Chicago, IL Part 2
DETOURS ARE FUN
STEP GOAL: 10,000
INTENSITY LEVEL: EASY
DISTANCE: ~5.0 MILES
This is a story about how detours can get your creative juices flowing and make for great experiences.
I love to eat. Mix that with a walking tour and I'm in heaven. Before this trip to Chicago, I did a ton of research to find a mid-week walking tour of an up and coming area in Chicago. With our tickets booked, I was ready to go until the first bump on the road came when my husband realized that he misread his work itinerary and wouldn't be available to join me. No biggie, I thought. I can still go.
Then what I thought was going to be the end of the road came when I got a call saying the food tour had been cancelled due to the guide's unexpected unavailability. But the fast thinking tour company suggested I take their 1893 World's Trade Fair Tour with Bar stops. It started at the same time and the drinks would be complimentary for me. Hi five to the customer service team there that came prepared with my detour plans...which seems appropriate given the company is called Chicago Detours!
Walking through history
I got in some steps walking from the hotel to the start location at the Congress Plaza Hotel, which is one of the original buildings from the 1800s, and wandered around the lobby for a bit until the tour started. Of course, I didn't know what I was looking at until our guide, Elizabeth, pulled out her iPad and introduced us to the multi-media experience that would take this walking tour to a whole new level.
I was a little skeptical when I discovered it was going to be a 3-hour walking tour and would only cover about a mile. But the time commitment was totally worth it! Elizabeth was extremely knowledgable and engaging. Throughout the tour, she'd tell us to look up at something and then look down at the iPad to see an image from the 1890s of the exact place where we were looking. It gave me chills a few times.
Speaking of chills, chilly it was not the day we were walking around Chicago. It was in the high 90s, but the tour included a number of stops inside buildings with AC. Others at least gave us a respite from the sun!
And then there were the games...
A really good way to get your mind off the temperature were the games that we played along the tour. Our group was relatively small with just two couples and me (yes, I am still giving my husband some grief about that. Haha.) But the couples were kind enough to decide to split themselves up and we played boys against girls. The first scavenger hunt activity was in the Fine Arts Building where there is still an elevator operator to run it! I appreciated when we passed a floor that had no door, the operator put his arm out in front of us like a mom to a child at a sudden red light.
While we took the elevator up, we had to briskly walk down the stairs while searching for key historical clues on our list. Pretty sure the girls won that one.
We had a pint at The Berghoff, an iconic landmark and famous historic restaurant with authentic German fare. Among it's many claims to fame, it has the very first liquor permit the City of Chicago gave out after prohibition was rolled back. (It's framed on the wall, too.) The men took the lead after the trivia game here, but I blame the booze for that!
We ended with a tie after all was said and done, so we all got to walk with a tasty prize at the end - a handmade chocolate from a local chocolatier! (BTW - You can still enjoy this tour without any of the drinks!)
A personalized food tour
While I fed my mind with all the fun facts during the walking tour, my tummy was rumbling. Chicago is a foodie town with a ton of places to choose from, so I decided to make my own tour and fitstyle a dinner crawl with my husband.
After some online searching and talking with a few locals, I came up with the following route:
Stop #1 Three Dots and a Dash. In the tiki tiki tiki tiki tiki room...(sing along all you Disney fans!) Full disclosure, we'd been to this location before and liked it so much that we went back. The entrance is down an alleyway, which is now pretty well marked. Looks for the tiki torches! You head down a flight of stairs and into a dark restaurant with a full on tiki bar and a menu of small plates. It can get crowded, so you want to hit up this spot early if you don't want to end up waiting in line to get in!
Stop #2 Radio Anago. Turns out the bar is at the front of the restaurant. No stand up options here, but the stools were made of huge springs that wiggled this way and that while you sat on them. So, still totally fitstylish in my book! (See photo in the gallery below.) Sushi was on the menu here and the quality lived up the hype that I read online. It's not a huge area, so going at an off time or making a reservation is key.
Stop #3 Pacific Standard Time. This California influenced hot spot won me over with their handmade pita bread and inventive and fresh salads and small plates. (They have entrees, as well, but we stuck with the apps.) This place was packed when we arrived, but thankfully they had a huge bar area and we snuck into a spot just as a couple was leaving.
We ended the night with a walk back to the hotel as I scoped out some possible brunch options that we passed along the way!
My Step Count: ~9,189
- Stayed at The Gwen Chicago
- Took the Chicago Detours 1893 World's Fair Tour with Bars
- Dinner Crawl included Three Dots and a Dash, Radio Anago, and Pacific Standard Time
Link to a google map of the dinner crawl.
Step It Up!
Here are a couple fun ways to add more fitstyle to this urban experience:
- Use the H2W Rule: Drink at least one glass of water before that glass of "W"hatever you're drinking - wine, beer, or a cocktail.
- Even if you take a seat at the bar, remain standing while you're there.
- Sheraton Grand Chicago: Located by the river with great views and easy walking distance to downtown and to Navy Pier.
- The Gwen Chicago: an art deco feel based on the actual history of the hotel; in walking distance of downtown restaurants and shops.
Other Useful Link(s):
SHARING IS CARING! I'D LOVE TO HEAR FEEDBACK FROM YOU, COMMENT BELOW.