Visiting Chicago - Come for the pizza, stay for the pizza
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07-16-2013, 03:56 PM
Join Date: Mar 2012
Here is my short review of my (somewhat recent) visit to Chicago:
During the Summer of 2011, my girlfriend and I wanted to get away somewhere for a week-long vacation. We live in Winnipeg, and preferably wanted to go to a city in the US that we had never been to (aside from the typical "Fargo / Grand Forks / Minneapolis" pilgrimage that us central Canadians religiously take on an annual basis). Being university students, we also wanted this trip to cost us less than $1,000 CDN per person.
Without having any specific cities in mind, we used a popular travel website and managed to find and book a trip to Chicago for approximately $700.00 CDN per person after taxes (round-trip airfare + hotel). As this was both our first trip to a BIG American city, we were excited to say the least. After extensive online searching, we planned out our trip itinerary and were confident that we would have no trouble getting around Chicago once we got there.
We used the train (amtrak I think?) to primarily get around from where we were staying to the downtown area, and purchased a week-long pass from a terminal in the O'Hare airport (as our hotel was a 5 minute walk from the station, was 3 stops from the airport, and about a 45 min ride from downtown), and then walked everywhere else. We saved a TON of money going this route, as opposed to renting a car or taking a taxi.
Being a sports fan, I was a little bummed that I wouldn't be able to see the 'Hawks play in the middle of August, so I looked at the next best thing: DA Bears (who also happen to be my girlfriend's favorite sports team). The cheapest ticket I could find at Soldier Field for a preseason game that happened to be taking place while we were there was $125.00 US per person, and being on a budget we just couldn't justify spending that much on 1 attraction, especially with a whole week to spend in the Windy City where that money could go a much longer way.
Next stop, baseball. The Cubs were not in town that week, but the Sox were, so we each purchased a package that came with an upper deck ticket, a hotdog, a drink and chips for (I think) $18 US. Also, the Chicago Fire (MLS) were playing a game in town that week as well, and we picked up a pair of tickets for under $40 US. Both games were quite entertaining, but the Fire game really stood out for us. We're both soccer fans, but neither of us had ever been to game that didn't involve players above the age of 15. It really is a night / day experience to see professionals play "the beautiful game" in person, rather than on TV. Both US Cellular Field and Toyota Park are world-class facilities as well.
Being a roller coaster fanatic, we also had to make our way out to Six Flags for the day (about an hour ride on a special chartered bus that leaves from the downtown bus terminal, and if memory serves me correct the week-long train pass we purchased also covered this trip). I think a day pass was somewhere in the range of $60 US. But for the cost of what would have been 1 NFL pre-season match-up, we got to see 2 professional sports teams, and experience the amusement park in it's entirety (concessions included).
Some of the other highly recommended attractions we used to fill our days up with were:
- The "Magnificent Mile" (Michigan Ave., for the shop-a-holics)
- The Navy Pier (a historic/cultural tourist attraction with shopping, dining, and a world-famous Ferris Wheel), which also happened to be the day of one of their spectacular fireworks shows (check their website for the schedule).
- Chicago Double Decker Bus Tour (a "hop on / hop off" tour, a great way to see all of the downtown area at your own pace).
- The Field Museum (Dinosaur fossils, Egyptian displays, etc...).
- Millennium Park (great place for a walk, home of the famous Cloud Gate / "The Bean" sculpture).
- Willis Tower Skydeck (aka Sears Tower, glass observation deck on the 103rd floor of the building that allows you to see ALL of Chicago. VERY neat!).
Now, as for the FOOD... being on a budget, we didn't get to experience a lot of the main dining staples. Most of our meals consisted of food bought at a local grocery store and consumed in our hotel, with a few packed lunches. But, when we did eat out, these are some of the places we tried:
- Giordano's (Deep Dish Pizza, absolutely AMAZING!) *This decision was made at the last minute. We heard so much about Pizzeria Uno online, but it wasn't until we actually got to Chicago and started asking around that the most popular answer we got was this place. Did not disappoint. HIGHLY recommend.*
- The Hotdog stand outside of the Field Museum (supposedly, THIS is the birthplace of the Chicago-style Hotdog, but I'm sure there are a lot of vendors making the same claim. Nonetheless, it was the best 'dog I've had in my entire life).
- The Cheesecake Factory (A well-known chain, but my first time trying it. Delicious!)
- T.G.I. Friday's (A well-known chain, but my first time trying it. Delicious!)
I'm sure there are some things I'm forgetting to mention, but I hope this helps anyone thinking of traveling to Chicago. It was the best trip I've taken in my entire life, and I hope to return again some day soon to watch the Jets beat down the 'Hawks!
Last edited by noize: 07-16-2013 at
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