Chicago for St. Patrick’s Day

IMG_4850This past weekend I crossed off the Windy City from my travel bucket list! Roger was on a business trip near Chicago and there was NO WAY I was going to miss out on the opportunity to visit. Luckily for us, another couple--newlyweds-to-be Mike and Lisa, were on board for the experience of a lifetime. I'm so thankful to them for offering to drive and for providing me with company while we crossed state lines into Illinois. We couldn't have picked a better time--all this talk about Chicago being the best city to party in on St. Patrick's Day weekend and now I can say it's true! I could rant and rave about all the architectural gems, culinary delights, and entertainment hot-spots of the city, but my words wouldn't do it justice. I tried to take as many pictures as I could to highlight my favourite parts of the trip. Let me give you some pointers first: Bundle up. Don't be deterred by long wait-times at restaurants. Keep a close eye on your wallet as mine was stolen. Thankfully the culprits were only fans of Walgreens, Dunkin Donuts, and 7-Eleven. I trust karma to catch up with them soon 😉 Friday:  Apparently attempting to order a mini fridge at the downtown Chicago Marriott on the weekend of St. Patricks Day/Big 10 Basketball Conference is an impossible feat. Mike came to the rescue with some styrofoam coolers instead. It was imperative that these drinks stayed chilled! IMG_4808 After dinner at Rockbottom Brewery on the Magnificent Mile, we went to Howl at the Moon for their duelling piano show. All of the performers played multiple instruments and accepted song requests from the audience. The bar atmosphere featured a dance floor and seating area. We could have reserved a table for $250, but no thank you! My advice is to watch from the dance floor and snag a table when people start to clear out. We met guys from Ireland (they chose Chicago over Ireland for St. Patties!) and we saw a girl puke in her hands and then proceed to make out with her boyfriend, whom might I add was wearing two cross-body purses, so that was pretty bizarre/interesting/I wanted to look away but simply couldn't.


Saturday: We woke up early to see the Chicago River dyed bright green for the festivities. The process is a really neat one: 40 pounds of powdered vegetable dye are distributed into the water by speedboats. Hundreds of green-clad spectators gather on and around the bridge to watch the privately-funded procedure. We chose to watch from above, but you can also board a boat tour for a river view.


TripAdvisor informed me Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe was the #1 rated restaurant in all of Chicago. We were determined to try it out despite the recommended 1.5 hour wait time. We were starving, but managed to pass the time meandering through Millennium Park. Sadly, Cloud Gate was closed for the St. Patrick's Day festivities, so we'll have to go back one day for our photo op under "the Bean". Best breakfast EVER! Needless to say we were full until our 8 o'clock dinner reservation.


IMG_7790 The boys wore green today and in hindsight, Lisa and I wished we did too. As it turns out, more people celebrate St. Patrick's Day on the Saturday than the Sunday. Mobs of people in green lined the streets and many were quite tipsy on emerald beer. We enjoyed two hours of improv comedy at Second City. So glad we did!! It was neat to see where many comedians got their roots. I say with confidence that everyone should see a comedy show in Chicago. Mid-day mimosas are always a good idea too. By nightfall we found ourselves in the mood for an intimate dining experience. The Melting Pot fondue restaurant looked a tad on the pricey side but the menu perfectly accommodated our tastes. Beer-based cheddar jalapeno fondue finished with dark chocolate raspberry marshmallow fondue drizzled on an array of fruit and fresh-made confections. Cook-your-own assorted meats and vegetables for the main course. Our waiter comped our California Zinfandel, making our already amazing experience even better. Also, we had by far the best table in the house. Call us knights and princesses--we definitely felt like it that night. IMG_7794 I spent the rest of the evening on the phone with my credit card company. Stupid thieving jerks! At least they didn't steal my passport... there's always, always a silver lining. Sunday:   Top of the morning to ya! St. Patrick's Day isn't St. Patrick's Day if you don't start it with a drink in hand. Hehe. We indulged in gin & pineapples as we outfitted ourselves in our Irish best. I love our Chicago shirts! IMG_7816 Brunch at California Pizza Kitchen was lovely. We needed to fuel up for our marathon walk around the city. We visited the John Hancock Centre (but didn't go up it because I'm a scaredy-cat) and endured a self-guided tour of the West end. We settled on Timothy O'Tools for pitchers of green beer and made friends with two brothers from Minnesota on account of them smuggling in awesome popcorn. I later called their dad to congratulate him on the raising of two exemplary sons. Crazy straws We might have stumbled into Rockbottom Brewery again for our last dinner... This time our waiter was TERRIBLE. Like actually terrible. Lisa and I have been waitresses so we know how crucial it is to tip 15% regardless of the service, but we purposely only left him 10%. He had been grumpy all evening, but he sealed the deal for a bad tip when he slammed down our dessert menus without bothering to acknowledge our questions. I left him some words of wisdom on the check. Something along the lines of "smiling makes the world a better place". He needed the encouragement! Overall, the trip was one definitely one for the history books. Not only did I get to see Roger after a week of being apart, we got to spend time with Mike and Lisa before they get busy with wedding plans. As sad as it was to leave the Windy City, no feeling compares to the happiness I felt being greeted by a manically ecstatic puppy at home.