Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

A Photo Essay: Chicago, Illinois 

Chicago, Illinois, is a city we have visited many times over the years, but most of our visits have been prior to our travel blogging days. Because of this, we have only written a couple of posts on the Windy City, so it was about time for a return visit. Chicago is located an easy 6 hour drive from our home in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and even though we only had a couple of days open in our schedule and the weather was cloudy and overcast, we still packed in quite a bit of fun!

The whole trip started with my childhood obsession with the TV show, Saved By The Bell. There is a pop-up restaurant called Saved By The Max (based on the restaurant in the show) that opened in Chicago last summer, and I was dying to visit. Since it is a temporary restaurant that is only open until the end of May 2017, I just couldn’t resist making reservations. We will share lots more about our super fan experience at “The Max” in an upcoming post, so stay tuned!

In addition to our cheeky dinner plans, we indulged in plenty of delicious meals, coffees and treats around the city. We also had Chicago CityPASS booklets courtesy of Choose Chicago which enabled us to visit the Skydeck Chicago at the Willis Tower, 360 Chicago at the John Hancock Center, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Unfortunately, we couldn’t visit all five stops offered by the City Pass on this visit, but we certainly made a good dent in one day!

Here’s a look into our two days of adventures in Chicago:

Our first stop was lunch–we wanted something quick, cheap and Chicago style, so we stopped at the much discussed Superdawg Drive-In. I tried the traditional Chicago Dog and Micah ordered a double cheeseburger. Stuffed in a small box with fries, the Chicago Dog came on a poppy-seed bun and was topped with golden mustard, onions, piccalilli, a dill pickle and a hot pepper. We both enjoyed our picks and it was a good, cheap lunch served in a fun style.

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

We had two nights in Chicago, and we ended up basing ourselves at the Urban Holiday Lofts in the Wicker Park neighborhood. Urban Holiday Lofts is a funky hostel with a fun design, and we booked a private room with a shared bathroom. The location was perfect for exploring the Wicker Park neighborhood, which was an area I had been wanting to check out on several of our past visits.

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

After settling into our room, we set out on a walk to get ourselves a treat at Katherine Anne Confections. I had my eye on their drinking chocolate flight, and wow…it was amazing! We couldn’t decide on which flavors to get so Micah ordered a small glass of the semi-sweet drinking chocolate with a homemade cinnamon sugar marshmallow. I wanted to sample a few varieties so I picked the flight with Salted Caramel, Mexican Hot Chocolate and the Grapefruit Maple Coconut drinking chocolate. Each cup came with special toppings and marshmallows, and the chocolate was so creamy, rich and smooth; it was divine. Although it was a close call, I think the Mexican Hot Chocolate was my favorite—I loved the subtle but spicy kick! Next time we visit, I have my eye on their creative line of truffles!

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

On our walk back to the hostel, we stopped at The 606, which is a multi-use trail and park that spans 2.7 miles. The path was built along an abandoned rail line, and now it’s a great spot in the city to go for a walk or bike ride.

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

All too soon, it was time for dinner at Saved By The Max. I was so excited I could barely contain myself, but after all the food we had already consumed that afternoon, I wasn’t exactly hungry. We had a three course meal and ended up boxing up more than half of it—we were just too full! Thankfully the food was good, especially for a restaurant where the atmosphere is the main draw, and we had a blast pretending we had time traveled to the 90’s with the crew of my favorite childhood TV show. The restaurant looked just like it did in the show and the attention to detail was absolutely fantastic—I couldn’t stop laughing and singing along to the songs blaring over the loudspeakers.

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

The next morning we wandered around the neighborhood and did some window shopping before making our way to the Fairgrounds Coffee and Tea for breakfast. I can never resist ordering a flight when there’s one on the menu—I love sampling a variety of options—so I ordered the coffee flight and we tried a few different blends of coffee. To eat, I had the breakfast tacos and Micah ordered the oatmeal—both great choices!

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

After breakfast we made our way to downtown Chicago and picked up our Chicago CityPASS booklets. Since the weather was still overcast and slightly rainy, we made our way to the Art Institute of Chicago to check out some art. I have been wanting to visit this museum for years, so it was fun to finally make it inside! I loved gazing at the fantastic collection of Impressionist paintings, as well as all of the other galleries we had a chance to walk through.

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

From there, we walked over to the Willis Tower for Skydeck Chicago. We had visited in the past, but it was fun to revisit and test our nerves on the glass boxes that are suspended 103 floors over Chicago. Micah kept his distance from the edge until I practically forced him to take a few photos. He’s always hesitant about heights, but he was a good sport for a few minutes at least!

