This year, in preparation for the big birthday, Bob asked if I’d be up for a small adventure. I took two extra days off work and he surprised me with a trip to Chicago. We had the best time!
The journey started on the Amtrak. It’s a lovely way to travel, getting to see sights you miss on the interstate. The route had a stop in Kalamazoo, and then straight on to Chicago. We spent a little time in the dining car, too.
Once we got to Chicago, we dropped off the bag at the hotel and walked around. Everything is decorated for the holidays. This is the Macy’s on State Street.
We stopped for a Chicago dog at America’s Dog, and had coffee/tea at the Oasis Cafe. The Oasis is located in the back end of a jewelry mall.
The Palmer House, where we stayed, is located in the jewelry district. The district started in 1912 and runs over two city blocks.
The Palmer House is amazing. It’s a Hilton property, and nice and clean, but it’s also historic and beautiful. The first Palmer House opened in 1871, but burned down 13 days later in the great Chicago fire. The second opened in 1873; in 1927 a larger tower designed by Holabird and Roche was added and the older building torn down. It is the nation’s longest continually operating hotel. If you’re looking for more detail, check out the historic designation pdf here.
The bronze Peacock Doors at the Palmer House were designed and built by Louis Comfort Tiffany for the C.D. Peacock jewelry store.
Merz Apothecary is one of the businesses located at the lobby level of the Palmer House. Merz was founded in 1875 and features herbal, homeopathic medicines, particularly European products. The store is also known for its wide array of bath products and it smells just like you would imagine heaven smells. I could spend hours in there. Really.
The night’s entertainment had us hail a cab…
on the way to dinner in the ‘Northalsted’ area.
Dinner at Yoshi’s Cafe was fantastic. Great atmosphere, great food.
After dinner, we walked down to the Briar Street Theatre to see Blue Man Group. From their website: “The Briar Street Theatre in Chicago is an intimate and beautifully designed space that has been the long-time home for Blue Man Group Chicago. Originally built in 1901 for use as stables, Briar Street Theatre has served as the main stage for countless performances over the years, including Mickey Rooney, Veronica Hamel and, of course, the blue-est of them all, Blue Man Group.”
The inside of the theatre sort of reminds me of one of the Hellraiser movies. Very industrial.
I find it difficult to put into words what it was like to see the show. Blue Man Group was beyond my expectations. You should totally go!
After the show, we caught another cab and headed back to the area around the hotel. We had drinks at a small pub, and then at Vapiano. It has a great front that looks out over the sidewalk, perfect for people-watching.
Then back to the Palmer House for the evening.
Friday morning, we walked to breakfast at Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe. It was so good! If you’re going to go, get there early as they are very busy.
After breakfast, we walked through Millennium Park and down Michigan to the Field Museum. Loved looking at the public sculpture. Here is Cloud Gate.
View from the Nichols Bridgeway.
The Congress Hotel, built in 1893.
The Chicago Field Museum. Part of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, its exhibits are world-class. The museum collections moved to this location in 1921.
Sue is the most complete and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex fossil yet discovered. She is 42 feet long, stands 13 feet high at the hips and is 67 million years old.
The animals in this collection are over 100 years old. Here are the felines.
We were especially interested in seeing the Egyptian permanent exhibit. From Wiki: Inside Ancient Egypt offers a glimpse into what life was like for ancient Egyptians. Twenty-three human mummies are on display as well as many mummified animals. The exhibit features a tomb that visitors can enter, complete with 5,000-year-old hieroglyphs.
The shrine to the cat goddess Sekhmet and her kinder, less hostile form, Bastet. Archaeologists believe the statue of the cat contains a mummified cat inside.
There’s an especially interesting section that includes the study of mass extinctions. FYI…we’re in one now.
One of the special exhibits we viewed was the Haitian Vodou exhibit, which was really quite creepy.
Plan on spending a lot of time at the Field Museum if you go. We were there hours and still didn’t get to see all of it. We originally had the idea that maybe we could do two museums in one day…not possible if you want to really see everything or it’s a first-time trip for you.
As the walk to the Field Museum was quite long, we took the Metra back to the Palmer House.
Someday in the future we’ll look back on this trip and remember the nation-wide protests of police violence going on. There were peaceful protest marches in Chicago. I thought this image captured the feeling of movement and hopefully societal change:
We went to The Berghoff for dinner. The Berghoff opened in 1898 as a men-only saloon. From their website: The bar remained open even through Prohibition by selling near-beer and Bergo soda pop and became a full-service restaurant that still carries the Berghoff name. When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, the City of Chicago issued liquor license No. 1 to The Berghoff and has done so each year ever since.
The Berghoff features German food. Inside The Berghoff:
After dinner at The Berghoff, we went for drinks and people-watching at the Grillroom…
…followed by Exchequer Restaurant & Pub.
Saturday morning we got up and made our way to breakfast, going through Millennium Park. Here is the Crown Fountain:
Walking along Michigan Avenue…
…down to Eggy’s.
Eggy’s Nutella french toast. Yum!
On the way back to the Palmer House, we stopped a few places for coffee. First, at the Pittsford Cafe inside the Pittsford Building. From Wiki: The property, in the Jewelers’ Row Landmark District, was developed by heirs of Marshall Field, and is named after Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where Marshall Field obtained his first job. Designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst and White, the structure combines both art deco and Gothic detailing, while complying with a 1923 zoning ordinance which mandated skyscrapers setbacks. The interior of the building features a five-story atrium, lined by balconies and shops, that is detailed with glowing marbles, gleaming brass and Spanish Gothic style carvings.
After the Pittsfield Cafe, we stopped at the Corner Cafe & Bakery, before going back to the Palmer House to check out. Here’s the view from the inside.
My sweetheart 🙂
Union Station, view from Starbucks.
We caught the train back to Battle Creek, and were not stabbed on the journey. It was a delightful getaway! Bob, thank you for planning such a nice birthday surprise.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Chicago? List it in the comments below!