Chicago: Downtown kayaking, Chinatown, Bill Burr, Doug Stanhope, Field Museum, and more!

One more month in Chicago! Having stayed longer than planned and with cold weather rolling in, we're ready for what's next. At least two more posts on Chicago including one on what I didn't like about the city, and we'll be somewhere else.

Once again, here is what we've been doing recently for anyone who plans to visit the city, or is interested in what we're up to: 

Lincoln Park and Lincoln Park Zoo: While Millennium Park by the loop is more concentrated and filled with museums, art, and events; Lincoln Park with its larger area, trails, and lawns, feels more like Philly's Fairmont or many areas of NY's Central Park. This is the first zoo I've been to where the animals didn't seem depressed and miserable. The zoo is entirely free so it's just a matter of walking in from the other beautifully landscaped areas of the park. If you visit the zoo, be sure to leave the gates to the south for great views of the skyline from the south pond.


Field Museum: Museums like this become less worth my time as I get older. They're great for kids and field trips, but if I could learn more browsing the topic online, I'll pass. Glad we went once, but wouldn't recommend if you're short on time. Other museums like the Museum of Science and Industry, the Art Institute, and the Planetarium are nearby.

Downtown Kayaking: One of my favorite events so far! If you're in Chicago during warm weather and are somewhat active, the views of the buildings are stunning from the river. Paddling out of the way of large tour boats is less
stressful than it sounds. Just watch out for the large jet of water that shoots out and over the river near the main entrance on the hour, every hour!

Bill Burr and Chicago Theater: Seeing a comedian this good, in this sized theater (a first for me) can't be duplicated! I was a little apprehensive about the ticket price knowing a recorded version will eventually be on Netflix, but it was completely worth it. Unique moments and the audience's reaction to challenging material can't be felt anywhere but in the theater. The theater itself is beautiful. We dressed up and included the show in a nice night out.

Doug Stanhope at Reggies Rock Club: Another well-known comedian, but unlike the 3,000+ audience at the Chicago Theater, this was a smaller crowd at a venue that typical has music. We stood directly in front of Doug throughout all his beautiful offensiveness. Was surprised that he wasn't at a bigger venue, but after witnessing Chicago's reaction to some of Bill Burr's more controversial comments, and considering Stanhope's routine, it makes sense.

Cosmic Run 5k: Body powders and glow sticks! A 5k followed by beer and dubstep. Not quite what I expected since the event wasn't timed, but fun none-the-less. Many Chicago events become available on Groupon if they don't sell like planned, we got tickets for half what some people paid.


Chinatown: Being in Chicago's Chinatown is like stepping into another country. Simpler than NY's chinatown, or even Philadelphia's, the main street area is short, but a large two story walk-through market contains as many stores and shops as the entire main street area (Wentworth), so make sure to go to this market (Chinatown Square Plaza) if you visit. Ping Tom Park has nice views from downriver of the city, a water taxi stop, and kayak rentals. 

World Music Festival and Chicago Cultural Center: The Chicago Cultural Center is across the street from the popular Cloud Gate (Bean) and hosts a number of regular free art and music events. Even if you don't have the time to stay for a concert, the detail of the building's interior is worth a quick stop. The large Tiffany dome, and embedded quotes in dozens of languages aren't something I've seen anywhere else. 

Lindsay and Dar

Dar Williams at the City Winery: Large glass walls separate this small venue from huge barrels of wine that store a wide selection of options. Great place for concerts. Table seating only, but seats are bought and reserved. Full service wait-staff that keeps chatters quite and brings delicious hot toddy's. Dar Williams wasn't bad either.

 South side of Millennium Park

Walks and loose ends:  One of the best ways to see Chicago is still just to pick a direction and walk. Unplanned walks have shown us all types of interesting sites including the installation pictured above and Oz Park (below). A couple other restaurants worth mentioning are the Pick Me Up cafe, E.leaven, and California Pizza. California Pizza is right downtown and offers a break from the typical Chicago style pizza with a bigger focus on toppings and crust. E.leaven offers the best bagels I've found outside of the northeast. They claim their secret is filtered water. Pick Me Up is a relaxed, late-night, cafe/restaurant by Wrigley with a focus on vegetarian options.