Chicago…Walking the Plank~~ Er, I Mean The Pier!

Navy Pier

was our next goal. We took the advice from the locals and took the Lakefront Path to Navy Pier. It was a hike, but the view was worth it. I wanted to soak in the city, and walking is the best way to see it all. I am more about “the ride” than the “destination” and it was a great experience.

We noticed construction along the Lakefront Path, but we were assured that we could get through to the Pier.  After walking for about 30 minutes, we realize that it was completely blocked off, and turned back.

Old bridge we crossed to get to Navy Pier.

Old bridge we crossed to get to Navy Pier.

We ended up taking the long way around, some of it underground, soaking in Chicago-we reached the Pier. ( Good thing I am all about the trip! It was a long one!)

Canoe Sculpture at the entrance of Navy Pier Entrance

Canoe Sculpture at the entrance of Navy Pier Entrance

As we approached the Pier we saw a line of buses. There was a high school volleyball tournament, and the Pier was filled with teams, parents and children, it was packed!

Over the years Navy Pier has had many uses.

“Navy Pier is a 3,300-foot long pier on the Chicago shoreline of Lake Michigan. The pier was built in 1916 at a cost of $4.5 million.  Construction began in 1914 and took two years. When it opened to the public in 1916, it was the largest pier in the world. The Pier was built both to handle shipping and as an entertainment site.

In 1917-18, during World War I, the Pier housed many Navy and some Army personnel, the Red Cross, and Home Defense units. It even had a jail for draft dodgers.

 In the 1920’s, the Pier expanded to have its own streetcar line, a theater, and an emergency room. In 1927 the Pier was officially named Navy Pier in honor of the Naval personnel that served there during WWI. During the 1920’s, it is estimated that an average of 3.2 million visitors frequented the Pier annually. This decade is sometimes called the Pier’s “Golden Age”.

 In August 1941, Navy Pier was closed to the public, and in a five-month period was fully converted to a Navy training center designated to accommodate up to 10,000 service personnel. A large hangar-type building and a drill hall were built on 20 acres just west of the Pier. Six days before the attack on Pearl Harbor (Dec. 7, 1941), classes began for aviation machinist mates, metal-smiths, and diesel mechanics.

When the war was over, Navy Pier went to the University of Illinois, which used the facility beginning in 1946 for a two-year undergraduate program primarily serving returning veterans.  In 1965, the University moved to the Chicago Circle campus, and the Pier again fell into disuse.

In 1989, the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority took control over the Pier. Major renovation and construction followed in the 1990’s at a cost of $200 million.  As rebuilt in the 1990’s, the Pier’s layout included fast-food kiosks, shops, a ballroom, a concert stage, and convention exhibition halls.” (Wikipedia)

Today, Navy Pier is Chicago’s number one tourist attraction.

The Navy Pier boasts eateries for any craving. From Bubba Gump Shrimp Factory, Harry Caray’s, Billy Goat Tavern, to Ben and Jerry’s and Haagen-Dazs. After seeing the lines outside the restaurants (due to the throngs of people there for the volleyball competition) we chose to walk the Pier and eat later in the day.

http://www.navypier.com/ check out this link for a list of all the eateries, shops, shows, IMAX,  boat cruises, and Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows, featuring many windows salvaged from Chicago mansions.

Navy Pier Ferris Wheel

Is a feature of the park. It is a 150 foot ride, and the girls were ready to see the city from the top.

We continued walking to the end of Navy Pier. The view of the city is incredible.

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U.S.S. Chicago Anchor

Is on display at the end of the Navy Pier, and is a tourist favorite photo opportunity. Of course, we could not miss out! The anchor is 8 ton and came from the third warship named after the city of Chicago.

Grabbing a Cab we headed for The Magnificent Mile.

http://www.themagnificentmile.com/

“Chicago’s Magnificent Mile is one of the great avenues of the world and is at the center of all that makes Chicago an international destination.

One of the top 10 hospitality, dining and retail destinations in the world, with endless shopping, international cuisine, top rated hotels, lively entertainment, majestic architecture and natural beauty at every turn, The Magnificent Mile offers visitors to Chicago a one-of-a-kind city experience.

The Magnificent Mile is a spectacular showcase of style, flavor, entertainment and fun. With more than 460 stores, 275 restaurants, 60 hotels and unique entertainments and attractions packed and stacked along its length, The Magnificent Mile has an indulgence for every passion and every pocket.” 

First on the list was a late lunch-early diner, which led us to…

Ditka’s

After walking for miles it was nice to sit in the serene dining room at Ditka’s. We were ready for some good food to fuel us on our trek through The Magnificent Mile and we were not disappointed!

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Mike Ditka is a Chicago icon, and I was hoping that the food lived up to the name. The restaurant serves food in the American Steakhouse genre. The dining-room is tastefully filled with memorabilia from Ditka’s career, we enjoyed looking at the items as we waited on our lunch.

Georgia and I both had a Slider Appetizer.

SLIDER COMBO 14.95
2 prime mini cheeseburgers & 2 filet mignon sliders.

These little sandwiches had incredible flavor, and we could not eat them all. I paired mine with a wedge salad and Georgia had a side of fries. Ditka’s is a beautiful restaurant and I am glad that we got to experience it.

After eating we headed to our first destination, The American Girl Place.

http://www.americangirl.com/stores/location_chi.php

Although Georgia is a teen, we still have her American Girl Dolls from when she was a child. Stored away for her children. We have talked about visiting for years, even though she is a bit too grown-up, she was excited to see her childhood dream. Madison and Jill came along for the ride, Madison was not the proud owner of American Girl Dolls growing up, but she had read the books and perused the catalogs.

“The “holy grail of doll stores”, this “magical” Magnificent Mile flagship showcases the entire line of “high-quality” dolls, books, clothing and accessories in “elaborate” displays, plus a cafe, photo studio and ‘hospital’ for distressed dollies.”

The store is 42,000 square feet, 3 floors, packed with dolls and accessories. A dream come true for little girls.

As our time in Chicago was nearing it’s end, we walked around the mall a bit, checking out The Lego Store, among others.

TAXI!!!!

Even though it was just after 5 p.m., thankfully a taxi was not too difficult to flag down. At this point we were exhausted. After a quick ride to the Majestic, we grabbed our bags and loaded up for the road trip home!

We all had a great time, we would have loved to stay another day, or two, or three. There is so much to see in the city, we will be going back again.

In the next post, I will highlight a few of the Must-See attractions that we are planning to visit on our next trip!

 

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