With the implementation of this blog only a few months ago, it was a passion of ours to be a go-to-guide to all things Real Chicago- from the perspective of those who live Real Chicago each and every day. In its evolution over these past few months we have realized that, just as important to us as the "Real Chicago" experience of the"Real Chicagoian" is, in fact, the memories made by visitors from around the country and our surrounding neighborhoods-- memories made when they visit this city and experience its magic. The memories experienced by Real People in Chicago = Real Chicago... and we want to hear these stories. We want to share these stories!! These stories are what epitomize the concept of Real Chicago--- and with that idea in mind we've created, via this blog, a Real Chicago, Real People series. Of course we will continue to include the "insider's scoop" per concierge recommendations, resident references, and staff picks- but we'd like to expand upon the quandary- "What does Real Chicago mean to you?" We start off with a recent email submitted to The Drake Hotel for inclusion in the Real Chicago Blog. This email encompasses the essence of all the things we want our visitors to feel when they come to Chicago, not just The Drake Hotel. Although it's hard to fathom that summer has unofficially ended with the conclusion of Labor Day weekend, it's even harder to contemplate the approach of the upcoming season. Some may think winter=snow, ice, cold....
We here at The Drake think Holidays--- the cheer of the holidays--- the cheer of family and friends, and the warmth one feels when they see a familiar face in an
oh so familiar place.
September 4, 2011
My real Chicago Experience is traveling to The Drake in December to celebrate the holiday season. Taking a four hour train ride in to embrace the Big City, the Windy City, with beautiful holiday storefronts and tree lined streets decorated with white lights. Shopping on Michigan Avenue, hoping to find that perfect gift.
In recent years, we walked arm in arm to stave off the gusts of wind and stay upright in slush filled streets. We found special moments purchasing gifts we hoped would bring joy to others. When age dictated we were no longer able to wander the streets of Chicago, we shopped in the gift store on the lower level of The Drake. A store filled with all kinds of treasures. Who needed to fight the snow, cold and crowds, when we could marvel at items there for hours? One year we purchased a Mark Roberts "Peppermint Elf". Every holiday season our elf decorated the kitchen, keeping watch over our confections. That year we were sure we had found the treasure from the trip, and indeed I thought we had, until I took my mother's picture in front of old St. Nick and his reindeer located just off the lobby. What a lovely picture! It became her photo Christmas card, sent so all could see our fun filled journey.
Years of memories - the Dickens Carolers, the beautiful Christmas tree in the lobby with presents nestled below, the train set running for hours. How we enjoyed sitting in the lobby watching the guests come and go. I wonder how many other mothers and daughters have made this trip, able to create wonderful memories while staying at The Drake?
For us, going to the Drake in Chicago was coming home for the holidays...
Sadly, in July, my mother passed at the age of 88. This year I hope to start a new tradition and celebrate the holiday season with my brother's family at the Drake. I look forward to sharing with my niece and nephew the fun that exists there; shopping, taking afternoon tea, seeing the beautiful holiday decorations, attending the Nutcracker ballet and enjoying a special evening at the Drake. I will miss my Mom, but I know she will be there with us in spirit and in every story I tell them.
Thank you, Julie, for your contribution and taking our visitors on a warm and inviting walk through your Real Chicago memory. We hope this post inspires more people to submit their Real Chicago experience for inclusion in our Real Chicago ~ Real People Blog series- for every moment in this city is someone's Real Chicago memory. Share yours. To submit your memory for inclusion in the Real Chicago, Real People blog series, please email us your story. Your memory will be included in the blog that same week and your name will be entered into a drawing for a one night stay at The Drake Hotel. *Drawing to occur once The Drake receives 100 entries.
Whoever said “learning isn’t fun” surely hasn’t been to the Museum of Science and Industry. Mixing learning with hands-on, blood rushing exhibits, there is something for everyone!
In 1893, the building was constructed as the Palace of Fine Arts for the World’s Columbian Exposition. Afterwards it was converted into the Field Museum until 1920 when a new building opened and the museum moved.
Since the building was only built as a temporary structure for the World’s Fair, it began to
deteriorate until Julius Rosenwald, the president of Sears, Roebuck and Company, stepped in to save the building. It was 1926 when he contributed more than $5 million to the project which included recasting the building in limestone.
