Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hellooooooooo Chicago!

Can I just say that Chicago now has a solid standing as my #2 favorite USA city? (Behind Nashville, of course). Oh my friends, we had the weekend trip of a lifetime! So much to see, do, eat, drink, and ESPECIALLY shop - it was like sensory overload for a solid three days! I don't think we could have possibly packed one more calorie-laden meal into the trip without us both going into a food coma, truthfully. But enough with the deets - you want pictures, right? Well I just so happened to have you more than covered in that department. Let the recap begin!
Our first view of that glorious Chicago skyline -from the back seat of the taxicab on our way to the hotel from the airport! (P.S. Southwest - mad props on the 1.5 hour flight.)
Forgive me for showing you my face without makeup, but let's focus on how excited we are to finally be in Chicago! We had seriously been talking about this trip for MONTHS, people.
See? This is his excited face.

First stop? Quartino for some seriously authentic Italian fare. I felt like we were actually in Italy (down to the slight European disregard for timeliness - we weren't quite used to eating dinner at 9:30 p.m.) We missed our reservation at the Signature Room by a nanosecond so this was a recommendation from friends AND a favorite of our slightly snobby concierge.

This lovely little piano bar happened to be next door to the restaurant, so naturally we stopped in for an after-dinner drink when we heard the alluring sounds of a piano coming from within. It had a slight speakeasy style and a fantastic entertainer that had the entire crowd singing "Piano Man" in unison at the top of their lungs. Myself included, natch.

After our impromptu singalong, we had one cocktail and then headed back to the hotel. Does that make us old and grand-tastic? Don't answer that. Hey, we had a big day ahead people!

Saturday! So here we are in Wrigleyville at the infamous Rockit Bar and Grill. You MUST put this on your list as a great place to pit stop before the Cubs game. Trust me.

Because they have this delightfully refreshing drink called the Chicago Sting, and yes, we got an entire pitcher of it. For all of you fellow Firefly lovers out there, meet your match.

Annnnnnnd we polished off one of these unbelievable burgers, along with two kinds of fries. And for the record, sweet potato fries KILL the truffle fries. They have brown sugar and cinnamon on top and are to DIE for. Worth every stinkin' calorie, in my opinion.

And the best part? This was our view! Hello Wrigley Field, nice to finally meet you.

Appropriately attired for our first Cubs game!

And having a little fun in the biggest merchandise gift store you've ever seen. I was so close to buying this glove - it came with a cup holder for your drink. Ingenious!

Why yes, Mr. Cubby Bear, I would love to take my picture with you. And bless your heart, you have got to be burning up in that thing!

A fun little find outside the stadium - a great place to people watch!

And we HAD to have another photo op!

No caption needed. :)

Cubs Spirit is everywhere - I love it.

Luckys - made legendary on one of our favorite shows, Man vs. Food!
(Travel Channel, check your local listings).

Before you hiss at me like my husband did for taking a picture of our men in uniform, let me just say that this was after the National Anthem, not during, and as you can see by the hands on the left, people were already beginning to clap and holler, so no disrespect was made. I just loved seeing them stand at attention, and thought it was appropriate for Memorial Day Weekend, and to remember what it was really about. Now boo and hiss if you must.

This is the rooftop seating above the restaurants across the street, which is actually brilliant on their part. A great example of "why didn't I think of that?"

The oldest scoreboard in history of the planet. There are people whose job is to actually fill in the score in those little bitty black spaces, can you imagine? I'm sure they aren't complaining - great place to watch the game, I guess.

Photo Op #2 - now in our seats inside the stadium. Where we stayed for about three innings. Don't judge - our view was obstructed by this gigantic concrete pole in our way and, well, it was really pretty outside and we're both not the biggest baseball fans so we went to one of the aforementioned rooftop bars and made the most of it. It counts because we could still hear the crowd, right?

I'd say that's a beautiful day for a baseball game if ever there was one.

Back on Michigan Avenue, I fell in love with this old church and then what to my wondering eyes should appear? A perfect little bride and groom stepping outside just as the bells started to ring!

