"If you don't know by now, I'm talking about Chi-Town" - Kanye West
Oprah , Michael Jordan , Kanye West , Common and wind are what I associated Chicago with especially in my younger years. I never met someone from Chicago until I was in 9th grade and my cousin's friend said that was where he grew up. And he was Haitian?! Ignorantly, I didn't think there was a Haitian population in the windy city and I was definitely vocal to him about it. I remember him looking at me like I had three eyes as he sat me down and gave me a needed history lesson. Don't worry I'll make this part short but informational so you won't get the same look I did years ago.
The third largest populated city in the US that you know of now was "founded" by a Haitian man named Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable in 1780. I add the quotation marks around founded because don't you hate when people claim to have founded a city or country and not give any credit to those who were already there when you got there or the people who helped built that place ? Factual Shade. Monsieur Point Du Sable was actually the first non -indigenous permanent resident in Chicago but it had already been inhabited by Native Americans and the name is derived from a French translation of the Native American word, Shikaakwa. The area also grew an abundance of wild garlic called "Chicagoua" so you can see the transformation of the name from then until now. Haitians love cooking with garlic so it's not surprising Jean Baptiste found his way there. Jokes but factual lol. Amazed at this bit of information I was schooled by my friend , I definitely felt a sense of pride to know my blood line had anything to do with bravely traveling and settling in this gorgeous city AND as a free man !
Although I have had Chicago layovers before , they have always been too short to do anything or I was too tired to care. This trip was scheduled to land at 11:30 pm and although that is pretty late, we were leaving late enough the next day to make some things happen. My plan was to wake up at 5am , go to the gym for an hour and then get ready to explore. So the gym didn't happen ( that would have been doing the most anyway !) but I did get up reasonably early. Fortunately , my cousin joined me on my trip and I was pleased to know I had someone with me to hold me accountable and go through with my plans. She's a flight attendant as well and understands the value of making the best out of the time given to enjoy what the city has to offer.
First stop was Cloud Gate , aka "The Bean" as called by most Chicago natives and tourist alike. Our hotel is conveniently located near the airport but it is an hour away from the main city attractions by train. We followed directions to the CTA , Rosemont Station for the blue line train. Thankfully only a five minute walk , the station had easy to use machines where we purchased our train tickets. There's a few options when buying your tickets depending on if you want a day pass or if you may be returning to the city , you can purchase the train card and add money for the day as well as any other day you return. I purchased the card and added for the day which cost me $15.
We took the train to the Washington stop and proceeded to walk about 10 minutes towards the Millennium Park where The Bean was housed. I was expecting an overwhelmingly amount of people trying to take pictures in front of this monument but we were in luck ! I'm not sure if it was because it was a Monday morning , summer's over , a work day or a combination of all of those factors but there was barely anyone there! My cousin and I were preparing our "photo shoot" like snaps and striving for great angles and unique pics. Well as unique as you could get with an enormous silver bean behind our heads. Ready to put in work , there was a worker pressure cleaning the area. Okay , everyone has a job they need to do and do well but it seemed as though if we went left , he did too , if we went right , there he was! Spraying the pavement which such focus and no concern for photo bombing any of the tourist shots. Like , excuse me sir , can you let us be great ? Finally , he crept slowly away from us and then completely out of sight and frame. It was such a beautiful day filled with sunshine and enough breeze to make you appreciate the rays. We enjoyed snapping photos of each other and together aiming the camera at the reflective large piece of metal . Who would thought something so simple would be so cool to look at and it really was. Obviously there's only so many type of pictures that could be taken so if you get there early like we did , you get the job done and move on to the next stop with no regrets!
After deciding we had enough in our gallery for our next move towards food . We arranged our way to breakfast ( read about that part of the trip under Fly Eats). Stomachs full and hearts happy , we walked aimlessly out of the restaurant to our left and to our surprise , towards the Navy Pier! Although I had read about the Navy Pier , my exploration plans were pretty much get to The Bean and wing it from there. I was ecstatic to see we had made our way to another famous area in Chicago without even trying. You should try though lol don't leave it to chance , trust me ! Contagious laughter was roaring into my ears and low and behold there was a bubble machine! An outdoor bubble machine to be exact , where children (probably made for them ) and adults ( I was definitely getting in ) could have a care free moment of bubbles and fun .
Also at the pier is the Chicago Children's Museum . "Chicago Children’s Museum is a place where families and caregivers with infants and children are encouraged to create, explore, and discover together through play. The museum features three vibrant floors of exhibits and activities that provide sensory experiences and engaging educational content focusing on literacy, science, math, visual and performing arts, and health." They have various interactive exhibits and fun , yet educational pieces to keep any child's attention as well as teach from infants to parents. I enjoyed the thought of bringing my niece to an area that allowed her to be a kid especially on a summer day while teaching and getting her excited to learn something new through this venue. The museum is opened Monday - Friday from 10 am to 5 pm and is $14 for children and adults to enter ;members and children under 1 for FREE! I would say it is a great part of Chicago to enjoy as a family.
Besides breathtaking views , the pier also had fun carnival type games and rides for your enjoyment. There was a massive Ferris wheel, cute carousel , rock climbing wall for kids and of course restaurants to replenish the energy used in that bubble machine!
Thank you Chicago for a day filled with adventure and pure joy. I can't wait to come back and indulge in the many other things you have to offer me!