chicago day four

August 22, 2016

For our last day in Chicago, we wanted to learn more about architecture and focused on the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. We visited his house, studio, and the Robie House. I was in love with all the intricate details that went into the creation of his home and studio. You can see slight influences from the Victorian period, but he also breaks from that mold and creates his signature prairie style. His home and studio was such a masterpiece. I’m very far from being an architecture expert, but I really enjoy learning about it, and I appreciate the art of it. I think the girls did too because they wanted some of the architecture books for kids at the gift shop.

We got in an accident on our way to the Robie House, so we missed our tour time. Someone rear ended us, and thankfully, we were all okay and our car suffered minimal damage. I was a little bummed to miss out on the Robie House tour, but we rolled with it, and made our way to the Art Institute.

We studied Van Gogh for art earlier in the school year, so the girls were super excited to see his work in person. They ooh-ed and ahh-ed at each painting. They wanted a picture with his self-portrait, and they tried their best to interpret and imitate his emotion. It was exciting for me as their mom/educator to see their eyes light up when making a connection with something we studied out of book and to see it in real life.

This is how we ended our Chicago visit, and then we all piled in the car to keep our road trip going. Next up, our Laura Ingalls Wilder road trip through 3 different states.

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chicago’s cloud gate

August 16, 2016

Of course we had to stop by Cloud Gate (aka the bean) and take a million pictures. It’s such a unique way to view the reflection of the city (and ourselves). We were a little scared to touch it because you can see all the dirty hand prints, though it doesn’t show up in pictures. Nevertheless, it’s such a great spot to people watch, dance (there was music playing from an event nearby), and take lots of pictures. We walked all around and under, and the girls loved seeing how the distortion changed throughout the sculpture.

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chicago day three food and other tourist things

August 12, 2016

For lunch, we walked to Avec. We didn’t have reservations, but we called the day before, and they said if we where there before they opened, we’d be able to dine at the restaurant. I highly recommend making reservations though. We ordered paella, a couple sandwiches, and their sesame coco bars for dessert. All of it was delicious, but the paella was my favorite. The girls loved the paella too. While we thoroughly enjoyed our lunch, their dinner menu sounds a lot more delicious.

Our kids are used to sitting down during meal time, and staying seated during the whole meal (it’s a lot of practicing at home), but I’m not sure this is the type of restaurant to take children if they are more exploratory during mealtimes. It’s a small space, and you sit close to others, so you really have to do well to keeping to your personal space.

On this ig post, someone mentioned making a stop to Do-Rite Donuts, and so we did. After our lunch, we walked over to the nearest Do-Rite location. There’s always room for dessert, right?! We picked up 3 donuts to share, and while we waited for our river tour, we all ate the donuts together. I thought they were yummy, but donuts aren’t my thing, so I tend to think all donuts taste similarly. They were all happily devoured, so Do-Rite seem to be doing things right.

After our architecture tour (and some freshening up in our hotel room), we headed to the Girl & the Goat for dinner. It’s another must make a reservation place, but we were there before they opened, so we were able to dine in. Oh boy was this place scrumdiddlyumptious!  We ordered raw oysters, roasted beets, hamachi crudo, grilled baby octopus, wild striped bass, duck tongues (the girls chose this!), goat carpaccio, goat empanadas, pinn oaks lamb tartare, and all the leches cake for dessert. We loved it all and wanted more, but our wallet was satisifed, though our tummies weren’t! And I’m still craving the oysters! If I ever find myself back in Chicago, I would definitely eat here again.

After dinner, we took a taxi to Millennium Park to walk around and enjoy some of the art sculptures. Of course, we took a million and one pictures at Cloud Gate (a separate post for that coming soon). Then, we walked over to Buckingham Fountain. The girls had fun running around and chasing each other here, until Glow ate it on the concrete. We ended the evening at the play garden at Maggie Daly Park. This is the coolest playground we have ever seen (a must go when in Chicago) and the girls had so much fun going up and down on all the slides and towers. There were a lot of protests when we said it was time to head back to the hotel.

After our very full day (see more of it here), it was nice our hotel was a 10 minute walk from Maggie Daly Park, and we were all showered and in bed in no time. Ben and I were both so impressed with Chicago. It’s a well thought out city and you can see the pride they take in it. It’s clean, well cared for, and caters well to families. They work hard to preserve the beauty and history, and you can tell that its residents really love their city. The only thing that freaks us out a little about Chicago is the driving, and this is coming from aggressive California drivers. Other than that, we wish it was closer, so we can visit more often.

Chicago, we really, really like you.

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chicago day 3

August 12, 2016

We did a little bit more of the Big Bus Tour to start off the day, and then we got off at the Willis Tower. The short film about the creation of the tower was so interesting. You see these big buildings and rarely think about all it took to create these grandiose structures. I got a little nervous when they showed the guys at the very top during construction. It’s just insane to think that workers were scaling the tops of these things to make sure all the beams and whatever else is in place. I’m thankful for their work and that we can enjoy their creations from inside it’s walls and not the open elements. Whew!

