Bueller Style

a view of the city from the Shedd Aquarium

It is nice to know that after all these years, Ferris Bueller‘s Chicago still delights. We’ve had run-ins with just about everything Ferris did, with the exception of Wrigley Field and Charlie Sheen, but who knows? We still have 2 weeks to go.  With wind burned cheeks and lips that peel off when we speak, we are tearing through this gusty blast of a town. We just love it. It is the true capital of the mid-west.  Sophisticated, but not elitist. Forward thinking, but not crunchy granola. Confident, but not narcissistic. And of course…it has a fantastic sense of humor.

Wait! Did I just describe myself? BAH Ha Ha!

Moving on…

our eventual view to the left of the Wrigley

The start of our trip was actually not terrific.  We had a one bedroom apt on Michigan Ave, sight unseen.  We’ve had great luck in this department so far, but yikes…our luck ran out at this place.  It wasn’t clean, so that was that.  BUT it was also lit with all florescent light, and I don’t mean eco-low watt bulbs.  I mean, full on, high school lunch room florescent light.  If I learned anything from Deborah, it is that under no circumstances should one allow themselves to be poorly lit.  In fact,  she basically lived in a dark cave after she turned 50.

and our eventual view of Navy Pier to the right

Luckily, Michael found the last place available in all of Chicago (at our price point) on North Columbus and we were thrilled to walk into not just a clean and lovely apartment, but floor to ceiling windows that provided us views of (other hotel rooms and) bits of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan itself.

This brings us to to our first Ferris activity…a parade.  We weren’t in it, but we did go watch it.  The Magnificent Mile is a stretch of Michigan Avenue that starts just across the river.  It boasts lovely shopping and at Christmas time they light it.  But they don’t just light it, they have a big parade book ended by Mickey Mouse and Santa, then fireworks, then they light it.  A lady at the grocery store told me all about it.  The best place to stand, she said, was along the river in front of the Hyatt.  Really? I thought.  That’s one of the hotels we can see into from our apartment.  How perfect is that?

So I took G at 5 that day and stood in the cold with some lovely people who gave him chips and juice and then Michael joined us at 6 when the parade started.  We saw Mickey and Minnie and then we left at 630.  If you didn’t know, Michael doesn’t enjoy crowds or parades really, and besides, my feet had turned into ice chunks.  No matter!  We could watch the rest of the parade from the safety and comfort of our apartment…at least the bits we could see in the corners.  This was a good move considering the fireworks were loud and according to one little man…scary.

Our next Ferris inspired adventure was a climb up to the top of the of the John Hancock building, made very accessible by the world’s fastest elevator (I think that’s what they said).  The miniature views of the city below are of course, spectacular.  But the view of that great Lake Michigan is just beyond.  It goes on and on and I have always felt so comforted to know that there is not ONE shark in it.

Lastly we hit the fantastic Art Institute of Chicago.  I could really do a whole separate post on it, I enjoyed it so much, but I don’t have time!  Ack.  We of course went to see it’s big prize, the impressionist pointillism by

I snapped this section above the heads of other viewers

Georges Seurat, Sunday on La Grande  Jatte.  It did not disappoint.  Unlike the Mona Lisa that is so teeny tiny, this painting is something you can, in fact, get lost in.  It’s no surprise, I spent most of my time in the Parisian impressionist section, but I also have to say G and I really enjoyed the Thorne Miniature Rooms.  These rooms are honestly miniature, I mean the few rooms you see below are completely miniature reproductions, 1 inch to 1 foot in scale.  Mrs. Thorne was married to a wealthy Chicago so and so (James Ward of the whole Montgomery Ward situation), and decided to create rooms with her overwhelming abundance of doll house miniatures.  Eventually she began to commission pieces by artisans to her exacting standards in order to complete her rooms with absolute historical accuracy, quite a hobby.

English dining room-Georgian: artic.edu
Virginia dining room, c. 1800: artic.edu
French Boudoir-Louis XV: artic.edu

A few other delightful attractions that I don’t recall Ferris getting to on his day off, include the Millennium Park, which is right up there with all the great urban oases of this country.  To ramp it up a notch it features some pretty futuristic and ‘new millennium’ inspired art, which brings us to ‘Cloud Gate,’ or what locals refer to as the Bean. On the outside it reflects the city of Chicago…

and underneath it reflects all the tourists as they take photos of it…

can you find us?

Michael also got this great shot of G apparently floating into the sky—YES!

Also we have the Shedd Aquarium which is part of Chicago’s gigantic museum campus.  This is not just any old aquarium, it is the world’s largest marine mammal habitat.  That just means it houses and takes tremendous care of beautiful sea mammals.  The dolphin show alone was worth the visit.  It takes place inside a giant infinity pool that looks out into the vast Lake Michigan.  We also saw a Dora the Explorer 4-D movie, the baby Beluga whale that was just born in August, sharks, sting rays, and penguins.  AND it is so very toddler friendly.  We did the CityPass, by the way.  It was well, well worth it.

the Beluga that swam right up to us

Michael and the little man also hit The Field Museum, which is housed on the museum campus as well.  He said it was a GIANT museum of natural history that a Wes Anderson movie should be filmed in immediately.  When asked what his favorite part of the Field Museum was, G will tell you—Monkey Skeletons…Monkey Skeletons—Monkey Skeletons.  They left quite an impression.

Well, after all of this, by the time this post publishes, we will STILL have another week left in Chicago.

Any tips?  Favorite spots?  Places you’d like us to go and snap photos of?  Please leave your recommendations/requests in the comment section below.  Have a great week.


  • Delicious dining there! Oysters and fantastic draft beer (and more) at The Publican. Then there’s Mindy’s Hot Chocolate which has a full yummy menu (great for lunch), plus fantastic desserts and hot chocolates. Classic, superbly made Macaroons and fresh baked croissants at Vanille Patisserie. Cookies of ALL concoctions (like brownie chunks and potato chips in a cookie) in a fun retro setting with 70’s music at The Cookie Bar. If you can handle gelato in the cold, go to Black Dog Gelato for some really divine flavors. If you want any more savory choices I’ve got those too!

  • Great job. I walked the magnificent mile when my feet hurt so bad I had to buy a new pair of shoes/
    I always loved it when the big stores had their “Xmas Windows” done, hope they are there for you to see, they do go all out. I realize you are not into shopping but the walking is good for you.(not when the wind is howling of course). You seem to be “doing it all”, thanks for the tour. Love, GG

  • Great post – you accomplished a lot! Here are some recommendations (I am a Chicagoan):
    For the best brunch ever go to Southport Grocery. It is just north of the Southport Brown Line stop. The neighborhood is really great and filled with fun boutiques to shop around.
    If you like Mexican food check out Rick Bayless’s Xoco. Or Big Star in Wicker Park. Big Star was just named one of the best taco joints in the US and it is cheap.
    If you like Italian try Volare or Prosecco.
    If you like speakeasy style places check out Bavettes or Untitled. Bavettes has great food too!
    If you want steak try Gibsons or Hugo’s Frog Bar.
    Take the Christmas Train! The CTA (the el) has a Christmas train, driven by Santa. Here is more info: http://www.transitchicago.com/holidaytrain/#schedule

    That’s what I came up with off the top of my head. Let me know if you need any more info!

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