This past weekend, my husband Michael and I visited our favorite city of Chicago for my baby nephew’s first birthday. Since we got married three years ago, we’ve tried to make a trip to Chicago annually. Of course, COVID-19 changed our plans in 2020, so we’ve been eager to go back this year.
Accommodation: VRBO Brownstone near Loyola University
Through VRBO, we rented a three-bedroom/two-bath home near Loyola University with my parents and my sister’s husband and baby boy for the weekend. I was impressed with this home’s charm and cleanliness. It also had an updated kitchen and bathrooms and a balcony. It was roughly a 5 minute walk to get to the “L” train, too, which was a plus.
The neighborhood was very walkable as well with some restaurants and shops minutes away. There also was a cute little Target we went to for some snacks! I took a few pictures of some Little Free Libraries around the neighborhood!
Getting Around Chicago
We left on a Friday, and unfortunately, our flight to Chicago got delayed so we didn’t arrive until late afternoon. Since our accommodation was not downtown, we decided to grab a $70 Lyft instead of enduring the lengthy train ride from the airport. This cut down the time by about half. We also used a Lyft to get to the airport for the return flight home, which was on a Monday and cost roughly $50. Other than that, we used the “L” to get around. It was roughly a half hour train ride or less to get from our accommodation to downtown. You can get a weekend pass for the train for $20. Otherwise, you can buy a card and add money as needed. The CTA did make regular announcements for people to wear masks regardless of vaccination status. It didn’t bother me to put my mask on during train rides. For the most part, the train was not very crowded even at night, except for during and after Cubs games. (The only reason I know this is because my husband is a die-hard Cubs fan).
Where We Ate in Chicago
Brunch: Sunny Side Up
The first morning we decided to have brunch at Sunny Side Up Restaurant. Michael and I have been to this little eatery multiple times and try to visit each time we are in the area. Despite usually having a crowd in the mornings, service is quick and usually you don’t have to wait too long if you don’t have a larger party. Our party was for six and a baby, so we waited more than hour for two tables near each other, as the restaurant can’t accommodate parties larger than four. But the food was worth the wait. I recommend the french toast, Belgian waffle, or pancakes. I haven’t tried their omelettes, but I’m sure everything here is good.
Dinner: Gino’s Pizza
This Chicago-style pizzeria is a well-known staple that you have to try. Now, I am not a big fan of Chicago-style pizza. It’s too much sauce, and I don’t particularly like large slices because it just equals a huge mess. Normally, when I’ve gone with my husband, we usually order a large pepperoni. This time, since we had my parents, and my sister’s family with us, we ordered a variety of pizzas. I ended up chowing down on two slices of The Works. It was soooo good. If you’re not a fan of onions, you can skip this, but I thought the onions really added more flavor to the sauce. I enjoyed it much more than a pepperoni.
Other Eateries We Visited
- Billy Goat Tavern at Navy Pier
- Insomniac Cookies
- Ghirardelli’s (one of my favorite places)
What We Did in Chicago: Art on the Mart, Navy Pier, and Architecture River Tour
The first night we were there, we watched the Art on the Mart exhibit, where art is projected onto the Merchandise Mart building. It was very cool! This is free entertainment, and music was playing throughout.
We also spent an afternoon at Navy Pier, which is a very family friendly place. I could spend all day there. With plenty of shops, grab-and-go restaurants, and amusements like a ferris wheel, this place is perfect for summertime. You can simply enjoy the view if you don’t want to spend money.
My favorite thing we did during this trip was going on an architecture review cruise. I had never been before, and although it was a little pricey at $45 per adult, I thought it was worth the money for the hour and a half boat ride. Our tour guide also was very good! He told us a lot of interesting tidbits about some of downtown Chicago’s riverside skyscrapers. It was really fun. There also was a moment where the boat stopped and let everyone take photos of the skyline. Our trip was at 6:30, which was perfect because the sun started setting towards the end.
Below is a gallery of some photos from Art on the Mart, Navy Pier, and the river cruise.
Featured Bookstore: Barbara’s Bookstore
This little bookstore was very close to Gino’s Pizza, so I thought I would pop in and have a look around. This small location is not a standalone store and is housed within Northwestern Memorial Hospital off E. Huron. I had never heard of Barbara’s Bookstore before this, but it is exclusive to Chicagoland and has six locations with one housed in the O’Hare Airport. This little bookstore was very cozy, and although it was small, I was impressed with its unique selections. I decided to buy “My Sister, the Serial Killer” here because it was on sale and is a book I’ve heard is funny. I have yet to start reading it, but I hope I like it.
If you’re new to this blog, you may not know that whenever I travel, I like to go to a bookstore. This helps me remember the trip, and usually I can remember what books I bought there. I also feel like I am somehow helping the bookstore ground stores instead of buying online. I try to not go to large bookstore chains, like Barnes and Noble or Books-A-Million, but I will visit those stores if no other bookstores are available (especially in smaller towns).
Well, that wraps up my trip! Normally, I would have a book review to go along with this post. But I thought this post was long enough, so I will be posting a review of Island Queen by Vanessa Riley a little later. I am nearly done with reading it, so hopefully that post will be coming soon!