Chicago Travel Guide
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Chicago Travel Guide

This article will include everything you need to know as a beginner to travel to Chicago with all of the best places listed to see as tourists, some secret local locations, tips and tricks, lots of pictures and even all our planning guides/ documents so you know how to budget your time and money accordingly.

Chicago Travel Guide
ally burnham photography @abmdkt

Best places we visited

The Hampton Social

ally burnham photography @abmdkt

The Hampton Social is a wonderful restaurant with amazing food, great customer service, scenery, and full of picture opportunities. The restaurant may be most famous for their "Rose all day" electric pink sign on a grass wall however there are other fun picture opportunities in this coastal themed restaurant. As well I can say that the avocado grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup is to die for. The soup was a tad spicy but still excellent.

The Bean

ally burnham photography @abmdkt

Me and Maddie arrived at the bean on a chilly week day at 9 am. We wanted to beat the crowd of people that we knew would be there if we went in the afternoon. I would recommend doing this as well to try and avoid others being in your pictures. As well it was nice because we needed a little bit of extra time to take some shots considering we didn't have a tripod and we were using jackets and bags to be our tripod. It took a few tries and a little time to set up.

Stans Donuts

ally burnham photography @abmdkt

Stan's is potentially the donuts place I've ever been to. I tried four different donuts but my favorite would have to be the plain donuts with chocolate frosting and then inside it had a warm melted marshmallow and caramel. It was also called a pocket; because it was filled unlike a normal donuts. Well worth the $4, I wish we had these in Northern California. They are also located in LA too.

pictures at the pink door

ally burnham photography @abmdkt

I found this door off of a Chicago wall guide and it was my absolute favorite so we made the trip into Bucktown to get some shots. The door is actually the outside of a lash bar and it is just about the cutest door; can I please live here!

1920 N Damen Ave, Chicago is the address if your wanting to visit too.

garretts popcorn

ally burnham photography @abmdkt

Chicago styled popcorn is a mix of cheese popcorn and caramel popcorn. It was pretty good, I'd recommend it and the small bag is just $5.

Navy Pier Ferris Wheel

ally burnham photography @abmdkt

This is a fun thing to do and fortunately at the time we went the pier wasn't busy and we got right on versus having to wait in a long line. So that was nice and I do admit there where pretty views from up top/ great lighting for selfies. The picture at the top of my blog post is from inside the gondola. This experience just costs $20 and you get to go around three times; however, I enjoyed it I wouldn't highly recommend. If you have limited time or budget I would go to either the John Handcock building or Cindy's restaurant for views.

Garfield Conservatory

ally burnham photography @abmdkt

Garfield Conservatory was by far the best conservatory we went to out of the three we found. Garfield's first room that you go into is steamy, at first we were worried what we were getting in go and stripping all our winter layers. My camera lens even was covered in the moist air so we couldn't shoot any pictures in this jungle like room but thankfully as we kept walking through this plant oasis in the middle of Chicago we came into many different rooms each of their own climates to house the beautiful plants and flowers growing. It is definitely a place to check out and it is free which is amazing.

Wienners Circle

ally burnham photography @abmdkt

As me and Maddie were on the hunt for the best hot dog restaurant in Chicago we ran across a lot of blogs and videos however, the one we decided to try was Wieners Circle. They were famous for the char dog which is a made the "Chicago way" with a speared pickle, a hot dog, neon green relish, fresh tomato slices, a poppy seed bun, and onions. As well they have a spicy version with peppers, but as the owner said " I am too hot as I am and, that I don't need the extra spice". Pro tip: don't ask for ketchup for the hot dog; it is NOT needed and seen as an insult. I also ordered fries and they are big enough to split between two people; which were delicious too. This whole delicious meal will run you less than $10. It is a must eat experience; plus famous food travelers and credits have been their too. I was very please with our food and the service was exceptional, honestly better than expected. Me and Maddie actually had the pleasure to meet the owner. She is exactly like her videos; very sweet but a lot of sass. The restaurant isn't only know for its food but its also a place when it hits night (they are open to 4 am everyday) that it caters to the drunks and there is a lot of cursing and fighting between customers and the staff (you can find many videos on YouTube of this foul but fun behavior if your curious what I mean; but will just say it's an experience). The owner even invited us back to witness the night crowd and told us " she would call us baby's by day; which she did but that by night she would be referring to us by Bitches".

the nike wall

ally burnham photography @abmdkt

We found this cute little wall right next to the famous hot dog restaurant which is a MUST experience so might as well stop and take a few cute pictures at this wall since it's right there to. Chicago has walls and murals all over the city so I would be on the lookout for cute ones when your out and about.

5 story Starbucks

ally burnham photography @abmdkt

When in Chicago they have about a million Starbucks (and also dunkin's) however, there is a 5 story Starbucks on Magnificent Mile that I would recommend going too. It is the only one like this and they have a full bar inside, a roof top terrace, a bakery, and much more. It was huge and just walking around it is pretty unique considering its the only one like it. Me and Maddie stayed for a while and enjoyed the view and the bar. The cocktail I'm holding is the Lakeshore and its a signature drink that you can only get at this particular Chicago Starbucks. It was there most fruity option and even had a Popsicle inside however, it is a little expensive and will cost you $16.

