To be honest, I never really settle down for long. This summer included Costa Rica, New Mexico, and all sorts of adventures in the Texas Panhandle. Despite my local expeditions, my travel bug was full pitch by the time August started. Seeing my best friend was top priority, so last week I flew into Illinois and visited Chicago for the first time!
Sadly I didn’t get to spend much time on the city’s streets or get a true feel for the city. I’m completely okay with that, though, because I was reunited with my other half. Anyhow, it means that I have a good excuse to plan a second visit to this hectic city….
First off, one thing that caught my eye was the architecture. It was a striking mix between old and new, which does seem to be the case in most large cities. I’d also love to explore the riverside and lake shore. However, you can be certain that I’ll refuse to drive in Chicago traffic. It was one of the most hectic road systems I’ve seen in quite some time.
Still, I’d love to melt into the crowds of people crossing each other’s paths at dizzying speeds and occasionally stop to hear a street musician accompanying the lives of so many strangers….
Okay, okay. Now that I’m done with my travel musings, here are three free things to do in Chicago.
1. Visit the Lincoln Park Zoo. To be honest, I don’t expect much when I hear “free zoo”. When you toss a zoo into the middle of one of America’s largest cities, my expectations plummet to about negative ten. Imagine my (pleasant) surprise when I entered the front gates. It was nothing like I had envisioned. Actually, it’s one of the better zoos I’ve visited. The walkways were shady, and there were a whole host of unique and engaging exhibits. Still, it was kinda a strange effect at times. One doesn’t expect to see the Chicago skyline while walking past kangaroos and camels.
2. Tour the Millennium Park and picnic next to the Bean. Sometimes I don’t understand tourism, and I usually don’t understand modern art. Combine the two, and my brain is beyond lost. Still, I’ll admit that the reflections in the Cloud Gate (aka the Bean) were fascinatingly vibrant. It was also a great place to people watch, and if that isn’t your thing, then the gardens are a beautiful way to distance yourself from the dizzying madness of humanity.
3. Take a stroll down Navy Pier. We managed to find ourselves driving along the pier just as the sun was setting, so the view of Chicago’s famous skyline was accented by a golden glow and a stunning reflection off the water. Granted, there are more things to do on the pier such as riding the popular ferris wheel. However, I’m content to take in the local sights while enjoying a peaceful stroll.
Combined, all three things are a great way to get a quick view of the city. You get to tour a local gathering point for families and friends at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Millennium Park offers a reprieve from navigating stressful streets. And Navy Pier is a great chance to experience a cool breeze and fantastic views of the city.