Our fall 2019 road trip ended with our first Windy City visit. In less than 30 hours, we packed in so much during our short stay in Chicago!
As a Marriott Rewards credit card holder, I always look for the best value for our annual “free night” award credit. Moxy Chicago Downtown was the most bang for the buck, so to speak. But I’m still not sure we are cool enough to stay in such a hip hotel. At the Moxy you check in at the bar, which is the focal point of the lobby. We received two drink tokens upon check in as well. The lobby featured a wide selection of board games, a vinyl collection and a podcast recording booth. Zombie Taco, located inside the hotel, provided us both a late-night snack and breakfast. Our room was tiny (150 sqft) and stylishly appointed. Last, but not least, when the sun went down the lobby transformed into a late-night hangout spot, complete with a DJ.
Pizza + the pier
After checking into the hotel, we walked a few blocks to grab some pizza from Lou Malnati’s. It was recommended to us by a friend of Brandon’s who lived in Chicago for several years. We loved our first experience with Chicago-style deep dish pizza so much that we returned the next day for another meal. Lou’s was full of tourists like us, and we waited nearly an hour and a half for our table in the middle of the afternoon. I have no regrets. I’ve talked about Lou’s pizza possibly more than any other dish we’ve eaten on 50 in 5. And I’m trying to convince Brandon to order it for my birthday this year.
After filling up on carbs, we set off in the direction of the river and meandered through the city toward Navy Pier. The weather was cold, drizzly, and windy. I was kicking myself for not packing hats or gloves! (In my defense, it was nearly 90 degrees earlier in our trip, and it was incredibly difficult to plan what to pack.) We broke down and bought hats at Old Navy, an annoying but necessary expense. Navy Pier was entirely underwhelming, likely due to the weather and the time of year that we visited. It was largely empty, and vendors were already closed for the season. We’ll re-visit in a warmer season, perhaps.
Back at the hotel, we took advantage of the bar and played a few rounds of Battleship before calling it a night.
Chicago architecture boat tour
The next morning was still cold, but bright and sunny! We made our way down to the riverwalk, and noticed that many of the bridges were being lifted. This is quite uncommon and only happens two times per year to allow private vessels to enter and exit the waterway.
After a stop to warm up with hot chocolate from Ghirardelli, we stepped onboard our boat for a Chicago lake and river architecture tour. It was the highlight of our visit (besides the 🍕, haha)! We were glad we chose the option that went out on Lake Michigan, because it offered a beautiful view of the city.
After the tour we did some more exploring by foot, and made sure to stop by Millennium Park to see the infamous Cloud Gate (aka: the bean). We snapped a quick pic, like the good tourists we are. Nearby, Crown Fountain was both fascinating and gross.
It was mid-afternoon, and our plan had been to wrap up in Chicago after dinner. Then, we’d drive toward home for a while before finding a hotel for the evening. We returned to Lou Malnati’s for a second round of pizza, then hit the road for our 1`1.5 hour drive home. We were making great time and weren’t too tired, so we ended up driving straight through and made it home around 4:30 a.m. Major kudos to Brandon for driving the entire time, and for the entire trip! We both love driving, but he typically takes the wheel for 100% of our road trips.
I’m not a sports fan, but would really enjoy visiting Wrigley Field on a future trip to Chicago, along with some good art or history museums. We’d also take another architecture tour in a heartbeat. I’m sure that different guides point out different things!
The end of our road trip
Chicago was the last stop on our road trip. We drove nearly 3,000 miles and visited more than 10 states. I’m not sure we’d do anything different. It was a great trip! We also loved our Chevy Cruze rental so much that Brandon bought one a few days after we returned. (He had been in a car accident the day before we left, and needed to find a new car ASAP.) Links to other posts in our fall road trip series below: