‘Just blown in from the Windy City’ – well, as the song goes, Chicago is windy, with wind blowing off Lake Michigan or whistling around the tall high rise buildings making the streets like wind tunnels, it is well worth the visit so take an extra ‘layer’ of clothes and enjoy this beautiful city.
Our visit was part of a music tour of America, Chicago being our first stop. We stayed at the Allerton Hotel just off North Michigan Avenue – which is locally known as the ‘Magnificent Mile’, an excellent hotel in a very good situation well used by tourists and business people. The rooms are good and the staff helpful, there is an excellent, although expensive restaurant for breakfast and evening meals. Seasoned travelers will know that America has more than its fair share of restaurants, ask the concierge he or she will direct you to some very good places to eat.
Chicago is a beautiful city, good shoes are recommended and the Red ‘hop on hop off’ Bus is a bonus. As you leave the hotel turn right then right again on to the Magnificent Mile, and walk to the ‘Water Tower’, only a short walk to one of the stops on the bus route tour. As you tour you will be forgiven for thinking you are on a film set! Chicago has been used for so many films, approximately 40 films have used Chicago for example: The Untouchables, The Dark Knight, Home Alone and many more.
The Red Bus tour takes you to the Naval Pier – well worth a ‘hop off’, its lovely restaurants looking over the Michigan Lake, or visit the Shedd Aquarium or the Adler Planetarium, lots to do in this interesting area. The Art Institute/Millennium Park (stop 3) on the bus tour, a visit to the excellent world-class museum is a must see for its collection of French impressionist paintings then walk through the Millennium Park and take photos of Cloud Gate which is known as the ‘Bean’, a large silver art structure that is a pleasure to be around, the walk takes you past some amazing art installations and water fountains. You will pass an intriguing screen that has video images that show thousands of faces which are the people of Chicago, old, young,black and white an excellent, impressive structure.
The Wells Tower, which used to be the Shears Tower (until the new owners took over) is quite an experience, the lift goes up 103 floors to the Sky deck viewing floor, which has the most amazing ‘extension’, it is a glass box that you can stand on in mid air – well I did it but the sight of the street way below as you look through the glass – well feel the fear but do it anyway!!! This is the tallest building in the city at 1,343 feet. Or visit the John Hancock Observatory and get a 360 degree view, and TILT – yes the floor does move – not one for me to try.
Our visit was to see and hear the Blues Clubs and we where not disappointed. We walked down the Magnificent Mile and crossed on to North Clark Street a 20 minute walk but not arduous, or take a taxi. If you haven’t eaten try the famous Italian restaurant Maggiano’s and enjoy a delicious meal before going to the Chicago Blue bar, a brilliant experience, with really a good blues singer and band, the bands are on every evening and the cover charge is $8, if you want to venture further take a taxi to Buddy Guy’s famous Blues Club, not in a very salubrious part of town so a taxi is a good idea for both journey’s.
Chicago is a, vibrant, multi-cultural city, it has a surprise around every corner, so as the song goes whether you ‘blow in or out’ of this busy, beautiful city, or just want some ‘Chicago Blue’ you will not be disappointed.
Our next stop Memphis … by Amtrak.
• Read The American Music Tour – Part 2
• Read The American Music Tour – Part 3
• Read The American Music Tour – Part 4