We took a mini vacation to Chicago last week and had a wonderful time. This is the third time we have visited Chicago. Our tour guides, Justin and Cassie, put together another terrific tour package for Jan and I. For sure, there is never a shortage of things to do in Chicago. The "Taste of Chicago" food festival was in full swing when we arrived on the 4th of July. The ten day event has been going on annually for the past 28 years. I know this because someone was wearing a tee shirt proclaiming this information. Foods from many of the Chicago area restaurants were represented, serving everything imaginable. When you enter the mile long festival you purchase tickets which you can use at any of the food booths. You get 11 tickets for $7.00. Most of the food cost between 5-8 tickets. You could get a sample of the food item for half of what a full portion cost. This is good if you want to try a taste of say Cajun fried catfish. Justin and Cassie were trying quite a few exotic items. Jan and I on the other hand ate food that we were more familiar with. It was easy to go through a strip of tickets in a heartbeat. We realized that visiting the festival was not an inexpensive experience, but in a big city I guess you expect to pay more for fun. There were stages set up for musical acts that played during the festival. John Mayer did a show as well as Los Lonely Boys to name a couple of the acts.
The weather was perfect. Temperatures in the low 80's and no rain. We were able to walk to most of the places around the downtown Chicago area. By the end of the day our feet and legs throbbed, but it helped us burn the extra calories we consumed during our stay.
We did find a Coffee Beanery in the downtown area. Jan was able to get her "White chocolate mocha skinny" which made her happy. It seems that Starbucks is located on every corner. We made the mistake of stopping there once on the trip. Starbucks coffee tastes nasty compared to the Beanery.
Other highlights of the trip included a visit to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. There was a special display featuring the television show CSI. Participants were invited to "solve" one of three crime scenes. The crime scenes and CSI labs were very realistic. We were able to solve the case. It was educational and also entertaining.
We ate at Portello's Restaurant. Their specialty are Chicago style hot dogs. Yumm!! The hot dogs are Vienna Beef, served on a sesame seed bun, with celery powder, pickle, tomato and peppercini.
We walked to the Navy Pier on the 4th of July evening for a fireworks display. It was a good show, but not very long. Apparently we missed a better show on July 3rd.
We ate at Baba Reeba's, a Spanish style restaurant, that serves tapas.
Justin, Cassie and Jan drank a few pitchers of Sangria. Since I was the only sober one, I was nominated to drive Justin's car back to the hotel. Thank God it was later in the evening so traffic wasn't quite so bad.
We also ate a Chicago style deep dish pizza at a downtown sidewalk restaurant. It was very good and also relaxing. The downtown area is very clean and decorated with a lot of flowers.
We will definitely visit Chicago again, at least if our tour director's will go with us. :)