(Sorry, no picture of that because I just sat there and stared. And started thinking what a logisitical nightmare it would be to find parking at one of the busiest intersections on the Magnficent Mile. Then scolded myself for putting my event planner hat on while on vacation.)
Now to the super fun stuff - SHOPPING! We wandered into the Water Tower and hit up some of the usual suspects, one of which was one of my favorite places to shop for Mr. T - Banana! I found a pair of pants I thought would look great on him, until we realized they were skinny jeans. So here he is modeling the "Posh" pose we have all come to know and love.
They may be a bit snug, but I still think he could rock them!
And then on to my personal favorite - my beloved H & M. Yes, I'll pause for your moment of silence to the greatest clothing store on the planet. And yes, I did some damage. Luckily that damage cost me less than $100 for four summer-rific items! Score. That means I can buy that VS swimsuit(s) I've been eyeing for our ucpoming beach trip. Yesssssssss (fist pump).
On to dinner at Tavern on Rush - a lovely place to nosh but I seriously cannot get used to this eating after 9 p.m. business. Not good for my 30 year old slowing metabolism, or for the skinny jeans I happened to be wearing that night, which didn't make me feel quite so skinny. I had filet oscar (can't pass up fresh crabmeat) and Craig had the New York strip, which was about as long as his forearm. We were both ready to be wheeled out on stretchers afterward. Note for the next trip: make early reservations! I don't care if I AM a granny.
I did love these flower arrangements in the bar at Tavern. Again, it's hard to take the event planner hat off when you encounter floral inspiration like this!

To cap off our night, we decided to go to the Signature Room Lounge on the 96th floor, instead of the restaurant on the 95th (pictured above). The line was forever long but well worth the view.
See what I mean? This was taken right behind us. Isn't she pretty at night?
And this mother of all views was taken just before we left. Stunning!

We are smiling but do not be deceived - our stomachs are VERY mad at us.

The absolute best location for a hotel - shout out to the Westin on Michigan. when I say I was ONE BLOCK from the Magnificent Mile and shops galore, I'm not kidding. I literally gasped when the cabbie pulled up in front and proceeded to squeal with delight like I was on My Super Sweet Sixteen or something. We seriously couldn't have had it better.

Well-rested on Sunday and refreshed from a stroll along the Riverwalk on Lakeshore Drive - we were ready for our last item on the checklist - the Boat Tour! (This was a suggestion from our waiter at RL, aka a restaurant owned by Ralph Lauren, which my sweet friend Callen recommended, which was where I had a divine Bellini and melt-in-your-mouth quiche for brunch, and also where I spotted Ali Larter. I so love a celebrity sighting. And it made me realize we had chosen quite well.)

We went through Shoreline and docked right by Navy Pier. It was a packed 60-minute tour, and we had not a moment to spare before we had to catch a cab to the airport from our flight home, but I'm glad we went. It gave a great history of the Chicago fire (which was actually caused by the fireman on duty working a double shift and mistaking the smoke in the distance as leftover from a fire the day before - by the time he caught it, the fire had leapt the Illinois River and was burning buildings to the ground). And that is your history lesson for the day.

Lovely shot of the Sears Tower

Can't get any closer to the skyline than that!

Final Photo Op of the Trip - and looking like I need to work on my posture, I might add.

So there you have it - Chicago in all it's photographic glory! I was telling Mr. T on one of our strolls after dinner that if I had to do it all over again, I could definitely see myself living there. Sometimes I wonder how my life would have turned out had I ventured out further than Birmingham for college, and really culture shocked myself by moving north and seeing what I was made of. I doubt I'll ever live in a city that big now - I'm rather comfortable where I am - but a part of me wonders what it would have been like to have that kind of experience in my 20's. One thing I do know - the entire city comes to life once the weather warms up and universally celebrates the warmer temps (I was there in February for work and it couldn't have been more different - people look so much more miserable when they're cold). Or maybe it was because I had my favorite traveling companion with me this time. Who knows - but one thing I know for certain - we will DEFINITEY be back! Love ya, Chicago!


  1. great post! I love Chicago and have been to a few of the places you mentioned. It has been a few years since I have visited and now I am really eager to go back!

  2. Looks like you had so much fun!!! Awesome pics! That burger looks fantastic...as do you in all your cub gear ;) View of the city from that restaurant is AWESOME! Please upload these to facebook so I can see the pictures bigger!!!

  3. Loved all of the pics from your trip! It's making me want to plan a Chicago weekend asap. All of the food sounded amazing and the drinks before the Cubs game look like they are right up my alley :) Glad you had such a fabulous trip!

  4. Great pictures!!!! LOVE Rockits!! :)

  5. LOVE this recap! Looks like the most fabulous time!! So glad you loved RL...divine!!! I want to go to Chi-town now!!!!


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