I had a great time on my vacation this weekend, but Chicago is a whole lot different than Iowa!

Thursday afternoon I headed to Chicago to celebrate my birthday for the weekend, and I am EXHAUSTED. We squeezed a ridiculous number of activities into just a few days, but it was definitely worth it. Since it was my very first trip to Chicago, I just want to share with you a few things that I learned over the course of the weekend (and lots of photos!):

  • Being a tourist is super fun
    • When I take trips, I like to find those hidden gem places that all the locals know about, but sometimes I like to be your standard tourist! We went to the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, the Skydeck, Giordano's, and Portillo's, and we loved every second of it! Things got a little expensive, but aren't vacations about spending a whole bunch of money? (Also, a CityPASS will save you a TON if you want to do all the museums/aquarium/Skydeck)
  • Driving in Chicago is absolutely terrifying
    • I have never been more thankful for Uber and Lyft. We stayed about 15 minutes from the downtown area, so we spent a lot of time getting rides in and out of the city. I have to say, the drivers down there are INSANE. I have never heard more people who love to take advantage of their car horns. Luckily, all of our drivers seemed to have the hang of things. Me? I could never do it. And don't even get me STARTED on the parallel parking...
  • "Iowa nice" is a very real thing
    • On our first night in town, some guy at a bar bumped into me, and out of habit I said, "ohp, sorry!" He yelled back at me, "yeah, I BET you are," and rolled his eyes. I was so shocked! I'm not used to people being blatantly rude to me like that! We talked to plenty of people over the course of the weekend, but all the fellow Iowans we met were by far the nicest. Ya gotta love Iowa!
  • The movie theaters in Chicago are SUPER FANCY 
    • Now, I know that not EVERY theater in Chicago is like this, but we hit up an AMC Theater on Saturday night to go see the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie, and it was freaking awesome. We had reserved seating with fancy recliners, alcoholic beverages, and a full menu with waiters who came right to your seat! It was pretty pricey, but once again, I was on vacation. Rules don't apply.
  • I would've gained a lot of weight this weekend if it wasn't for all the walking
    • We ate a LOT of food this weekend. A lot. I even ate when I wasn't hungry, just because I HAD to try things. But I have no regrets, because we walked just about everywhere. My feet are still in pain!

(to see more food photos from my trip, click HERE)

  • Vodka costs a lot more than it does in Iowa
    • A vodka cran in Iowa costs $4-5. A vodka cran with the same vodka in Chicago costs $8.50-10. I'll never understand why.
  • There is absolutely nothing in the middle of Illinois
    • And I mean NOTHING. I figured, hey, once we get out of the city, I'll stop to get gas. Nope! There were no highway exits for over 30 minutes. I made it to a gas station in the middle of some tiny town I've never heard of in JUST the nick of time. It was really bad. Never again.
  • Reservations are your friend
    • In Iowa, I've only had to make reservations at restaurants a handful of times. In Chicago, we missed out on a couple of great brunch places because we didn't have reservations. Lesson learned.

Here are some photos from my vacation: