I have a secret. Long time readers will know this, but most probably won’t. I play Pokemon Go. In fact I love Pokemon in general and have played since the very first Red and Blue games. For the last two Summers the creators of Pokemon Go, Niantic, have had location based events and in March I hit the lottery and go an invite. The location: Chicago! So with a few weeks of planning and preparation we set off to explore the Windy City of Chicago.
The trip began with an unexpected upheaval when our flight got canceled. After some time on the phone with American Airlines, we managed to get on a flight out the same day but at Santa Ana (John Wayne) Airport. Unfortunately this added extra travel time to our trip but we were on our way! The Inn of Chicago would be our home for the 4 days of our trip. While described as a boutique hotel, a more accurate description would be outdated and in need of refurbishing. However due to the event, and it’s great location, the price point was appealing. As they say, you get what you pay for.
One of the joys of traveling is experiencing new places and FOOD. One of the key things we do before any trip is check out places to eat near the hotel and literally across the street was a place called Burrito Beach.
What drew us to Burrito Beach was their vegan menu! Whether you want salad, chili, tacos, burritos or bowls Burrito Beach is you’re go-to place. They use the Beyond Meat chunks instead of meat. We opted for the Beyond Carne Asada as a bowl. With guacamole each bowl ended up around $10 each, and so tasty. Highly recommend!If you aren’t a fan of spicy foods then beware the hot sauce on the carne asada!!!
One thing I really loved about the Inn of Chicago was the location. We were on a bus route, near the parks and the lake. In fact we were right in the thick of things and easy walking to lots of tourist stuff. Our first thing to see was Lake Michigan, which is HUGE. Honestly it looks just like an Ocean.
We’re not big on shopping, and there are LOTS of places to shop in downtown Chicago. Bob had some work events to attend to, and took advantage of the Chicago City Pass. Despite being here just a short time we managed to cross a few tourist things off our list. One thing I liked about Chicago is that the parks, the lake, the Shedd Aquarium, Field museum and Adler planetarium are all in the same area. One thing Bob really wanted to do was get a run done in Chicago so that was our first thing Thursday morning. The afternoon we headed to do some of the tourist attractions. 26K steps later we were done with our first day!
Parks & The Bean
Again I cannot emphasize enough how convenient the hotel was located. We walked the couple of blocks to the parks, most tourist attractions and the public transport in Chicago is like any big city, amazing! I highly recommend getting their 3 day Ventra pass, giving you access to all the trains and buses. Millennium Park, Maggie Daley Park, Grant park and Buckingham fountain are all the same few blocks. Lots of greenery, skating ribbon, bikes, and joggers are par for the course here. We saw Cloud Gate (the bean!), and lots of other works of art here. And we marveled at Buckingham Fountain (it’s in the credits for Married with Children).
Pokemon Go Fest – Chicago
Friday was my day to play at Go Fest Chicago and we awoke to BEAUTIFUL weather. Gone were the rain clouds, and blue skies and sunshine appeared. In case you think to yourself “do people still play Pokemon Go?”. Yes, heck yes they do! Over the four days 60,000 attendees were at the ticketed (sold out!) event at Grant Park, an urban park stretching 319 acres . In addition 287,000 people were playing in the surrounding area of Chicago. The event players walked more than 290,000 kilometers, caught 15,000,000 Pokémon, and made 213,000 new friends.
As I said, this was a SOLD OUT event, for all four days. Many players who wanted to attend didn’t get the opportunity so I feel thankful to have gone. My friends and I spent 10 hours playing, talking, and walking. I walked 32,000 steps Friday! In case you’re interested, there is another four day event in Germany this weekend, and a week long event in Japan next month. So yes, people very much still play Pokemon Go!
One place always on our hit list for Vegan food wherever we go is Veggie Grill. We were pleased to find these in Chicago. The Mondo Nachos are always a great starter. My staple is the Santa Fe Crispy Chickn with sweet potato fries. Bob decided to try the Bean & Cheese Burrito and wasn’t impressed with it, but he loved the Beyond Patty Melt.
Again shout out to the fantastic location of our hotel because literally around the corner was a Whole Foods, and 3 blocks away a Trader Joe’s. Both mecca’s for Vegan food. The Saturday we left we had lunch at Whole Foods Food Bar which was Indian Cuisine, one of our favorites! Chana Masala, Rice, Saag, some potatoes, tofu and an addition of mac’n’cheese went down a treat! Love Whole Foods!
One of the main reasons I love Whole Foods is the vegan baked goods. Did you know that they have vegan muffins and donuts? They offer multiple flavors of each. We got the opportunity to try Raspberry flavored icing during our Chicago trip. Delicious.
All in a ll a great few days in Chicago. We wish we’d had a couple more days to spend there as there was quite a lot to see and do. Maybe next year at Pokemon Go Fest 2020?
- Have you been to Chicago?
- What kind of tourist attractions do you prefer?
- Would you travel for a passion?