What time is it? It’s time to dive back into the 2nd day of my Chicago adventure 😉 Hopefully you are not tired of this trip just yet because we are going to have another post coming up real soon! (So appropriate on a Friday for my mind to have a mini getaway back to the awesome Friday about 2 weeks ago.)
I can’t remember if I’ve said it in my previous post, the weather was a big concern prior to arriving at Chicago. I tracked the weather forecast nonstop even before I board the plane but all the time it was showing high chances of rain every.single.day when we were going to be in town doing all the fun and exploration. It did rain first day in the afternoon, but originally we were expecting more rain and that if the weather completely sucked we’ll just have to hang at the mall or just a ton of indoor activities. 2nd day when we woke up, it was bright and sunny – a beautiful and excellent Saturday to do a ton of fun outdoor explorations! Here we go 😀
1. Millennium Park
Remember the movie The Lake House starring Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves? The iconic scene at the beginning and end of the movie was probably my very first memory of the park, the cloud gate (aka the bean). Staying at Hard Rock Hotel is an excellent choice because rise and shine we are able to walk to the bean within 10 minutes from our hotel. What an excellent way to start the morning! Probably because it is Saturday and memorial day weekend, there were a ton of people gazing and taking photos of the bean when we arrived. I didn’t mind a bit because it’s actually really scenic and fun to be able to capture not just the reflection of the famous architectures of Chicago, but all the people around the bean! It’s such a great display that totally reminds me of Tiffany’s silver collection bean 🙂 I used to not think too much about the Tiffany bean but now after visiting Chicago I do consider perhaps I should get the cute little necklace as a perfect token to remind me of this great trip.
2. Le Pain Quotidien
I know there’s probably nothing super fancy about Le Pain Quotidien, they are chained stores and I am pretty sure I’ve seen them in SoCal at Fashion Island, but the location was excellent. After checking out the bean and spending some time at the park, Captain and I thought it was time to grab something small for breakfast. There were couple other chained morning eateries all across from the park, but Le Pain Quotidien caught my eyes because of the flowers. There’s something about the flowers in Chicago.. they are very beautiful and blooming! Although we didn’t have time to have a proper sit down brunch (because the wait line was pretty ridiculous), we did get what we want – matcha latte, coffee, croissant, chocolate bread, etc. and sit right outside by the store. It was a nice to people watch, look at the park, and just enjoy some food before we continued on our adventure.
Originally our perfect plan was to walk to the Sears Tower to check out the Skydeck and the famous glass box right after small breakfast because it’s such a beautiful day out. The walk was a bit long but appropriate on such a great Saturday…. yet little did we know the line trying to get to the top was crazy. The staff told us the estimated wait time was over 2 hours… 😦 Since we only have limited time in Chicago we decided we’ll come back another time and go get some lunch first to use our time wisely. There’s just so much to see you know 😉
Lunch we decided to try a ramen shop that has pretty good review on Yelp. The menu was a bit pricey but I was able to see they offer lunch express for $15 where you get a little bit of everything from their long list of menu. I tried the shoyu ramen with an add on fried chicken, the fried mushroom rice, and complimentary cold cucumber and salad. I thought it was a nice and refreshing lunch on a sunny day, but it wasn’t very surprising since I’ve had better ramen at other places. I did enjoy the mushroom rice a lot. It was yummy 🙂 I’d have to say this is my least impressed food option while in Chicago, perhaps not really because of the food, but because of the staffs working there. We waited a good over 10 minute until finally someone showed up to bring us water… and the staff disappeared again until we waited (again) patiently to get our check.
