Two weekends ago I had the opportunity to travel to Chicago for work. Since it was my first time near the city, I reached out to a friend to see if she would want to meet me there on Friday and spend some time exploring; I got lucky - she was also in town for work! We ended up meeting in Chicago Friday afternoon and planned to stay through Sunday. I was supposed to fly out late afternoon on Sunday, but because of some bad weather nearby, my flight was cancelled. I booked a room near the airport for Sunday evening since I had an early flight Monday morning. Cancelled flight and less-than-ideal weather aside, I enjoyed exploring Chicago and would definitely like to go back when the weather is nicer! Here’s a rundown of our itinerary:
Friday night we met at our hotel, LondonHouse Chicago (which boasts a fantastic rooftop bar - I’m sure it’s packed during warmer months!), changed quickly and set out to try Lou Malnati’s - this Chicago-area pizza establishment came highly recommended from a number of friends who had been to Chicago or previously lived in the city! Our meal was fantastic - we both ordered pizza and shared bruschetta - I would definitely visit again! After dinner we grabbed a bottle of wine at a CVS on the way back to the hotel. We hadn’t spent time together in two or three years, so it was nice to catch up over a few glasses of wine.
Saturday morning we stopped into Beatrix for brunch. Again, our meal was fantastic, and I would highly recommend making a reservation. Following breakfast we headed to the Art Institute of Chicago to spend a few hours exploring their collection. Having never been to Chicago before, the Art Institute was high on my list of things to do. There were a number of well-known pieces I am thrilled to have now seen in person, including pieces by Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin. Tip: book your tickets online and you can skip the line; this came in handy when we visited because the weather was rainy and cold, so we were able to hop out of the taxi and go straight into the Fast Pass entrance!
After the Art Institute we stopped by Millennium Park before heading to the 900 North Michigan Shops. Honestly, I thought the iconic Millennium Park was larger than it actually was. Regardless, I love Anish Kapoor, so I was excited to see Cloud Gate (better known as The Bean). After exploring Millennium Park, we grabbed a taxi and headed towards the 900 North Michigan Shops. My friend and I were in the same program at the University of Georgia, so we have a shared affinity for all things fashion. Right before stopping into 900 North Michigan, we made a pit stop at a nearby Le Pain Quotidien; these remind me so much of my time in London, so I love stopping in whenever I’m in a larger city. Their food is also amazing! After a cappuccino and some avocado toast we were ready for a little bit of shopping.
Following a quick stop in Luxury Garage Sale and Neiman Marcus, we grabbed a taxi to meet some of my extended family for drinks and appetizers at The Allis. Located on the ground floor of SoHo House Chicago, The Allis is a beautifully decorated restaurant and bar. Visitors can also book a service at the Cowshed Spa, located in the basement of SoHo House. I picked up a few small toiletries from the spa to sample - you can shop their line here! Catching up with family (they live just outside Chicago) over afternoon tea was the perfect way to relax after a busy morning and afternoon. Once we finished up at The Allis, we went back to our hotel to dig into the leftover pizza from Lou Malnati’s and wine. The weather wasn’t great during our visit, and from my understanding it was unusual for mid-April. This definitely impacted our dining decisions - we had late reservations at Eataly Saturday night, but opted for leftovers in our warm hotel instead!
Sunday morning we hopped on the Chicago Foundation Architecture Tour - again, due to the weather the experience wasn’t what it could have been, but I’m still glad we did it! The rain subsided a bit towards the end of the tour so we were able to go on the roof for great views of the city. The tour was great, not only because of the views of the city, but also because of the history you learn within the 90 minutes. Following the Chicago Foundation Architecture Tour we stopped into Bluemercury and Barrio for lunch before heading out of the city. Barrio was the only meal we were both slightly disappointed with, and to be honest we just stopped in because it was close to Bluemercury!
Later that afternoon my friend dropped me off at a hotel near the airport, while she continued on to visit family in Iowa. Despite the weather and cancelled flight, I enjoyed my time in Chicago and definitely plan to visit again (likely in the warmer months)!