Shop Magnificent Mile

ally burnham photography @abmdkt

Our Hotel was the Whitehall which was right on Mag mile so we shopped these streets a few days which was so much fun. This is a super high end area with some of the best and most expensive shopping. Wish we had more money and a few extra days to keep shopping along these blocks.

Pro tip: stay at the Whitehall: These shops were so close to our hotel I don't understand how we could even afford this hotel, can't beat the views and our room was upgraded so we saw the water the John Hancock building and was right next to these stores!!! ( look at the attached document to see a weird 4am hotel experience we had)


ally burnham photography @abmdkt

This was an amazing deep dish pizza restaurant. It was very different then the second one we went too. Giordonas was much more filling and really deep. I felt like it held us over more and had more in it. We ordered the veggie pizza here and it was great and thankfully we had left overs to eat the following day so that was great!

Lincoln Zoo

ally burnham photography @abmdkt

This is a smaller zoo and not every animal was out due to the chilly weather however, it was well kept. I would recommend checking it out if you are in the area also, because its free. My favorite animals that we saw were the gorillas, the polar bear, and the giraffes.


ally burnham photography @abmdkt

The night we went out to the bars we knew we had to also try the famous Cheesies. Just like we do at home after going out (at K-State) we go to the varsity truck for a grilled cheese mac and cheese sandwich and when we heard this restaurant served them too we had to go for a taste test. The Mac as they call it was delicious, it was much larger and more filling then the ones from varsity. It was truly a full meal and it came with a tomato dipping sauce too. It was a little more expensive than the sandwiches at home costing $9 but it was much better and well worth it.

Urban Warehouse store

ally burnham photography @abmdkt

Hands down the best Urban we went into, or that I have ever been to. There are Urban Outfitters all over the town, seems like each block there is one but wait and go to this one first. They had even new items discounted that were still in the stores. I ended up purchasing 10 items and it was about $42!!!!!

the Tilt experience

ally burnham photography @abmdkt

The best deal for views in the city is definitely at the John Handcock building. It is very comparable to the Willis tower however we got to go up in the day, at night, and experience the tilt all for $28 versus going up in the Willis tower once for $25. So, if you are looking for the better deal I would recommend the John Handcock building. Getting to see 94 stories was amazing and what you experience on the tilt is being pressed against the glass and having it rotate forward so your looking down at the ground on a 30 degree angle. The tilt isn't required it was just something we wanted to experience, I think without that it would of been $22 and we purchased the tickets off Groupon.

Molly's cupcakes

ally burnham photography @abmdkt

This $4 cupcake is delicious. I typically half my cupcakes to split up my breading and frosting and at this place that wasn't possible because my cupcake was filled. On the inside with real birthday cake batter however the cupcake was so fresh and the frosting on top wasn't too sweet that I was able to eat it normal. In my book I don't know that last time I ever was able to eat a cupcake normal so I would give it a 10/10. Plus they also have been given awards by food network so we knew it was going to be delicious.

Pocket Puppies

Unfortunately I don'y have any pictures or videos here because it wasn't allowed however, imagine getting to hold and play with 2 month old puppies. It was absolute heaven. Definitely stop in for a free puppy therapy session.

Lou Malnatis Deep Dish Pizza

ally burnham photography @abmdkt

I think out of the two deep dish restaurants we tried Lou Malnatis was my favorite. The pizza was so fresh and I gobbled it down even before I could take a picture of it. I would order more, so you can take some home for left overs. Me and Maddie split the personal and it was just enough for the two of us plus we split an appetizer of bruschetta; however if I was to go back I would have ordered more so we would of had left overs it was just so tasty.


ally burnham photography @abmdkt

I wish we went on a nicer day to walk or ride bikes along the river walk however it was very beautiful to look at, I would just be mindful that you choose a warmer day than we did. It was 30 degrees outside and taking off my coat for this picture was rough. This is also a very popular spot in the summer and you can take boat rides along the Riiverwalk,

Cindy's Restaurant

ally burnham photography @abmdkt

Cindy's Restaurant is on the 7th floor of the Chicago Athletic club which is partially renovated into a super fancy hotel. Anyway go to the 7th floor and tell the restaurant that you are staying at the hotel and ask them to go take pictures on their roof deck terrace. This is the free way to get the view from on top of all millennial park which is absolutely breathtaking. Plus then you don't have to pay the pretty penny for lunch however there menu looked amazing; it just wan't in our budget for the day.

Chicago Theater

ally burnham photography @abmdkt

This is a classic tourist picture spot. Don't miss it. As well it is right next to an L station so you might as well stop and get a few pictures here since it is probably something you are passing anyways; I know we did multiple times through out the week.

The document attached has our attached itinerary / little insights of our experiences as well as a budget estimate of our trip!!!!

chicago document for

Hope this encourages you to visit Chicago and gives ideas of all the wonderful things to see, do and eat in this city. Can't wait to go back!!!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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