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anna_moon Chicago - A travel report by Polly
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Chicago,  United States - flag United States -  Illinois
6071 readers

anna_moon's travel reports

Chicago at Christmas

  17 votes
Page: 1 2
My family and I visited the windy city right before Christmas. None of us had been to Chicago before, aside from the airport, and we thoroughly enjoyed our first trip there.


The Chicago skyline, from Navy Pier
The Chicago skyline, from Navy Pier
My parents and I flew to Great Lakes, IL to see my brother graduate from Navy Recruit Training. Afterwards, we took a train into the city to spend the weekend. It was an interesting change from New York City, which we’ve visited the same pre-Christmas weekend for the past seven years. Both cities have their own character, and I found Chicago to be calmer, (generally) friendlier, and simply more manageable than NYC.

Favourite spots:
The Navy Pier
The Navy Pier
Marshall Field’s was just down the street from our hotel. I enjoyed it more than Macy’s in New York. The windows were very cute – a Snow White theme – and the inside of the department store was amazing. The Tiffany ceiling, the pink Christmas tree, and the aquarium of seahorses and Waterford crystal are must-sees. My brother enjoyed an Italian Beef sandwich from the cafeteria. Another favorite was the Navy Pier. We arrived just as it was opening, and had the Ferris Wheel to ourselves. It was a neat way to see the skyline (with Frank Sinatra singing in the background), but the Sears Tower is not visible from any angle. The shops on the pier were fun and touristy, and there were many places to eat (mostly chains).

What's really great:
Part of the CIA's Impressionist collection
Part of the CIA's Impressionist collection
Seeing the city at Christmas was a treat – the lights, the German Christkindlmarket across from Marshall Field’s, the reindeer antlers and the Santa hats on the mounted police’s horses, and the specially decorated ‘L’ train running through the city certainly made us feel the Christmas spirit. We also enjoyed at the Chicago Institute of Art Museum. We only spent a few hours there, but saw most of what we’d come to see. The pieces from the 19th and 20th century are their best, the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists especially. Seurat’s ‘Sunday on the Isle of La Grand Jatte’ and Homer’s ‘American Gothic’ are of the most famous pieces in the collection. We were disappointed to find Hopper’s ‘Nighthawks’ was on loan.

Sights:
Horse-drawn carriages at the end of Mag Mile
Horse-drawn carriages at the end of Mag Mile
We walked the Magnificent Mile early in the morning when it was less crowded, which made it far more pleasant. The castle-like Water Tower at the end sticks out – it was one of a handful of buildings to survive the Chicago Fire. The only store we visited was American Girl Place, one of two stores in which you can buy the historical dolls made famous through their catalogues. It was jammed packed with tiny girls and their parents, but adorably decorated. I’d recommend it to fans.

We visited the Sears Tower, the tallest building in America, right before closing. Because there was limited visibility due to the weather, the building was pretty deserted. Still, we were able to see the lights of Chicago as the clouds and snow blew in and out. The display around the edge of the enclosed 103rd floor observatory was very well done, including history of all aspects of Chicago – the Chicago Fire, arts and architecture, and sports stood out.

Accommodations:
The Snow White windows at Marshall Field's
The Snow White windows at Marshall Field's
We stayed at the Renaissance Hotel at 1 West Wacker. The lobby was beautifully decorated for Christmas. Our 16th floor room was lovely (the bathroom was especially nice), with an excellent view of State Street, the Chicago River, and a glimpse of Lake Michigan. We had trouble getting our room cleaned while we were out, but concierge was excellent.

Restaurants:
The skyline from Navy Pier, location of Joe's BeBop
The skyline from Navy Pier, location of Joe's BeBop
We discovered Pizano’s by accident, after we found the pizza place we had been recommended was closed. It was a serendipitous discovery – the deep dish pizza was wonderful, the wait staff excellent, and the couple sitting next to us were very kind to my brother in uniform (they were former Navy) and bought the family a round of drinks.

Joe’s BeBop is a Cajun style place at Navy Pier. The barbeque was great, and my dad thought the gumbo was the best he’d had outside of New Orleans.

The Chicago Chop House served excellent steaks, and our waitress was very good, but it was also cold and drafty.

Other recommendations:
The Chicago Theater from our hotel window
The Chicago Theater from our hotel window
My mother and I got tickets to ‘Mamma Mia’ at the Oriental theater. The show is leaving soon, but the theater was spacious and opulently decorated. It’s a great place to see shows if you can’t get to New York, and the tickets are cheaper to boot.

Published on Monday December 27th, 2004


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Thu, Feb 01 2007 - 10:34 PM rating by mrscanada

Chicago is my kind of town. Great over view and pictures.

Mon, Jan 17 2005 - 06:12 PM rating by tahtisade

Good one.:)

Fri, Dec 31 2004 - 02:54 AM rating by fieryfox

An informative and well written report. Thanks for sharing the experience with us.
Cheers. Farizan

Mon, Dec 27 2004 - 11:31 PM rating by mistybleu

Another nice report, great images!
Misty

Mon, Dec 27 2004 - 10:16 PM rating by magsalex

Another great report. Incentive to visit my friend there!

Mon, Dec 27 2004 - 08:34 PM rating by bootlegga

Great job! I would like a bit more info, but the pictures are pretty great, so thta balances things out! Keep it up.

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