My dear friend Paige is visiting her boy this weekend for Valentine's Day and they will be hopping over some state borders to the windy city. Since I visited Chicago twice in 2008, I consider myself an expert on the city. Just kidding. Natives and current dwellers, you may find fault with my guide, but please feel free to add and share. Below, please find the *tourist* guide to Chicago.
1. Eat deep dish pizza. Both times I had Giordanos. I'll be honest, I didn't like it (too many tomatoes). But eat it anyway. While you're at it, have a hot dog. Ask someone with a really Chicagoey accent where the real Chicago hotdogs are. Yum.
2. Magnificent Mile. Boyfriends beware: this is shopping heaven. However, I believe that this would be totally appropriate to wander around after just seeing "Confessions of a Shopaholic". On Michigan Avenue, past the parks and museums, you will first hit the regulars (Nordstrom, H&M, Bebe...). Keep walking. The Mag Mile turns even more fab and that's where you'll find Prada, Chanel, etc. The goodies. Leave your credit card at home. And take a tissue so you don't drool on the Louboutins.
3. The Art Institute. Here you can check your coat and bag and have a hands-free chance to view some gorgeous art. Right now they have special exhibits showcasing Indian, Southeast Asian, Himalayan, and Islamic Art, Impressionist paintings, and Edvard Munch. But these are an additional cost.
4. The Field Museum. Boyfriend and I spent an entire morning here before our flight left. For science-loving Paige, this will be a fun place. You can't miss Sue the T Rex in the lobby (named after the lady paleontologist who found her), and go through the free Evolving Planet exhibit to see even more bones (warning: exhibit is about 8 times bigger than you expect). Back on the first floor, check out the Ancient Egypt exhibit and see real mummies. You can also pay extra to see the special exhibits. We saw the Mythical Creatures and it. was. lame. Choose wisely. Oh, and eat lunch right before you go because the cafe is meh and overpriced. The Field Museum is on the Museum Campus, which you can find by walking (it's kind of far), or catch a bus that will drop you off right behind it.
5. Navy Pier. Did you know the Ferris Wheel was invented for the Chicago World's Fair? It was meant to compete with the recently-constructed Eiffel Tower, built for the Exhibition. The wheel at Navy Pier is 150 ft high, yet is still 100 feet shorter than the original... they didn't even know if it would hold people properly, or if it would stay up in the strong winds of Chicago. Hmm, maybe this leads to my intense fear of ferris wheels? Anyway, ride this one IF YOU DARE. It's ok, I survived (frozen in place like a rock). Not much else to do on Navy Pier but drink, eat, and walk (oh, and there's a mall thing).
6. Andersonville. For my scandinavian friend, you will LOVE Andersonville, a little neighborhood with some of the best pastries ever. Go to Ann Sather for breakfast (the cinnamon rolls are famous, but I had the french toast. Still swoonworthy.), then check out some of the great antique stores and cute boutiques. Then for a sugar fix, stop into the Kopi Cafe for a mexican hot chocolate. I die. (To get there: take the CTA Red Line to the Bryn Mawr stop).
7. The Bean (see top). For the best city-scape photos, head toward Millenium Park (back toward the Art Institute and toward the lake). Millenium Park is where President Obama spoke on election night. The Bean (and other cool sculptures) is right nearby. You can't miss it.
8. Oprah. Since you love her, I will watch ONLY if you get on the show. And since February is already full, looks like never. BUT, hovering outside might mean you see something cool!
9. John Hancock Building (on Michigan Ave). For an amazing view and outrageously expensive cocktails, go up to the 94th floor where there is a restaurant and bar (go to the bar). Paige, go to the ladie's room while there. One of the best views of the city. Oh and Jerry Springer lives on the 91st floor. I saw an amazing sunset here, but I'd definately avoid it Valentine's evening. It's usually packed.
10. Check out the city's official tourism site for more ideas!
Have a great time, Paige! Readers, any other things Paige MUST see?