When I travel to different cities my favorite thing to do is just walk around and try to discover different neighborhoods of a city. That certainly has always been my favorite thing to do in Chicago (so much cool architecture involved!). Every trip back since around high school I would venture out (sometimes with family and friends, but a lot of times alone) and see where I ended up. When I was younger I generally walked around the Loop and Miracle Mile, but my scope widened as I got older, especially as friends moved to different neighborhoods after college.
This trip I was flying out Monday night and wanted to take full advantage of that almost extra day. Unfortunately the weather gods didn’t approve of my plans and it absolutely down poured in the morning. It was bad. I was disappointed to say the least… When there was a break I figured I’d venture out as far as I could before the rain returned (the weather report didn’t look promising). I headed towards Grant Park. As I got to Grant Park the grey gave way to sunny and from then it was an absolutely stunning day! Couldn’t have asked for a better one, except for a few hours lost in the morning.
I hit up Grant Park first, as it had been a few trips since I had visited and seen Buckingham Fountain. I think it provides some of my favorite views of Chicago. I like that you get the skyline views and the buildings just abruptly ending at Michigan Avenue (similar to why I love Central Park in New York). You also have easy access to Lake Shore Drive and Lake Michigan right behind Buckingham Fountain.
Millennium Park I’ve been to almost every trip, but still made a swing through. I did discover one of the coolest playgrounds ever. Jealous this didn’t exist when I was a kid. It has towers and bridges and boats (pics below). I had already posted a pic from Buckingham Fountain with the skyline in the background, but I should have known to hold off before picking a photo to post. I came across from great shots of the skyline in the background of the BP Pedestrian Bridge and then of course the “Bean”/Cloud Gate. It seemed a shame to not post both, even if I ran the risk of over Instagramming.
I tried once again to get a worthy shot of the Pritzker Amphitheater, but fell short in my mind. It is one of my favorite pieces of architecture really anywhere. I’ve tried to get good shots of it on previous trips, but never was satisfied. Same thing happened this time. It just has so many angles and it’s so complex, it’s really hard to capture its essence in one picture, but I always encourage people to check it out to see it in person.
After this I took the “L” up to Lake View to visit a restaurant on my gluten-free list, Cassava. After some gluten-free empanadas and cheese bread, I took the train back to Miracle Mile. Every trip I have to make a stop, even if it’s brief. One reason is to make the pilgrimage to the Water Tower, which was the site of my grandparents’ first date. Obviously a very important landmark in my family’s history. I then walked down Michigan Avenue. No matter how old I get or how many times I visit, I never lose my love and nostalgia for Michigan Avenue.
Finally I wrapped things up by walking along the Riverwalk. I had noticed the Riverwalk on my architecture boat tour and how much it had changed in recent years. I think this is an excellent addition to Chicago and was a little bummed I hadn’t explored it my last trip or two. It clearly was a great place for Chicagoans and visitors to take advantage of the nice weather (it hadn’t been that nice of a summer so far…) by hanging out on the benches and steps. There also were a number of restaurants along the water, which provides a great setting. Being that close to the water and the perspective of staring up at the skyscrapers was very cool. Really excited to see the Riverwalk work and development continue.
Chicago is one of the best cities to walk around and explore. The river, the lake, the skyscrapers and the skyline, and so many different neighborhoods all contribute to make it a great city for wandering. Until next time Chicago!