The museum officially opened in 1933 as the Museum of Science and Industry. The museum has more than 800 exhibits and encompasses more than 300,000 square feet. A few popular exhibits include a reconstruction of a 1933 coal mine, a U-505 Submarine and BODY WORLDS & The Cycle of Life.
Julius Rosenwald once said his vision for the Museum of Science and Industry was to create an interactive museum where learning was possible. Nearly 80 years later, his vision is still the main focus at the museum.
Today the museum houses some of the most exciting and mind boggling exhibitions ranging from a display that allows you to witness, in real-time, a chick breaking through the hard shell of the egg that has housed it for 22 days, to an exhibit displaying the actual formation of a vortex.
If the word vortex has you in a tailspin then it is, without a doubt, essential you take the half hour ride of your life and strap in for the Museum’s OmniMax Theater’s “Tornado Alley.” This informational, yet, highly entertaining film relays to its viewers what it’s like to be a tornado chaser in one of the United State’s most dangerous weather territories. Throughout the movie you’ll feel as though you’re in the passenger seat of a van traveling 90 miles down abandoned roads in pursuit of one of nature’s most fascinating phenomenons. With a 180 degree span of screen, and speakers that pulsate sound at a greater intensity than that of a Jet engine, you better hold on, because it’s going to be a wild ride.
The best way to get to the Museum of Science and Industry is to take public transportation. From the Drake you can walk to Michigan & Pearson and hop on the 10 bus towards Museum of Sciene and Industry. Once you get off, just walk towards S. Lake Shore Drive.
For more information regarding the Museum of Science and Industry, visit their website at http://www.msichicago.org/
If a breathtaking view of Chicago is what you are looking for, than the Cité is the place for you to visit.
Located on the 70th floor of the Lake Point Tower, this restaurant offers a 360 degree panoramic view of Chicago. The Cité’s view is unlike any other view in Chicago because of its superb location. Unlike most views that are in the middle of the city, the Cité is set apart because it is located on a Lake Michigan peninsula. From every table in the restaurant, you will have out of this world views of the Chicago skyline, Navy Pier and Lake Michigan.
The views of this restaurant are not the only perks of dining at the Cité. The bar is the perfect place to meet with friends or family and have a cocktail while watching the sunset over the city. After a cocktail, it is time to dine. No matter where you are sat, you will be blown away by the views and delicious cuisine. The Cité offers French American cuisine that has received numerous awards including the DiRoNA (Distinguished Restaurants of North America) award. While visiting, I had the truffle risotto which was to die for. The menu offers a full range of entrées and the staff is attentive and accommodating to all.
The Cité embodies all that is Real Chicago because it offers extraordinary views of our great city and delicious food. After one visit, you will see why the Cité has been a Chicago institute of over 30 years. If the views and food aren’t enough to bring you to the Cité, every Wednesday and Saturday you will have the best seat in town to watch the Navy Pier fireworks.
It is hard to believe that one of the oldest zoological gardens in the country can be found just mere minutes from the downtown area of Chicago. Lincoln Park Zoo, an essential element of the historic Lincoln Park neighborhood, has remained a popular Chicago attraction for its astounding range of animals but most importantly because it is one of the last free admission zoos remaining in the country. Founded in 1868, this 1,200 acre zoo welcomes more than 3 million visitors each year looking to marvel at the world-class animals. The intimate atmosphere is the perfect place to spend an afternoon walking along the tree-lined paths, visiting the lovely flowering gardens and, of course, stimulating those calf muscles with a scenic paddle boat ride on beautiful waters. But we can’t forget about the animals, of course! With about 80 different mammals, ranging from polar bears and lions to African Apes, all furry friends can be found at the famous Regenstein Center. If you’re a fan of the cold-blooded creatures, don’t miss the reptiles, amphibians and 70 different species of snakes as they crawl and slither behind glass barricades. And if you simply relish in the sweet sounds of a summertime chirp, the McCormick Bird house won’t disappoint as it houses over 75 different species of birds. Want something more down to earth? The Blum-Kovler Penguin-Seabird House is the haven for the vast array of aquatic birds. Needless to say, if you’re an animal lover you’ll be able to make a day of this Real Chicago spot. If you love nature, the park’s trails provide a fine escape from the human filled sidewalks of the downtown area. A short twenty minute leisurely walk from The Drake, down the historic street of Inner Lakeshore Drive, this oasis is a must-see when you’re staying downtown. Lincoln Park Zoo is open 365 days a year and hours vary depending on the season. This a prime place to spend an afternoon and starting this Friday, today, Lincoln Park Zoo is hosting their annual “Jammin’ at the Zoo”. OneRepublic and Jason Reeves will be performing at the “wildest concert in town” and all proceeds will be used to support the programs and animals at the zoo. Lincoln Park Zoo is located at 2200 North Cannon Drive Chicago, IL 60614 Be sure to read our blog for other great Real Chicago ideas from the Drake Hotel. Ready to come? Book your hotel room in Chicago at the Drake Hotel.
