I just asked Wes, “How did we go to Chicago and not listen to Chicago by Sufjan Stevens once?!” It’s been 3 weeks since our trip and I’m just realizing I could have made an epic road trip playlist…
Yes—road trip. We decided to DRIVE to Chicago, and not only drive, but go out of the way to visit friends, lol.
Okay but actually, I’m super happy we did that. I loved seeing my best friend Emily and her husband Mike in Nashville, and then we got to see Wes’ best friend from middle school, Eric, in St. Louis.
Plus, these overnight stops allowed us to break up the trip so that Jack didn’t have to be in his car seat all day. Charlotte to Nashville is like 6 1/2 hours, Nashville to St. Louis is less than 5, and St. Louis to Chicago is also less than 5. All in all not bad!
I had never been to Nashville nor St. Louis. And even though we barely spent any time in either city, I am glad I got a “taste” of each of them and hope to visit again!
Side Note—I’m just now realizing you might be wondering why we went to Chicago in the first place. Well, I’ve been a few other times, but Wes had never been. He’s always wanted to go to a Bulls game since we grew up loving Michael Jordan. And it just so happened that on my birthday, the Bulls were playing my hometown team, the Hornets. It was fate.
Then I had the realization that Hamilton has a permanent residency (is that how you say that lol?) in Chicago, and I figured getting tickets there would be easier than when the tour comes to Charlotte this fall.
And finally, we both have many friends in the city, so it was so great to see them because we miss them so!
Okay, back to Nashville.
So yeah—we went to the cutest taproom in Nashville for dinner and then followed with Jeni’s ice cream. Y’all—have you had Jeni’s before?! Cause it’s delicious. AND GUESS WHAT?! I literally just found out we are getting one in Charlotte!!! Ahh yay! Okay I’m done.
The next morning, Emily and Mike had to work, so Wes, Jack, and I headed to the Frothy Monkey for coffee and breakfast. What an awesome experience! We met the nicest people that worked there and just had a great morning.
We followed with our brief sightseeing drive around Nashville—the Parthenon, Broadway, The Gulch, and Nissan Stadium. Jack even got a little Titans football 🙂
Then we were on our way to St. Louis.
It was during this drive that the temperature decided to drop dramatically. Also, we went through nowhere land for pretty much the entire drive. I decided to stop for lunch in Paducah, KY, which was an interesting stop. It was like a cute little old downtown area, but pretty unpopulated, and yet the restaurants were all high-end. Like I said.. interesting.
We finally made it to St. Louis, and I got to hold my Fantasy Football trophy in my hands since winning the Championship in Eric’s league this past December. What a glorious feeling.
Eric took us to a pizza place where I got to try toasted ravioli and St. Louis pizza, which I guess has a different kind of cheese? I wasn’t really in the mood for pizza, so I tried Wes’ and it was very good!
But the best part of the night was indulging in Ted Drewe’s custard—can you see a pattern here? I love dessert. Ice cream is a definite fav.
Oh and we watched the NCAA Championship, which was so boring… Just not a good game. I mean, I was for Villanova, but make it a little exciting?
The next day, we departed St. Louis (I’m super bummed the weather was bad and I couldn’t get a picture of the arch!) for Chicago.
During our drive, we happened upon a diner/bakery/cafe off of Route 66 called Jubelt’s.
Listen—if you’re ever wandering around the state of Illinois and happen upon Jubelt’s, you MUST stop! Literally the best french toast I’ve ever had. I loved everything about this place, and it’s right across the street from a Route 66 museum! I genuinely felt like I was in Radiator Springs (that’s a Cars reference).
I loved Jubelt’s so much I bought a pink t-shirt for $11. It might be the best thing I bought all trip. Plus, I don’t think I’ll ever be back—not really trying to drive to Chicago this way again lol.
After a few more hours, we were in Chicago.
I’m going to take a second and plug Hotwire.com. I am not even getting paid (Hotwire, we can fix that!), but if you aren’t using Hotwire, you should be. We got an amazing price on our hotel and it was so great! It’s a boutique hotel called Dana Hotel and Spa in the River North area. I would absolutely return. Also, Dana Hotel, feel free to reach out 😉
The day we arrived (my birthday) was also the night of the Bulls/Hornets game. My friend Justine, who I’ve known since Kindergarten, now lives in Chicago and was sweet enough to babysit Jack for Wes and I to have a birthday date night!
