To start with a confession, I didn’t only have 24 hours in Chicago; technically, I had 48 hours. I set foot in the city on the 1st of January and did only two things: eat and drink. However, the 2nd of January is when I got a full day in this eye-catching place and that is what this guide is about. Here’s 24 (Ish) Hours in Chicago.
The boyfriend and I stayed in the Hotel Felix on W Huron Street. It's a cute, boutique place that offers a decent amount of amenities. You’re paying for the location, and it's a great location: slap bang in almost the centre of the city surrounded by buildings that would give you a sore neck. You’re close to most of the popular tourist attractions and a short cab or train ride to the more hip parts of the city and if you get peckish, you’re less than a five minute walk away from Portillo's (more about that later).
Cost: $92.98 (1 Night, Via Expedia) Extra Cost: Breakfast $18 PP
A Picture With The Bean
Recognised internationally as a Chicago landmark The Cloud Gate (The Bean) is located on the corner of Millennium park by N Michigan Avenue. It’s 110 tonnes of perfectly polished metal that was designed by Anish Kapoor and constructed over three years before it’s dedication in 2006. It’s an impressive art installation that distorts the city skyline and looks striking in any weather condition which means, naturally, it’s a huge a tourist magnet. Literally, you can walk right around it and underneath it but don’t stand still for too long, because like us, you’ll be asked to take someone's picture in front of it.
If you visit Chicago's Tavern at the Park you can sample the 'The Cloudgate Martini’ that was described in Forbes as "a mixture of Grey Goose La Poire, homemade sour mix, pineapple juice and a splash of champagne. It is then draped with a sterling silver Elsa Peretti bean necklace. The cocktail is presented on a silver tray in a glass rimmed with edible silver.” So if you’ve got a spare $175 dollars, give it a try.
Find a Piece of Home or History at Tribune Tower.
Tribune Tower is a fabulous piece of neo-gothic architecture and is home to a number of news and media organisations including The Chicago Tribune, CNN’s Chicago Bureau and WGN Radio. The original structure was burned down in the Great Chicago Fire, the new one had been in place since 1925 and as you walk around it you notice something odd; there are rows of out of place bricks that perforate round the entirety of the building. All from different corners of the world, many relating to huge historical events. We eventually found the stone from Edinburgh Castle, a place I’d been to many times. Now, thousands of miles away, I was next to a chunk of home. Many of the 149 fragments were brought back by Tribune journalists at the request of Colonel McCormick editor and publisher when the new building was opened.
There are pieces of history from all over the world, including; a piece of the Berlin Wall, a metal fragment of the World Trade Centre and Aztec Ruins from New Mexico. You can find a full and comprehensive list here.
Try the Most Famous Hotdog in America
Arguably the most famous hotdog in America, nay, the world, is the Chicago Hot Dog and if you’re going to get one, you should definitely pay a visit to this Chicago Institution. Portillo’s opened in the early 60’s as a hotdog stand just outside of the city, now Portillo’s has a huge Chicago following and is loved all over in the US. Their food was in such high demand that they began a delivery service and you can have their food shipped to you, so long as you’re in the US. I only had a flying visit, but it was just what I needed in the middle of a day walking around the city.
Visit the Highest Observation Deck in the United States
How are you with heights? I’m ok with them, but doing this gave me fear. The Willis Tower.. The name of which I kept getting wrong much to the joy of the boyfriend who delighted in correcting me. "Is that the Sears Tower?” I’’d say while pointing. “No,” he’d reply “that's the Hancock Building and it’s the Willis Tower we’re going to.” I’d then get into a huff at the fact that he was right. …Where was I? Oh, yes, The Willis tower stands as the second tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and you can travel up 103 floors and see beautiful views of the City and Lake Michigan. As well as that you can step onto ‘The Ledge’- a glass box that lets you step out and see the 103 floors beneath you, if you’re brave enough. I was looking forward to it, then I got in the queue… and as I got closer the edge and glimpsed at the drop, the fear set in. Stepping as gingerly as a ginger guy can onto the glass, the would never be thick enough to satisfy my own safety concerns, I grew confidence in it’s ‘not-breaking-away-underneath-me ability and loved the experience.
Cost: There’s a number of pricing options, we went for the Admission & Art Institute of Chicago City Pass that was $46.00
You’re spoiled for choice with regards to food and drink in Chicago but I will say, if you’re in the City on New Year's day, there’s one place you need to be. Hub 51, as well as being a great place to go at any time of year, on the 1st of January they offer a New Year's Day Brunch. An all you can eat brunch buffet that includes 'buttermilk pancakes, short rib eggs benedict and pulled chicken nachos, sushi station for a little something different’ and much more. As well as a make your own bloody mary bar. On a freezing winter morning after a late night seeing in the new year, we were very happy eating and drinking until the brunch finished at 3PM.
Cost: $36 PP Including Tea and Coffee
There’s so much theatre in Chicago you can barely move for artistic interpretations of classics. Seriously, Chicago is home to many renowned theatre companies, host’s many broadway tryouts and you’ll find most major shows and comedians in the city at one point or another. Hamilton is currently on an open residency at the CIBC Theatre, Wicked has returned to the city many times, most recently to the Oriental Theatre. On my visit I saw Beautiful, The Carole King Musical at the Cadillac Palace Theatre which was excellent. But if mainstream isn’t for you, there’s so much more to see.