Ever since the days of the TV show, ER and more recently Guiliana and Bill, I have been enamored with the city of Chicago. Therefore while in Wisconsin I broached the subject of visiting the city with my John knowing he had already been to Chicago many times long ago and doesn’t especially like big cities. Thankfully he was up for it and after nailing down an RV park (Willoaks Campground) near a train station over the Labor Day weekend we began to make plans (thank you Pam of Traveling in the Big EZ). John researched train routes and fees while I collected information as to what I wanted to see.
Knowing we only had a day to explore the city I narrowed my must see list to an architectural tour within the Loop, a tour of the Magnificent Mile, Oak Street Beach and Millennium Park. My main resource became a link called Metrowalkz. as it not only had quality printable maps, but also an awesome narrative to go along with the maps.
Once I presented my list to John, he mapped it out on Google Maps starting and ending at the Ogilvee Transportation Center and a surprise stop for me at Lou Malnatis Pizzaria. He knew I really wanted to try authentic Chicago Deep Dish Pizza and his research revealed that Esquire named this pizza as “life changing”. With that recommendation, we simply had to go even though it deviated out of the walking tour I picked out.
What a glorious day we chose as temperatures were comfortably in the low 80’s and the sky had a few clouds lending a perfect backdrop to our photos. We caught the Metra Train (using their $7.00 weekend pass) and took a pleasant 1.5 hour train ride into the town of Chicago. What I liked best was the fantastic varied examples of architecture and art, as well as just seeing the L-trains whiz by. I also very much enjoyed the Riverwalk along the Chicago River and the fantastic beach, bike/walking trail and people watching at Oak Street Beach. What I liked least was the crushing crowd along Michigan Avenue’s famous Magnificent Mile, but even there the vibrant energy of the city made me smile.
Two happy surprises greeted us on the trip and the first came as we arrived at Oak Street Beach where I began to wish for a little lunch. Low and behold Cozi Yogurt had a giveaway where we each scored two free yogurt samples which we enjoyed on a park bench at the beach. Re-fueled we met our other surprise at Millenium Park where a free jazz fest was being held. We didn’t really park to listen but instead enjoyed the music as our backdrop for the tour. A really cool sculpture, Cloud Gate, in the park is one of the most photographed spots in all of Chicago and when we saw it we understood why… It is sooooo cool!!! Oh and we also passed by a city street wedding and a filming of movie Transformer’s 4 (our grandson Cameron would have loved seeing the cool trucks). What fun!
The perfect crowning of our tour was near the end of our day with a stop at Malnatis Pizzeria. Although there is at least a 30 minute wait for your pizza, they allow pre-ordering while customers wait to be seated. Perfect! While waiting we met a mother and son who had come to the city to drop her 2 grand daughters off at college. They assured us that this was the best place for deep dish pizza in Chicago! Oddly enough the son often travels to our old town of College Station, TX for continuing education for his business. What friendly folks they were and we had a nice chat before being seated.
Today we leave Woodstock, Illinois and make a one and half hour drive south where we will stay at the Hollywood Casino in Joliet, Illinois.