There’s no better way to see all of Chicago than by bravely taking the elevator to the 94th floor of the John Hancock Observatory. After your heart stops racing from the 40 second elevator ride, which happens to be the fastest elevator in America, you will be in awe of the spectacular 360 degree views.
Standing at 1,030 feet in the air, I believe that the John Hancock Observatory is the perfect place to go on a warm summer day to get a taste of what is Real Chicago.
The John Hancock Observatory was completed in 1970 and offers one of the most amazing views of Chicago. Not only can you see all of Chicago and beautiful Lake Michigan but on a clear day you can also see the surrounding states like Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin. The outside observation deck also adds to the experience because it allows you to get a true feel of how high up you are by breathing in the fresh air.
After relishing in all the beauty that the John Hancock offers, you can take relax by getting ice cream at Lavazza Expression Café, which also is located inside The Drake Hotel. For a more formal option, The John Hancock Observatory also has an incredible restaurant called The Signature Room. Here you can take in all the views while enjoying their delicious food.
For me, The John Hancock Observatory is part of Real Chicago because it reminds me of all the wonderful places and activities Chicago has to offer. You can see famous Chicago institutions such as Soliders Field and Navy Pier as well as the boats on Lake Michigan. It’s a constant reminder of all of the history and exciting activities that Chicago offers every day.
Adults (12+) ....................$23
Youth (3-11) ....................$18
Children (under 3) ............FREE*
Open daily from 9:00am to 11:00pm (last admission at 10.30pm)
Be sure to read our blog for other great Real Chicago ideas from the Drake Hotel.
Ready to come? Book your hotel room in Chicago at the Drake Hotel.
Nestled right outside metro Chicago, this stop boasts breathtaking scenery and an unbelievable array of unique and exquisite flowers. With over 24 gardens and 385 acres, you are bound to discover something new each time you visit. Adding to the charm of this Real Chicago scenic sanctuary is the fact that it can be visited year-round. For with every season you’re offered a new bloom of extraordinarily distinctive sights, sounds, and smells.
This Real Chicago experience was submitted by Caroline, a Chicago native and busy professional. She has found this oasis to be the perfect escape from her hectic life and loves spending afternoons taking in the sunshine and natural beauty. Caroline states, “The Chicago Botanical Gardens are truly a Real Chicago experience. The peaceful environment will captivate you for hours at a time and your farewell will leave you anticipating your next visit.”
The Chicago Botanical Gardens opened to the public in 1971 with a mission to promote enjoyment, understanding and conservation of plants and the natural world. It is one of the most visited public gardens in the United States with approximately 760,000 visitors each year. With so much to see and smell, it is no wonder that so many people visit each year. The gardens encompass 9,000 different varieties of plants, ponds and waterfalls, you are sure to find a spot that will become your new retreat.
The official start of summer is less than a week away and this plant museum is the perfect place to spend a warm, sunny afternoon. Be sure to check out the Heritage Garden, the Sensory Garden and the Waterfall Garden as those are some of Caroline’s must see gardens.
Visit The Chicago Botanical Gardens at: 100 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe, IL 60022. Hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily from June 5 through September 5. Admission is free but parking varies between $7 to $60 depending on the day and size of vehicle.
Be sure to read our blog for other great Real Chicago ideas from the Drake Hotel.
Ready to come? Book your hotel room in Chicago at the Drake Hotel.