Freckles in April: Chicago!

Thursday, November 21, 2013



I've spent the past two years whining to anyone who would listen about how I hadn't left the Phoenix area in ages and I was starting to lose my mind. And then I hit Paris, Salt Lake, New York, and California in a 6 month period. Apparently I'm making up for lost time.

In a few weeks Aaron is going on a business trip to Chicago and, because he likes me, he invited me to come along (kid free!!). Five trips in seven months! Is this real life?

So now I'm hitting you all up for Chicago recommendations. We'll only be there for a few days (and Aaron will be spending one of those days working) but otherwise we're pretty wide open. We're staying in the downtown area. Restaurants? Things to see? Things to do?

Also, am I going to freeze to death? And why does googling "Chicago in December" bring up pictures of Justin Bieber?


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  1. Ooooh, I love love LOVE Chicago! And yes, it will probably be pretty cold and you'll probably want some seriously warm/waterproof footwear. My favorite things in Chi-town are the Architectural River Cruise (on a boat, yes, which will maybe be too cold for winter?), the Art Museum in Grant Park, and eating at "1 Giordanos" which is also adjacent to Grant Park. I think the Hancock Building has a better view of the skyline than the Sears Tower, and is usually less crowded.

    Can't wait to hear all about it!

  2. You could always take a detour to NYC on your way to Chicago to borrow some cold-weather gear. :) Chicago is so pretty and clean - I always enjoy going there. Make sure you eat deep-dish pizza! I think we went to Lou Malnati's?

  3. A someone who has lived in Chicago for 5 years it's so difficult to give someone ideas of what to do over just a few days! But, yes, you will probably be cold :-) If you want to contact me via email I can give you lots of recommendations if you tell me where your hotel is located. Downtown is kind of big :-)

  4. As far as places to eat, Giordano's was our favorite for deep dish pizza, but if you want some real good food, our favorite restaurant was Frontera (Rick Bayless). Unfortunately it can be hard to get reservations, so our trick was just to go to the Frontera Fresco cafe in the food court on the 7th floor of the Macy's on State Street. They only serve lunch, but the food is still amazing.

    Do one of the museums, or at least walk around museum campus, but the art institute up by Millennium Park is the best. And don't miss seeing the Bean (the ice skating rink will probably be set up outside, free except for skate rentals). Also, the view is best from the top of the Hancock tower, and the elevator ride to the top is free if you go to the lounge and order a drink and dessert (pretty good hot chocolate). Go at night and try to get a south facing window seat.

    Also, the Christkindlmarket is usually set up all through December in the Daley plaza. It's usually very crowded and full of kitschy overpriced merchandise, but fun just to get in the holiday feel.

    Yes, it will be cold. Wear your warmest clothes You'll want gloves if you're going to spend a lot of time out doors.

  5. Lived in Chicagoland forever, so I have experience when I say that the absolutely BEST Chicago-style pizza is at Lou Malnati's. Other acceptable options include the Uno's on Ohio Street, or Due's around the corner. Anywhere else is a pathetic imitation and horrifically derivative of Lou's or the ORIGINAL Uno's/Due's (all the chains are horrible, too). If you'd like an explanation of why this is, including the history of it all, I can oblige, but really, just go with this. There's a couple of Lou Malnati's that should be within walking distance of wherever you're staying.

    I don't know HOW downtown you're staying, but City Tavern on Michigan Ave, just south of 14th Street, is one of my newer favorites.

    And finally, you MUST get Greek food. And it needs to be at the Parthenon. There are other restaurants in Greektown, but this is the ONE (see above comment re: explanation if you want). Free valet parking, if you're renting a car for some reason. Oh, and unlike some other large cities, restaurants will actually call a taxi for you. Anyway, go to the Parthenon and order Saganaki. It's flaming cheese, and it's amazing. My other favorite is the chicken spanki (chicken breasts stuffed with dill and spinach and feta and it's amaaaaazing), and whatever diet you're on should be ignored for a piece of baklava.

    If you only do one museum and you want to spend less than 3 hours, go with the Art Institute. If you want to spend most of the day, the Field may be a better choice. Love the Museum of Science and Industry, but it can be less enjoyable to deal with other people's kids when you don't have your own.

    As for cold, prepare to block the wind AND stay warm. Bring a thick knitted scarf, but have a tightly-woven scarf underneath, etc. Layers. LOTS of layers. And you'll want ear protection too.

  6. PLEASE eat brunch at Tweet:

  7. LOVE Chicago. The Art Institute and Navy Pier are givens. It may be too frigid, but if you can, do an architecture boat tour (or even just a regular boat tour). We thought Giordano's was overrated, and that Lou Malnati's was excellent. Our favorite, though, was a hole in the wall frequented only by locals called Pequod's. Amazing. And they have some ridiculously cheap lunch special. Edzo's is a great burger place with terrific milkshakes. The view is the best (and cheapest) from the top of the John Hancock tower - will save you some ridiculous amount of money if you go up to the lounge (2nd floor from the top) and just buy some food. It will probably be too freezing to enjoy the zoo, but the conservatory right by it is beautiful/warm/free. If you can stand the cold, walk through Millennium Park and along Lakeshore Drive (or drive along it if it's too cold). Oh, and stroll down the Magnificent Mile, of course. Have so much fun!

  8. lived in the chicago area for 20 years of my life. it will be COLD…..water proof and warm footwear. a heavy wind blocking coat….as in the biggest bundled one you can find. gloves, scarf, hat, ear muffs. the wind chill off the lake is amazingly cold. you will need lots and lots of layers.

  9. bang bang pie shop is a dream. get the chocolate pie AND a biscuit.

  10. Chicago is beautiful. Giordanos is a must. I have had many dreams about that pizza since. This is not a joke. Real dreams.

    I was there in October and it was way chilly. Get long johns and the whole deal!!


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