Playing tourist in Chicago

Hot dog and ketchup sign, Chicago, IllinoisNo point in thinking Chicago would be the same after 26 years, any more than I would be the same now as I was then. I am proud to say that it was apparent during my recent visit that me and my former stomping ground have made some dramatic accomplishments.

At least a dozen skyscrapers have appeared along Michigan Avenue – also known as the Magnificent Mile. I’ve reached a few skyscraping goals, including traveling around the world and earning an M.F.A. in contemporary writing at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

My visit, thanks to Scott Meeker and Rich Cinquepalmi,  included the following Chicago tourist classics.

Things to do in Chicago

Cloud gate
This mirrored Jellybean looking public sculpture by Anish Kapoor is located in Millennium Park. Great for camera fun!

Crown Fountain
This innovative, interactive wading pool has two towers. Each displays giant faces of local residents, but watch out when the face puckers up! A spout of water shoots out of his or her mouth. This amusement is also located in Millennium Park.

Union Station
This 20,000-square-foot classic Beaux Arts style room has 18 soaring Corinthian columns, terracotta walls, a pink Tennessee marble floor and is crowned with a spectacular five-story, barrel-vaulted, atrium ceiling. These days vendors sell trinkets in the room, but it is still worth walking through. Check out where millions of feet have worn ripples in the stairs leading to street level.

Willis Tower
Known as the Sears Tower when I lived in town, this skyscraper is 108-stories tall. There are clear observation cubes jutting out of the top of the building. If you are brave enough, you can walk into one and look all the way to the ground between your feet.

Blue Man Group
This unique performance by silent yet expressive painted blue men was hilarious. It included audience participation and drumming with paint. To my surprise, at the beginning of the performance, they announced that I was a 2010 Gold Medalist in the sport of curling. Scott nudged me to stand up and wave to the audience, so I did.  They got a good laugh when they surprised I was an imposter. (Thank you, Scott, for arranging that birthday surprise for me!)

Walking the Magnificent Mile
We spent half a day wandering along Michigan Avenue, past Water Tower Place, Crate and Barrell, Tiffany’s and the soon to open Burberry. Dinner at the Purple Pig restaurant was a pork dream come true!

Wendella Chicago River Architecture
This 75-minute boat ride was an entertaining, educational and relaxing way to keep enjoying the city’s assets after a long day of walking around.

Orange – Contemporary brunch with a Peel
You might want to take a nap after eating one of these hearty meals. Make sure to order the Frushi – a knoc-off of sushi but made with slivers of fruit and sweet sticky rice.

The Field Museum
The dinosaur skeleton in the main lobby is far more impressive than television and movies make it seem. We went to Genghis Khan exhibition.

Buckingham Fountain
According to the website, the fountain (when operational) produces a 20-minute water display every hour and a center jet shoots 150 feet into the air.


About Kristine K. Stevens

Book Cover200Kristine is the author of "If Your Dream Doesn't Scare You, It Isn't Big Enough: A Solo Journey Around the World." This nonfiction book tells the story of how she sold her house, quit her job and traveled around the world.

Kirkus Book Review: "... Stevens makes a friendly, relatable narrator ... plenty of colorful stories to make this an enjoyable, inspiring read... An often sweet memoir about finding oneself in many different places."

Next travel book to spotlight Iceland

25817249396_f6c787ef9f_z Kristine broke free from a desk job once again, and this time ended up volunteering in the far corners of Iceland!

Details about the release of this book will be posted on Facebook.