I had a great day on Saturday; I spent about six hours in the city with Mags, who lives in Boston and has never visited Chicago before! Let’s do the math:
Me + 6 hours + a blog friend + showing off my favorite spots in Chicago = A BLAST!
Mags is a kindred spirit: she is an explorer, and was happy to be busy for just about every free moment she had in the Windy City. I love that: if you’re going to travel, why not experience as much as you can?? You can sleep when you get home. Anyway, I’ll tell you about my time with her, and then you can go to her blog to catch up with the rest.
I picked up her and her friend (now mine too!) Mo, who came from Michigan to spend some time with her, at the Shedd Aquarium at noon, and we headed over to Lou Malnati’s for her first taste of Chicago Deep Dish Pizza. I ordered our pizza via cell phone on my way to pick them up so that we’d have half the wait for it upon arrival (deep dish takes about 35-40 minutes to cook!). When we were seated, we ordered my favorite Lou’s appetizer, Cheddar Cubes. If you are within spitting distance of a Lou Malnati’s and have never enjoyed the goodness that is Cheddar Cubes, GO NOW.
After Lou Malnati’s, we headed over to the John Hancock building (after I showed them the Water Tower). I told Mags that I could show her the view from the top (almost the top, anyway) without having to pay the observation deck admission and without having to buy a drink and/or appetizers at the Lounge on the 96th floor, because I had an errand to run at the Signature Room on the 95th floor. The three of us took the elevator all the way up, and while I took care of some business, they nonchalantly walked around, getting a glimpse of the city from up high.
Mo had to catch a train home, so we dropped him off at Union Station and then headed up to the North Side because Mags wanted to see Wrigley Field. I think it was at that point that I nearly killed her, the first time. We were waiting to turn left and I remember saying, “I’m going!” and off I went. Of course I didn’t kill her, and we had a little laugh about it; I think I may have laughed louder than she did, but I’m not sure. We arrived at Wrigley in due time. Lucky for us it is not currently Baseball Season, so the area was not jam-packed, and we “borrowed” a parking spot at the McDonalds across the street from Wrigley for our five-minute photo session.
After Wrigley we headed back towards the loop area, and that’s when I nearly killed Mags the second time, but really I nearly killed us both. We were on Clark Street and turning left onto Fullerton. It looked to me like the bus that was driving towards us on the other side of the street was not moving much, and it seemed like a good break in the traffic, so I went for it. Then the bus sped up and I paused, but then discovered that I had committed to it, so I zoomed into the turn, barely missing a pedestrian and giving Mags a heart attack in the process. Oops. Hey, it was an adventure, right? (*crickets*)
Once we were breathing again, I gave Mags the scenic tour, which included the following sights:
*The gorgeous view of North Avenue Beach (frozen!), the Gold Coast, and the John Hancock building from southbound Lake Shore Drive (I posted video of this when the family and I did “Bike the Drive” in 2008.)
*Grant Park/Buckingham Fountain
*The Art Institute
*Millennium Park/The Bean
*The Hard Rock Hotel
Considering the weather, it was nice to show her all of that from the car! When there were no cars behind us, I drove at a snail’s pace so she could take pictures.
We were due to meet Lou at Portillos but I still wanted to take her to the Mag Mile, so we decided to park somewhere in between and walk back to the Michigan Avenue bridge at Wacker. I showed her the rocks at Tribune Tower, the Wrigley Building, and the plaques in the ground at Michigan and Wacker indicating where Ft. Dearborn used to be.
We spent an hour walking around, and we talked and talked and talked. I learned something very cool from Mags. She told me all about “Groupon”, which is a website that you can sign up for to get daily e-mail offers from the metropolitan area of your choice, and the offers are for restaurants, salons, health clubs, and all other kinds of places, at discounts of 50-90%. There is a predetermined number of offers that need to be sold in order for everyone to get the discount, and if that number isn’t reached, the deal is off. Mags got a week at a health club in Boston + TWO personal training sessions for twenty dollars! Has anyone else out there heard of this; i.e., am I the last to know?? Sidenote: I came home and signed up for Groupon Chicago. If any of you readers are in this area and go to sign up, please go here so I get a referral credit!
Anyway, after walking for an hour, we then headed over to Portillos where Lou was waiting for us. It was so great to meet him! He is a real pleasure to talk to and we bonded over dinner. Lou also presented us with hats which were knitted by his mom, and they are gorgeous (and WARM!). It was very, very sweet.
After a lovely meal, Mags had to get on her way, because she arranged a meetup with a MeetIn Group in Chicago. (And there’s ANOTHER cool thing I learned from Mags!) She is a member of MeetIn, which is a social organization in metropolitan areas. Again, totally free. People go to their website to see what kind of “events” have been arranged in their area, and then RSVP, and voila: they’re going out with a bunch of strangers from their area who will hopefully be their friends by the end of the event. Mags has met lots of people doing this; I think it sounds like a great time. On Saturday night, she was going to a comedy show meetup that she actually arranged (MeetIn events have volunteer leaders). Very awesome.
Anyway, that’s the summary of my spectacular Saturday in the city! I told Mags that she needs to come back for a longer visit because there are so many places left to see!
©2010 Suburban Scrawl