Whistle Stop Chicago

Erin Cameron on 03 July 2018
I took a whistle stop trip to Chicago a couple of weeks ago to visit a friend. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, I always thought of it as a commercial city, with not a lot in terms of tourist attractions. I was quite wrong. There is lots to do, and lots of lovely places to hang out and people watch. Get a lovely hot day and everyone is out enjoying the weather, cycling along the waterfront, strolling through the parks eating their Chicago style hot dogs (a must try) or sunning themselves aboard a yacht out on the lake. Plenty of museums too, for the culture vultures, and some great shopping opportunities.

Once you leave the city, Mustang optional but recommended, the pace really slows down quickly. It doesn't take long to reach the 'burbs, with a more laid back less "Americano" vibe than the lower states. Not far out of the city you will reach some great outlet malls, and just slightly further you are into some very picturesque arable land, perfect for cruising along the poker straight roads, with the wind in your hair. You do need to watch out for deer when the crops get a big longer, the can jump out from anywhere.

All in all, I thought it was a great city, for a city stopover, or a short break. If you are heading off on Route 66, make sure you give yourself enough time to see what the city is all about. If you have already done New York, Boston and Los Angeles and want to try somewhere different, I can highly recommend it, I had a great time, and it really wasn't as windy as its nickname would have you believe.

Top Ten Things To Do

1. Walk along the waterfront

The walk from Millennium Park to Soldier Field is great. You can walk right along the waterfront doing some amazing people watching and stopping for drinks or a hotdog at one of the many kiosks along the front. It is a fair walk, so make sure you have plenty of water with you, and sunscreen if it is a hot day! Alternatively, you can pick up a bicycle and cycle it instead.

2. The Bean

Go see "The Bean" in Millennium Park. It looks like a giant glob of mercury has been deposited in the middle of the park, although I have been assured this is not the case and it is totally safe. Tourists and locals alike flock here to get their pictures taken, with the weird and wonderful reflections it casts. Wedding parties and Quinceanera, a mainly Mexican tradition similar to a sweet sixteen, celebrated on a girls 15th birthday, are all over trying to get the best shots.

3. Lincoln Zoo

Lincoln Zoo is amazing with great landscaped grounds, plenty of wildlife and best of all it is free, yes FREE, (although you do need to pay for parking). A great family day out.

4. Charter a Yacht

Head out on Lake Michigan with your own yacht, bring along some cold drinks, loud music, and again, sunscreen. Watch the people chilling in the park, check out all the other yachts, just have a blast.

5. Shop the Magnificent Mile

Shopaholics delight, every designer you can think of, all in a line and waiting. Make sure you have some super comfy shoes and deep pockets.

6. Wrigley Field

Home to the Chicago Cubs, catch a ball game, mingle with the locals, grab a cold beer, and perhaps another hotdog, they are supposed to be great here.

7. The Field Museum

Home to a fantastic collection of biological and anthropological artefacts. There are some amazing exhibitions from dinosaurs, to ancient Egypt, to China.

8. The Shedd Aquarium

Almost next door to the Field Museum is the Shedd Aquarium. Seven permanent exhibits, one off special events and for an up-close experience with the inhabitants check out the Extraordinary Experiences.

9. The 606.

Like the New York highline, the 606 is an abandoned elevated rail line now used as a pedestrian path. It spans nearly 3 miles and gives you a different and local experience of the city. 10. Willis Tower Skydeck

For fantastic views over the city, visit the Skydeck, walk out on the glass ledge if you dare. Not one to do if you fear heights.