Our final morning in the windy city dawned and it was sunny and beautiful – result. It was by chance also the day of the Chicago marathon and so there was a buzz radiating through the air of the city. We slept in a little before packing up and checking out of the Chicago Getaway Hostel. It had been such a great place to stay and for excellent value. We headed into the city for our first stop of the day – the world’s first and only Nutella Café. For anyone that knows me, I am not a fan of the popular chocolate and hazelnut spread, but it was Yasmin’s one big hit for the weekend, so I trudged along to check it out. It was a bright, modern café type restaurant and other than the bright red branding could have been mistaken for many other coffee shop chains. I opted for the Nutella latte, actually surprisingly nice followed by some cheese and ham crepes. The crepes were completely delicious and I was surprised by the general quality of the food the kitchen was turning it. This may be a gimmick but the food and drinks were definitely worth the trip.
The Nutella Café is located right next to Millennium Park and so we headed over there after our leisurely breakfast. The park is huge and if you had more time would be a great place to spend a few hours in the sun. Alas, we were on a 4 day schedule and so we made our way straight to the main attraction – the bean. The large mirrored bean structure is a Chicago icon and no visit to the city would be complete without a visit to one of the world’s most famous sculptures. It was a gorgeous sunny day and so we meandered through the park and spent a while making the most of all the photo opportunities that the bean offered. There are a lot for the record.
After taking ALL the photos we headed through the marathon route, dodging runners, to our final attraction of the trip – the Willis Tower. This is the tallest of the skyscrapers in Chicago at 110 stories and features the famous Skydeck with Perspex boxes that allow you to look down at the city below you. Despite us arriving before opening, there was a huge queue which we joined for 30 minutes until opening time. This is where our Chicago City Pass really came into its own. With our passes we waltzed straight to the front of the queue and ended up being the first people with access to the Tower and as a result the Ledge Balconies. It felt a bit like being a celebrity wandering around the top floor of such a famous tower with no other people around and having a 20 minute photoshoot in the ledge all to ourselves. We were super lucky that by chance we were the only people using the pass to access the attraction on that day but it definitely confirms the value of the pass for those on a short time frame, looking to see as much as possible. We wandered around, taking in the 360 degree views for a while before descending back to ground level for our last few hours.
We had completed all of the attractions on our list and so we made the most of our final few hours to shop. Around the city centre there is a multitude of value designer stores resulting in purchases of a lot of Calvin Klein underwear and a Ralph Lauren jacket. It was great to just wander and take in the skyscrapers and feel of the city, especially with the added buzz of marathon day. We finished the trip just as we had started – with a fab Italian meal. We sat out in the sun, at the beginning of October and it was fabulous. The US might seem far, but given what we managed to see and do in a 4 day weekend, I would have no qualms about heading back again for a similar trip. The question is – will you?