Friday, July 4, 2014

Lincoln Park, an Architectural Tour of Chicago, and a Romantic Dinner for Two

To follow along on our Chicago journey and see all the posts to-date I've done, click the picture below!

 photo Day2Chicago-June1536_zps7943754b.jpg
On our last full day in Chicago, we had hit all our major "Must Do's" and had some time before our architectural boat tour, so we decided to go to the Lincoln Park Zoo. I had heard good things about this zoo, but since Mr. Howard and I were kidless, we kinda didn't want to do anything that we would have taken the kids to. We figured we could do those things if we came back with the kids. But this zoo was FREE. And so we figured we'd give it a shot. We grabbed Starbucks and headed over. I really didn't think it was going to be that great because, really, how good can a free zoo be? BUT WOW!
It really was amazing. I don't understand how they can have such great animals and have no admittance fee. We spent probably 15 minutes watching this polar bear play with a weighted ball. I posted a video on instagram of him actually diving and moving around. CRAZY. At times he was only two feet from us.
Every once in a while, he'd turn and look out the window at all the people watching him. I swear he was putting on a show for us.
We also spent a lot of time with this...hmmm...not sure what it's called. This photo isn't zoomed in at all. We were literally a foot away from him. He walked right up to the glass, looked at us for a bit, and then went away. Crazy.
He was sorta being mean to this baby. And the Mama was NOT TOO happy about it. Fascinating.
We had a great time walking around, drinking our coffee, and exploring the park:
Afterwards, we decided to walk to our architecture tour. We had yet to have a Chicago dog, so we decided to stop at the beach and have one. I know this isn't the most flattering photo of my husband, but he didn't want to stop and pose. Ha! Apparently, he wanted an action shot. I have to say that I really like Chicago dogs. The peppers, onions, and mustard - DELICIOUS!
 We then walked about 3 miles to Navy Pier, where we were meeting for our architectural tour.

The tour was definitely one of the highlights of my trip - besides the fact that it was SO stinkin' warm. We had a lot of fun learning the history of the buildings. My only regret is that I wish I had planned this for our first day. It would have given us a frame of reference when we were walking around the city. I think, too, we would have had a better appreciation of all the buildings we were passing. We did the seadog tour, which was 75 minutes and took us on the Chicago River through town and then also on the lakefront for a little thrill ride.
One of the things I didn't know about Chicago is that there are 18 bridges in the Chicago loop and they are all MOVABLE! We were able to see one of the bridges up (photo below) because they had a crane and they were working on something. Pretty crazy to think these HUGE bridges with LOTS of traffic can open to allow tall boats to come through.
After our tour, Mr. Howard and I walked another mile back to our hotel, where we changed and got ready for dinner. (We *may* have also taken a tiny nap). Then, we walked another mile to the restaurant. The theme of our trip was LOTS OF WALKING. =)

A sorority sister of mine used to live in Chicago and she recommended we go to Quartino for dinner. Quartino is an urban Italian restaurant and wine bar, famous for its small plates menu. We LOVE, LOVE, LOVED it!

Candle-lit dinner, delicious food, handsome hubby. What's not to love?
Below is what we ordered for dinner. It was a Salumeria tasting. We had salumette, prosciutto san daniele, fontina val d'aosta cheese, asiago vecchio cheese, roasted peppers, artichokes campobasso, sicilian caponata, assortment of olives, apricot puree, and bread. It was ridiculously delicious. It reminded me a lot of our meal in Positano, Italy. And then we also got some delicious wine!

Oh and hubby got beer!
Afterwards, we walked along the magnificent mile and enjoyed our very last night out!
The next morning our plan was to be up and out of the hotel at about 7:30am so that we could get our rental car and make out way to St. Louis, which meant that this was really our last exploring in Chicago that we could do! Chicago really was amazing and I'd completely go back!

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