Chicago Weekend Getaway in February 2018

Today’s blog post is something different, a travel report on a Chicago weekend getaway I took in February 2018. As an organist, my weekend trips often are from Thursday to Saturday, since I don’t get paid if I’m not on the organ bench on Sunday morning! The reason for scheduling the trip was due to an expiring free Hyatt night that I wanted to spend in a large city. Since Chicago turned out to be the best deal for my frequent flier miles, off I went!

I wanted to book the Hyatt Regency Chicago, in the heart of the Loop, but I had to settle for the Hyatt Regency at McCormick Place, several miles to the south. The room was spacious and had a nominal lakeside view, given that you had to look far over the smattering of buildings to the east to see Lake Michigan. The McCormick Place Convention Center, the large Marriott and Hyatt, and the Wintrust Arena give the area a very modern and safe feel, though the half-mile or so walk from the green and red CTA (“L”) stations at Cermak (22nd Street) is a bit dicey late at night. After one time of walking it, I waited for the bus the next time so as to leave nothing to chance.

For my last trip to McCormick Place, to retrieve my luggage to transfer to my new hotel, I took the Metra rail from Millenium Station on North Michigan Avenue. These trains can be a great alternative for many neighborhoods in the city as well as the main transit choice for the suburbs. Though the Metra trains are not covered by the CTA pass, I was just interested to see how this South Side train worked. I did get the unexpected experience of walking directly through a break in the annual convention being held by the Nation of Islam. Travel is made richer by experiences like these!

I had loose plans to do a lot of things, but I ended up just seeing a movie and visiting the Museum of Contemporary Art as my big events. I realize that I could have seen a movie anywhere, but it was up in Lincoln Park so I got to tick off another neighborhood visited. The museum was just a couple of blocks from The Tremont Hotel, where I stayed my second night, and it was an experience! It’s the first full-scale contemporary museum that I’ve ever visited. The entire concept of this type of museum is the opposite of a traditional or even modern museum. The permanent collection is tiny, and most of the square footage is set up to host temporary exhibits that rotate every few months. My favorite exhibit was a single room that juxtaposed Alexander Calder miniature mobiles with some smaller objects by Jeff Koons.

My best meal of the trip was a late breakfast at Yolk – one of several renowned breakfast/luncheonette spots in the Loop. Another must stop for me are original Chicago third-wave coffee shops. I made it to both Intelligentsia and Dollop. Can you believe that pour-over coffee at both chains is at least a dollar cheaper than the price at Onyx Coffee Lab in Northwest Arkansas?!

Have you visited Chicago recently? What was your trip like?

If you liked this post, please visit my Chicago travel guide.

Posted 2018-03-05

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