The Windy City and I

I am a rather big country music fan and rarely find fellow fans in the UK, but deemed this post most appropriate being sat on a train heading to the Country to Country concert at the O2 arena in London. 

Last summer I decided that whilst over in the states I should try and see one of my favourite singers live. Wading through all the various tour dates I eventually came accross that Luke Bryan was playing in Chicago at the end of August. Five days before I finished work in Connecticut and flew over to the Land of Lincoln, I was on my own and without a phone at this point so relied on local brochures and people to recommend places to see and things to do, some of which I am going to share with you now.

  

Firstly, accommodation, I would really recommend the Chicago Getaway Hostel. I have stayed in several other places, both much costlier and neither with as good a location as this. Those were the Best Western O’Hare, which I would not recommend purely because of their awful shuttle service and the fact I kept getting locked out of my room, and the Hilton at Chicago O’Hare. I got the last one on a crazy cheap deal on Hotels.com, it is amazing for a stop over at the airport as it’s actually in the airport and you can walk straight through to its lobby from baggage. It’s also great if you want to spend some time watching the planes land and take off.

  
So I arrived a couple of days before the concert in order to explore Chicago as I mentioned above I stayed in a fantastic hostel called the Chicago Getaway Hostel (http://www.getawayhostel.com), it was in a stunning location and super easy to get from O Hare on the Blue Line then only a short walk from the nearest station. The receptionists at the hostel were really friendly, I explained why I was there and they gave me a few free ideas to do on my spare days, which I will share with you! 

  
I also probably mentioned in a past post that I love going to the theatre, well, the hostel receptionist put me in the right direction of cheap tickets to nearby theatres. I didn’t realise how big a thing the theatre is in Chicago, there were loads of local ones with great shows on which I thought was a lovely idea to do one evening as I wouldn’t have to walk too far alone in the dark. The Apollo Theatre had ‘Thrones! A Musical Parody’ on, it is a hilarious Edinburgh Fringe sell out play that was touring the U.S at the time, a musical of the Game Of Thrones series. If you can get cheap tickets a trip to the theatre one night in a strange city is an exciting, inexpensive and cultural way to spend an evening. It’s an experience I try to do when I visit a strange city whether it’s a ballet, opera or theatre, an evening of live performance shouldn’t go a miss. 

    
Day one in the Windy City and I found myself exploring Lincoln Park and its Zoo. Let me first mention this zoo is FREE and it’s amazing! A great way to spend an afternoon either in a group or alone, they had seals, giraffes, meerkats, you name it they have it and they’re expanding!

  

I ended up staying until it closed!

Day two and I decided to explore the city of Chicago itself, if you’re heading to the city anytime soon add this next walk to your list. Take a stroll down to the Navy Pier, it has some stunning views and there are plenty of restaurants to grab a bite or have a drink in whilst looking back at the city. If you carry on walking along the bike trail heading north from Navy Pier you also come accross a bridge, which when you look down the river, Trump Towers (unfortunately) is right in the centre and perfectly frames a beautiful river view. I spent quite a while watching all the boats heading up and down the river and ocean on the other side.

  

Another suggestion of mine is that whilst you’re down at Navy Pier, it isn’t too difficult to hop on the L (elevated train) and head up to Millennium Park. This park is full of sculptures and lovely gardens, it even has a huge outside concert stage with a very impressive speaker layout. See if you can spot the bean there and take some jazzy photos in its reflection!

  

Finally, the whole reason I went to Chicago… to see Luke Bryan at Wrigley stadium, the home of the Chicago Cubs! Yes, I did go to the concert alone BUT I had the most amazing time and met a group of girls who were a similar age and studying in Chicago. If there is something you want to do or a place you want to visit don’t be put off if you can’t find someone to go with, the people you meet whilst travelling share similar interests to you, they are there because they want to explore or experience something that you do too. 

  

Planning my trip around this concert was really worth it, I probably wouldn’t have gone all the way to Chicago otherwise. Infact i loved it so much that I decided to go back towards the end of the trip, stopping off on my way back from the west coast, this time with my younger sister. I gave her a quick tour of the city and we even squeezed in a white sox baseball game, all within 36 hours. Using the L means you can get around the city both easyily, quickly and inexpensively.

  
Are you planning a trip to Chicago? What are your plans, I’d love to hear! 

If you have any questions about where to stay or what to do in Chicago too let me know!

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