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Skyscrapers, Pizza and Sunshine – Chicago at its Best

June 11, 2013

I woke up Monday morning of my Chicago visit to the most glorious sight – sunshine! After the first two days of rain, I was thrilled to see summertime Chicago at its best and hopped out of bed, eager for another run on the Lakefront Trail.

I headed the opposite direction this morning, turning north toward Lincoln Park.  Running along Lakeshore Drive, I passed the most adorable little green space across the street from the famous Drake Hotel.

Lakeshore Drive Park

Once I crossed under Lakeshore Drive and onto the trail, I was running along Lake Michigan, but could have been running along an oceanside beach on the East Coast for all I could tell.

Lakefront Trail Beaches

I’d really had no idea how expansive and, well, beachy the beaches along Lake Michigan were.  One stretch had dozens of beach volleyball courts set up that I’m sure are packed on summer weekends.  I also ran past beachside bars that would probably be the perfect city escape for an afternoon cocktail.

Chicago Beaches

Early on a weekday, I also saw a lot of cyclists who appeared to be commuting to work, and it seemed like a relaxing way to start the day.

Lakefront Trail

Lakefront Trail

When I was almost back to my hotel, I came around a bend to the most knock-out views of the city I’d seen so far.

Chicago View

Chicago Lake View

Closing in on the hotel, I picked up my pace, eager to get my mom and get going with our day.

Chicago streets

The first item on our agenda that day was a trip to the top of the John Hancock Center to take in the city from a new angle.  Neither of us had ever seen Chicago from above, so since we finally had a clear day we were eager head to the top of this famous skyscraper.  It was located practically next door to our hotel, so we’d been passing it every time we came and went.  At 100 stories, the Hancock building is now the 4th-tallest building in Chicago and offers 360-degree views from its observatory on the 96th floor.  On weekends and during peak hours, lines can be long, but at 9 a.m. on Monday we walked straight to the ticket counter, ponied up $18 each, and zoomed up to the observatory on the 96th floor.  The views that greeted us were jaw-dropping.

Hancock Observatory Views

We could see forever on this clear day, and it was a fantastic way to see the city.  For some reason I’d expected to be outside at the observatory (perhaps because that’s how most of my other tall building experiences have been), but this one was totally enclosed with the exception of one portion where you can feel the wind blow through.  Something about the height, the windows and the enclosure threw my equilibrium off and I almost felt queasy at first, but nothing bad enough to distract me from the views.

Hancock Building Views

Hancock Views

Along the windows there were really cool touch-screen monitors with points of interest that you could touch to learn interesting facts about the buildings in front of you.  It definitely added something to the experience and let us get something more out of it than simply gazing at the pretty buildings.  We did plenty of that too, though.

Hancock Views

After coming back down to solid ground, we had a couple of hours to kill before the next item on our agenda: lunch with Kelly and Diane, the other mother-daughter pair coming to meet us for The Rolling Stones concert that night.  We decided to spend them walking around the city in the general direction of our lunch destination.


Trump Tower Chicago

We walked by Trump Tower, one of the tallest buildings in Chicago, gleaming in the sunlight.  I don’t think Donald Trump and I have much in common, but we definitely share a love of shiny things.

Chicago bridge

We crossed the bridge with its American, Illinois and Chicago flags fluttering, and walked along the river toward lunch.

Chicago River View

Chicago Walk

I just noticed that we are standing the exact same way, wearing variations of each other’s outfits with our scarves draped identically. I think it’s safe to say I’m a few steps beyond becoming my mother!

The one thing I’d wanted to make sure to eat while in Chicago was some of the city’s legendary deep dish pizza.  A friend and Chicago native had recommended Lou Malnati’s, and there was one right down the street from our friends’ hotel.  It sounded like the perfect place to meet them once they’d checked in.

Lou Malnati's

We started off with a round of drinks – Goose Island 312, a yummy local wheat beer for me – and a family size salad while waiting for this baby to cook.

Lou Malnati's Pizza

Our deep dish pepperoni and mushroom pizza was saucy, cheesy and just plain delicious.

Lou Malnati's

Lou Malnati's

The crust was perfectly crispy and buttery too.  I’m getting hungry again just reliving it.  Top 10 pizza experiences of my life, easily.  After such a heavy lunch we were happy to walk a ways to our next adventure – an architectural tour with Wendella Boat Tours.  Recap and review to come!

Chicago River Walk

7 Comments leave one →
  1. June 11, 2013 1:19 pm

    Thanks so much for stopping in while you were in town! It looks like you had a great time. Did you get to see the view of the city from the Planetarium? If not, make sure it’s on your list of places to see when you’re in town next – it’s one of our favs!

    • June 11, 2013 1:31 pm

      Thank you for the delicious pizza! Unfortunately I didn’t make it to the Planetarium 😦 We did go on an architectural boat tour that went out on Lake Michigan and cruised right by the Planetarium so I’m betting the views were somewhat similar and they were fantastic! I loved my time in your city!

  2. June 11, 2013 4:20 pm

    Your pictures are great, it totally made me homesick (especially the ones of the pizza)! Such beautiful perfect days are rare in Chicago I am glad you got one!

    • June 11, 2013 4:37 pm

      Thank you! Especially after two days of cold drizzle it felt so spectacular! It was the kind of day that made me feel like I could totally live in Chicago… until I remembered what Midwestern winters are like.


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