Tuesday, August 1, 2017

3 Days in Chicago

Our first stop in Chicago was a few days before our proper stay. We broke up the drive to Milwaukee by making a slight detour to the Museum of Science and Industry. We arrived just shy of 1 p.m. and stayed longer than I expected, leaving more than four hours later. Edith and Atticus liked the interactive parts -- climbing into a combine, playing in a kid zone. We probably could have spent more time there, but we were worn out and still had a 90 minute drive ahead of us.

We arrived in Chicago "for real" a few days later. First stop: Pequod's, a deep-dish pizza place recommended by a friend who grew up in the area. It ended up being my favorite meal of the trip, thanks to the caramelized crust and the not-too-heavy-on-the-cheese personal pizzas.

After checking into our hotel and parking the car, we walked the few blocks to Navy Pier. It was so miserably hot, however, that we walked nearly to the end and then immediately turned back to the hotel for some a/c and the pool.

We ventured out later that night to go to Portillo's for some Chicago-style hot dogs. Then we walked down Michigan Avenue to take a look at the river and turned back.

The next day wasn't any cooler. We walked the two miles to Adler Planetarium, making short stops at the Bean and Maggie Daley Park / playground. Luckily the planetarium was cool and quite nice. We spent around four hours there, mostly in a large kid area that Edith and Atticus loved. Lunch was tasty too, with nice views of the city and the lake.

The Bean

View not far from the planetarium

Space potty!

We made a brief stop at the Field Museum, but by this time we were all hungry, tired and irritable. We shared a deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati's a few blocks away before calling it a day.

Saturday was our last full day in Chicago, and the weather was finally lovely. Without kids, we may have eaten at Rick Bayless's Frontera Grill. Instead, we ate lunch with the kids at Frontera Fresco, the cheaper, quick-service version in a Macy's food court. My chipotle chicken torta was gigantic, spicy and delicious -- the the arugula on top was maybe my first vegetable all week. Oops.

We had planned to get a day-pass for the Chicago Water Taxi to explore the city by river and then meet some friends for supper. Instead, they suggested meeting us to take the taxi too. They showed us around Chinatown (where I was happy to order an avocado smoothie) and then to supper at a barbecue restaurant (where I was startled to enter the women's restroom and see a life-size mannequin of a man at a urinal). We stayed on the water taxi as we said goodbye to our friends, and then Paul and Atticus went back to the hotel as Edith and I went in search of our traditional vacation Christmas ornament.

Paul like Portillo's so much that we went for lunch the next day before taking off for home.

I hadn't been to Chicago since before we moved to Brooklyn in 2007, and during our three days in Chicago, I was constantly comparing it to New York. Chicago is grittier and more industrial, but in parts prettier, with a large lake-and-river culture and plentiful plants along the street. Edith says her favorite part was the revolving doors, but I like the energy and friendliness.

Hotel pool fun

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