4. Navy Pier
Since we had a nice lunch, Captain and I thought it would be nice to just do some more walking to burn off the calories and perhaps have more tummy space to eat more deliciousness in Chicago. That said, we decided to walk to the Navy Pier. I can’t remember exactly, but it was probably a good 20 minute or so walk. It was pleasant though, because there were so many tourists taking the same route as us so it wasn’t like 2 people randomly walking a long way to get to some where.. haha lol
If you have been to the famous Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, I’d say the vibe at Navy Pier is very similar – lively, touristy, food, people, and entertainment. The Navy Pier has gorgeous view of the lake, I snapped some excellent photo overlooking the buildings of Chicago at here. Captain got a cold beer when we continued to walk around to the furthest end of the pier to see the lake.
Overall, I thought the experience was fun – seeing the lake, but there was not much offered at the Navy Pier, most of the buildings are quite empty, there’s not that many shops (except the very cheap touristy trashy souvenirs), and to my surprise, most of the restaurants available are chained store you can find anywhere else… would have been nice if they can offer some more Chicago style stuff there for us tourists 😛 I got a ton of fitbit steps walking to Navy Pier. It probably would’ve been kind of boring if I went with the wrong travel buddy, but walking and exploring and seeing everything there with the Captain was awesome.
5. Chicago 360 @ John Hancock Building
Yup…. we actually walked all the way from Navy Pier to Chicago 360. That was ‘quite’ a walk I tell you. Originally Chicago 360 was not on our plan because I was super set on going to Skydeck at Sears Tower. However, sometimes plan has to change when we simply did not want to waste 2 hours or more waiting in line under the sun. Although the walk was long, it was fun revisiting some spots I’ve already walked by my first day in Chicago and I felt like I was getting to know more about the city sort of like a local? 😉
When we arrived at the John Hancock building we were surprised there’s no line outside the building! Hopeful as we were, we went into the building and followed the sign to where the line started for Chicago 360. Didn’t look too bad, and the fact we had Explorer’s Pass we were able to cut some of the lines… Captain and I were excited and estimated we probably will be able to get to the top within 30 minutes or so. We were so wrong. Little did we know that the line for Chicago 360 was like a labyrinth…. there’s all these little sections that made you think you were almost at the elevator to go to the top but wait, there’s just more lines. It took us maybe over an hour to finally get to the top :O (Personally, I do not understand why there was only one elevator working at the time when we were waiting in line… Chicago is a hot tourist destination and it was memorial day weekend! All 3 elevators should’ve been working… in my opinion.)
. Originally I refused because I didn’t want to pay additional $7 for a scary experience on top of the ticket we already paid for entrance. Nevertheless, Captain insisted who knows when’s the next time we will be here so we went ahead and challenged Tilted. As you can see in one of my images, basically you would step into the designated box and told the handles, the staff would play this not helping scary movie as the box tile, There’s total of 3 levels… I was okay handling the first and second tilt but unfortunately, I had to step back at the third tilt because it basically felt like you were being hanged in a moving glass box perhaps 90 degree?! on the 97th or 100th floor of a building overseeing the skyscrapers of Chicago. The experience was totally worth it, and I definitely should thank Captain for challenging me, but gosh it was scary! I can still think of the fear I had doing it 😛 Afterwards, I did step aside to take a video of how tilt works since no video or photographs were allowed when we tilt in the private room.
*Noted – there is also a line you need to wait to be able to leave Chicago 360… again, don’t really understand it. I’ve been to other observatories before and it’s really the first time I have to wait in line to leave an observatory Originally I really wanted to get a souvenir from Chicago 360 but everything sucked… They really should do a better work designing the souvenirs instead of just pricing them high. There was a very ugly stuffed animal-tower that I showed to Captain and we just laughed hard.
6. Minhin DimSum
By the time we finished Chicago 360 was already 4:30pm. Since we have a big event for the night (super excited) at 7:30pm, we were running tight on time to get changed into something semi formal, go to reserved dinner, and get to the Cadillac Palace for Broadway!!! We uber back to our hotel to quickly get changed and walk for dinner (and wasted a bit more time because Google map made a joke and we walked across a section to find the restaurant when it was literally right there…. oops)
I might have said it before, but there’s pretty much no good Chinese food at the Queen City. I know Chicago is known for pretty good food so I requested at least a meal of Chinese to satisfy my own craving. Minhin has very good review on Yelp and is within walking distance from our hotel, so Captain and I reserved a spot for us in advance before the big event in the evening.
