This is very exciting for me. This is a year when I have traveled outside Europe for the very first time, albeit for work, but still. I went to San Francisco or rather Emeryville in January, but this post is not about that. Mainly, because back then the only thing I got to see was the office, hotel and an airport.
Last week though I got to visit US for the second time this year and I made sure to have few extra days for sightseeing. What an amazing city!
Here are some things I would recommend, not recommend and looking forward to doing again/do in addition to what I’ve done.
- Don’t get on the BigBus hop-on hop-off. It’s not worth $40. Tour guides are very different and you could be lucky to get somebody great and knowledgeable or you could get a person who will just be naming buildings you’re passing by with no historical overview. Besides technically all stops are walking distance.
- Don’t get a ticket to a Willis Tower from a BigBus ticket stands. These do not let you go through Fast Pass.
- Always have water with you – it’s important to stay hydrated.
- Don’t get Al Capone tours – many places the tour takes you to look different or there is something entirely different built on the spot. You’ll have to use a lot of your imagination.
- The new ferris wheel at the Navy Pier is actually not worth going to.
- If you are staying in Palmer House Hilton, 16th floor, room 172 – don’t close the bathroom door, it’ll get stuck.
- For God’s sake don’t buy all pictures they take of you at every attraction, you’ll go bust.
- Do not eat McDonalds, there are plenty of decent places around.
- Do not talk to a mentally challenged woman who is usually found on the State St.corner by a Palmer House. Nothing you say would be meaningful to her.
- Don’t go to the airport 6 and a half hours before your flight. Even with traffic and supposed queues it will not justify this, do go sightseeing instead.
- Get CityPass if you are planning to visit museums and Willis(Sears) Tower. It allows you to get in the Fast Pass queue.
- Get Fast Pass tickets if you can wherever you go if you are not getting City Pass. Queues can be daunting.
- Take the Architecture river tour (there is one from Navy Pier and there is one from the Trump Tower).
- Allow yourself plenty – and I really mean plenty, preferable over 4h – of time to explore the Art Institute of Chicago. It is huge. Also, book online and get a Fast Pass.
- If you see queues at the Willis Tower – it’s for the nice picture taking, so think if it’s worth your time. I was on my own and I felt like it didn’t.
- Try deep dish pizza. It’s massive. If you can’t finish it, you can get the rest take-away either for next day or give it to homeless on the street.
- Visit Harold Washington Library. Especially Winter Garden on the 9th floor.
- Go to Millennium Park in the evening, it’s worth it.
- Buy postcards and fridge magnets in the city and not in the airport. Same goes for beef jerky ($10 a pack – really?)
- Get all your online stuff sorted before going to the airport. I couldn’t connect their free wi-fi because my phone kept detecting the unsecured network.
What am I going to do next time:
- Been to Willis Tower, will go to John Hancock Center. It’s the second tallest building in Chicago and has 360 view and of course there is Tilt.
- Go to the Art Institute and not rush through museum.
- Visit Field Museum.
- Get Fast Pass for everything.
- Visit Planetarium.
- Eat in Flat Top Grill again (I wish we had something like that in Dublin).
- Go to the beach by the Michigan lake.
- Visit Federal Reserve museum. Take a picture with a case full of money and get that free money bag they are giving their visitors (not sure what I’m going to do with shredded dollar bills, but hey, it’s for fun).
- Maybe take a helicopter tour from Navy Pier.
- Definitely have some lovely cocktails at the Navy Pier.
So here are some of the photos from the trip:
If you’d like to know more or have any questions, I’ll be happy to answer them in comments or via email.