Travel Guide: Chicago

We had 24 hours to give to the Windy City, and we were going to do it up right. While I prefer to stay at an Air Bnb, someone bought us a hotel room at the Hampton Inn Majestic (you can't pass up free). We got in pretty late, but we were determined to hit Chi-town in the early hours before the heat got crazy.We grabbed that complimentary breakfast (i'm always a little scared of those things. You tentatively make your way to the lobby with pictures of gelatin eggs, mystery sausage and those fun-size cereals if you're lucky). 

We compromised on breakfast, but we weren't going to compromise on coffee. We made our way three blocks north and one block east (.4 miles) to one of the renowned Intelligentsia locations. I ordered the La Tortuga pour-over and wasn't at all disappointed. 

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With hot coffee in hand on a hot July day, we walked two more blocks east, passing the Jay Pritzker Pavilion can only imagine the serious concerts held here.  

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We cut down through Millenial Park (which sadly was mostly gated off for the Taste of Chicago festival that we were a day too early for) to Cloud Gate, otherwise known as the Bean. What struck me about the structure was its perfect placement in the city and the arches and angles that reflect the sky scrapers and city's silhouette so masterfully.

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From the Bean, we walked to the riverfront and stopped at the Cancer Survivors Garden on the way. We watched a few ships come in, but we needed some fuel for our two mile walk to the Skydeck at the Willis Tower (previously known as the Sears Tower).

We headed west and were lucky enough to run into the Doughnut Vault! If you see the Vault you have to stop because there's no promise it will still be there in an hour. It might look like a rickety old van, but the van has got some serious doughnut game. We went with the coconut cream, but I have a feeling you can't go wrong.

 

With renewed energy, we finished our trek to Skydeck. The blisters and the lines were worth it. The view was breathtaking and it really offered the full perspective of the city.  If anything, you have to do it once.

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After we finally got down from the tower we had worked up an appetite. We couldn't leave the city without sampling some real deep dish Chi-Town Pizza. We hopped right over to Giordano's. When we walked in they told us up front that they bake it all fresh and if wanted a deep dish (I mean what else would we be there for?) it would be between 30 to 40 minutes. It felt like the longest 30 minutes of my life, but it payed in dividends. 

After lunch, we walked off the food coma, making our way 2 miles back towards the lake to the Art Institute of Chicago. (Don't forget to bring your student ID even if its expired--you'll get the student's admission price) Really, we could have spent all day there. They had an authentic Georgia O'Keefe display, and we barely made it through that exhibit before we had to leave the city.

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We ran back to the hotel to pick up our car. We had about 20 minutes before we had to get out of the city to miss the traffic. We ended the day the way we started, with coffee. On our way out of the city, we stopped by Ipsento (their original location on the north side).

This has ranked on my top 3 favorite coffee places. the colors and the cozy small town feel in the middle of a bustling urban scape was awesome. I ordered the Ipsento latte-- bold expresso, coconut milk, milk, honey and a dash of Cayenne pepper. You have to order it. Trust me. The peppery, spicy sweet flavor finish was the perfect way to end our speedy tour of the Windy City. 

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-Jo