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This year, instead of traveling back to Kentucky for Christmas, Andrew and I decided to use our holiday leave for New Years. We originally planned to visit our friends Tony and Katelyn in Pennsylvania, but a last-minute Army thing for Tony ruined those plans. Still wanting to travel while we both had the same week off from work (a rare occurrence in our world), we decided to head to Chicago for a few days. Even though it was incredibly cold, we still saw as many sights as we could. The sights that we didn’t get to see were the two that I was most looking forward to. We’ll have to revisit Chicago when the weather warms up!
On Sunday, we slept in and leisurely packed for our trip before leaving for Chicago around lunchtime. We may have “wasted” an entire day by not getting up at the crack of dawn to cram in as much sightseeing as we could, but it was worth it! We stopped by the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum in West Branch, Iowa, but unfortunately, it was closed due to the government shutdown. For dinner, we ate deep-dish pizza at a local pizzeria. Fun fact: deep-dish pizza is more of a Chicago tourist thing; most locals prefer thin-crust!
On our first full day in the city (New Year’s Eve), we visited the Field Museum. We could have easily spent days there, but knowing all of the goodness in all of the other museums, we limited our time to just a few hours. Unfortunately, I started feeling unwell in the afternoon, so we headed back to the hotel early. After a few hours of rest and watching on The West Wing, I was feeling much better and ready to celebrate. We had hoped to ring in the New Year at the Lincoln Park Zoo’s Zoo Years Eve Party, but tickets were sold out by the time we planned our trip to Chicago. We’re not the bar-hopping type, and we didn’t want to pay an excessive amount of money for tickets to do anything else. Our hotel hosted a New Year’s Eve party for singles, which we contemplated attending (Andy suggested we each show up alone and then “hit it off” with one another at the party, hah!) In the end, binging on Netflix and an 8:30 pm bedtime won out.
The next day, we started our morning with “brunch” at Chipotle. (In case you were wondering if Chipotle serves brunch, they don’t. But tacos are yummy any time!) Then, we hopped on the L for our first adventure: visiting Millennium Park to see Cloud Gate, aka The Bean. To take good photos of Andrew and me, I whipped out my tripod with absolutely no shame. Good photos of us beat out my fear of being “a tourist” any day.
After a long walk through Millennium Park (which would have been enjoyable if it wasn’t 30 degrees!), we arrived at our next activity: Shedd Aquarium. I’m terrified afraid of fish, so aquariums aren’t my favorite way to spend a day, but Andrew was happy as a clam to be there (he is a certified Scuba diver and wanted to be a Marine Biologist.)
As we left the aquarium, we realized there was a beautiful view of the Chicago skyline behind us, so we took the opportunity to snag a few photos of us. You can even see “Welcome 2019” in one of the skyscrapers!
At dinnertime, we rode the L over to 875 North Michigan Avenue (formerly the Hancock Building.) Since our first choice for dinner + drinks (the Signature Lounge) was closed for the holiday, we ended up at the Cheesecake Factory. I’ve only had the Cheesecake Factory twice, but (unpopular opinion alert) I honestly did not enjoy it!
When it comes to navigating public transportation in the city, I am by far better at it than my sweet husband. Andy may have learned land nav in the Army, but that doesn’t include urban land nav. Except my navigation skills aren’t so great after I’ve had a margarita; we ended up lost in the north part of the city for the better part of half an hour. Thankfully we made it back to our hotel safely!
Our last morning spent in Chicago was at the
Sears Tower Willis Tower. We were looking forward to seeing the city from above, but there was no visibility that day. We did stop for a few touristy photos on the sidewalk but didn’t get any photos of us together since I didn’t use my tripod.
With a few hours to spare, we hopped back on the L to go to the Lincoln Park Conservatory. It was a tropical oasis in the middle of the city; it was so humid in there that I had to take off my coat!
Then, we left the city to visit our friends south of Chicago. Andrew hadn’t seen Tyler in-person in 3 years (!!!), and little Andria (who’s named after Andrew) has grown up so much in the 18 months since we last saw the G kiddos during our PCS to Iowa. I failed to get any good photos of us and our friends, though!
Our trip to Chicago was an enjoyable getaway and a much-needed escape for both of us! Next time, we’ll have to visit Chicago when it’s warm outside. (And also hopefully when we have tickets to see Hamilton… I’m still sad that we couldn’t see it!)