Now I know exactly why they call Chicago the “Windy City.” As soon I walked out of the airport, I was nearly blown away by the wind and rainy weather. May I note that it was April and technically Spring! But whatever, I was determined to see what the city had to offer. Chicago is known for some really great sites but mostly for the food. So my Chicago bucket list consisted of several restaurants and landmarks. If you’re planning a trip to Chicago, these places are worth visiting.
Minutes after landing in Chicago, I used my trusty Hotel Tonight app to book a last minute hotel. I decided on a luxury riverfront hotel called Londonhouse. It is blocks away from the popular shopping and dining area Magnificent Mile. The room was small but very cozy and perfect for what I needed. Even though it was cold out, I didn’t intend on spending too much time exploring the hotel. So I can’t speak on the different amenities of the actual hotel. But I will say they have great service, the room is comfortable and it’s in a great location.
After checking into the hotel, I walked a few blocks down to Giordano’s. Chicago is known for their famous stuffed deep dish pizza so I had to partake immediately. The wait at Giordano’s was about 20 minutes but they do allow you to order first before you sit because the pizza takes up to 45 minutes to make. I ordered the Chicago Classic Deep Dish which consists of pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers, and onions. Once I indulged, I understood why deep dish pizza is so popular. The pizza was very filling and super cheesy. (I also heard Lou Malnati’s has great deep dish pizza as well, I’ll be trying them on my next trip.
As a soul food lover, I had to find a good soul food spot in Chicago. I wanted somewhere that wasn’t fancy and overpriced but somewhere authentic. I found just that at Pearl’s Place . I dined at Pearl’s Place for brunch. They offer a full menu as well as a buffet. I chose the buffet option because of course I wanted to taste a little bit of everything. I added everything from a omelette, to fried chicken, to mac n cheese, catfish, greens, pancakes, bacon and more on my plate. I can genuinely say that I was satisfied with every part of my meal. The staff was also extremely nice and even turned up the heat in the restaurant for me because I felt a little chilly. Pearl’s Place is very homey and that makes for a great soul food restaurant.
I tried to be open minded and try more of Chicago staple meals. Apparently the ChicagoDog is a big thing in the city so I forced myself to try it. When I say forced, I’m serious. The ChicagoDog consists of the following:
- Yellow Mustard
- Bright “Neon” Green Relish
- Fresh Chopped Onions
- Two Tomato Wedges
- A Pickle Spear or Slice
- Two Sport Peppers
- A Dash of Celery Salt
Why all of this is necessary on a hot dog, I don’t know but apparently it’s a “thing.” It absolutely was not my favorite meal in Chicago, but hey YOLO.
I heard all of this talk about Harold’s Chicken Shack. It’s a chain chicken joint in Chicago. So on late evening when I didn’t feel like I whole restaurant experience, I went to the Harold’s Chicken Shack in West Loop and got a 4 piece chicken special with the mild sauce. While I wasn’t in love with the sauce personally, the chicken and fries were very good.
No trip is complete without dessert. Stan’s Donuts & Coffee is a pretty popular staple in Chicago. They offer fresh donuts, ice cream, bagels, coffee and even a donut cake. I ordered a beignet and vanilla sprinkled glaze cake. Both were delicious but what I really want to try is a ice cream shake topped with a mini donut.
Lastly, yes I did have Garrett Popcorn. This popcorn is a Chicago tradition. I had the classic Garrett mix of cheese and caramel popcorn. I actually loved the mix!
Top 5 Things to Do in Chicago
- Wrigley Field- Cubs Game
I was lucky enough to get my hands on some Cubs game tickets at Wrigley Field. I mean why not check out a baseball game in Chicago? Wrigley field is hosting Major League Baseball for the 104th season and the Cubs for the 102nd year. Those are pretty impressive stats I would say.
2. The Cloud Gate
The Cloud Gate, nicknamed “The Bean” is a staple in Chicago. Located in Millennium Park, this sculpture is a humongous reflective looking bean that according to google cost 23 million dollars to make.
3. Skydeck at the Willis Tower
The Skydeck at the Willis Tower offers amazing views that span across four states. The Ledge is a glass balcony that extends four feet outside of the 103rd floor of the Willis Towers. This was the highlight of my Chicago experience. I am a huge fan of a good view and this view is incredible. (Note: If you’re afraid of heights, this is not the experience for you.)
4. Navy Pier
While I didn’t get to visit the Navy Pier this year, I know that the Navy Pier’s Centennial Wheel is an iconic part of the Chicagoskyline. This 3,300 foot pier is on my bucket list for when I visit Chicago during the warmer months. Have you been? Tell me your experience!
5. United Center
Last minute, I decided to check out the Kevin Hart’s Irresponsible tour at The United Center. The United Center hosts concerts, shows, and is where Michael Jordan famously played for the Bulls. Why not check it off your bucket list?