Granted, we have a tourist experience in all the places we visit, but I must say that Chicago was one of the more delightful big towns that we have seen. NYC was great but too intense. LA was spread out and cobbled together. Chicago was big but not intense, too busy, or spread out. I’m talking about the primary tourist’s center areas, of course.
Boston was similar to Chicago in that it was more laid back, smaller, and not as dense, tourist-wise. D.C. had too many tourists. All of us put Chicago at the top of our list of fun cities to visit.
We found an outdoor all-day parking lot for fifteen bucks that would accommodate the “coffin.” Not bad. (The “coffin” is our luggage carrier on top of the van. At times there are height restrictions in some garages.) This parking area was near Millennium Park, which is contiguous to the Magnificent Mile, which put us in the heart of the tourist district.
Hello, Trump Tower
It was funny to walk out of the parking lot, look down the street and see the Trump Tower in all its glory. The words “Trump Tower” are large and conspicuous for all to see. They angled the building in such a way that you could see his name from nearly all the main walking, picture-taking venues. It was hilarious.
I’m sure it did not matter before 2016. I would assume Chicagoans were glad to have such a famous person boasting his name and hotel in the heart of the tourist district. And there were a lot of folks taking pictures of the hotel. I could not discern their political persuasion, though one Hispanic lady was clear to me that she did not like him. Sigh.
After getting a few shots and selfies at the Prez’s building, we had to find Garrett’s Popcorn Shops, which are all over the place. People say they have the best popcorn.
From there to the Willis Tower, which used to be the Sears Tower, which used to be the tallest tower in America. Take that, Empire State Building. It was last on our list of top ten architectural achievements in America.
Sears built the building, over-imagining their future growth. Their goal was to rent out the vacant floors to businesses, and as their own growth expanded, they would eventually fill the entire skyscraper. That did not happen, as Walmart came on the scene. Sears continued to downsize, even to the point of selling their “tower of Babel” to the Willis folks.
For a steep fee, you could go to the top and stand on some glass that puts you “out of the building” and over the street. I did read something about a piece of glass in the Skydeck cracking once upon a time, which totally thrilled Ansa. We chose not to do go up, though Haydn was disappointed as his adventurous spirit was drawing him to the possibility.
We spent most of the day in Millennium Park, which includes Grant Park, a stroll along the shoreline of Lake Michigan, the Navy Pier, and, of course, the Bean. There were scores of shops along the way, the most fun for Ansa was the Nutella Store, which had all things Nutella. Intriguing.
At the Navy Pier was a Ferris wheel and other rides, plus shops galore in an “underground Atlanta” type configuration, albeit much smaller and cleaner. I made my one souvenir purchase there, and so did Haydn. I got a hoodie-shirt, and he bought a knife.
We ended up at the “Bean,” which is technically the “Cloud Gate” that a fellow built between 2004 and 2006. It was a beehive of activity. We met a couple from the Netherlands, who are now living in Tennessee. Talking to them was excellent.
It appears the big idea behind the bean is that you can take a picture of yourself and get some cool cloud or Chicago skyline shots, which is true. Then there were the two LED constructions (Crown Fountain) that had people’s faces with holes where their mouths were that let out a fountain of water every few minutes.
There were lots of youngsters barefoot, standing in the giant puddles waiting on the fountain to turn loose on them so they could get a good drenching. Before this, we went to the Jay Pritzker Pavilion to chill for a while. We were tired.
The Chicago Orchestra kicked off their summer season on that day, so we listened to a bit of Haydn before wrapping up our day. And it was a good day. Lots to see. The people were interactive and friendly. We did Chicago. A great family memory.