“Be careful in Chicago; there is so much crime!” “Don’t go out at night in Chicago, even in the tourist areas!” These were the warnings I received from a couple of acquaintances who used to live in Chicago. I had heard it all before. Chicago’s crime was all over the news, and it had gotten much worse since I visited the city with my best friend, in 2012. Those warnings, however, weren’t going to stop me and Bruce from seeing U.S.A.’s third largest city together, and this was the perfect opportunity—at the end of our cruise, before flying home.
During our three days in downtown, we took the necessary common-sense precautions, walked all over downtown, and thoroughly enjoyed it!
For a good overview to begin our stay, we used our on-board credit and took a city tour that was offered through American Queen Voyages, the company we had cruised the Great Lakes with during the previous two weeks. On our final day, we did an architecture river cruise to learn about the skyscrapers that lined the Chicago River. Both tours were excellent!
What most impressed us about Chicago was how clean and beautiful the downtown city center was everywhere we walked. The city is situated along Lake Michigan, and the city planners did a fabulous job lining the waterfront with attractive parks that offered great vantage points of the amazing skyline.
There is so much I could write about Chicago, but I will let my pictures tell the story instead. (To view them larger, click on the photos.) Here, then is Part 1:
Scenes from Millenium Park:
It was fun watching the faces change on Crown Fountain, and then “spit” water every ten minutes. The kids loved it! What a great way to cool off during the hot, humid summers.
Chicago hosts the Millenium Park Summer Music Series at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion for free!
We stayed on the 14th floor at the Warwick Allerton Hotel, on North Michigan Avenue. This (right) was our (zoomed in) view of Michigan Avenue from our room, including this gorgeous bird! Yes, it was real! I was able to photograph it by sticking my camera out the window that opened up just enough to fit my hand and camera through. Our room was on a corner, so it required a bit of maneuvering and guess work to angle my camera, hold it steady, and snap these shots!
The largest Starbucks in the world was located a block away. People actually line up around the corner to get in! We don’t drink coffee, and we aren’t Starbucks fans, but we thought it was worth a look inside when we happened to walk by when there was no line.
The planters along Michigan Avenue and neighboring streets were fabulous! They added such a beautiful element to soften the appearance of all the steel and concrete of the city.
Some of the buildings featured interesting artwork on their exteriors:
Although we thoroughly enjoyed our vegetarian deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s during our pre-cruise Chicago visit, we decided to try Giordano’s stuffed vegetarian deep dish pizza for comparison (see below). Lou Malnati’s crust wins the contest; however, Giordano’s wins for everything else! We loved their sauce and stuffed pizza! Want to make your mouth water? Click on the pizza photo to see it larger!
Now, for dessert. Kind Snacks is on their “Frozen Summer Tour,” and we were lucky enough to see them– twice! First, we saw the truck at the park at the foot of Navy Pier, and they were handing out free samples of their DELICIOUS frozen bars. They were eager to give you as many as you wanted, so we went back for seconds. 😀 The next day, they were on Michigan Avenue near the Chicago River! They would have given us an entire box if we wanted! The sample lady was eager to empty their coolers and call it a day. We ended up tasting one each of three different flavors and made pigs of ourselves. Damn, those things are good!
Next up: Cruising the Great Lakes #12: Captivating Chicago, Part 2