This has been a long time coming. The idea to have a tourist-at-home day dawned on us when we were doing a walking tour through the streets of New Orleans almost year ago. Chicago has a wealth of touristy things that we have not particularly thought about. What kind of city views have we been missing? I didn't want to take the great adventures we have right in our backyard for granted. Timing for this couldn't have been any more perfect. Jade's birthday was a couple of days away so I took it upon myself to plan a full day of close to home activities.
Weekend brunches are our favorite. Our first stop was Au Cheval for their highly coveted cheeseburgers. I've wanted to this place out for while to see if it lived up to the hype. We arrived 5 minutes after they opened and there was already a line out the door. We got on the waitlist & one hour and half later, we were seated on the counter of this small and cozy restaurant. We ordered the cheeseburgers with egg and bacon (obviously) and we shared the fries with mornay sauce, garlic aioli & fried egg. From our seats we had a great view of the cooks doing their craft. It looked like a fine tuned performance. Our meal arrived and we quickly agreed – this place is the real deal. By far the best cheeseburgers we've ever had. Fueled for the day, we headed off to the train for the next destination
The Art Institute is one of our favorite places in the city. The amount of beauty in this place is unlike anything else around. Since we've been here many times in the past we decided to keep this visit short and go directly to the Van Gogh's Bedroom exhibit. Nichols Bridgeway is by far the best way to get into the museum. You get a gorgeous view of the skyline as well shorter line since it connects to the side entrance of the museum. The exhibit was crowded but we still managed to learn a lot more about the great painter's nomadic past and his Yellow House which inspired the Bedroom painting. We were able to get up close to all three versions of the painting and see the minute differences between them. No to mention peering into a full scale replica of Van Gogh's bedroom itself and seeing how other artists and filmmakers interrupted his piece into their own work. It's amazing how one piece of artwork can have so much influence on others.
We had to hurry out of the Art Institute for a 15 minute walk to the dock of Wendell Boats near the Wrigley Building. We've always talked about taking a boat tour of the city to check out the the skyline from a different vantage point that what we're used to and to also learn a little more about all the buildings that line the river. It was 4PM and the weather was extremely indecisive – one minute it was snowing and the next it was sunny and beautiful. Throughout the tour it felt like we were given winter and spring views of the city within the time span of 70 minutes. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable on the history of the buildings as well as cracking me up a few times with some architecture puns. The views were outstanding. Even if you've lived in Chicago your whole life, you owe it to yourself to do this tour.
In the theme of seeing the city for different point of views our next stop was 360 Chicago of the Hancock Building. We were surprised to learn that entrance fee was only $10 for Chicago residents (normally $20)! Line wasn't long and we were up in the elevator on the way up in about half hour. The timing was perfect. It was an hour before sunset and the sky had cleared up for a breathtaking view.
Since we had some time we grabbed a drink and stuck around on the 94th floor 'til the sun went down and the city began to light up.
The day was winding down but we had one last stop! Chicago has many options when it comes to live comedy so picking an improv show to end the night was a bit harder than I expected. After consulting some friends I decided on the Improvised Shakespeare Company at iO Theater. It's an improvised play put on by five actors in Shakespeare garb. The majority of the play was spoken in true Shakespearian form, with a few hilarious modern day quips thrown in. It was close to 11pm at this point and Jade didn't know if she'd able to stay awake, but the show definitely woke us up. We could describe the play but it would do no good as its different for every audience. It was the perfect way to round up the day!