Travel :: How to do 24 hours in Chicago
so, you have 24 hours in Chicago. what can you do in one day? you can get to know a cozy + stylish place to stay, eat an incredible deep dish slice of pizza, + explore the city!
i've spent a great deal of time in illinois, but only traveled through Chicago via O'hare. when we found ourselves in the state once again for the beautiful wedding of my niece, i decided it would be a good time to venture up after the festivities + get a taste of this iconic city. it definitely didn't disappoint + we can't wait to go back again.
here's how we spent our 24 whirlwind hours in bean town.
we checked into the Ace Hotel Chicago, in the evening after our drive up north + were excited to get into our stylish room for a chill evening. i always feel at home in an Ace Hotel because we have the same taste in decor (although they take it up a notch + teach me something new every time i stay in one).
when you stay somewhere, it really is the small touches that make it feel cozy.
after we settled into the room, we decided to check out the upstairs bar, Waydown. it was a fun spot with a full indoor + outdoor bar including a phenomenal view of the Chicago skyline.
when we travel to different places, one of the best things you can do is ask a local where they take out-of-town family + friends when they visit. this way we get real recommendations that might be a bit outside of the usual touristy spots. our bartender recommended a place to get deep dish pizza since we felt it was a food must.
the Ace Hotel also has a retro photo booth + you should never resist a photo booth opportunity if it comes your way.
the next morning, we took our time as we planned out our day. i usually love searching for a cool brunch spot when i'm in a new place, but this time i wanted something fairly light 'cause i wanted to save my appetite for that pizza recommendation we got the night before. The Ace Hotel knows how to do delicious room service from City Mouse.
i could eat avocado toast every single day of my life.
after we had a good idea of where we wanted to go, we got ready for our day.
i'm not usually a fan of hotel shower products because they typically strip your hair + skin of its natural oils, but i fell in love with the Rudy's products we tried here + ended up buying their 1-2-3 line for home + gifts (as you might remember from my 2017 Holiday Gift Guide a couple of months ago). and they have a great scent that works for both girls + guys which helps to keep our shower a little less cluttered with too many his + hers products.
we soon headed out to find our deep dish pizza + while i haven't compared others yet, i highly recommend Pequod's Pizza. the dough was crisp + the sauce was robust + delicious. it was a great first experience.
this is also where we began to realize how many pro sports teams are based in Chicago. this city LOVES its sports teams! if you're a fan, then add seeing a game in person to your trip or rooting for your team while eating Pequod's deep dish. Go Cubs, White Sox, Bulls, Bears, + Blackhawks!
after eating it was the perfect time to walk off our food coma. we headed back over to Michigan Avenue and started our tourist day at the Art Institute of Chicago. this is now one of my favorite U.S. museums. i've seen a lot of iconic art pieces, but never this many well-known pieces in one place. check out some of them below.
Tip: although it's not outlined on their website, the entrance fee to the museum is DISCOUNTED as the day progresses which is really helpful for anyone on a budget. there are also free admission opportunities.
the detail in Albright's work is phenomenal. this Picture of Dorian Gray piece below was used in the classic movie of the same title in 1945. it was a fun surprise to see it here since we're such classic film fans.
from the Art Institute we walked north along Millennium Park to Cloud Gate, aka The Bean. i wanted to see it because i heard it was cool. i had no idea it was going to turn out to be such a complex structure.
we started by taking the typical shots.
but then, we began to walk under it! the reflections are truly beautiful. watch how it changes as you move toward it.
and once you're beneath it, it reflects a far away sphere of yourself + the others around you making it feel as if we were staring at ourselves from a great distance.
after spending time underneath and making ourselves dizzy, we exited the other side to see the Bean reflecting the Chicago skyline. i like that we saw it in this order. it presented itself to us in a unique and expansive way.
inspired by the skyline view at Cloud Gate, we walked the streets to get a closer look at some of the architecture. it seems like everywhere you look up there's something stunning to see.
we didn't go over to some of the more popular buildings 'cause we were enjoying walking where we wanted without a particular plan in mind.
i always get into the grittier sides of buildings as well.
need a snack on your walk? there's also America's first Nutella cafe that opened in May 2017, a few months before we went to Chicago, and it smelled divine. and i don't use the word divine to describe anything.
there are also places like the Billy Goat Tavern you've heard of in old SNL skits.
after the sun set we checked out the Chicago Athletic Association (no membership required) where there are six great food + drink spots in one building.
we thought about checking out the Cherry Circle Room, but preferred a more casual atmosphere.
so, we headed up to the Game Room for specialty drinks + a little shuffleboard. they also have billiards tables, a full-sized bocce court, cards, checkers and chess tables, foosball, and more.
this drink was insanely strong + delicious. so i had to have two. ; 0
it's called the Buck made with absinthe!!!!!!!!!! (well, our tamed-down U.S. version, anyway)
highly recommend wandering the building + seeing what else it offers + walking off your buzz a bit doesn't hurt.
get some coffee back downstairs at Fairgrounds (before they close at 9:00pm)
then head up to the top of the building to Cindy's Rooftop Bar. you'll need reservations for dinner. it's a definite hotspot that's not always easy to get into on short notice, but you don't need reservations to grab a drink + enjoy the outdoor rooftop terrace. the view is worth it and it's a perfect place to end your night.
i can't wait to go back to Chicago + explore more!