So you have one week in Chicago… What do you do and where do you go?
Considering that I spent the majority of each day with a bunch of Uni of Chicago residents, I was able to ask this question quite a bit. When you’ve got a week in such a big State, it’s a bit overwhelming knowing where to go and when and why. I wanted to eat, shop and have the whole American experience but knowing where to start was a bit impossible, so, I figured I’d help others. Throughout the week I checked out different recommendations and gave them a little rating from yours truly. So, without further ado, here’s what I would do with a week in Chicago…
Giordano’s Deep Dish Pizza
Deep dish pizza seems to be the food that Chicago is famous for, so obviously I couldn’t leave without giving it a try. As a massive pizza lover I went in hungry for something amazing, and according to various recommendations, Giordano’s was the best place to give it a try.
The first thing that was very notable was the 45 minute wait for pizza – yes, you read that correctly… The pizza takes 45 minutes to make! It wasn’t too bad for me as I’d been fed well at lunch thanks to our program (More info on that here) so the 45 minute brought me to the right level of hungry.
However, do not arrive when you are starving, I can imagine that wait taking a long time. The deep dish itself was definitely not your average pizza… In fact, it’s definitely more of a pie than anything else. It had pie crust around the side, the traditional toppings as the filling, another layer of crust on top, and then that was smothered in sauce. It was definitely tasty, but if you’re looking for a typical pizza, it is definitely not going to be that…
Final Comment: Definitely worth trying once
“The Bean” appears to be Chicago’s thing to see, and I can see why because I’ve never really seen anything like it. Unlike London’s Gherkin, which is a building that vaguely resembles a gherkin (I personally have always thought it looks more like a fish), this is a lot more straight forward, and it literally a giant silver reflective bean.
It was cool to see and take a picture in front of (Who doesn’t love a touristy Insta?), and I don’t know, maybe if I was a massive architecture fan it would have been a very different experience. However, I’m very much a person that likes experiences, and so seeing the bean as an attraction by itself, was pretty much over as soon as it started: see it, take picture, walk around for a second, leave.
Final Comment: Visit it along with something else, not as a sole activity
We went to a couple of places to shop, but Downtown was definitely the most notable. It has all the American shops you would expect: Sephora, Forever 21, Banana Republic, etc… As well as a bunch of restaurants. (Subscribe to my channel here to catch my haul video when it comes out, and find out what I bought).
Like central London, they’re not all in one place and it requires a lot of walking around, but I’m very used to going from street to street in search of bargains.
Final Comment: Maybe make a bit of a game plan before you go, so you know your routes
Fireworks Navy Pier
When we heard that Navy Pier put on a firework show on Wednesdays at 9:30pm and Saturdays at 10:15pm, it seemed like something we should check out. The pier itself has way more going on than I thought, with a small selection of Indie shops as well as a few restaurants and bars (and free WiFi!). So, if I had known, it probably would have been a cute place to chill for a bit beforehand.
However, the fireworks show itself was honestly quite short and underwhelming. It lasted about 10 minutes, if that, and we kept waiting for more to happen/it to get bigger but it just kind of… stayed as it was. I won’t lie, I probably wouldn’t watch it twice, but I would probably visit the pier again.
Final comment: Run through the fountain outside… I dare you
Similar to buildings like the Shard and Sky Gardens, 360 Chicago is an insanely high building that allows you to look over the city of Chicago. It’s very similar to the famous Willis Tower, but this one is cheaper with smaller queues, so happened to be our building of choice. Furthermore, they offer student discount so it only cost us $11.50! The view was absolutely amazing, and they have places to eat and buy souvenirs up there as well, so there are a few things to do.
Also, they offer this attraction called The Tilt, in which you pay an additional $8 to hold onto these bars attached to a glass pane and be tilted over the city of Chicago… It’s absolutely terrifying but was such an amazing experience and I am so glad that I did it, was a real great moment for me.
Final comment: You may absolutely dread it, but try the Tilt!
I didn’t actually know about Lake Michigan before going to Chicago (Give me a break, I barely knew anything about Chicago), so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Chicago had a beach… Sort of. I personally thought that it was your typical beach, but apparently, because it’s “man made”, it doesn’t count as a beach. However, I couldn’t tell the difference, and I’d say that it was Brighton level but with sand.
The water is absolutely freezing… and I thought the longer I spent in it, I’d warm up to it, but this wasn’t the case. My legs were frozen. It was not fun. However, lying on the sand was fun, would still recommend if you want some beach time.
Final Comment: Keep in mind that I’d take a pool over a beach anyway
And there you have it! I went to Chicago with no real guide of what to do, so I figured that I would provide one. Let me know if you’ve visited/plan to visit any of these places!
If you want to see them in action, you can find them all in my Chicago Travel Vlog!
Lots of love,