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

I’m obsessed with ramen, so our next stop sent us to the Revival Food Hall so I could try out the deliciously spicy Furious Ramen from Furious Spoon. Micah went a different route and decided on a sandwich from Smoque BBQ. I loved the atmosphere and food options at the Revival Food Hall—it’s the perfect spot to stop for lunch, especially if you are craving different types of food.

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

No visit to Chicago is complete without a trip to Cloud Gate, aka “The Bean”. We couldn’t resist taking a few photos and checking out the city views in the sculpture’s reflective surface.

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

We also walked over to Maggie Daley park to see the new outdoor climbing wall. If the weather was a bit better, we would have loved to go for a climb, so I guess we will have to go back another day when the sun is shining!

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

Next up on the itinerary was the new observation deck at the John Hancock Center. We had been to the top of the building before but not to the new observation deck, so we couldn’t resist a visit. In addition to gorgeous city views through floor to ceiling windows, there is another fear inducing installation called Tilt. Basically, Tilt is a glass window that tilts out over the city giving you a downward facing view of the city 1,030 feet below. Micah opted out in a hurry, but I bought myself a ticket just as quick—I mean it was only $7, so why not! It was pretty quiet when we visited, so I had the ride to myself and it wasn’t nearly as scary as it seems, but the views were certainly worth it.

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

By this point in the day, we were starting to fade a bit, so we made our way to Stan’s Donuts for a coffee and a treat of a Boston Cream Donut and a Peanut Butter Pocket Donut. It was the perfect pick me up before more walking around the city.

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

I had hoped to visit the other two stops offered with our CityPASS (Shed Aquarium and The Field Museum), but there just wasn’t quite enough time to visit them all in one day. Instead, we made our way over to the river for a nice stroll—thankfully the rain had continued to hold off for the remainder of the day!

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

As if we didn’t have enough food in the past couple of days already, we had dinner plans with a friend that evening. The three of us went to Velvet Taco, and we absolutely loved it! We were too busy catching up to take any photos, but I tried the spicy tikka chicken taco and Micah ordered the Cuban pig taco. Both were delicious and if we weren’t going out for dessert afterwards, we would have been tempted to order a couple other tacos, as well. They had so many great options to pick from! After dinner, we made our way to one last treat for the day: cupcakes at the famous Sprinkles Cupcakes. This is the spot that has a cupcake ATM, but we ended up going inside to order a carrot cake cupcake and a black and white cupcake. We really just needed a break from the cold so it was a nice spot to warm up before making our way back to the hostel.

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

We had to head out early the next morning, but I still had a couple of items on my list to see before we made our way home. We first walked over to the Flat Iron Arts Building which is a three story building filled with artist studios. None of them were open when we visited, but we were able to admire all the art in the hallways. If you visit at a normal hour of the day, you can find events, performances, shops and open studios to peruse.

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

And, last but not least, we had one more coffee shop to visit: The Wormhole Coffee. This coffee shop is super cute and it was decorated with an 80’s flare, complete with the DeLorean from Back to the Future! It was a wonderful way to end our visit to Chicago!

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

Photo Essay, Chicago, Illinois

 

Special thanks to Choose Chicago for providing us with complimentary Chicago CityPASS booklets. As always, all opinions are our own.

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28 Comments
  • Les Petits Pas de Juls
    Posted at 13:26h, 12 May Reply

    As always, drooling over your article! How can you guys eat so much and keep going, I wonder?!? Ahahah
    I loved wandering in Chicago too, it is such a beautiful city to discover, fun to see it your way!
    oh and that Saved by the Bell bar!!!! absolutely fantastic!
    Les Petits Pas de Juls recently posted…Ushuaia-bound? My Go-to Guide is on Intrepid TravelMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 02:01h, 13 May Reply

      Haha, I know right?! We were sooo full! Thankfully we didn’t finish everything, but it was way too much, ha! There are always way to many spots I want to try! Glad to hear you loved Chicago too–we always have a great time there, especially with the Saved By The Max, hahaha! 🙂
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…A Photo Essay: Chicago, Illinois My Profile

  • Carol from Wayfaring Views
    Posted at 13:57h, 13 May Reply

    Wicker Park is such a fun neighborhood. The new 606 pathway is great and the restaurants and shops are really fun.

