Thursday, December 19, 2013

chicago christmas

This year, Steve and I began a new Christmas tradition of spending a December weekend in Chicago.  In the midst of all the hubub that is the holiday season, it was so great to just get away from everything and be tourists in one of our favorite places.  Steve lined up all of our hotel/dining reservations, so all I had to do was show up.  This girl was certainly spoiled over the course of the weekend!
We drove up to Gannie's house on Friday night through a snowstorm.  It got so bad that at one point, Steve and I debated which small Indiana town along I-65 would be the best option for seeking shelter in case we got stranded.  I'm happy to say that we made it to Gannie's safely and if we had waited until Saturday morning to make the trek, we most likely would not have made it to Chicago since the snow just kept on comin' down.
Our first stop on Saturday was a long-time beloved one of mine - the Museum of Science and Industry.  We caught several of my old favorite exhibits (the train, u-boat submarine, planes and ice cream parlor) along with a few new ones (the annual Christmas Trees Around the World exhibit and model trains).  I grew up going to the museum with my grandparents, but it was Steve's first visit so I was excited to share in his experience! 

We spent several more hours in the museum than we had originally planned, but it was totally worth it.  After we saw everything we wanted to see, we headed off to check into our hotel.  Steve found a little boutique hotel a couple of blocks off of Michigan Avenue, which worked out perfectly.  We had a great room and the service was terrific.  Also, a huge plus in my book - they served a continental breakfast on every floor so all I had to do was put on a comfy robe and walk down the hall.  Perfect! 

Anyway, back to our sight-seeing... after checking in to the hotel, we did some serious window shopping on the Magnificent Mile.  There were shoppers everywhere and after a while it started to get overwhelming, so we took a break on a love seat in the top floor of Crate & Barrel. 
Nap-time!  It was all I could do to get him to leave this chair.  He was way too comfortable to move.
After shopping wore us out, we took a break in the hotel and headed out to dinner at Gilt Bar.  Steve picked the place, and oh my goodness was it good.  We ate to our hearts' content and then took a (very chilly) stroll along the Chicago River before crashing back at the hotel for the night.
On Sunday, the high in Chicago was 12 degrees, so we were all about staying indoors.  That didn't stop us from still catching some great views, though!  After thoroughly enjoying our continental breakfast (seriously, I loved it), we made an impromptu decision to visit the Chicago Skydeck.  The Skydeck is at the top of Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) and has incredible views of the city and Lake Michigan.  We tried to go once before when we were in town for a wedding several years ago, but the line was 2.5 hours long.  No thank you!  This time, though, we beat the rush and got there right when it opened.  Before we knew it, we were at the top - and oh man, what a view.
My favorite part by far was The Ledge - a series of glass boxes protruding out of the side of the building.  You can stand in them and look 100 stories down to the street - it's a crazy/thrilling feeling!  And of course, the perfect photo opp.
Look, Mom - no hands! :)
So, so cool. If you're ever in Chicago, this is a must-do.  And I highly recommend beating the rush early on a Sunday morning.
Next up on our agenda was seeing The Hobbit in 3D.  We saw the first one last year around the holidays, so it's become a tradition and was perfect for sticking with our plan of staying warm and avoiding the frigid cold.
It was a really good movie.  My only complaint is that I felt like they overdid Evangeline Lilly's role.  I appreciated the addition of a woman to the cast, since the book itself doesn't have any female characters whatsoever... but I just felt like her story took up too much screen time.  Nevertheless, the movie is well worth seeing.
We had one more stop to go on our trip - Milennium Park.  Originally we planned on taxiing it, but at the last minute decided to walk instead.  It was great, until it was not.  After a while we started freezing, but still managed to snap a quick (albeit blurry) picture with the snow-covered Bean.
On our way back to our hotel, we stopped in a nearby Giordano's to warm up and to devour some delicious deep dish pizza (my favorite) before heading back home.  There are few things I enjoy more than eating pizza with this cutie.
All in all, we had a truly wonderful time.  It was the perfect getaway - one in which we did a lot but not too much, and got to take a step back to enjoy each other during the most hectic and busiest time of the year.  It's a new tradition that I am already looking forward to for next year.
Chicago, you were splendid as always!  Until next time!

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