We wanted to visit Chicago but we didn’t want to drive in. We lucked out as our campground at Burnidge Forest Preserve was just fifteen minutes from the Elgin train station and weekend tickets are just $8.00 for unlimited usage. On the other hand, it’s a local, so the train ride was an hour and twenty minutes. Even so, better than driving.
As usual we got off to a late start on Saturday and the train was pulling away as we were buying our tickets and the next train wasn’t for a couple of hours, so we spent some time in Elgin center. The train station is right alongside the Fox River and there is a walk along the river as well as a park on an island.
After enjoying the walk, and a visit to the island, it was time for lunch. We found the Blue Box Cafe a Dr. Who themed cafe/deli. Great food and a cool little place.
“Taste of Chicago” was happening in the city so we checked it out. Lots of food, but overpriced and way too crowded, but at least we managed to avoid getting eaten by the T-Rex.
We had to see Buckingham Fountain:
And the “Bean” which is a 66′ long x 33′ high polished stainless steel bean-shaped sculpture which is mirror-like and a place for tourists like us to take reflective selfies!
The parks by the waterfront are really impressive. Lurie Garden has beautiful naturalistic landscaping while other parks have a more formal look. There are great play areas with rock climbing walls and skateboard roadways. Even the BP bridge between the parks is an art piece in itself.
We spent some time at the Field Museum, unfortunately we wasted some of it at the underwhelming Jurassic Park exhibit. However, the museum’s Evolution section was vastly superior and had better dinosaurs:
Of course, we had to visit the Chicago Botanical Garden which is so large (385-acres) it is almost overwhelming. Every garden type is beautifully designed and displayed. The Native Plant Garden was one of my favorites, along with Evening Island, Japanese Garden, and the Aquatic Garden. But the one that amazed me most was the Fruit and Vegetable Garden which is it’s own separate island of over 400 different types of organic edible plants. With a Cafe, Farm program and Chef cooking classes, I’m ready to move in!
We had a tour of the Carillon (a tower of bronze bells and playing device), met the musician, and listened to a concert as we strolled through the garden.
And a few more garden scenes to share…
So if you have a chance to visit Chicago, definitely do it. Don’t let its nickname as the “Windy City” deter you since it’s not the chilly gusts coming off Lake Michigan that makes it windy, according to most local legends, it’s because of the hot air bellowing from politicians.