Lutons Take Chicago!

Last weekend, Scott had a big presentation at a work conference, and I was lucky enough to tag along on the trip… to Chicago!!  I was probably Grayson’s age the last time I was in Chicago, and I was so excited to get a fun weekend away with Scott.  And man, did we have a great time!!

I hadn’t flown in about 10 years (!!!), and honestly, I was VERY anxious about the flight.  We’ve left the kids plenty of times, but never to fly across the country!  But after we got to the airport and in the air, I felt a bit better (until we landed and I was sure we were going to die in a fiery crash landing), and then once we landed in Chicago and we had the whole day ahead of ourselves, I was so excited!!

We went ahead to our hotel, checked in, and headed out to lunch.  We knew the first thing we wanted- Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza!  The concierge suggested Gino’s East, which was really close to our hotel, so that’s where we headed.  And it was amazing!!

We split their Kale Caesar Salad and a pepperoni supreme deep dish pizza and it really was delicious.  I was stuffed and had to force myself to stop eating.  I mean… SO GOOD.

After we rolled out of Gino’s, we noticed a casino across the street!  We had some time to burn, so we headed over there, looked around for a bit, and won a little bit of money!!  I am not a gambler- all I can ever think of is what I could be buying with the money we’re gambling!  But Scott enjoys it, and so we compromised and didn’t go nuts.  Everytime we were up even $20, I was ready to go and celebrate!  He said I got way too excited about winning, ha!  But we ended up with a decent prize and left while we were ahead!

Scott had to head to a meet and greet and working dinner, so once we got back to our hotel, I walked to a local Whole Foods-type restaurant just across the street from our hotel.  And it was AWESOME!  Yes, I’m lame and love specialty grocery stores.  But seriously… there was a juice bar, a sushi/poke bar, an OYSTER BAR THAT SERVED WINE AND BEER YOU COULD DRINK RIGHT THERE WHERE YOU SHOPPED, a salsa and guacamole bar that they made fresh for you, a BBQ bar, a grill with ribeye steak sandwiches (what I ended up eating for dinner), a hot dinner bar, salad bar (obvi), olive bar, soup bar, I mean, you name it, they had it!!  Needless to say, I’m a nerd, but it was awesome.  And now that’s I’ve written a whole paragraph about a grocery store, I will move on.

We were exhausted after being up since 5, so we made it an early night but were up and ready to go on Saturday morning!  Scott was out and off to meetings early, and I had the whole day to myself!  I wasn’t about to spend the day in the hotel room, so I got ready and headed into the city on my own!

We stayed out near the airport, which was a pretty good ways from Downtown Chicago.  But the train was within walking distance, and I was able to take the train into the city very easily.  Within 45 minutes, I was downtown for $2.25!  I walked from the subway station straight to my first destination- the Art Institute of Chicago!

It was voted the second best museum in the WORLD a few years back, and it was really incredible.  I studied a bit of art history in college, but still recognized a lot of the artists and their work, and it was really amazing to see in person.  I just turned a random corner and saw this guy:

But, this one, though the photo doesn’t do it any kind of justice, made me gasp!  It was HUGE and so beautiful:

I was really surprised at the scale of the paintings- I really never knew how HUGE they were going to be!  And just unbelievable- if they didn’t look like photographs, they looked so three dimensional that you could reach out and feel the texture.  It was just amazing.

I walked through the contemporary art too, but it just didn’t affect me the way the more classical European Art did.  But it was still cool to see pieces by Jackson Pollack, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstien, and oh yeah!  Pablo Picasso.

All in all, it was an amazing start to the day, and I would HIGHLY recommend thr Art Institute to anyone visiting Chicago

.  After the museum, I headed outside and right across the street to the famous Millenium Park to see the famous Cloud Scape (aka The Bean), and get a hot dog!

After the park, I knew I didn’t have a TON of time before I was to meet Scott for dinner, and wasn’t able to do a few things that my friends had recommended, like drinks at the top of the John Hancock building and the  architectural river cruise, and all these wonderful restaurant suggestions.  I just didn’t have enough time to go everywhere I wanted to!  We’ll have to make another trip back, for sure.  But I was able to really leisurely walk around downtown, and do some shopping, and enjoy the gorgeous weather (and yummy snacks).  Chicago was really showing off while we were visiting!

After my wonderful day of sightseeing on my own, Scott’s workday was finally over, and he took the train into the city to meet me!

We walked around for a bit and I showed him all the fun places we’d been, and we were ready for dinner.  We went to Remington’s right on Michigan Avenue, and had a delicious dinner.  Oysters (always), scallops for me and Halibut for him, and Creme Brulee.  Maybe a bit of wine too.

After dinner, we hopped back on the train, and made the trip back, just past our hotel stop, to the casino again!

We didn’t quite have the luck at the casino that we had the day before, but we still had fun!  After walking a million miles, my poor feet were bloody and blistered, so we got a cab back to the hotel, and I promptly fell asleep sitting up.  What a day!

Sadly Sunday was our last day, but we had some time before our afternoon flight to get our last taste of the city.  We slept late and took our time getting ready, then checked our bags at the concierge desk and took one more train ride into the city!  We didn’t want to go quite as far into downtown, so I found a cute brunch place in Logan Park where we got off, and man, was it perfection.

Logan Park was the perfect little neighborhood- so cute with lots of families, and kids, and dogs, and friendly people.  We ate outside on the patio in the most ideal 70 degree sipping mimosas.  It was beautiful.

We had beet and whipped goat cheese bruschetta (which I am totally going to recreate here at home), I had a breakfast sandwich and Scott had an egg and bacon plate.  It was all delicious.

After our lovely brunch, we noticed that everyone around us was either going to or coming from a farmer’s market close by, so we set out to find it!  We walked through Logan Park a bit, and then through the most awesome outdoor market I’ve seen in quite a while.  Any and all the veggies, pickles, fresh flowers, jams, and jellies you can imagine, and then all the ready to eat options too!  Vendors had pizza ovens on trailers like they have BBQ smokers on trailers here in the south.  There was pizza, asian noodles, gelato, crepes, sandwiches, quinoa bowls, and everything in between.  I told Scott that I almost wished we’d waited to eat until we got to the market!  But it was fun to walk through.  Next time we’ll have to sample and taste-test.

We were so sad to go, but knew we needed to head on back, and make our way to the airport (mainly because both of us are super nervous about getting to the airport in plenty of time).  So we got back on the train and headed to claim our bags and head to O’Hare.

It always seems like the trips I’m most nervous about and the ones I worry the most about end up being the best trips.  It could only have been better if we had had more days!  There were more places we wanted to visit (and more food we wanted to eat!), but we did the best we could in a little over 48 hours.  And we had a really, really, wonderful trip to Chicago.  I kept telling Scott on Saturday that, “I just had such a great day.” And it was really true.  I can’t wait until we can make it back, hopefully before too much longer!

 

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