Chicago: Beyond the Shamrock Shenanigans (And Dessert)

downtown chicago

I don’t know why, but one thought came to me after my recent trip to Chicago…crème brûlée.

Perhaps because it’s complicated, rare, and amazing.

You can try it over and over again, but each time you crack its intricate surface, you’ve barely even started to devour the insane richness beneath.

I didn’t eat any creme brulee in Chicago last weekend for Mr. H’s birthday celebration. That’s because I ate the majority of his birthday cheesecake the night before we left, for breakfast the morning we left, and the moment we got home the next afternoon.

To say I have a love for dessert is an understatement. Without remorse, I devoured my spouse’s leftover birthday cake like it was mine…all mine!

In my defense, he totally had the first piece.

So, where was I? Creme brulee.

Mmm…creme brulee.

Sorry, where was I really?

Ah, yes. The windy city!

The other day I ranted about our St. Patty’s experience. Be sure to check out Chicago: In the Throes of Shamrock Shenanigans if you want to read what not to do for St. Patty’s.

Unless you’re the public lush enthusiast, then by all means…go!

Have no fear. I’m all done bitching about the clover clad half-wits. Moving right along!

So, once the drunkards stumbled back to their emerald caves, the city was manageable again.

This was my fourth visit to Chicago – a few were last minute “Whoo, whoo! Let’s go clubbing in Chicago tonight!” trips, and the other one was spent in Bucktown/Wicker Park visiting a super awesome friend of mine.

(Love Bucktown/Wicker Park by the way!)

But, this particular adventure was all about downtown.

Chicago is a big ass city, guys. Pick a neighborhood and get in there. Don’t bother seeing “it all” because you totally can’t.


Thinking of driving? Imagine this.

After countless hours in traffic jams at unimaginable times, followed by barreling down the wrong way of a one way street that came out of nowhere, you finally arrive at your destination. After your tenth lap around the block searching for a parking space, you think you finally see one.

But, guess what? It’s a mirage, and your ass is parked on the sidewalk and an opportunist is now selling souvenirs from your trunk.

For crying out loud, take some public transportation – the “L” is a guaranteed good time. I even sat across from a questionably alive man during my first ride. Give it a whirl!

And, a word of advice while walking around. Don’t use Starbucks or Walgreens as landmarks because they are on every freaking block, and let’s face it…they all look the same.


We stayed at the W City Center and it was pretty perfect. An eight minute walk west gets you to Union Station. An eight minute walk east gets you to Michigan Avenue.

Centrally located, indeed.

Because it was Mr. H’s birthday I called ahead that morning and requested a sweet ass view.

I worked for a big name chain hotel for a couple of years right out of high school…in the trenches of guest services. When there’s a special occasion, don’t be shy.

Ask for a little extra, but ask nicely.

We ended up on the top floor with this rad view…

view from w chicago city center

My only complaint with our hotel room was the vent in the bathroom, and it’s kind of a weird story.

Apparently, because we were on the top floor, we were very intimate with the roof top vent. As such, every time we turned on the bathroom light it sounded like a space ship was landing.

And even better, when you gazed up bravely from the toilet to check out what was going on, a strange black thing moved in a slow manner.

Between the spooky ruckus and the intimidating shadow, I whispered a desperate prayer for the aliens to leave me in peace each time I sat on the pot.

And, they did.


Any die hard tourist would look at our weekend romp and say “Shame on you.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah we thought about going to some attractions – specifically the Museum of Science and Industry or the Art Institute.

But, we were only there for twenty-four hours. So, Mr. H and I did what we always do when we arrive somewhere…we strutted.

We tend to strut.

Even though I’m one of those super organized control freaks just about everywhere else in my life, when I travel I like to wing it. And Chicago is one of the best places to get lost.

Remember that creme brulee opener? Every spectacular building stood on display like one of those dessert trays in a fancy restaurant.

You know the kind, where you drool over every single delight and you can’t choose your favorite.

Like this one. How about this dark chocolate Burberry building with rainbow sprinkles and crisscrossed icing?

burberry chicago

Or how about wandering into the old Marshall Field’s – now masquerading as a Macy’s – and hurting your neck staring at this ceiling treat that looks like wedding cake you want to swim in…

tiffany ceiling marshall field's chicago

When you wander around Chicago, you can sample every tasty building with your eyes.

And, it tastes good…I take that back…damn good.

So, we gingerly cracked the surface of Milwaukee’s famous neighbor, the city of Chicago, our honking piece of creme brulee. But, what we tasted was perfectly charred and just the right amount of sweet.

We’ll be back again soon for more.

chicago jazz hands
I couldn’t resist some Jazz hands. Come on…it’s Chicago!

14 thoughts on “Chicago: Beyond the Shamrock Shenanigans (And Dessert)

  1. Do they play up the Al Capone connection Britt, a museum or anything? I’d like to do the wandering/get lost thing but I’d end up in some dodgy alley being hassled by the natives as the gormless Brit 🙂

    1. Oh, you know they play up the gangster connection! There’s this bus tour…

      I was researching something gangster related for our trip, but this we just couldn’t bring ourselves to do. I’m kind of surprised there aren’t more options. Sounds like I could start a new business in Chicago…Britt’s Gangster Tours!

      I’m so happy you said “dodgy”. It truly is one of the best words. : )

    1. Totally! We used some cabs at night, but we were staying in such a great location that everything we needed was less than two miles. Anything farther than that would be cha-ching!

  2. Oh my aching heart. Thank you for this beautiful tribute to my home town. My father was such a lover of the city, and used to take us on regular guided tours. One of our favorites, speaking of bus tours, has always been the Chicago Architectural History tour. The boat tours are also exceptional ~ especially once the river has returned to its normal color of gray blue.

    Fortunately, there aren’t too many alleys in the downtown district so gormless Brits are pretty safe… Plus, Chicagoans are Midwesterners at heart – and join ins the typical gushing whenever they hear a British accent.

    Thank you, Britt!

  3. After reading this post I now want:
    a) a crème brûlée (haven’t had one in two years!)
    b) to go to Chicago (I have never been)

    Love your description of your visit- sounds like you had a wonderful birthday trip for the Mr.!

    1. LOL! We were totally freaked out.

      But, we knew the place was sold out and didn’t want to give the front desk a hard time about it. I’m sure they’ve heard it millions of times. : )

  4. Fun post, Britt. I really love how you took us through Chicago. I think you’re very brave for allowing yourself to get lost in a big city. I am the complete opposite. I once got lost in Boston, and I never got over it. 😉

    1. Thank ya, sweetness! So much to do there…it is insane!

      Ooh, I’ve never had a bad experience getting lost in a city, but I’m sure that’s no fun – like the fear I remember of losing my mom in the grocery store. That always happened because I wandered off, probably into the candy aisle. : )

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