Chicago Final Report

Hello from Austin!

It’s good to be home, but I’m dealing with post-vacation let down and am not very gung ho on settling back into normal life. We had fun exploring Chicago and want to go back, but there are so many other places to see and time and resources are limited. I’ve been thinking about finding a travel oriented job, but am not sure of in what capacity that would be or where I’d fit in. And what would happen to Cookie Madness?? I couldn’t stop cookie blogging! So I guess it’s time to sit back, relax and start thinking about new and future trips.

Fuzz enjoys a sundae

As for Chicago, we chose the right week to go. The weather was sunny and warm and there was a lot going on in town. The Air & Water Show is always fun. I used to watch it from the top floor of the condo building I lived in in the nineties, but this time I watched it with my daughter on the beach. It was funny sitting on the beach with my friend Josie and Fuzz, thinking how I’d wandered the city all by myself back in my twenties never thinking 15 years later I’d be on the beach with my own child.

We wandered through my old neighborhood, Sandburg Terrace, which sits on the edge of both Old Town and Lincoln Park. I showed Fuzz my old building, the old grocery store, and Second City, where some of my old friends worked. I showed her restaurants I used to go to on dates and places I used to ride my bike. At one point, we got lost in Lincoln Park, and I remembered how I used to get lost in that area even when I lived there! The streets are confusing and we had to stop and ask people for directions more than once. Fuzz couldn’t get over how nice people were and willing to stop and help us.

The food was good too. From the moment you get off the plane in Chicago – at both airports, you smell it. The Austin airport smells like barbecue, but the Chicago airport smells like a mixture of everything delicious. Midway, maybe because it’s smaller, smells even better than O’Hare. I’d never flown into Midway before, but I really liked it.

We used a car service called La Salle Limousine. They were on time and very friendly. I’d use them again. And as mentioned, our two hotels were Hilton Suites and Intercontinental. In hindsight, I think I like staying more in the center of Michigan Avenue than on the edge near the beach. The center put us closer to The Loop, subway stop, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Navy Pier. Staying down near the beach was nice, but required a good deal more walking. The Intercontinental was very nice and had the best pool in the city, but there are other good hotels in that area like Embassy Suites, The Conrad, the Omni and of course The Peninsula which is going to be my big splurge hotel one day. But I think we’ll be staying at The Intercontinental more since Fuzz is such a swimmer.

We didn’t cover nearly as many restaurants and bakeries as I’d hoped, and we wasted one meal on a place I’d heard mixed reviews on. Of the places we liked, Spiaggia Café and Karyn’s Cooked came out on top. Frontera was pretty good, but honestly, there are places in Austin were I could get similar caliber food, so next time I’d choose Topolobampo which is even more special. Fox & Obel was fun, but I didn’t do any real grocery shopping there. It’s hard to even scratch the surface of Chicago’s food scene in 3 nights. I’d need at least 10 days.

Fuzz in front of Drake Hotel

The American Girl Store is a lot of fun and I expect we’ll be spending more money there over the next few years. Eating sundaes at Ghirardelli, walking through The Shedd, the water taxi to Navy Pier, petting carriage horse, seeing the American Girl Revue, swimming in the hotel pool and most of all, watching Fuzz enjoy herself in Lake Michigan were the highlights of the trip. But there’s so much more to see and do. I guess I’ll have to go look for other people’s trip reports. I’m amazed at how many Cookie Madness readers feel the same way about Chicago.

Here’s a slideshow. I’m keeping these public temporarily for those of you keeping up with the trip reports ;). Remember, I had to take these with Fuzz’s “toy” digital camera because I left my super camera at home.

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  1. says

    Looks like you had a great time. I totally want to go back too. I thought Frontera was good, but we both liked our Mexican meal we had at a restaurant called Neuvo Leon( in the Pilsen neighborhood). It was soooo cheap too. 20 bucks for 2.

    The beach was sooooo crowded. I’m stunned.

    I’m going to write a post on my trip.

