Last weekend, Alex and I went to Chicago. Tickets were cheap and the time worked out for an optimum-length Memorial Day weekend: from Saturday morning to early Tuesday morning. We had a blast, and Chicago was one of my favorite cities. I was really impressed.
We arrived in Chicago at 10 AM and took the El train into the city, right near the main district, the Loop. We saw some streets were closed off – it was the Memorial Day parade! Alex found a great restaurant, and we sat around on an outdoor patio for brunch and watched the parade. Meanwhile, we drank a flight of beer. All the beers were local, but hands-down our favorite was a beer called Not Your Father’s Root Beer, which had a remarkable 19% ABV – and yet tasted almost exactly like root beer (with a whiskey-like warmth).
The parade was great – lots of marching bands, color guards, JROTC from local high schools, some military trucks and hum-vees, floats, horses, and a whole lot more.
But my favorite was no doubt the Trump-like policeman who stood near the restaurant.
Chicago is known for its beautiful lakefront and parks, and we knew we had to check them out. There’s a lot to see: great open-air sculpture, a stunning concert hall. Gardens, Lake Michigan, and a great playground. We also got a ton of free stuff in Chicago: wine, lemonade, socks, coffee – and a lot of sights were free too. Can’t beat that.
The playground was probably our favorite location in the whole park. It seems like it opened pretty recently, and there’s all sorts of crazy things: they had a huge complex that looked like London bridge, which was just overrun with kids. At the top of the towers, adults were few and far between, and it felt something like Lord of the Flies.
Kids have no idea how lines work, but I didn’t mind the wait: the park is right in the middle of the city, and the views are beautiful. And it was worth waiting, anyway: the slides were huge. It was unclear to me how this place existed. It seemed like a certain target for lawsuits.
We took a walk along the lakeshore, and also saw Navy Pier… but we got away as soon as we could. It’s basically the Times Square of Chicago, but they conveniently located it away from the good parts of the city. Wish we could move Times Square out of Manhattan…
In the afternoon we checked out the Lincoln Park area and went to the zoo for a few hours as a stop on our way to AirBnB.
It’s a great zoo, and like so much else in Chicago, it was also free. We got to see tigers, hyenas, all sorts of birds, kangaroos, zebras, and so on.
I think my favorite animals were the otters, which we got a glimpse of, and a tiny baby monkey we saw with its mother in a large outdoor enclosure.
Not to mention the wonderful sculptures…
We checked into AirBnB, met our very nice host, and then went out for a Chicago specialty… deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s. I’d gotten recommendations for this place from a few people as authentic Chicago food… it was so rich, and so cheap. We got a medium pizza, and had to bring half it home, the food was so intense. But it made for a great breakfast the next day!