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A Festive Week in Chicago, IL!

Hello from Chiiicagooo!!! (Well, hello a few weeks ago.) I had the joy of visiting and exploring a new city a few weeks ago and it was such a fun and interesting experience. My SCAD partner in crime Roan is from a suburb right outside of Chicago, Illinois, and as frequent readers will know: I love few things more than visiting dear friends who are from super cool locations. ;) I've always wanted to learn more about Chicago and visit there, as I've heard so many amazing things about the city. One of my best friends from high school is from Chicago, and another friend currently attends the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), and both of them always talked about just how cool of a city it is. I was hesitant to believe them, given they always talked about the coolness in the same breath as saying how cold and windy it is. I gave it a shot and happened to go at one of the coldest times of the year! What luck!

Roan had planned out a multitude of iconic things for us to do in the city and around his hometown, so after being led around by a local, I can confidently say that I loved Chicago! It had an interesting vibe and look - it felt similar to New York City, but slightly more spread out and it felt a little cleaner, lol. While I only really saw a fraction of the city, really liked it and I already want to go back and explore more. We did so many fun things over the course of my week there, so I'll just give you the highlights!

Oak Park is a lovely little suburb right outside the city, and while Chicago is in some ways characterized by its iconic South Side (hello Kanye & Michelle!) and more well known neighborhoods, the suburbs like Oak Park seemed like a comfortable and stylish place to live. Downtown Oak Park was super cute and had a lot of nice shops, especially one extensive bookstore that I could've spent the whole week in. The town is most iconically characterized as the hometown of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and his artistic influence is truly seen everywhere. On my first morning there, Roan and I went on a run in which we saw three incredible houses he designed, the most impressive being his own home and studio! I loved seeing how a town uses a hometown architectural hero to shape their aesthetic for decades afterwards.

The highlight of the whole trip was definitely the full day that we spent in downtown Chicago, starting with the Art Institute. Through my art history studies I've heard a ton about the Art Institute and all of the insanely famous pieces it holds, but I never really realized the extent of it until I saw for myself! There were so many cool art pieces and exhibits there that I can't even go through all of them, so I'd put the Art Institute on par with The Met in terms of influence and scale. My favorites include seeing an exhibit about Picasso's printmaking and drawing, a super cool photojournalism exhibit, and so much impressionism by Seurat and Monet!

After spending three hours exploring the Art Institute, we spent the afternoon and evening walking all around the city. We saw Millennium Park (sadly the "bean" was under construction so we couldn't go up to it), a cute German Christmas market, the riverfront walk, Water Tower Place, and so much more in between. That day helped me appreciate the real big American city feel of Chicago.

One memory that will stick with me forever was running our long run along the lakefront paths that line the edge of the city. Lake Michigan is really right there and it had the most truly blue water as any ocean or lake I've ever seen. We enjoyed 10 miles roaming with so many other runners, cyclists and walkers along the lakefront and around Lincoln Park Zoo and the Navy Pier. It was a long run to remember forever!! We even got to see Lake Michigan a little further east in Indiana, and it was still so beautiful, which I really didn't expect,

Other highlights include Chicago Chinatown, walking the 606, Lincoln Park Zoo Christmas lights, going to a beautiful Catholic church in Oak Park and much more! This whole trip was a blast and it just makes me want to learn more about Chicago by returning! I'd highly recommend, especially if you're exploring with a native who can show you all the festive and beautiful sights!

Check out the sort of photo diary below - so many sweet moments to remember. 💘🛩🌃

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