  2. judi0044 says

    Glad you’re home and had a great time. My first grownup job that I began in high school was on Clark St. near Lincoln Park at a Savings & Loan that I think was called North Federal. I recall eating in Old Town particularly a place that had peanuts sitting out and everyone dropping shells on the floor. Don’t recall the name. We also went to a place called Gate of Horn to hear Judy Collins – during the folk music craze. Thanks for letting me reminisce via your trip!

  3. Angie says

    Welcome back and thanks for the slide show. It looks like you had a great time. I was amazed at Lake Michigan, it looks like the Atlantic Ocean! I had no idea that it would like an ocean,waves and all. I’m glad you’re back and I look forward to your next baking escapade!

  4. says

    What a great trip. You’ve inspired me to whisk away my Sailor for a weekend getaway. I just have to figure out the where and when. The boys always do a father son campout in the spring so we should probably do it then. Your little one is getting so big and pretty. I wish mine would stay small.

  5. says

    Welcome back!
    Looks like you had a great time! You did so much in such a short amount of time. Thanks for sharing your pictures. It was so much fun reading about your trip each day and now seeing the pictures!

  6. says

    Randi, I think the Chicago eGullet contingent really loves Nuevo Leon. Let me know when you head back to Chicago. Maybe we can meet up there.

    VG, thanks so much for the Karyn’s Cooked recommendation. We never made it to The Lobby at The Peninsula, but it’s still on my list.

    J, I don’t think the peanuts on the floor place is there, but Old Town looks pretty much the same. We have a peanuts on the floor steakhouse here in Austin called Texas Land & Cattle (or something like that).

    Angie, when I first moved to Chicago, I was astounded at how big Lake Michigan was too….and how the beach was similar to what you’d find on an ocean. I have to say, I like salt water better, though.

    Erin, I hope you do whisk Sailor away. Any idea where you’ll go?

    Carrie, you are so lucky to live where you live :). Enjoy the weather while you can.

  7. says

    Glad you made it back safe and sound and that you had such a fun trip. Loved all the photos, I didn’t think Fuzz’s camera was THAT bad.
    Anxious to see your next baking adventure!

  8. Heidi says

    Tx Land and Cattle doesn’t have peanuts (but they do have an awesome smoked sirloin). I think you are thinking of Texas Roadhouse (which isn’t NEAR as good, bleah).

    You know, we have an AG store here in big D, much closer than Chicago. 😉

    I think of Chicago as a much cleaner, friendlier NYC. I love it there and our last trip there had to be cut short due to a funeral. I want to go back, Christmas I think would be fun.

    Glad you had a wonderful girls’ trip!

  9. says

    Heidi, I pass TX Land & Cattle all the time, but haven’t eaten there in 7 years. I know they used to have peanuts. Maybe they stopped because of people with peanut allergies?

    Yes, Chicago definitely seems clean. Christmas would be a great time to go. I’ll be it’s less expensive then. Or maybe you could wait until January/February. Hotel rates really drop at that point.

  10. HeartofGlass says

    You have nothing to apologize for your pictures–it’s amazing how expressive your daughter’s face is in photographs. Heh–in that first shot with her doll and her arms splayed she reminds me of all the shots of Michael Phelps standing like that in front of the pool–given that she was nonplussed by the temperatures of Lake Michigan and her love for Shamu, perhaps you’ve got the next Olympian on your hands 😉

    I went to Chicago more than 15 years ago as a teen–how would you compare the atmosphere to New York, which I know you also love? Also, did you have any deep dish pizza (I’m not a fan, just curious given how many former Chi-town people I know are aficionados of it)

  11. says

    H, thanks for the compliment. Fuzz is a pretty big goofball! She’s a lot of fun. I hope she does continue on with her swimming, but she’ll need to keep practicing. To get on our local swim team, you have to be able to swim the length of the pool in one minute. She can almost do it, but not quite.

    I like Chicago and New York and can’t say one is better than the other. New York still seems like it has a faster pace to it and whenever I go there, it’s total sensory overload. But Chicago has everything I need at hand and people seem more approachable. In terms of weather, New York is a mild and friendly pussycat. Chicago’s winters are brutal. That was one of the main reasons I didn’t stay.

  12. Rachel B. says

    Mmm, now I want a Ghirardelli sundae, but I’ll have to wait until I’m in Chicago in October . . .

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