I just got back Monday night from a long weekend in Chicago. A friend ended up with an extra ticket to see “Hamilton” in the Windy City and I jumped at the opportunity to be in “the room where it happens”! It has been a while since I have gone to Chicago as a tourist and I forgot just how much there is to do there.
Willis Tower (or the tower formally known as Sears)
The former tallest building in the world, you can get a great view of Chicago from the Willis Tower Skydeck on the 103 floor of the 108 story building. You need a ticket to go up, which you can buy at the building, online, or on Groupon for $23. Admission is also included in the Chicago CityPASS, which gives you admission to 5 Chicago attractions for $99.75.
If you go to the Willis Tower, you MUST check out the ledges, 4 glass boxes that extend 4.3 feet out from the Skydeck and give you the illusion of walking on air. The first step is a little daunting, but one you realize the glass is not going anywhere, you can take in an awesome view of the city. I also heard from multiple people that the lounge at the Hancock Building has a great view of the city, especially from the women’s bathroom, but we did not have a chance to check it out.
The “bean” in Millennium Park is actually named “Cloud Gate”, something I did not know until I went and saw it in person. However, since it looks very much like a bean, that is how it is known, and having your picture taken in front of it is a Chicago visitor must.
The Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago is a world class art museum. I easily could spend an entire day here. They have everything you expect from a major art museum: church commissioned works, dutch masters, impressionists, and modern art. I was happy to find works from the impressionists I love, Monet, Manet, Pissarro, and Van Gogh, as well as some pieces from an artist I grew to appreciate while in Spain, El Greco. You can also see one of the most well known paintings in pointillism, Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (Un dimanche après-midi à l’Ile de la Grande Jatte), by Georges Seurat. Additionally, until May 21, 2017, you can see the famous painting of Whistler’s Mother, which is on loan from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Tickets were $29 to the museum and we actually save a few dollars by buying our ticket at the Willis Tower in conjunction with our Skydeck ticket. The museum closes at 5:00 PM, so make sure you allow enough time to see everything.
The Field Museum
Ever feel like you’re being watched…by a T.Rex??? Well, you can have that feeling at the Field Museum! SUE the T. rex is the largest, best-preserved, and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever found. She is one of many natural history treasures on display at the Field Museum. You can also see a skeleton of a woolly mammoth, precious gems, meteorites, and go through an ancient Egyptian tomb. An all access adult pass is $36 and, as with the Art Institute, it (and every other museum in Chicago) closes at 5:00 PM.
The Second City
Friday night we checked out a comedy show performance at The Second City, where many famous comedians have launched their careers, including Bill Murray, Jim Belushi, Chris Farley, and Tina Fey. The MainStage shows were sold out, but we got a ticket to a show at one of their smaller stages called Up Comedy Club. They served food and drinks at the show, and we were able snack, sit back, and enjoy an evening of hilarious entertainment. Tickets to the performance were around $39 each and we bought them at the window right before the show started.
The pièce de résistance, the reason for the season, the everything, HAMILTON. Y’all, it was good, so so good. We saw a Sunday afternoon matinee performance with an understudy performing the role of Aaron Burr, sir, and it was STILL knock your socks off great. Even though I knew the songs by heart, there is something completely different about seeing them performed. There is no other musical or play like it. Tickets are impossible to get in both Chicago and NYC. Everyone we met over the weekend was amazed that we actually had tickets to see it. If an opportunity arises to see “Hamilton”, seize it! You will not regret it!