I’m not a big traveller, even less so now I have anxiety and barely manage down the road at this moment in time. However, this time last year, I was on a plane for my first big adventure. My boyfriend and I spent a week in Chicago. One of his friends was getting married so we headed over there for that but, of course, we took the opportunity to explore and have fun, too.
I was really nervous about going to Chicago, because I hadn’t travelled that far before. I was also worried it would be too busy for me and I wouldn’t be able to cope. Thankfully, it was just the right pace for me and I fell in love! The week in Chicago was one of the best weeks of my life. This was our first holiday together so, naturally, it’s now forever going to have a special place in my heart. I’m only writing this so I can have a chance to relive my experience.
Here’s what we got up to during our week in Chicago…
12th June – Lincoln Park Zoo
This was our first full day in Chicago and, I’ll admit, a lot of it was spent sweating and saying “I can’t believe how hot it is.” We still managed to face the burning ball of sun in the sky and decided to visit the zoo. What better way to start a week in Chicago than the zoo? I know I made that sound like a joint decision, but it was basically the thing that was top of my list and my boyfriend went along with it.
Lincoln Park Zoo is FREE and it’s amazing. We strolled around, checking out all the animals and guzzling water like there was no tomorrow. The highlight for me was the giraffes. You may not know this about me already, but I think giraffes are beautiful. So, to walk in and see this gorgeous creature chomping away on its food made my day. I think I was more excited than any of the kids who were there.
Find out more about Lincoln Park Zoo here.
13th June – North Avenue Beach
This was the day we headed to the beach to relax. LOOK AT IT. I genuinely felt like I was in heaven. It was one of those feelings where I wished I could have bottled it up and kept it. We got there quite early and sunbathed on the sand. We did go in the water, but I had to be careful as I’d just had a tattoo done before we set off for Chicago and couldn’t get it wet. Still, the water was nice and refreshing!
Once the beach started getting busier, we strolled over the sand (well, it was more of a hop because the sand was so hot) to the restaurant and had some lunch and cocktails, before going for a walk and revelling in the beauty of it all.
14th June – Seeing the city
On this day, we ventured into the city and I marvelled at everything as a proper tourist should. Having never really been anywhere like this in my life, I was fascinated by everything I saw. We went into the shopping mall. To be honest, this wasn’t as impressive as I thought it was going to be. The picture I had in my head was of a much grander place. It did have several floors, but I think I was hoping for more differences between there and home. Naturally, I did the typical thing of pointing out things we had back home and announcing they had them there, too, though.
Anyway, according to the internet, “The Bean” (real name: Cloud Gate) was a must-see so we headed there to check it out. Honestly, when I was reading about it online, I was pretty underwhelmed but seeing it in person is different. You can see the skyline in the reflection and it’s actually pretty cool.
This day made me realise the architecture in Chicago is absolutely stunning. There is such a mix of buildings and some of them are truly breathtaking!
15th June – 360 Chicago
If you ever go to Chicago, this is the one thing I’m going to insist you need to do: go to 360 Chicago. As the name suggests, you get panoramic views of the city and it is incredible. You can see for miles and miles and miles. We drank cocktails at the top and made the most of it! This was probably one of our highlights of the week in Chicago. There’s not really a lot else I can say because you have to experience it for yourself to appreciate it.
To find out more and buy tickets for 360 Chicago, visit their website.
16th June – Shedd Aquarium
This was the day of the wedding, so we only had the morning to adventure. We still managed to squeeze in a visit to the aquarium, though! I loved this place because it had dolphins. It had lots of other sea animals, too, but the dolphins were the best bit. Sadly, you needed a different type of ticket to view the dolphin show, so I was a bit sad we missed out on that. We did still get to see them swimming around and having fun, though. It was quite busy the day we were there, so we struggled to see some things, but it was still a fun way to spend the morning. You can plan your visit and purchase tickets here.
In the afternoon, we attended the wedding in a gorgeous venue called Garfield Park Conservatory. It’s full of plants and pretty flowers. Funnily enough, we have a similar place not far from our flat but, you know, because it was in Chicago, it was much more exciting!
The only thing about this place is that it’s apparently not in a very nice neighbourhood. We didn’t know this at the time, and only found out from other guests at the wedding. In any case, it’s a beautiful place, and I completely understand why the happy couple chose it for their wedding.
We had a very bizarre experience when leaving the wedding, though. A couple were sat on a bench outside and asked if they could take our picture. We assumed they meant on our phones, so we had something to keep. They seemed a little strange, so neither of us was about to hand over our phone to them. As we were about to turn down their offer, the guy got his own phone out and took a picture of us. It was strange, and I must admit, I was glad when the Uber arrived to whisk us away!
17th June – everything else…
As this was the final day of our week in Chicago, we packed LOADS into it. We did so much walking, but also had so much fun!
We started the day by going to see the Buckingham Fountain which I found pretty impressive. It was quite a windy day at the start, so we kept getting splatters of water on our faces. Given that it was still warm, we actually kind of liked that! Next, we walked past DuSable Harbour and saw all of the boats, bobbing away. This was a pleasant stroll, and the sun started to come out. Eventually, we ended up at Navy Pier and decided we’d use what was left of our holiday money to go on the ferris wheel. Again, I loved this! It’s really relaxing and you can get some lovely views of the city from a completely different perspective.
So, that’s how we spent our week in Chicago! It flew by and I was so sad to head home. Unsurprisingly, given my limited choices, this is my favourite place I’ve been to. When we have more money and I’m in a better place mentally, we are hoping to go on another adventure. I’d actually love to go back to Chicago, but my boyfriend wants us to explore other places (which makes sense.)
What’s your favourite holiday? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!