to the Jurassic Park exhibit.
I think the media plays a HUGE part in the bad rep Chicago gets. Every city has areas that are less than desirable but overall this is a city that is so worth visiting. It’s vibrant and rich in culture and history. There’s always events taking place and the food scene is top notch.
Feel free to send me over a DM or e-mail if you have any questions. Also make sure to check out their Tourism page (HERE) as they are a wealth of knowledge and have a ton of information to help you plan your trip.
Here are some of my favorite shots from our time in CHICAGO!
New follower here from Twitter. Really great post. I’m actually from Chicago and I highly reccomend Malnati’s for pizza next time 🙂 Loving the content from your travel tab.
Thank you so much! Will absolutely try them out next time.
Nice tips! Did you go to any rooftop bars? I hear they are a lot there.
Thanks! There really are soooo many but since I was with my family we passed on visiting any. Next time I absolutely will though.
That Radisson Blu looks amazing! I’ve never been to Chicago, but like you, have put off USA trips because my own country seems a little boring, haha. But I’ve heard great things about Chicago. What’s up with the pizza not having any toppings and just sauce? Is that a Chicago thing? Looks so strange!
It really was an amazing hotel. So I always thought the US was blah to travel throughout but OMG we have sooooo many gems. So Chicago is known for their deep dish and the toppings are inside! It was unlike any pizza I’ve ever had… soooo good.
glad to hear the city pass was a good option. for some reason I doubt whether it makes sense, but clearly it does! lovely photos. that pizza looks amazingly delicious
Thank you! Honestly I love taking advantage of the CityPasses because you really do get the most for your buck.
The photos are great! I think Chicago will be a new destination for when I don’t have a huge amount of time since this short itinerary seems to cover all the basics of the city!
Thank you! Yes, Chicago is a great weekend destination if you reside on the East Coast.
Totally agree that all cities have areas that are less than desirable! Chicago looks amazing from your pictures, but I’m always reminded about my friend who went to college there and actually scared some people when he (a small Asian guy) was walking around with his hoodie up! As tourists, it’s so crucial to know the areas you should avoid. Glad to hear you had a great time there!
Thank you! Yes, I totally agree about knowing where to avoid as a tourist.
I need to go back to Chicago! It’s been more than 10 years since I’ve went and it looks like a ton of awesome things popped up!
Such an awesome city! Thanks for reading.
I didn’t know Chicago had a city pass – seems like an excellent money saving option! And all the food looks delicious – what were you’re thoughts on the pizza in Chicago?
Yeah the CityPass was a great option! The pizza…. AHmazing!!!! lol I live 15 minutes from NYC and I was positive between NJ + NY we had the best pizza but wow, that deep dish is special.
I’ve heard nothing but great things about Chicago from people who have visited (including your article!) so I totally agree that media plays a huge part in the bad rep that Chicago gets. I definitely will look into the city pass when I go to visit – the way you describe it, it seems like a great way to save some money on the things you know you’ll see for sure. And that deep dish pizza? sign me up!
Thanks for reading! Yess, Chicago is a great city. I would go back for the pizza alone lol
I absolutely loved Chicago! Great post and photos!
Very detailed post with information. City pass is a good way to save money. The Redisson blu exterior looks interesting in your first photograph.
Thank you! Yes the hotel is amazing. The exterior is very unique.
Are you a city pass affiliate member?
I’m not, I never even heard of them having an affiliate program. I will have to look into.
I love your photos! I’m dying to visit Chicago one day soon. I hear it’s such a great food city!
Thank you! Chicago is amazing – you totally should visit.
Love Chicago! I loved skydeck and the Bean, and eating all that deep dish! Did you do the architecture cruise? That’s probably my favorite thing to do there!
I didn’t :/ Traveling with my son we always like to plan everything out and then adjust according to his mood that day lol lol The architecture cruise just didn’t work out but everyone raves about it. Next time for sure!
Nice post! I’m headed to Chicago next month and can’t wait to get my mandatory picture of the Bean. I didn’t know you could take a water taxi to the Navy Pier though, thanks for that! Also, adding Stan’s Donuts to my list of places to eat.