After we left Sac City, Iowa we chose Galena, Illinois as an overnight stop on our way to Chicago……what a find!! Galena is in northwestern Illinois just across the Mississippi River. It is known for its well-preserved 19th century buildings to include the Italianate Ulysses S. Grant Home, which was a gift from the local citizens to the Civil War general and who later became our 18th President. The home is almost 100% authentic to the time he and his family lived there.
Historic downtown Galena was named “Best Main Street in the Midwest” because it curves past nearly 100 19th century buildings and storefronts. Galena looks much like it did during the time of the Civil War although now most of the buildings are home to boutiques, art galleries and restaurants. We loved this town so much we are putting high on our “Must Revisit” list!!
After we spent one night in Galena we drove a beautiful country road that meandered along the Mississippi River on Iowa/Illinois border. We finally arrived at our destination in Joliet, Illinois. We researched the Chicago area for RV parks and discovered that the closest ones were about 50 miles from downtown Chicago! This was my first visit to Chicago and I was extremely excited to see this iconic town.
Our first stop in the city was Oak Park, a quiet suburb 11 miles west of downtown Chicago and it contains the largest concentration of Frank Lloyd Wright designed homes and buildings. It was here that Wright developed his Prairie style of architecture inspired by the flat lines of the Midwestern plains. We have visited Taliesin West in Scottsdale Arizona, seen some of his work in California but to tour his home and studios was nothing short of breathtaking. We took a guided tour of the home he and his family inhabited for 20 years, meandered in his studio and then took a self guided walking tour of the Oak Park neighborhood where his influence is evident everywhere.
After our trip to Oak Park we had lunch at Flo and Santos, an authentic neighborhood restaurant that our godson, Ryan had recommended to us as a “must do” when in Chicago. The pizza and pierogis were wonderful!!
After lunch we walked to Grant Park, which was built entirely on landfill after the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. Unfortunately there was an upcoming 4-day concert in the park so some areas were already blocked off but we were able to see Buckingham Fountain, famous as the opening scene in the TV show, “Married with Children. We enjoyed the numerous sculptures as we meandered along Michigan Avenue. We also spent time in Millennium Park where we had to get a picture of the famous “Bean”. We drove the Magnificent Mile, named because of all the glitzy stores and striking buildings. We would love to see at Christmas when it is twinkling with lights and trimmings.
We also visited the Navy Pier, which until 1995 was a drab slab of concrete jutting into Lake Michigan. It once served as a Navy and freight terminal but now is full with attractions, restaurants and tours catering to both kids and adults.
One of my prime goals in Chicago was to attend a Cubs game and see the iconic Wrigley Field. Wrigley Field was built in 1914 and is the second oldest ballpark in America and is the only Major League Ballpark to feature ivy in its outfield walls. Prior to 1988 all ballgames were played during the day because they had no lights. Even today, the Cubs maintain the tradition of day games with more matinees than any other team in baseball. Because of this, I chose to attend a day game and unfortunately it was the only rainy day we had in Chicago. We arrived early, took in the sights and sounds of a ballpark that is surrounded totally by neighborhoods, restaurants and bars. As we entered Wrigley Field for the first time I could sense the history that these “Friendly Confines of Wrigley” has experienced in the 113 years of games. Even the rain couldn’t dampen my enthusiasm and we sat out 2 rain delays and enjoyed a high scoring game. And as the late Ernie Banks said, “Let’s Play Two!!” because there can never be too much baseball in my eyes!
Now onto new adventures and experiences…..