  • Jenn and Ed Coleman
    Posted at 15:49h, 13 May Reply

    As always, love your photography. The composition of The Bean shot was really cool. I did feel like I entered a wormhole with rotary phones and the old macs. I wonder if I could resist yelling “SCREECH” when entering Saved By the Max.
    Jenn and Ed Coleman recently posted…Discover the Secrets of Ruby FallsMy Profile

  • Lance
    Twitter:
    Posted at 00:56h, 14 May Reply

    Still one of my absolute favorite cities in the whole world. Kudos for getting to Super Dawg, although totally sad that Hot Doug’s closed. Boo. The Saved by the Max pop-up was really cool. For a restaurant like that, it could have been just kitschy and awful, but the food was actually really good. Excited to hear that it will become a traveling concept. Glad you had a great time!
    Lance recently posted…Escape From the Crowds at Rockley Beach in BarbadosMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 01:56h, 07 June Reply

      I know, I was sad that Hot Doug’s closed too–I wanted to go there on this visit! Super Dawg was a fun alternative at least. I was surprised about the food at Saved By The Max too–glad you guys enjoyed it as well!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…A Photo Essay: The Galapagos IslandsMy Profile

  • Hazel Tolentino
    Posted at 02:39h, 14 May Reply

    You must have been so full with all those restos you visited! Hahaha. I love the photos and how contemporary and artsy the place is.

  • chrysoula
    Twitter:
    Posted at 10:34h, 14 May Reply

    Chicago is definitely on my bucket list. I always wanted to go up to the Skydeck but now I see that Chicago has some amazing food too. From the delicious hot chocolates at your hostel to the incredible Pop-up restaurant. I hope it comes back to town so I can make it there.

  • Astrid Vinje
    Posted at 01:31h, 15 May Reply

    I haven’t been to Chicago in years! I love all these pictures, and also love that you visited the tourist destinations (like the Bean and the art institute), AND also some quirky attractions too (a whole restaurant dedicated to Saved by the Bell!).

  • Elaine J Masters
    Twitter:
    Posted at 15:52h, 15 May Reply

    Chicago has so much going on. I’d be in a food coma after all you consumed though! Very hip choices I’ll have to check out next time I’m in Chi-town.

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 01:45h, 07 June Reply

      Haha, yeah–we definitely ate too much on that trip! Thankfully we didn’t finish all the meals though or we would have had to roll ourselves home, lol!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…A Photo Essay: The Galapagos IslandsMy Profile

  • Drew
    Posted at 16:05h, 15 May Reply

    Chicago was the big city that I went to a few times as a kid, but have begun to really appreciate it as an adult. There is pretty much endless variety and something for everyone. I also love how ‘neigborhood-y’ it is – you really don’t feel like you’re in the center of a huge city unless you’re based in the smallish center. We’re actually thinking of moving there someday….once we get over the thought of those winters!
    Drew recently posted…Our Best Tips and Tricks for Saving Money Booking TravelMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 01:43h, 07 June Reply

      Haha, yeah the winters can be a challenge for sure! That’s great that you’ve grown to appreciate Chicago–I love it when that happens. I love how much of a neighborhood feel most of the city has, too–there are still so many neighborhoods we need to check out, too!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…A Photo Essay: The Galapagos IslandsMy Profile

  • Jennifer
    Twitter:
    Posted at 17:36h, 17 May Reply

    Chicago is my husband’s hometown, so we visit often. We’re headed there this summer for a family wedding and I’m so bummed that Saved by the Max will be closed! I loved that show growing up and I would have loved to go to this pop-up. Can’t wait for your post all about it.
    Jennifer recently posted…Fregate Island Private: Unique on EarthMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 01:25h, 07 June Reply

      That’s a bummer it will be closed by then already! The next one will be in LA, so if you are in the area by chance you’ll have to check it out there! Have a great time in Chicago this summer!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…A Photo Essay: The Galapagos IslandsMy Profile

  • Independentpeople
    Posted at 05:21h, 18 May Reply

    Excellent photo essay ! you made Chicago looking cosy and attractive 🙂
    Independentpeople recently posted…What Makes Warsaw so SpecialMy Profile

  • Trisha Velarmino
    Posted at 00:46h, 19 May Reply

    Hey Jenna! How did you even manage that? Hahahaha. That was a feast out there!

  • Jungie Gumiran
    Posted at 01:59h, 21 May Reply

    Chicago is awesome. I would love to visit soon 🙂 This is such a great find.

  • Kristen Jackson
    Posted at 13:10h, 22 July Reply

    I love this photo essay post idea. I adore Chicago – I lived there for 5 years and you had a great taste of the city.

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