I’m fortunate enough to travel several times a year on business. Sometimes that equates to one long day flying in and out of a city in less than 24-hours. But once in a while I have a few hours to explore on my own.
This week I was in Chicago, a city I haven’t visited in almost a decade. My first order of business was to visit Millennium Park. I have seen many pictures of Cloud Gate, the sculpture fondly known as “The Bean,” and wanted to snap a few photos of my own.
If you happen to be in a sour mood while sightseeing in Chicago, visit The Bean. The first thing you hear approaching the structure are squeals and laughter. People are jumping up and down to see their reflection in the sculpture. Families are posing for photos. Children (usually children) are rolling on the ground in the curved underbelly to see their distorted image in the stainless steel above them. It’s a happy place.
From Cloud Gate walk south to The Crown Fountain. Not one but two fountains, the glass sculptures project images of faces overlooking a thin reflecting pool. Watch the kids play in the water. They will take you back to childhood memories of your own.
While I was doing the business part of my trip, I asked a local what was within walking distance from my hotel for dinner. Ethnic food was my only stipulation. He recommended Singha Thai Restaurant at 340 North Clark Street (listed in the River North section on Urban Spoon). Sold.
I arrived at Singha Thai with my colleagues, one who was craving spice, one who wasn’t familiar with Thai, and one who thought ground pepper was a hot condiment.
We were seated in sunken booths that made you look like you were sitting on the floor Japanese style. Flipping open the menu we didn’t find many entrees over $9.99. And then the food arrived. I watched my co-workers eyes roll into the back of their heads as they sucked down spring rolls and garlic beef. All was right in the world.
If you are staying in or near the Magnificent Mile or the Streeterville neighborhood, stop in to West Egg Cafe at 620 N. Fairbanks Ct. for breakfast (E. Ontario is the cross street). Solo travelers can sit at the corner without waiting. The service is friendly, the food delivered hot and lightning fast. With a range of omelettes, pancakes and waffles, muffins, skillets and eggs benedict items, you can eat as healthy or naughty as you would like. Either way, the large plates will set you up with energy for the business of the day.
There’s so much more to see in Chicago, but if you only have 48-hours, with business meetings, conferences and the like included, spend a few moments in Millennium Park or find a hole-in-the-wall restaurant recommended by a local. It will make business seem like a vacation.
A souvenir from the conference I attended posed for me in Millennium Park. Making business more entertaining is another way to make traveling fun.