Chicago - July 4th-7th, 2005

We decided to take our first "tourist" trip to Chicago in July, 2005. While John had been in Chicago a few times on business, Jane had never done more than change planes at O'Hare.

We decided to go the morning of July 4th (Monday) in order to see some big-time fireworks that evening. It was only after all of the reservations had been made that we learned that Chicago does its big fireworks display on July 3rd. We were able to catch one of the bi-weekly fireworks shows at the Navy Pier on the evening of July 6th, but I'm sure that it wasn't nearly as spectacular as the July 4th display.

We got an early check-in at the Hampton Inn in downtown, unpacked, and left to start exploring. We went through Millennium Park, Grant Park, the Museum Campus, Michigan Avenue including the Miracle Mile, and seemingly everywhere else. When we got back to our room, I checked the map and realized that we had walked over ten miles.

Having first ridden a Segway Human Transporter on a tour of Austin, we decided to try a similar tour on Tuesday. The tour was fun but mostly covered Grant Park and the museum area which we had already traversed on foot the day before. Still, it was fun to ride around! Here's a little movie of Jane on her training ride.

We walked up and down the tony/exclusive/expensive Miracle Mile shopping area many times during our four days. Didn't buy anything of significance but did enjoy the stores and restaurants. We rode the elevator to the John Hancock Observatory and then had a drink at the bar overlooking the city. It wasn't much of a day for pictures from the top but we could see a lot of the city. We were told that the Sears Tower was more crowded and not as nice, so we didn't opt to try that. There was a concert on Tuesday at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. James that we noticed as we were walking. Part of their free Rush Hour concert series. We stopped in and they had wine and snacks prior to the performance. It was a nice way to end the afternoon.

Over several days we explored the Museum Campus. It contains the Shedd Aquarium, where we did the usual aquarium things like the dolphin show. We spend quite a few hours at the Field Museum where they have Sue, the largest T Rex ever found. They also had a great Egyptology exhibit. We didn't do the Adler Planetarium but will save that for the next visit.

We spent an entire morning at the Art Institute of Chicago and barely scratched the surface of their collection. Breezed through Marshall Fields, the world's largest department store, and then headed for the Chicago Architecture Foundation's river tour. The tours last about 90 minutes and cruise the Chicago River. We had a beautiful warm day and got to see how Chicago started the skyscraper era.

Chicago has hundreds of great restaurants and we could only sample a few. One of our favorites was the Weber Grill Restaurant where they actually grill all of the food on Weber grills! We had prime rib and it was outstanding. We also hit other Italian places (like Rosebud on Rush) and had great meals everywhere.

Chicago was wonderful and there are still many things that we have left to do. We're already looking forward to our next visit.

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