• Bruce

Day 3: Chicago

Today was our last full day in Chicago and we had a lot of things planned. We had another great breakfast at the Gwen. Since it was a weekday, they had a regular a la carte menu, but we could each get one item for free.

Yesterday at the Art Gallery, I purchased a ticket that also bundled a visit to the Willis Tower Sky Deck. The 110-story Willis Tower (better known as Sears Tower) was the tallest building in the world for almost 25 years and is the icon that I associate most with Chicago. My girlfriend is not as passionate about architecture and observatories as I am, but was very supportive of me visiting. I took an Uber after breakfast to the Willis Tower and headed up the high speed elevators to the top.

The views were stunning on this beautiful sunny day. I was very happy to see that the clouds from the last couple days had cleared up. A common issue with observatories at these famous landmarks is that you don’t get to see the actual building when you are inside it. However, Chicago has such an incredible skyline that it doesn’t matter too much. The clear day allowed me to see miles out in every direction.

The most popular part of the SkyDeck is the glass box that extends over the street below. There was a long line for getting this shot and each person gets exactly one minute here, but it was worth it.

After this exciting visit, I reunited with my girlfriend back at the Gwen and checked out. We were moving a little bit west to a new hotel - Loews Chicago. Since our next stop was Navy Pier, we were going to head in this direction anyways, which reduces the overhead of switching hotels. It was also within walking distance to the Gwen. Frequent readers of my blog might already know that since we would only be staying one night here, it must be an Amex FHR property. Great Amex FHR deals are few and far between, but when they exist and the stars align, it is too good to pass up. This one night stay was only $180, which is easily offset by the $160 of property credits that come with Amex FHR.

While this is technically a 4-star property, it was brand new and everything looked great.

After settling in, we walked to the nearby Navy Pier, which has gone through an extensive remodeling in recent years.

Along with numerous shops and restaurants, the main indoor area has this giant greenhouse, which is perfect for enjoying nature without the summer heat.

There is also a large ferris wheel and some amusement park rides on the outside.

There were some great views of Downtown Chicago.

Afterwards, we walked along the Riverwalk towards the Chicago Architecture Center. A highly recommended activity when visiting Chicago is to go on one of their architecture cruises. We had a fantastic and very funny guide that provided great commentary for all the interesting buildings and history of Chicago.

Learning about the details and history of these buildings really lets me appreciate them more. After a wonderful cruise, we headed back to Loews for dinner. Since we had a $100 credit for dinner, we went all out with some delicious steak and halibut.

I ended the night with a dip in the hotel pool that I had all to myself.

It’s been an incredible three days in Chicago and we will be happy to return one day.