Of course, we all were very excited to get on The Ledge. When I say we, I mean all the girls, but Ben. We slowly inched onto the glass, looked down, quickly got in position to take our pictures, and then speedily got off. My hands were so shaky trying to keep all girls safe. I know it’s not likely to break, but it’s that mind game with seeing the ground clear below you. Scary, so scary! We got in line a few more times to get some different snaps. For the last one, we finally convinced Ben to join us. I think you can tell what he’s thinking based on his face.

After lunch, we took a nice stroll through the city before our Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise. The guides for this are legit and ours was an excellent wealth of our information. It is a 90 minute tour and we learned all about contextualism, mid century, art deco, modernism, and whole bunch of other fancy architecture terms. It was such a relaxing tour and the weather was so nice (compared the super cold days before). The girls are young, but I love exposing them to stuff like this because you never know when something is going to leave an impression on them and inspire them later. Ben and I definitely had a deeper appreciation for the art of creating buildings.

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chicago day two

July 13, 2016

Ben and I purchased the City Go Card to for our Chicago sightseeing. There was so much to see and do that we thought this would be the best way. We did a lot of traveling on foot (props to Glow who was a trooper and kept up with us sans stroller). We’ve been going stroller free for a couple years now, so she doesn’t get that as a fall back option anymore, but considering we are suburban people and cars are our mode of transportation, she did an excellent job keeping up.

We used our City Go Card for the Big Red Bus Tour, which was fun for the kids to sit atop the big red bus. They got such a kick from how close we would pass under bridges and lights. It was so cold out, but they loved sitting at the top. The bus tour is not as refined as the Chicago Architecture Foundation tours, but we did learn lots of little tidbits from our guides. We also did a lot of walking to get us from place to place.

For lunch, we headed to Lou Malnati’s for their deep dish pizza. We went with their classic style deep dish and Ben got a thin crust pizza for himself. Our tummies were stuffed and we were all definitely impressed. It totally lived up to the hype! We are thin crust pizza lovers (we like it crispy), but that thick, buttery crust was really tasty. All of our leftovers tasted just as yummy the next day!

After our very filling lunch, we headed over to the Adler Planetarium. The girls enjoyed the interactive exhibits, but we really enjoyed the constellation shows. It was so relaxing and realistic. Our absolute favorite part was going into Chicago’s oldest planetarium. It’s this quaint globe that fits about 8 people, and you go in and out through this (slow) moving bench on a ramp. I loved hearing about where it’s been, what it was used for, and the long process of restoring it back to its former glory.

After Adler Planetarium, we headed to Navy Pier. It was fun to walk around a bit and look out on the water, but we didn’t really do much of anything else there. Plus, it was a really cold day and that Chicago wind is fierce, so after a full day of cold and windy, we were ready to warm up. We headed back to our hotel to relax a bit before heading out to dinner.

The plan was to go to Parachute (we tried the first night but they were closed), but our second time around, we got turned away because we didn’t have reservations. We didn’t think to make any for this place (darn us!). The menu looked intriguing, so we were bummed to miss out. The hostess was really lovely and was trying to accommodate us, but with such a large family, it’s not that easy to sneak us in somewhere. We had reservations for the following nights at other places we wanted to try more, so Parachute was not meant to be for us. Someone please go and tell me all about it! 

Thus, we decided to go the Chicago style hot dog route and chose Gene and Jude’s to give us that experience. The line was long, but the servers were fast, so we were enjoying our Chicago style dogs in no time. I’ve never thought to use fries as a topping, but it really was delicious. None of it was healthy, but our hunger was satisfied, so it’s all good. Actually, I’ve been craving one of their hot dogs lately. Maybe I’ll bake my fries in attempt to make a “healthier” version.

After a full day of exploring, we were eager to get back to the hotel to cuddle in bed and watch Food Network. That’s pretty much how we like to end all our evenings when we are on vacation.

read all about day one and the start of our trip. #bratchersixmidwestfix

chicago day one

July 5, 2016

Ben and I learned real fast that you needed be a super aggressive driver when you’re driving in Chicago. Good thing we are from Southern California, so that’s pretty much second nature to us, but I think we had to crank it up a notch in Chicago. I gotta give all you Chicago people props for your driving skills. Once we finally found our hotel (we stayed at the Swissotel), we checked in, relaxed a bit, awed at the view outside our hotel window, then got ready for dinner.

We wanted to go to Parachute, but they were closed, so the second choice was Big Star. It was a lovely evening, so we opted to sit outside and enjoy our new surroundings. First, Big Star had good reviews on Yelp and was recommended by Food & Wine, but we were slightly disappointed in their food. We did like it, but it wasn’t spectacular. I did like their walking taco (taco out of a Frito bag) though.

The rest of the evening was spent wandering around that neighborhood. Then, we topped off dinner with ice cream from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, which was around the corner. We all had this little buzz of excitement being in a new city. The girls were taking it all in and observing how things were very different from back home. I loved seeing their zest for travel coming out.

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