the windy city

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Our Chicago trip has come and gone, and it was wonderful. I always get a little anxious before being away from the kids, especially this time with it being four nights. But grandma did awesome :-) The stinkiest part was an hour after we left when Eric realized that he forgot his dress clothes for his conference...oops! We turned around and met his mom halfway to get his stuff, and then were on our way again.

Wanted to share about our time in the city — what we loved, didn't love and some great tips we learned.

But first: If you're driving to Chicago from Des Moines, the Quad Cities area is a great midway stop for lunch. We highly recommend Central Standard (get the cheese curds!).

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 + PARKING

We used the Spot Hero app to reserve a parking spot in a ramp near our hotel for $25/night. Parking at our hotel was $65/night, so this was a much cheaper option on literally the exact same block. We paid $100 total and saved $160!

 + HOTEL

We enjoyed our stay at The James luxury boutique hotel. The rooms have modern decor and free wifi, and it's in a great location for walking to shops and sights!

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 + FOOD

Deep dish pizza: When in Chicago, you eat deep dish pizza. We tried Giordano's famous stuffed deep dish pizza. It was hard to choose a pizza place, as everyone seems to have a different opinion on the best one. We were hesitant as we are used to thinner crust pizza, but it was better than we expected! Preorder online for a quicker experience.

Quick lunch: If you need a quick lunch in the city, Protein Bar was my favorite. When you are eating out every meal for four days in a row, sometimes you just want a salad and smoothie (immediately followed by a cupcake, of course). Or there's always Shake Shack, which I also enjoyed!

 Dinner with our friend Philip at Star of Siam

Dinner with our friend Philip at Star of Siam

Best meal: My favorite restaurant was Antique Taco in Wicker Park. The creamy queso, street tacos, and agua fresca...absolutely delicious! And it feels so homey! My only regret is not buying a TACOS pennant.

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 + Sweet Treats

Donuts: It was a dream to be surrounded by several cute donut shops! I tried Stan's Donuts, Glazed and Infused, and Doughnut Vault, and my favorite was ... (drum roll please) ... Stan's! (Honestly, I wasn't blown away by any of them, but Stan's wins by a hair.) But as far as experience goes, you can't beat the cute little Doughnut Vault walk-up window!

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Cupcakes: Can't say enough good things about the Cookie Cupcake from Sprinkles. BEST CUPCAKE I HAVE EVER HAD. Plus, couldn't pass up the chance to see the cupcake ATM!

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Popcorn: Had to bring home a bag of the Garrett Mix for the kids!

Ice cream: Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams (we went to the one in Wicker Park) was a delightful adventure — no one does ice cream like Jeni!

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 + SHOPPING

While Eric was at his conference, I spent time shopping at stores we don't have in Iowa: Zara, H&M, Madewell, Uniqlo, Topshop and Nordstrom. I got a pair of flats at Nordstrom Rack, two bras after a great bra fitting at Nordstrom, shorts for Finchy, and Eric got a Cubs shirt and hat.

 + SIGHTS

Millenium Park: The weather was perfect our first night, so right after we checked into our hotel we walked to The Bean. What a beautiful place. The flowers were blooming and it smelled so good!

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Architecture Tour: Everyone raves about this, but if I'm being honest, I didn't love it. Maybe it was because it was pretty chilly that day, or because we had an inexperienced tour guide, or because my neck got really tired of looking up for 75 minutes...but I thought it was just OK.

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Wrigley Field: Eric is a Cubs fan, and he wanted me to see Wrigley. I battled some serious motion sickness on the train...kudos to everyone who does that on a daily basis!

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We had a great time, but it's so wonderful to be home where I belong, with two kids on my lap!

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What did we miss? I'll add it to my list for next time!

P.S. Did you know that Chicago is not the windiest city — in fact, it's not even one of the 10 windiest cities in the United States? Our architecture tour guide told us that the city got its nickname from its politicians!