I took a short little trip out to chicago last weekend and it was full of fun, sightseeing, and good food. my friend samantha and her boyfriend jeff (and his friends, who were there for part of our trip) came along with me, so i wasn't travelling alone for once (yay!) which added to the fun.

even though we were only there for 2 days, we definitely made the most of it and saw most of everything we wanted to see. i am starting to get really, REALLY good at fitting a zillion things into a short period of time.

anyways, i digress. on to the pictures! warning: there are a lot. i ended up with something like 500 pictures on 3 different cameras (the trusty nikon, the point & shoot, and my iphone)

samantha and i flew out of SFO early thursday morning and flew into ORD about 1pm chicago time. loooooved the lit tile walls in the tunnel to the blue line subway at o'hare. LOVED. so much that i had to be a tourist and take a picture in front of it. i think samantha and i took like 20 pictures before we actually got into the city, hahah.

after checking into the hotel, we were starving so we went to get ourselves some lunch. we had passed by grahamwich while walking from the train station to the hotel and it immediately rang a bell as i probably have seen someone (kp, perhaps?) blog about it, and so we headed there.

we split the bbq sanwich, chips, salad and the soft serve. everything was delcious. i kinda wanted to go back later in the trip to try the cinnamon soft serve (we got the vanilla one, which probably was made infinitely more delicious with the abundance of nutella in it). graham elliot was on my list of dinner possibilities while we were in chicago, and even though we ended up going elsewhere (more on that later), i was happy to have been able to try some of his goodness.

we met up the boys, who had flown in on tuesday (they were all leaving on friday, except jeff), and headed to wrigley field.

this was the reason the boys decided to go to chicago, and the baseball nerd in me (who still has "go to every MLB ballpark" on her bucket list) was super excited about this. wrigley is definitely a beautiful ballpark, and it's got a lot of character and charm. the cubs, unfortunately, played terribly and lost.

we left just after the 7th inning stretch and headed to pizzeria uno for some deep dish.

this is the original chicago deep-dish pizza, which made us curious to try it. unfortunately, the pizza wasgood but slightly lacking and a little bit reminiscent of BJs - not a good thing. but at least we can say we had the original?

the next morning, samantha and i got up early and went to brunch at orange.

we had chosen it because it was the closest breakfast place on my list to our hotel, but it was an excellent choice. we got the pancake flight, which was adorable (and delicious), and green eggs and ham - which is actually pesto in the eggs. yummmm. we should've gotten the frushi though, because it is also ADORABLE.

we went to get jeff from the hotel and then started walking. lots and lots of walking seems to have been the theme of this trip.

we walked all the way down michigan ave., past the chicago river and to millenium park so we could spent 30 minutes taking ridiculous amounts of photos in front of the bean.

the bean was pretty cool, i must say.

next, we walked through the park to go to the art institute.

we kind of followed the "what to see if you only have an hour" guide, and pretty much sped through the museum. my favorite thing in whole museum was the chagall glass window. the impressionist and modern wings were also highlights. somehow, i ended up missing the japanese hokusai woodblock print which i would've liked to see. oh well.

we stopped by buckingham fountain...

then we went to the shedd aquarium. we admired the excellent views of the skyline before we went in.

we followed a similar approach as earlier as well, and kind of sped through the entire place in an hour.

samantha wanted to see the beluga whales (so cute), i wanted to see the jellyfish (which make excellent photos), and we saw bits and pieces of everything else.

afterwards, we made a coffee stop at intelligentsia.

if it were just me on this trip, i would've tried to do a coffee tour of chicago like i've done in seattle. the other two i was with aren't big coffee drinkers, so intelligentsia ended up being the one spot i went to because of its proximity to millenium park. luckily, it was at the top of my list and it was great coffee. funny how i lived in LA for so many  years and never went to the LA one. also, apparently the owners are originally from SF...i wish there was on here, too!

we walked all the way back up michigan ave., killed some time shopping on the magnificent mile, and headed out to dinner. we went to mk, which was highly recommended by my foodie friend trisha (whose taste i trust).

everything was delightful. samantha got the chicken, jeff got the lobster whitefish (top left), and i got the duck (top right). everything i read about the place told me i should order the cake and shake for dessert, which i did. it literally is a mini slice of chocolate cake with a vanilla shake in a double shot glass. it was super tasty. out waiter told us that it is the one item that has stayed on their menu for 11 years!

after dinner, we rushed over to sears tower (willis tower, whatever it's called now). my strategy was to get there around sunset to see it change from light to dark (something that happened by chance when i went to the space needle in chicago), but by the time we got up to the top, we had missed sunset.

the glass floors of the skydeck, from 106 floors up, were trippy. it didn't seem that high until the next day when the glass floors were pointed out to us while we were on the architecture cruise and then the height factor really kicked in. craziness.

the views of chicago at night were amazing.

afterwards, we took the el, stopped by the hotel, and were hungry again (we ate an early dinner) so we went to portillo's for some hot dogs.

delicious. did you know you can find these in so-cal too? i will have to pick some up next time i'm home...

as if we didn't get enough of super tall buildings, we decided to end the night with some drinks on the 95th floor of the hancock building at the signature room.

it was nice to get a different perspective. FYI, the best views here are in the women's bathroom. no joke.

the next morning, we headed back down to the river to go on the architecture foundation river cruise, recommended by mara.

the cruise was informative and the docents definitely had lots of interesting information to share about the buildings. you also can't go wrong with some of those stunning views from the boat. it was also nice to be able to be sitting for 90 minutes for a change since we were walking sooooo much the rest of the trip, and there was also a nice breeze out on the water, which was a relief since it was a 90 degree day.

we went to navy pier, which i knew would be similar to fisherman's wharf here (which i despise), but i really wanted to go on the ferris wheel. don't judge.

our last stop before heading to the airport was for more pizza at lou malnati's.

i had a couple people comment that this was their favorite pizza in the city after i posted a pic there, and it definitely was a good choice. although...i still prefer zachary's out here for some reason, which a couple of other friends have mentioned to me as well. oh well, still delicious and an excellent end to a fun weekend.

in case you wondered how the heck i plan out my trips, this is what i did the week before i left...
the tabs were color-coded based on categories of things i wanted to see/do/eat. yeah, i'm hardcore. don't judge me.


island jen said…
love all the photos that you took - and the tabs...priceless!
Diana Albright said…
you know me the baseball nerd. i'm jealous of you going to wrigley. looks like such a great trip. i can't believe you crammed so much into it!
Jill said…
Whoa -- what a trip! You had the Ferris Bueller experience and more! I need to share this post with my daughter, who's heading to Chicago this summer. Thanks!
em said…
You were busy!!! You picked SO many fun things and great places! I love when people visit my reminds me again how wonderful it is...since I sometimes forget! ;)
Anna said…
Man, I miss that city so much!
I can see how much fun you had! Really great blog <3 Thanks for making me miss Chicago once again :)
Web Design said…
I definitely loved every part of it and i also have you book-marked to see new things on your site.

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