I was super excited when I got to the restaurant because they serve legit and authentic dim sum! The price was affordable, and I spot a ton of Chinese people dining there. You know it’s always a good sign when you hear legit Chinese conversations and people eating at a Chinese restaurant 😛
Minhin has an impressive menu that I really wish I could try everything (Chinese food hungry me) but we opt for the dim sum since I had pretty crappy experience in North Carolina before and insisted I have to show Captain what real good dim sum are lol We got the traditional Shu mai, sticky rice dumplings, beef stew, etc. (many items I can’t remember their proper English names). Everything were amazing x I stuffed myself for sure that night because I haven’t had such good Chinese food in a long time (sniff sniff). Additionally, I was so happy Captain enjoyed the meal too. That was the best.
7. Broadway Aladdin @ Cadillac Palace
This is my first time broadway experience in the US. It’s a super big deal to me because I love musicals. I’ve seen musicals in Asia and in Las Vegas before but never seen the actual Broadway crew perform. Originally Captain and I were deciding between ‘Chicago’ or ‘Aladdin’ but reviews show very positive result from Aladdin so we decided we will see it. I was able to score very good seating for lesser price via my company’s network. So happy! We were quite close to the stage. The theatre was gorgeous. I loved the decorations and everything. It was certainly a sort of phantom of the opera-moment for me 😛
The story was very straight forward since it is a Disney musical. All the performers did an excellent job portraying the role. I was amazed by the costume designs…. Aladdin is so appropriate to see the wonders of the costumes because Arabbian theme means lots of shinning jewels, colors, etc. All the singings, the techniques were eye opening to me. My favorite was definitely the flying carpet moment – quite an experience to see that at a Broadway!
Additionally, I thought Disney did a fabulous job to have Disney Japan helped with designing the souvenirs. They were so much nicer than everything I’ve seen so far this trip in Chicago, or even in Disney US! There were a lot of memorable items to purchase, but I didn’t really get anything for myself. The experience to be able to see Broadway live was enough. Cannot ask for more to see a great musical with Captain who appreciates it as well. My heart was full. Everything was lucky and wonderful 🙂
9. Night Stroll
The night was still young when we finished the musical. I had so much I wanted to discuss so instead of calling for an uber we decided to just slowly see the street scenes, perhaps walk to find somewhere to get a drink, and back to hotel to rest. Nothing beats capturing the lights of Chicago theatre to say we are in Chicago in my opinion. I am so glad although I saw the sign the first day walking to the hotel, I was able to capture the perfect lights and color of this gorgeous and remarkable sign on this evening after the musical. City of lights 😉 I dare say.
On the bridge getting to the famous Michigan Ave. we were able to see memorial day weekend fireworks! We just stopped on the bridge to see the fireworks (I love fireworks) along with many other people. It was a fabulous moment to be able to celebrate the first holiday I have since February in Chicago with the best travel buddy I can ask for.
Although it felt like we didn’t do a lot on the 2nd day, we did. I enjoyed all the walking, the buildings, the food… everything. I honestly cannot pick a favorite time or place of the day because everything was magical.
Have you been to these places when you were in Chicago? Have you seen the musical Aladdin? (Aladdin was never my top list Disney cartoon but it was an excellent Broadway choice! All the songs…. Prince Ali… :])
It was hard for me to believe I only have one full day left in Chi before ending the night. So much to remember, so much to write about! I am looking forward to organizing the photos this weekend to re-visit the trip one more time.
the world is not so alone when I have you, something I thought of reminiscing the Aladdin broadway and the story between Princess Jasmine and Aladdin,