Wes decided to dress as his favorite Bulls player (I guess besides MJ… Wes?), Kirk Heinrich. And he sorta went viral for a hot second…
After the Bulls won, we returned to the hotel, exhausted. We decided the next morning would be low-key.
On Wednesday, we took Jack to the Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier. We got brave and tried to act like true Chicagoans and got Ventra cards and brought Jack and the stroller onto the bus like champs.
The Chicago Children’s Museum is so cute! They have a little baby/toddler room that was so sweet. And then they have a ton of fun activities for older kids. We definitely would go back when Jack is like 5-6—he’d have an amazing time then!
The rest of Navy Pier was such a bummer, but I did get a Chicago sweatshirt that I’m obsessed with, so I guess that’s a positive.
Back at the hotel, my friend Ryan and Wes’ friend Aya met up with us for lunch. I hadn’t seen Ryan in forever, and I had never met Aya, so it was a truly joyous occasion.
We got deep dish pizza, which of course you have to when you visit, and just loved catching up. Plus, Ryan realized the cast of My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was staying in our hotel and saw a few of the actors in the bar. I need to watch that show…
After lunch, Wes went to SoulCycle with Aya (she’s an instructor!), and Justine joined me, Ryan, and Jack at the hotel. It was fun having my CCS and UNCW friends collide in a completely different city!
Wes returned from SoulCycle, Ryan left for his show, and Justine and I were on our way to see Hamilton!!
The show was everything I wanted and more. You can listen to a musical from start to finish, but until you see it, you can’t fully understand it. At least that’s the way it is for me.
We saved money by buying single seats as opposed to seats together, but there ended up being an empty seat next to me, so we watched Act II together! It was lovely.
Before we knew it, the show was over, and we had to get back to reality (and the cold since it had snowed that day!).
Thursday, we attempted to hit Museum Campus, which is also where Soldier Field is. Wes took like 30 minutes walking around the entirety of the store while I stood with the stroller with a sleeping Jack. We then took a jaunt through The Field Museum and saw some cool things—Jack woke up while we were leaving.
Ryan met up with us again for lunch, which was arguably my favorite restaurant in Chicago—Cafecito. Please, Charlotte, get a Cafecito! I need Cuban coffee in my life always.
Then we were off to the Chicago Art Institute, where I could have stayed for days, but alas, we didn’t have time. I did see some of the world’s most famous paintings, and many by my favorite, Claude Monet.
We said goodbye to Ryan (after some selfies) and headed back to the hotel for a short nap (which Jack didn’t take) before going to dinner with our friends Brian and Hannah at a Costa Rican restaurant north of the city.
This was the first time during our trip we took the L, and it was so nice not having to worry about a carseat! I wish Charlotte had better transit, but that’s another blog…
Somehow, our 3 days and nights in Chicago were coming to a close. We packed everything up, got our car, and headed out towards Dayton, OH, to stay with my cousins overnight and break up the trip.
I always love seeing my cousins, the Grahams. They are the sweetest people in the entire world and so welcoming. They also got to meet Jack for the first time! And they got cupcakes to celebrate my birthday 🙂 Family is just the best.
It snowed overnight, so poor Wes got the scraper out for our drive home. We had about 7 1/2 hours in front of us, and it snowed for half the trip!
We stopped at a unique place for lunch—Tamarack. This is like a circle full of local artisans and their products as well as a cafe. I wish we could have taken more time to explore, but I was concerned about the road conditions worsening.
Somehow, we made it home without any issues!
Jack is really an amazing traveling buddy. He’s good in the car, he loves people, and he is always up for anything! Just make sure you have plenty of pouches in hand.
Well—that was our Chicago trip! We had a blast and are so glad we went. And we are so grateful to the friends and family that let us stay and took time to hang with us!
International travel gets all the attention, but America is pretty neat too. If you haven’t road tripped lately, I highly recommend it, although maybe not as far as Chicago? Getting off the interstate and finding interesting towns and places like Jubelt’s or Paducah, KY, is part of the fun 🙂
I hope to hear about your road tripping adventures soon!