Our Labor Day Weekend Getaway to Chicago
I cannot believe that it has been a little over a year since our Labor Day weekend getaway to Chicago! We planned this getaway to Chicago because of our desire to visit every Major League Baseball field and our love of travel. Neither one of us had ever been to Chicago so we were really excited.
Chicago is only a 2 hour and 40 minute non-stop flight from Orlando, which made for a perfect distance for the three day weekend. We hopped on an American Airlines flight that left Orlando at 7:50 am EST and arrived at Chicago’s O’hare Airport at 9:30 am CST. We took the CTA Blue Line ‘L’ train right from O’Hare Airport to the downtown Loop district of Chicago and got off at the Clark/Lake stop, which only took 40 minutes and $2.25 p/p. The “Loop” is the historic commercial center of Downtown Chicago. Our hotel was only a 1/3 of a mile from the stop so we walked it in about 5 minutes. We didn’t have much luggage so we were okay with that idea.
We arrived at the beautiful Hotel Monaco, a boutique Kimpton Hotel. Their website states that they are “One of the Top 40 hotels in the U.S., Hotel Monaco Chicago offers a stylish window onto the Windy City. We pamper you with award-winning services, superb accommodations, signature Kimpton hospitality, luxury accommodations and an enviable downtown Loop location. Overlooking the Chicago River, our boutique Kimpton Hotel showcases iconic Chicago views and newly refreshed guestrooms and suites.”
I love that Hotel Monaco has custom PUBLIC bicycles. As a guest, you can use them to cruise around town. I also want to mention that we had an amazing breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant, South Water Kitchen. The Challah French Toast was so delicious!
I love staying at Kimpton Hotels. On two different trips to San Francisco, I stayed at the Prescott Hotel, which was my first experience with a boutique Kimpton Hotel and then I stayed at the Harbor Court Hotel. My stays at both of those hotels were wonderful. Whenever we travel, I always try to find a Kimpton Hotel to stay at. They treat you so unbelievably well. I’ve been a Kimpton InTouch guest loyalty program member for over 5 years and I recommend it. Online, you create a profile of all of your preferences, and Kimpton does their best to accommodate them. And as one of the great perks of being a InTouch member, you get to “Raid the Mini Bar” up to $10 each visit!
After we dropped off our luggage and freshened up, we were off to Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, to see them play against the San Francisco Giants at the 3:05 pm game! We walked to Lake, which took 5 minutes and jumped on the Red Line ‘L’ train towards Howard and got off at Addison, which was 13 minute ride. Then we walked another 3 minutes and arrived at Wrigley Field. Going to Wrigley Field was a very big treat. It was built in 1914 and is celebrating it’s 99th season! We had an absolutely wonderful time at the game! We tried to soak up all the history and ambiance. It was a beautiful experience!
After the baseball game we headed back to the hotel. We rested a bit and then got ready for dinner at Cantina Laredo. A friend of mine told me how wonderful it was. She was so right! If you order the “Top Shelf Guacamole”, as we did, the server will make it fresh, right in front of you. I also ordered the Enchilada De Barbacoa, which is a slow-roasted brisket & monterey jack cheese enchilada. Everything was so delicious, especially their Mojito.
After that amazing dinner we wanted to walk around the city. We walked just a few blocks and found ourselves on Michigan Avenue, which is famously known as The Magnificent Mile. Their website states, “Chicago’s Magnificent Mile is the 13-block stretch of North Michigan Avenue that runs from the banks of the Chicago River to the south, to Oak Street to the north.” The Magnificent Mile is home to upscale department stores such as Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, and of course countless amazing restaurants. Even though we had already eaten dinner, we still had room for dessert. Let me tell you, we found the place to take care of that need. We walked into the very impressive Grand Lux Cafe. We were seated with the best view of Michigan Avenue. We ordered the Molten Chocolate Cake, the Peach Cobbler, a cappuccino and the Special Grand Lux Hot Chocolate™. Talk about total indulgence. What an amazing treat!
After an amazing dessert and a walk on Michigan Avenue, we decided to make our way back towards the Hotel Monaco. Before we got back to the hotel we walked around Millennium Park for awhile and enjoyed the evening air. I had to get a picture with the Cloud Gate! It is a beautiful sculpture that was created by Anish Kapoor.
We woke up really early Sunday morning and walked around. I love seeing cities early in the morning. We made our way to the Historic Navy Pier®, which is right on Lake Michigan. The pier opened to the public in 1916. It had several purposes throughout the years. In 1994, it benefited from the $150 million Navy Pier redevelopment project. In 1995, in re-opened to the public again with many things to enjoy. It was fun walking around with just a few shop owners getting ready to open up.
After walking around the Navy Pier we were ready to eat AGAIN! So we hopped on the “L” to the South Loop area to have a delicious breakfast at the Bongo Room at 1152 S Wabash Avenue.
Once we finished breakfast, we hopped back on the “L” so that we could go to a museum. I look forward to going to museums in the cities that we visit. Since we were only going to be in Chicago for a short time, we narrowed down the options of all the amazing museums to one. We visited the Art Institute of Chicago. We really enjoyed our visit to this beautiful museum. Bank of America has a wonderful program called Museums on Us®. Their website states: “Your Bank of America® or Merrill Lynch® card gets you into whatever you’re into. Take advantage of Museums on Us® program on the first full weekend of every month–all for free and just for being a customer. Each cardholder gets one free general admission to more than 150 museums nationwide.” What a great benefit!
Once we completed our visit to the museum we starting walking around again. As we were looking in the windows, this caught our eye. These great big golf balls were a part of the Tartan Art on the Avenue. The Ronald McDonald House® Charities of Chicago’s website describes the Tartan Art on the Avenue as a “public art exhibit, featuring 50 uniquely decorated giant golf balls located along Chicago’s Magnificent Mile and throughout the Chicagoland area.” ” We are very excited to roll out this wonderful exhibit in celebration of the Ryder Cup matches,” said Doug Porter, CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana. “The Magnificent Moments team has worked very hard to develop this unique collection of golf balls to raise awareness and important funds for the ongoing works of Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana and the Illinois PGA Foundation.” It was great to be able to see the artist working for such a great cause!
Later we had dinner at Giuliana & Bill Rancic’s RPM Italian Restaurant at 52 W Illinois. We ordered the Natural Beef Carpaccio and Roman-Style Artichokes to start. Then of course we had to have the ‘Mama DePandi’s Bucatini Pomodoro with Prime Beef Meatballs. We also ordered the Short Rib Pappardelle with a side of Sauteed Broccolini. Last but not least, we ordered the Tartufo for dessert, which is hazelnut gelato covered in a chocolate shell. Could we have eaten any more? It’s quite possible. So good!
After having a delicious Italian dinner we definitely felt the need to take a long walk, again. We ended up walking through Grant Park. It was a ideal evening. The entire park was filled with music coming from the annual Chicago Jazz Festival. As we were walking, we saw the Buckingham Fountain – which is so incredibly beautiful and serene. It really is the “centerpiece of Grant Park”.
Visiting Chicago is definitely one of the highlights of my travels. It is a beautiful, hospitable and exciting city full of history and wonderful visions for the future. We both cannot wait until we get a chance to go back.