By Cliff Locke
Whenever I get a chance to travel to Chicago I get really excited. It’s easy for me to do a four day weekend from Michigan. I jump on the train and it seems that in no time I am in downtown Chicago. Traveling by rail is fun, stopping in many small towns and seeing their historic train depots is really worth staying awake. I will be staying at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel with a great view of the river. Being in the heart of everything is a thrill when I visit. This gay travel Chicago adventure is off to a great start.
Being on Lake Michigan, Chicago has many boat tours to choose from. On this trip I decided to do the Seadog Speedboat tour, which leaves Navy Pier and races out on the open water, treating the passengers to that windblown look! But I was going to be busy on this day. After all, this was just our first attraction. Next, we were on to the Museum of Science and Industry. I enjoy many of their wonderful exhibits, however, my favorites are the Coal Mine, the U-505 German Submarine and of course Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle.
It’s been a busy day so far and doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down now. Well, maybe a little because one of the best places to eat is The Village. Walk up the stairs and you have been transported to Tuscany at the turn of the century. Chef Torres prepares traditional Northern Italy’s specialties as delicious as when they opened in 1927.
After dinner, we take a leisurely stroll to the CIBC Theatre to see a Broadway show. The CIBC opened in 1906 as the Majestic Theatre housing mostly vaudeville acts that were on the Orpheum Circuit. The show did not disappoint, which I knew it wouldn’t. Now back to the hotel for a drink at the Raised An Urban Rooftop Bar with some of the best views of downtown.
We wake after a very restful night, we lace up our walking shoes as we prepare to take the Frank Lloyd Wright Walking tour in Oak Park. Oak Park is home to the world’s largest collection of Wright-designed buildings. As we explore the Historic District surrounding the Home and Studio we can walk at our own pace on a self-guided audio tour. The tours feature the exteriors of a rich selection of architecturally significant structures. We eat at an outdoor café as we discuss what is next on our Windy City weekend.
We head back towards the hotel, anxious to see Cloud Gate. The 110-ton sculpture is forged of a seamless series of polished stainless steel which reflects the Chicago skyline. It is 66 feet long and 33 feet high with an arch that is 12 foot high.
After a relaxing afternoon swim at the hotel, we leave for the evening. We are meeting friends for dinner at the Hard Rock Café. I love looking at the different memorabilia at each Hard Rock. We are lucky because this location actually has live music at night. As the concert comes to a close and we leave our friends and head back to the hotel knowing that tomorrow’s train ride home will have us reflecting on a fantastic weekend in a magnificent city. A city that we can visit time and time again and never see the same thing twice.