Monday, July 22, 2013

Mini-Chicago Vacation

I'm baaaaaack!!!! Sorry for the unplanned hiatus. Turns out, growing a baby is hard work and by the end of the day I am EXHAUSTED. Add in that work's just been crazy busy and blogging just hasn't been happening. But, hey-- I'm back at least for today!! :)

So, let's chat about the weekend. For the Hub's birthday (which was back in early June), I gave him tickets to the Architecture River Tour of Chicago. When his parents found out that was going to my gift, they decided to stick with the Chicago theme and gave him a gift card to Ditka's, a super nice, swanky restaurant downtown owned by the famous former bears coach, Mike Ditka.

This weekend, we celebrated and actually used the tickets and gift card! We decided we'd make this a kinda mini-vacation, as we aren't going on a big vacation this year (not sure if you've heard, but having a baby is PRICEY so we're saving our pennies).

We started the day off the best way possible: munchkins and iced lattes.
Oh, Dunkin' Donuts... you're just too good.
Ok, ok-- I got the munchkins and the coffee. The Hubs did steal a few donuts though.

Anyway, after a quick stop at the in-laws to drop Sadie off (A HUGE THANK YOU to them!!!!) and another quick hour down the highway and we were there! We got there around 10am CST, quickly and easily found a parking garage super close to Ditka's (which ended up only being $15/day because we got early bird rates!! WOOWOO!!) and started walking around downtown.

The tour left at 11am and was about a mile from where we parked, so we had a little time to kill.

Enter the perfect time killer = The Bean.

The Hubs and I have both seen this thing like a bazillion times, but it's still pretty cool. OK, I think it's pretty random, but the Hubs digs it. He can't get over how smooth it is. "Where are the seams??!?!" he kept asking. Such an engineering nerd. Love it.
Anyway, we made our way to the tour take-off dock (also RIGHT downtown) and then we were off for our 90-minute river excursion.

I took a lot more pics, but won't bore you with all of them. Basically, we went down the Chicago River right through downtown and the tour guide (a VOLUNTEER!!) told us all about the history of the area and buildings. It was an AWESOME tour and I'd HIGHLY suggest it to anyone. Lucky for us, the weather cooperated and it wasn't TOOOOO hot or humid, but still sunny and gorgeous.
We finished the tour around 12:30pm and then walked over to Navy Pier. As many times as both the Hubs and I have been to Chicago (which is a TON), neither of us had ever been to Navy Pier, so we decided our mini-vacation was the perfect opportunity.
Turns out, we weren't missing much. Basically, it's a HUGE tourist zone with WAY TOO MANY people. Plus, the whole pier is like 95% restaurants. Which is great... to eat. But, after that... what? Anyway, luckily I was STARVING when we got there, so we quickly found food: the famous Billy Goat Tavern. We kinda picked this place on a whim, but it ended up being perfect for us.
We wanted something on the cheaper side and the Hubs was dying for a hot dog/sausage of some sort. We went in not really knowing much about the place, except the Hubs knew it from the SNL skit (I had never seen it, but the Hubs did show it to me when we got home later that night and it is pretty funny... go check it out!). Most of the restaurants on the Pier had their menu's outside, but Billy Goat didn't. We lucked out though! It was an order-at-the-counter place and SUPER cheap. The Hubs got a polish sausage and I got an Italian Beef (I know! Neither of us got a Cheeeezeburger!!) and our bill (with 1 soda for the Hubs) was like $15ish. SCORE! The food was pretty standard greasy diner type food, which HIT THE SPOT!
After lunch, we walked up and down the pier twice and then stopped for popcorn!
The Hubs (or his parents, I learned later) had never heard of Garrett's Popcorn. How is that possible?!?!? I've heard of it, but never had it so I knew we had to try it. We got a small carmel corn and it was delicious (though not sure if it was worth the long line or the money, to be 100% honest).
We had 2 hours to kill before our dinner reservation and decided to just walk along the lake and around downtown.
Throughout the day, we ended up stopping at FIVE Starbucks for bathroom breaks and to get free glasses of ice water. Thank GOODNESS for Starbucks!!! It was toasty out there by mid-day and each Starbucks pit-stop was a GREAT A/C break, which was really important for me, as I did NOT want to overheat. I'm forever indebted to the Starbucks's of Chicago! 
Before we knew it, it was time for dinner! We made out way over to Ditka's and ATE. A TON of food. SUCH good food.
I didn't take any pics because I was too busy devouring the food, but MAN-- it is GOOD. The Hubs and I shared crab cakes for an appetizer (BEST I've ever had!), then he got the Meatloaf Stack and I got the Kobe Burger. Both SOOOO good and we had tons of left overs. They even brought out a cute little mini-chocolate lava cake with a candle for this birthday! It was a GREAT dinner. I'd definitely suggest the place to anyone looking for a nice, yet casual dinner. Pricey, but VERY good food and generous portions. 
And, with our bellies full, we headed out of the city, ending our mini-vacation. We picked up Sadie (who puked at the in-laws! What is with her?!?!? She doesn't do any of this stuff at our house!! Silly girl!!) and headed home. I was EXHAUSTED. I our walk and we walked over 9 MILES throughout the day! No wonder I was beat!! Good thing I nixed the gym that morning. :)
It was a great, great day. Happy belated birthday, Hubs!!!


  1. Glad you had such a great time. You need to enjoy it while you can. :-)

    1. Thanks! It's great to do small things like that... and you're right... gotta do them now while we can! :)