Post Author: Rachel
I'm sure you can agree - life is always busy. With my crazy TV schedule, I’m always on the run, and combined with my hubby’s all over the map NFL schedule, it is a rarity for us to get a long weekend together. So when we do, we are out and about exploring something somewhere.
For Labor Day weekend, we snagged an inexpensive Southwest flight, some friends and headed out to the Windy City!
With so much to see and do, Chicago is a great place to spend a weekend. Plus, their transit system is affordable and super easy to navigate through the city. Once we landed, we hopped on the "L" and headed downtown. Luckily for us, my cousin and his wife live in Chicago and they graciously opened their home to us for the weekend. They live right in the heart of the city and you couldn’t ask for a more spectacular view!
I love how the city lights up and shows off it's beauty at night too. Stunning!
Entertainment, festivals and sports are never in short supply in Chicago. Being the sports enthusiasts that we are, there was no question we had to catch a Cubs game at Wrigley Field – and not just once but twice! We scored some unbelievable tickets and rooted for the home team all weekend.
And of course, a ballpark experience isn't complete without a hot dog and a cold one. So first things first, we hopped in line and ordered a Chicago dog. YUM! I got a few pickles on the side and loaded it with ketchup, mustard, tomatoes and a strange colored relish. Initially, I was a bit concerned about this lime green relish, but quickly found out it is a staple at this ballpark and a must on your dog. And, it’s surprisingly delicious. Now, I know it's not the Chicagoan way to put ketchup on your dog, but I love ketchup. I think it's great on just about anything.
On our first day, after the Cubs won and we all sang "Go! Cubs! Go!," we headed down Clark Street, which is lined with bars and restaurants. Two great stops we discovered are Sluggers World Class Sports Bar and Old Crow Smokehouse. Both had fantastic atmospheres, drink specials and great food.
The next morning we grabbed some coffee and walked to Grant Park. We enjoyed seeing the spectacular water show at Buckingham Fountain and walking along the water front admiring the many sailboats that line Lake Michigan. Helpful hint – mornings can be a little chilly near the water, so don’t forget to bring a light jacket.
For lunch, our taste buds were craving some made from scratch deep dish pizza. We have already had Giordano's once before, so we wanted to try something new and strolled on over to Lou Malnati's. It typically takes about 30-35 minutes for them to prepare a pizza and there is always a long line to get a table … about 45 minutes the day we visited. Let me assure you though, it’s well worth the wait! Fortunately, they also have a great system in place where customers are able to place orders at the counter while waiting for a table. The timing is just about perfect too – when your table is ready, so is your pizza. They have a nice little patio area, so after ordering, we grabbed a drink and enjoyed the gorgeous weather.
We ordered "The Lou," which the menu describes as "A pizza so good we gave it his name! Spinach mix, mushrooms and sliced roma tomatoes covered with blend of mozzarella, romano and cheddar cheese on garlic Buttercrust." It was amazing!
With deep dish pizza, all the ingredients are placed on backwards from a regular thin crust pizza. So even though the pizza looks like it's just cheese and tomatoes, the inside holds all the delicious veggies and meats. And the garlic buttercrust - phenomenal.
When traveling, I always love learning about the city, and Chicago is rich with history and boasts some incredible architecture. Luckily, this city also has some amazing tours to offer. We booked an early morning tour on Chicago's First Lady and hopped on a double decker boat for 90 minutes on a fun and educational river cruise. It was fascinating and our guide was friendly and full of insightful stories about the architecture and the design of the many buildings. I would highly recommend this!
Now, back to food. After Chicago dogs and deep dish pizza, next up - Italian Beef. Walking into Portillo's feels like going back in time to the 1960's when the restaurant was founded. It is a charming atmosphere and the food, or course, does not disappoint. The Big Beef with extra gravy and oven-roasted sweet and spicy peppers ...WOW! Safe to say, we split this huge gravy covered meat sandwich and then wanted to take a nap.
No time for sleep though, it was off to round two of watching the 2016 World Series Champs at Wrigley! We met up with a friend who now works for the team and got a sneak peek into the Cubbies offices and they are pretty impressive (photos in slideshow below).
Before leaving, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to stop by and say hello to the Commissioner's Trophy, an absolute must-see and located right next to the stadium inside of Jostens Jewelry store.
It was a quick, but wonderful trip to Chicago and with so much to do and see and not enough time, we’ll definitely be returning to the Windy City for more food and fun!