Chicago Summer Vacation!

This week, the kids in our area are off to school. As a former teacher, I can tell you, one of the first writing exercises given will be to compose the traditional “How I spent my Summer Vacation” journal entry. It doesn’t matter the age, elementary school through high school, the assignment is the same. The teacher says “Tell me what you did over the Summer” and everyone groans. That’s ok. It’s an easy way to get kids back in the groove of writing and teachers back in the groove of reading.

Since the kids are getting back to work, I thought it only fair to do the same thing. As you may have noticed, I took a little blogging break this summer. There were things happening in my kitchen and recipes being created,  I just wasn’t writing them down. It’s time to start again though. Since you’re reading, you can be the teacher and give me a grade at the end. I don’t mind!

“How I Spent My Summer Vacation.”
By Sara

In June, we flew to Chicago. The first few days of the trip, my husband and I spent celebrating our 29th wedding anniversary. Neither of us had been to Chicago before, so it was fun to explore the city together!

Chicago Inbound view from the plane

We went to Millennium Park and saw the famous “Chicago Bean!” Immediately after seeing the Bean, we were all kicked out of the park and told to go back to our hotel rooms due to incoming bad weather. We didn’t listen. Instead we hid out in a local Starbucks and started Googling Chicago weather to see if we should be concerned. As it turned out, it was no big deal. The storm missed the downtown area completely. To be safe, we bought ponchos, umbrellas and a selfie-stick, because nothing says “avoiding lighting” like an aluminum rod stuck in the air with your cell phone attached to the end of it!

Millenium Park The Bean

Feeling reckless, we decided if it wasn’t going to thunder and rain, we’d brave the elements even further and go on a Riverboat Cruise. The boat that typically holds over 100 people, took only four of us out that afternoon. Talk about a personalized tour!

Chicago Riverboat Cruise

We may have had a drink to celebrate our good fortune and the sky clearing up!

Riverboat Cruise Drinks

The tour was fabulous and we learned a lot about Chicago history and local architecture. I highly suggest taking a riverboat cruise if you ever visit Chicago! It was a lot of fun!

We were hungry after the cruise, so we headed out to find the first of the famous Chicago food trio – Deep Dish Pizza! We ended up at Gino’s East for some traditional Chicago Deep Dish Pizza.
Gino's East Pizza and bar
Gino's East Deep Dish Pizza for Two
I have to say, I didn’t know the crust was a cornbread style and I wasn’t sure if I’d like it, but it was *really* good! I can see why Chicago Style Deep Dish is so popular with tourists and locals. What a great dinner and fabulous ending to our first full day in Chicago.

On the second day, we walked from our hotel to Willis Tower (formerly known as Sears Tower) and took the elevator 103 floors to the Sky Deck!
SkyDeck Ledge tickets

The 360 degree views of the city from above are breathtaking! We were lucky and the sky was crystal clear. You could see for miles!
Funny thing about the Sky Deck, they have four cubes made of thick glass which stick out from the building by several feet. Brave souls can walk out into the cubes and look down. Not so brave souls can hand the camera to their much braver husband and have him take pictures while you attempt to battle the butterflies of fear waging war in your stomach!

Sky Deck Observation Cube at Willis Tower in Chicago

See my shoes? Firmly _inside_ the building, thank you very much!!  I couldn’t bring myself to go out in that cube.  My husband did though.  He even jumped up and down in it.  This is one very good way to give your wife more gray hairs.
Sky Deck Cube

Nope, not stepping on the glass.  Not going to happen.

After the Sky Deck, we sought out the second item on our famous Chicago Food Trio list – an Italian beef sandwich!
Al's Italian Beef Sandwich

Please don’t hate me if this is one of your favorites. It was very good, but not the spectacular sandwich we had built up in our minds.  Still, it was a nice lunch and I was happy to be back on solid ground!

After the sandwich it was time to hit up another great Chicago landmark, and see a game at Wrigley Field!  Our hometown Dodgers were even playing that week!  How’s that for lucky?  We decided to take the El Train to the field. That was an adventure in itself. As California kids, we are accustomed to driving everywhere. Public transportation, while improving in our area, is certainly not the usual mode of getting from point A to point B. Long story short, we got lost Let me tell you, it takes talent to get lost on a train! Some very kind people helped get us back on track (no pun intended) and we made it to the game in plenty of time!
Chicago Elevated Train
Wrigley Field

The Cubs beat the Dodgers, but it was a fun game!  The trip back was uneventful, as we were seasoned El Train riders by this point and knew exactly what to do!

The third day was cloudy and overcast. We slept in, then met up with family who just happened to be in town. We enjoyed some very long walks around the downtown Chicago area and saw the Joffrey Ballet building.  I had no idea it was in Chicago.  That was pretty cool.
Chase Chicago Sign
We went to Navy Pier and then walked down through Millennium Park again and saw the Chicago Art Institute and Buckingham Fountain.

Art Institute of Chicago
Buckingham Fountain
The very last item on our Chicago Food Trio list was to have a Chicago Dog from the tiniest place we could find. This was achieved at Max’s Chicago Dogs. It was hands-down, one of the best things we ate the entire trip! I came home determined to re-create these delicious dogs in my kitchen!
Original Chicago Dog

Whew! In those three days, we walked nearly 30 miles around the city (Thank you Fitbit for keeping track!) and had a great time experiencing Chicago landmarks and some great Chicago food! Sadly the next day dawned and it was time for my husband to go home. I was still staying in Chicago another few days for a blogging conference, but visiting Chicago together was an Anniversary Trip I’ll never forget!

And that, is how I spent my Summer Vacation.

Do you like to travel? What are some of your favorite places to go? Drop me a line and tell me! I’d love to hear all about it!

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