CHICAGO (WTHR) — The lovely adventure through the Midwest continued in the "Windy City" — although it should've been nicknamed the "foggy city" while we were there!
We could have picked a better day to visit the Willis Tower — formerly Sears Tower. The day was wet and foggy, but we decided to give things a shot and travel 1,300 feet in the air to the Ledge at the Skydeck. Many of you have heard of the ledge — four separate glass boxes that extend 4.3 feet from the Skydeck. Due to the fog, we couldn't see much but just to walk out with only two planes of glass between you and the ground...well...that was a rush. I decided to lie down on the floor and must tell you, was a bit petrified. Management frequently has different programs on the Skydeck floor — from chocolate tasting and Valentine's parties to yoga and engagement parties. If you can see the ground, it's the thrill of a lifetime and if not, it is still a lot of fun. The deck is open every day of the year.
Maggie Daley Ice Skating Ribbon
We were then off to investigate a wintry place for couples to enjoy the icy Chicago weather. The Maggie Daley Ice Skating Ribbon is a great place to ice skate — for free if you have your own skates — with the backdrop of the Chicago skyline always in view. Because I have a fractured foot, Megan was kind enough to push me in an ice sled while we both got a little taste of the Alpine feel of a skating ribbon that is twice the length of a lap around a traditional skating ribbon. We had a great time — maybe me more since I got an effort-free ride!
We closed off the first day in Chicago with a trip to the Godfrey Hotel and its Winter Wonderland rooftop restaurant. Similar to what we experienced in Cincinnati but on a much grander scale, this wonderful restaurant has five geodesic domes that are heated and provide a breathtaking view of the skyline. The deck features food and drink and a decorated theme of bright lights and tall space heaters disguised as giant lamps. We closed off the evening sampling delicious dishes from sushi to grilled lamb on a stick to a delicious chocolate dessert. I can’t think of a more romantic way to spend an evening then defying the weather and staying warm in a Godfrey Hotel igloo!
Aire Ancient Baths
Closing out our time in Chicago was a bit hard for me. Growing up on the North Shore of Lake Michigan, it was fun to be back home, but I had the urge to stay a bit longer. Still, our time was well spent with some fun activities in places I never knew existed!
One of those places was so secluded that if you didn't know it was there, you would miss it. Just west of the loop on West Superior Street, coming off an alley is the home of Aire Ancient Baths. The baths are in a restored 1902 factory, but they very well may be in the ancient Ottoman Empire. It took nearly three years to transform this building into one of the most peaceful places you will ever visit. Every hour, guests have a chance for a thermal bath experience that includes hot, ice and cold bath plunges. There is also a bath that is so salt laden, the float experience is like being in the Dead Sea in Israel. There is an outdoor/indoor bath that will give you a view of the sky over Chicago, and there is even a wine bath where you can pleasure your skin by resting in the comfort of warm wine. When you simply want to relax, leave the tub and sit on heated marble, enjoying tea or water. This was a memorable visit, and I can't tell you how good smelling, relaxing and wonderful this place is — a place tucked along the alleys of Chicago. Can couples come together? Absolutely and what an experience this would be!
Untouchables Gangster Tour
We quickly moved back downtown to meet "Southside" — one of the owners of the Untouchable Tours: Chicago's Original Gangster Tour. I really wanted our crew to experience this unusual tour, knowing it would be one of the highlights of our trip. “Southside” and the other guides are actors who are dressed in 20s gangland style and stay in character the whole time. “Southside” gave us a private tour in the Sunrise Limo and gave us a thrilling and sometimes funny look at events going on during the Prohibition Era of the 20s and 30s. We heard about the exploits of the Mob and Al Capone with visits to the site of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and Holy Name Cathedral. We even saw the Biograph Theatre and the spot where Hoosier gangster John Dillinger was gunned down. You wouldn't think this would be an entertaining time, but it's the perfect fun, one-of-a-kind experiences for a couple. Make reservations online for this one.
Odyssey Dinner Cruise and Navy Pier
After a long day, producer Megan Simpson, photographer John Duong and I got in the Valentine spirit with a lovely cruise down the Chicago River and into Lake Michigan on the beautiful, memorable Odyssey. We met the crew on the south end of Navy Pier after enjoying the shops in the recently updated attraction. You can't miss the ship: it is majestically moored on the dock, and the excitement built as we got closer. Our deck was full of young couples, folks celebrating birthdays and people just wanting a wonderful dinner while looking at the Chicago skyline. We tried everything...from oven baked salmon to braised beef. The food was great, but the view was better, as we munched on samples from the overwhelmingly joyous dessert buffet. Then, John, Megan and I went outside on the back deck to enjoy the breathtaking view of downtown Chicago. What a memory, with wonderful food, great music from a DJ and that two-hour view of the unmistakable skyline.
What a time!