48 Hours in Chicago

Back in 2017, X and I planned a Labor Day weekend road trip to Chicago. We visited a few spots (Lincoln Park Zoo, Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, the Cloud Gate, and Buckingham Fountain) and had a pretty awesome time. If you’re interested in the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Shedd Aquarium, or the Field Museum, check out the post here.

Fast forward to summer 2019 – X’s dad, F, and his wife, M, wanted to set up a visit. We didn’t want to stay in Dearborn, so we decided on a road trip to Chicago. Keep reading to find out what we did with 48 hours in the Windy City!

The drive to Chicago from Dearborn takes about 4.5 hours. Since we arrived fairly late in the day, we decided to have an early dinner and catch the night view from the 360 Chicago Observation Deck. 360 Chicago sits on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Building and offers a panoramic view of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan.


Our only full day in Chicago began bright and early. After brunch, we headed over to the Art Institute of Chicago. I highly recommend buying your tickets online before arriving, because there was a line to buy tickets. Since I had mobile tickets (I promise it’s super easy to just click open the barcode), we just walked right in!
The Art Institute is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the US. It is visited by approximately 1.5 million guests annually and boasts iconic works such as Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte (my personal favorite), Pablo Picasso’s The Old Guitarist, and Grant Wood’s American Gothic.

We were lucky enough to hit a special exhibit, Manet and Modern Beauty, which is the first Art Institute exhibition devoted exclusively to Édouard Manet’s later works. During his later years, Manet had became more interested in fashionable women. We saw Jeanne (Spring), which is considered Manet’s Mona Lisa.


After spending about 3 hours in the Art Institute, we wandered over to the Cloud Gate. X kept calling it The Frijole, which is Spanish for “The Bean”. There were a TON of people there, but no trip to Chicago is complete without visiting The Bean!


Our next stop was Buckingham Fountain, which is majestic and beautiful. We wandered over just as the fountain was going off – which meant we got absolutely drenched from the spray. It was nice and refreshing, but also pretty awful at the same time!


I had read that the best view of the Chicago skyline was from the Adler Planetarium. Reviews were not wrong! We opted not to go inside the Planetarium, but just walked along the waterfront. Check out these amazing views!


We had only about 2 hours on our last day to explore before driving back to Dearborn. We decided to spend it at the Garfield Park Conservatory. Garfield Park is a 184-acre urban park located in Chicago’s West Side. The Conservatory features 8 indoor display gardens and 10 acres of outdoor gardens. We only had time for the indoor part, but what we saw was truly amazing.


The Aroid House features a spectacular “Persian Pool”, with 16 yellow lily pads created by the world acclaimed glass artist, Chihuly.


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