It's funny, I should've written this last year. Anyways.., as you know, I love traveling. I traveled solo to Chicago alone last year for Thanksgiving. Some people might say, why? why do you travel alone? But people who traveled solo would understand how exciting this travel is. First off the best part is that you can do whatever you want. If you want to eat somewhere, you can go eat there without having to negotiate with someone else. If you want to shop longer, you can. The only downside is that you won't have photos of you as compared to traveling with someone else. If you are looking to visit Chicago before 2017 ends or just thinking of traveling alone in the future, keep reading. You won't believe how amazing time I had alone during my few days in Chicago, the windy city.
Normally when you travel the first time, you go to those "tourist" destinations where everyone recommends you to go to. Well, I sorta did, but not entirely. I did my research, planned my agenda, but it was unexpected because I didn't follow the "tourist" route; instead I looked up whatever I wanted to do. Below is the short list I went. I also had a sheet of paper that I had in my hand throughout the travels but I am not sure where that one went. Basically, it consisted all the operation time, areas (some places I wanted to check out was all over the city), and the train map.
To define Chicago in one short sentence is the clean version of New York. But New York has its own unique beauty as well! Read about my New York neighborhood guide.
I knew it would be cold, but it was actually super freezing. Good thing I packed a lot of clothes, I wore 3-4 extra layers. Still felt cold from snow and wind. Gloves and boots are a must, as well as fuzzy beanies! I shop my warm clothes from Urban Outfitters,
I stayed in The Westin O'Hare which is near the airport and a bit far from the downtown area itself. However, I'm glad I stayed in this hotel rather than downtown Chicago. It was quiet, warm, and so comfortable. It felt like I was at my own home. Their customer service is amazing, staffs are friendly and welcoming. As it was not for families, I enjoyed the peace and relaxation during my stay.
The Westin O'Hare offers free airport shuttle services and the hotel is also only 5 minutes walk from the train station. If you are traveling solo, one of the most important things to pay attention is the convenience. While people in Chicago were super nice, you still want to keep everything simple and organized. Speaking of being organized, luckily, there was a one blue direct train line from Rosemont to Chicago so I didn't have to worry about transferring. (What a relief!) But to be safe, if you are planning to ride the train, it's great to have the CTA app on your phone. It basically tells all the stations and colored lines, as well as the timetables.
Now that traveling solo to Chicago explanation is over, here's the fun part:
Places I visited throughout my solo Chicago travels.
1. Oz Park
This is a public park is Wizard of Oz themed. It's pretty interesting since there's Dorothy's Playlot and Emerald Garden. More, there are statues of Tin Man, Scarecrow, Dorothy and Toto, and Cowardly Lion and more. A great park for families to enjoy during the weekends or even take a walk. If you can see, it was super cold but still, the sound of crispy fall leaves flying kept me company. I was literally the only one in this neighborhood.
2. Art Institute of Chicago
Really enjoyed my time here. Did you know Art Institute of Chicago is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the US? As expected there were some cool exhibitions. Couldn't miss the beautiful designs of interior and the building. Museum keeps me going with full of creative ideas and thoughts. If you like museums, you will also like the museums in Houston!
3. Navy Pier
It would've been prettier if I went here around the dusk, but I had other plans so I visited here around noon. I went on the Navy Pier Ferris wheel alone, even took photos at the free photo booth. Best moment ever. The ocean, people, and the city view were incredible!
4. The Crystal Gardens
I thought this was an arboretum but apparently, it's an event venue! After an amazing city and ocean view from the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier, I found this place as I was walking towards the uber/left area to get to my next destination. It was crazy how tall and healthy the plants and flowers were, the colors were beautiful.
5. Rotofugi Designer Toy Store & Gallery
I love this place!! I wish they had one in Houston. Thankfully, they have an online store. This is the place where I got my French Fries (I got it as a Christmas present from my husband)! Check out how cute the ketchup is! hahaha. From plush toys, plastic toys, vinyl figures to art, magazines, and stationeries, Rotofugi has a lot to offer. Sizes differ from small ones to large ones. I think it's the perfect gift store for any holiday.
6. Magnificent Mile
Magnificent mile is the district with upscale shops, fashion outlets, fancy restaurants, and hotels. If you are visiting Chicago around this Thanksgiving holiday season, Magnificent Mile is where you want to shop!
7. John Hancock Center
Skyline view at night is the best! Do you agree? It's definitely breathtaking able to watch the scenic views from a 100-story building. Regardless of how many people there were, I managed to take the bunch of photos. On the right side, they have this thrilling new attraction called Tilt. It basically tilts forward and moves download for you to see the view. Even looking at it makes me intimidated but I did see few people trying it. (additional $7)
8. Chicago Riverwalk
I'm glad I didn't uber a lot of places, instead, I walked. Walking is the best way to really enjoy traveling, see unique things, and experience fully. See what other useful travel tips you should know.
9. Grant Park, Museum Campus & Shedd Aquarium
From Grant park to museum campus to Shedd Aquarium, it was definitely worth the travel. Took me a good 1 hour in line to go into the Shedd Aquarium because there were so many people. You should definitely put Shedd Aquarium on your list since there are so many things to see.
10. Adler Planetarium
Adler Planetarium is great, a lot to see, but unfortunately, I wasn't been able to go in for the exhibitions since there were so many groups and people in general. So if you are planning to visit Adler Planetarium, you might want to plan to go early in the morning than late. While I didn't see the exhibitions and shows, Lake Michigan and city view was incredible. A lot of geese too.
11. Lincoln Park Zoo
I love animals so I couldn't skip the zoo. In fact, this zoo was huge, decorated with Christmas lights.
12. Millenium Park
I knew I had to see the famous Cloud Gate ("the bean"). There were way too many people here, so I did what I did best, get the top part of the cloud gate. The photo I took looks more like a water drop about to explode but I love this photo since you can see all the buildings reflected.
I did eat in few cafe & restaurants but I was more focused on taking photos, exploring around and getting the most out of my travels. Now, Chicago is one of my favorite cities to visit. I definitely am planning to go back. Hope this guide helped you and don't forget to save it for the future.
On the note for traveling solo, don't be scared. I urge you to actually try traveling alone once in your life since it's the best thing ever. You just need to plan well, be organized, take extra battery charger so your phone doesn't die, and stay warm. Traveling alone or even spending time alone will help you grow and be independent.
So travelers, where is your next destination?
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I am a Houston based blogger who loves taking photos, writing, trying new dishes, traveling beautiful destinations & more! Blogging gives me a chance to share and talk all about these moments with you. I'm all about being happy and positive vibes!
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