Trailblazing Through Chicago with my Brother

When friends and family come to visit Chicago, I get to be a tourist too. My brother has never been to Chicago before, so I was able to show him all of my favorite spots that I knew he would love. It was also nice to just hang around my apartment, sipping on wine or beer on the front porch in the nice weather, or listening to records inside, simply catching up.

One place we love to go with visitors is Small Cheval. Au Cheval is a well known restaurant in the West Loop that is notorious for it's long waits. We tried to go on a Saturday night once, and the wait was 5 1/2 hours! Expectantly, we did not wait. Thankfully, the burgers that Au Cheval is so known for can still be had at their annex restaurant, Small Cheval, which only serves their burgers and fries. There's are my favorite burgers in the city. Normally, I can only eat half of a burger at a restaurant without feeling too full, but at Small Cheval, I finish the whole thing and I don't feel like a total grease bomb! Sitting outside with a few beers under their market lights and the rumbling train going by makes for a wonderful afternoon.

My brother expressed an interest in photography, so I gave him my Nikon camera that I used from about 2013 to 2016. I bought my Canon last year, and haven't really touched my Nikon since. It was a great introductory DSLR, so I gave it to Mike for him to explore his photography skills! We both carried our cameras around town, taking photos.

Our friends had a Fourth of July get together, complete with a blow-up pool in the backyard and a fire pit. They grilled, we drank, heard fireworks beyond the trees, it was lovely. It was really nice for my brother to meet some of our closest friends in Chicago. 

During the evening walks with Mort, we all went together through the neighborhood to see the lightning bugs. Last year, the lightning bugs were out in late July. This year, my brother was able to see them over the holiday weekend since they were a bit earlier! In Florida, where my brother now lives and where I lived before Chicago, we don't see lightning bugs. Growing up in New York, lightning bugs were the sign of summer.

We were looking for things my brother would like to do, and things that were new for us too! We have heard amazing things about Three Floyds Brewery in Indianna, so we hopped in the car and took a little drive over the state line. The brewery is known for their hoppy beers that are incredibly balanced. They have won countless awards, and for good reason! Normally, I don't love beer that is too hoppy, but theirs is truly delicious.

We went the The Field Museum to see the Tattoo exhibition since my brother loves tattoos like I do. The gift shop sells temporary tattoos designed by local Chicago tattoo artists, so we had to get some ink. I gave him a quick tour of some of my favorite exhibits. We didn't see everything at the museum, of course. I wanted to be sure that we still had enough energy to see some other sights outdoors since it was a beautiful day. (Museum fatigue is real). He'll have to come back in the winter when the weather is poor to see the rest of the museum! For sustenance, we grabbed some Chicago-style hot dogs just outside of the museum and ate them on the grass, overlooking downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan. 

We took the water taxi from Museum Campus to Navy Pier. It's a quick ride on Lake Michigan that gets you from one tourist destination to the other, while avoiding city traffic. It was a beautiful boat ride, with a great view of the city. We didn't spend too much time at Navy Pier. To me it is similar to Downtown Disney with touristy restaurants and bars. Instead, we walked along the Riverwalk from Navy Pier all along the water to The Loop. The Riverwalk has been completely re-done these last few years. There are restaurants, bars, boat rentals, benches and nicely shaded sitting areas, places perfect for picnics and places perfect for photos. A glass of wine for me and a beer for my brother, watching the people walk by, gazing up at the buildings soaring over us; it was a perfect way to spend one of our last days. 


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