Happy Monday! (or is there such a thing 😉 lol!) . This past several weeks has been a whirlwind, and this weekend was no exception. I hopped on a flight Friday morning to Chicago to meet up with some talented bloggers for a pow-wow. While it was a super quick trip, it was also packed to the gills with late night meetings, yummy food, and galavanting around town. It’s been ages since I’ve been to the Windy City, and now I can’t wait to head back in the fall to spend a little more time. I researched some Chicago travel tips and Chicago travel guides before I left and thought I would put together a little bit about my Chicago visit and what I would recommend if you are visiting Chicago for 48 hours. I was reminded just how much I LOVE and MISS being in a big city. The hustle and bustle of people everywhere, great food, art and entertainment, beautiful store window displays, the sound of trains rumbling, car horns honking, street music…it all just makes me feel alive and so inspired..and to be honest I’ve been feeling totally starved for that kind of feeling since we moved. (Well that feeling and good Mexican food 😉 ) I thrive on it. It was a great weekend for my soul. It was also a great reminder of why I do what I do. I love being surrounded by creative, hardworking women with a drive to succeed. I truly do all of this because it is my passion and I love this community. Having this blog gives me something to look forward to everyday, something to work toward. People to connect with, exciting things to be a part of and it allows me to create. I was reminded at the many meetings and late night blogging conversations (some that went until 3am this weekend) just how much I love you all and your comments and support…so thank you for reading and always being along for the ride here with me.
While much of my time was spent in a hotel meeting room, we did manage to get out and experience a little of what Chicago has to offer. Here are some of my Chicago travel tips from this whirlwind trip:
WHERE TO EAT IN CHICAGO
SO yummy! An eclectic mix of Asian Fusion and good old diner classics. Breakfast is served all day…my favorite, and there is something on the menu to please everyone…but all with a twist. Think a crispy cajun chicken sandwich with a jalapeno slaw…spicy, crispy and delicious. The tempura mashed potatoes and cookies and cream shake were also a hit with the group. Service was great. We went in the middle of the afternoon so there was no wait, but I hear this place can have a LONG wait during normal meal times, so be prepared. You know I appreciate a cute build out too…this place definitely had tons of personality.
If you love donuts, this is a must in Chicago! A fast-casual walk up eatery serving amazing sweet treats like hot chocolate, gelato and the most delectable Italian pastries this hip spot on Randolph is worth the wait…and there is sure to be one! The Bombo is a hole-less Italian donut that is filled with your choice of Salted Caramel, Raspberry, Chocolate or a number of other delicious fillings. I’m not usually the donut lover in our family (don’t get me wrong, I like them…but John LOVES them) but this warm, crispy on the outside/soft on the inside, sugar crusted ball of fried dough was INCREDIBLE! I also sprung for a s’mores hot chocolate which was a semi-sweet, thick chocolate topped with the most delicious homemade marshmallows. The combination was over-kill, but I had to at least try a little of the chocolate! 😉
You can’t visit Chicago without eating some deep dish pizza, and Lou Malnati’s is a great place to do it. Considered the oldest name in Chicago pizza, Lou Malnati’s has been around for nearly 50 years. With 52 (yes, you read that right!) Chicagoland locations, it’s almost guaranteed that there is one nearby wherever you happen to be in the area. I found it slightly amusing when I checked out the website to see that they have 3 locations in Phoenix, AZ too. I have a lot of family in AZ and we always joke about how half of Phoenix is made up of people from Chicago…so it made perfect sense to me that this beloved Chicago pizza has found it’s way there too. 😉 Here’s a tip if you plan on eating deep dish at Lou’s…cooking a deep dish pizza takes a LONG time. You can call and order ahead for your party, so that your pizza is served 15 minutes after your arrival…instead of an hour and 15 minutes later. And trust me, once you walk inside..the smell of the pizza is SO good…you will not want to wait an hour to eat! 😉
Kim from The Celebration Shoppe | Mariah from Giggles Galore | Lindi from Love the Day | Randi from Dukes and Duchesses | Ashley from Make it and Love it | Tauni from Tauni and Co | Mandy from Sugar Bee Crafts
THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN CHICAGO
We didn’t have much time on Friday afternoon, but we had to make a quick run to Millennium Park…Chicago’s #1 tourist destination last year, for the infamous Bean Selfie. 😉 The 25 acre park is full of festivals, activities and cool sculptures, right in the heart of the city.
This 50-acre playground showcases music, theater, museums, restaurants, bars, shops—and even a ferris wheel—all on the breathtaking lakefront. Gorgeous views of the Chicago skyline on one side, and stunning views of Lake Michigan on the other, makes this a must stop picture spot in the city.
HOW TO GET AROUND IN CHICAGO
Public Transit and The Blue Line
Like I mentioned, the purpose of this trip was business, so we were staying at a hotel out by O’Hare to make travel in and out easy. The downside is that getting into and out of downtown Chicago, is difficult. The traffic is TERRIBLE…and I’m from LA people! 😉 Honestly…it’s bad. Several of us grabbed an Uber from the hotel when we first arrived on Friday to head into the city. It was only 14 miles from the hotel to the heart of downtown Chicago, but it took us over an hour to get there. SO BAD! And that was the case no matter what time of day it was. I reached out to my cute friends Bridget and Casey from The DIY Playbook to get their input on the best way to get to the city and they both recommended the blue line. The blue line L train was a short walk from the hotel and made it a bit easier to get downtown. While it still wasn’t a short trip, it did cut the time down to about 40 minutes. It was easy, inexpensive ($3 one way) and safe to ride the blue line from O’Hare to downtown Chicago. (We only rode during the day, so I don’t know how things would be at night.) The public transit system in Chicago is extensive and can get you all around town. Familiarize yourself with the different lines and how to use them and it will save you a bundle of both time and money.
I always bring with me my favorite travel gear to ensure a peace of mind when riding on crowded public transit and walking around in big, crowded cities. This bag is my go-to travel bag because of it’s many safety features. RFID protection, locking zippers, slash-proof steel mesh netting, all kinds of good stuff. It is lightweight, incredibly comfortable to wear, and makes me feel like all of my valuables are tucked away and out of reach of any thieves…just in case. I also use this backpack when I want to carry more, including my computer around. It’s a great carry-on for the airplane. I put my purse in it so I’m only carrying one thing. I’m all about peace of mind and ease of traveling! You will hear me talk about and see me carrying these items in almost all of my travel posts. They are great and well worth the investment.
It was such a quick trip, but as you can see, we concentrated on what is most important when visiting Chicago for work…FOOD. 😉 lol! There were lots of productive work sessions as well, and I can’t wait to fill you in on all that is happening around these parts in the not too distant future. I hope these Chicago Travel Tips are helpful if you guys get a chance to visit the Windy City, even if just for a day or two!