The great American road trip kicks off in the windy city. We flew in straight from Dublin after extending our Paddy’s day trip. After researching tons of UK flights to tons of US airports it actually worked out cheaper to get a Ryanair across to Dublin and fly Aer Lingus. That’s my tip for y’all anyway.
We arrived late in Chicago and after finding out it was $53 a night to park the car and then happening on a steak house where it was over $50 for just a main course I wasn’t too impressed with the cost of living put it that way. Turns out that although that certainly wasn’t the most expensive place in town it does have a reputation for being one of the best and it was indeed fantastic, Ruth’s Chris steakhouse on Hubbard Street if you’re interested.
Top tip: If you’re going out drinking anywhere TAKE YOUR ID or you’ll be going thirsty.
After that it got a little better price wise but it’s definitely not a cheap destination. The average price for lunch or breakfast is about $15-25 per person. The Anaheim eggs (avocado, bacon, cheese & mixed peppers with scrambled eggs) from the Cornerhouse Bakery (they have them all over the city) are amazing and surprisingly for a healthy option the egg white omelette at South Water Kitchen was soooo good.
Egg white omelette at South Water Kitchen
Expect to pay about $100 including drinks for an evening meal for two. Chicago is famous for its ‘pizza pie’ (an extreme deep dish stuffed pizza) and apparently one of the best in the city according to a bit of research I did is from Bella Bacinos on East Wacker Drive. Don’t be a hero and go for a medium or large, stick to the small between two people and I guarantee you’ll still struggle to finish it.
Bella Bacino’s pizza pie
It’s definitely worth doing the hop on hop off bus tour which is $35 for a one day ticket or $43 for a 3 day ticket and it includes a free Hershey bar, free t-shirt and a free bag of the world famous Garrett Popcorn. The popcorn is good but at some shops round the city apparently people queue for 2-3 hours to get some – alright guys, calm down it’s just popcorn. It’s not pizza.
A place you must visit is Navy Pier, in the summer there’s an outdoor beer garden and the prices there aren’t too bad from what we saw advertised. There’s a ferris wheel, an IMAX ‘movie theater’ and a shopping mall there. We went to see ‘Insurgent’ which is actually set in a post-apocalyptic Chicago and that was quite cool. It was just the same as going the pictures here but with better sweets though. Milk Duds are the one.
View from Navy Pier
The tallest building in Chicago is the Hancock tower and you can go up to the 94th floor and get fantastic views all across Chicago. The lifts only take about 30 seconds to reach the top so expect some ear popping. For an extra $7 you can ‘tilt’. Tilt is basically a set of windows that tilt you out over the side of the building at a 45 degree angle so you’re basically lying on a glass floor looking over the city. It’s unmissable, even if a little heart stopping!
View overlooking Chicago to the South. This is what you get tilted over!
View from John Hancock Center overlooking Navy Pier
Also worth a look is the ‘Magnificent Mile’ AKA Michigan Avenue where you’ll find every shop you can think of from Target to Chanel. On East Walton St you’ll find a place called Sprinkles Cupcakes which has a cupcake ATM – best idea ever??
After the initial dampener of how expensive it is there (including the hotel we spent around $700 in two days) Chicago really grew on me. Thanks Chicago – I had a ‘blast’, we should do this again sometime.
Next stop Memphis via St Louis….