For our anniversary this year, Dave and I took a short trip to Chicago. We’ve been there before several times before, but there’s always something to do (and eat!) in Chicago. Instead of driving, we decided to give the train a try and for the most part this worked well as driving in Chicago is crazy and parking is ridiculously expensive. If you plan on taking the train, EXPECT delays! On the way there we were delayed by almost an hour and on the way home we were delayed more than two hours, which was super tough since we didn’t get home until 2:00 AM.
On this trip we stayed at the Allerton Hotel, which we booked through Hotwire and scored a deal! The hotel was in an awesome location, right on the Magnificent Mile and the room was quite nice, small, but very comfortable. In the past, we’ve stayed at the Allegro Hotel and the Inn of Chicago (also through Hotwire).
We arrived at Union Station right about lunchtime, at least for us since we were still on Eastern time. We grabbed a Chicago hot dog from the Gold Coast Dogs location at the station. The hot dogs were good, but really didn’t compare with a good ole coney dog from Lafayette Coney Island in downtown Detroit or a chili cheese dog from Ann Arbor’s Le Dog.
After we checked in at the hotel, we made our way over to the river for the Chicago Line Architectural Boat Tour. Tickets were $40 each and included free refreshments (coffee, lemonade, and cookies). The tour was 90 minutes and went all along the Chicago River and focused on the architecture as well as the history of the buildings we passed. Our tour guide was very informative and we really enjoyed it.
After the boat tour, we took a walk down to Millennium Park, where we took a stroll through the Lurie Garden, saw the Crown Fountain, ceramic sculptures by Jun Kaneko, and the famous Cloud Gate aka The Bean. We really enjoyed the park. The Crown Fountain was really cool, as the water fell different images were displayed behind the water. We both really liked the ceramic sculptures by Jun Kaneko and the Cloud Gate was really neat too.
On the following day, we went to the Field Museum. We were there almost all day and saw a ton of really interesting exhibits. I really liked all the animals, dioramas, and dinosaurs. I also really liked the evolution exhibit, very informative and really well done. We didn’t see much of the anthropological exhibits though, maybe next time. I was hoping to meet Emily from The Brain Scoop, but it didn’t work out. So sad!
On our last day in Chicago, we visited the Alder Planetarium. We saw two planetarium shows, Welcome to the Universe and Night Sky Live. Welcome to the Universe was a super high tech show that wasn’t a movie, but images from realtime data. The Night Sky Live show was a classic planetarium show with images of the night sky and what constellations and planets are visible at this time a year.
We did sort of see a third planetarium show. Our ticket included a tour of the Atwood Sphere, which is Chicago’s oldest planetarium, built in 1913. The sphere is seventeen feet in diameter and has 692 holes drilled through its metal surface. The holes allowed light to enter and showed the positions of the brightest stars in the night sky. We sat in a little car that was drawn up into the sphere on a track and given a little tour of what constellations were visible. It was really cool! I also really liked the Solar System exhibit where we got to touch pieces of meteors from the moon, Mars, and beyond!
It was a great trip and a nice and easy trip compared to our difficult hike through Killarney. And of course we ate a lot in Chicago too, but I’ll be posting individual posts on all the places we visited next week, so stay tuned!