Remember It!

My Notebook of the amazing places I have visited and the memories and experiences I don't want to forget.

Chicago to Toronto (and the bits in between) May-June 2012

Ever since I was a little girl when I thought about travelling to America my number one destination (other then Disneyland) was always Chicago. I think this was due to a number of reasons firstly I knew that the City had a large Polish community, one of the largest outside Poland. Secondly I loved all the stories and films about The Mob’ in Chicago. Thirdly I had read Tintin In America’ as a child and Chicago was one of the main places Tintin visited and since then I wanted to go there.

Chicago

So in 2012 we decided to visit Chicago and the surrounding area. This was our Itinerary:

25th May – 29th May 2012: Chicago, Illinois. We stayed in the Affina Hotel on Superior St at St Clair and would thoroughly recommend it. It is in a great location and has great amenities.  We were lucky enough to have a room on a high floor and good view of the Chicago skyline. While in Chicago the City and the whole area was going through a bit of a heatwave so it was really nice but it did get a little too hot at times.

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Chicago, 2012

Our highlights were:

  • The Art Institute of Chicago: Lots to see, lots of American Art which was really good.
  • Route 66 Sign: We have been to the start in Chicago, and it’s end in Santa Monica (in 2013), as well as various stops along it’s route. It’s fairly small but still needs to be seen.
  • The Bean in Millennium Park: This is absolutely amazing, the way the Chicago skyline is reflected in the sculpture is pretty special.

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    ‘The Bean’, Chicago 2012

  • Navy Pier: Very cheesy, but a nice stroll still.
  • John Hancock Observatory: It was between this and the Willis/Sears Tower and we decided to do the Observatory. It was fun and the views were pretty special.
  • XOCO (449 Clark St at Illinois St) Fantastic Mexican food from breakfast to dinner. Fast, cheap and tasty! From Rick Bayless!
  • Cafecicto (26 Congress Parkway at Wabash) The best Cuban sandwiches, loved it.
  • Big & Little’s (860 Orleans btwn Chestnut & Locust) Great fish and the best fish tacos in the state!
  • Pizano’s Pizza (864 State btwn Delaware & Chestnut) I didn’t think I would like deep pan pizza but this was delicious.
  • DMK Burger (2954 Sheffield Ave at Wellington) Great bar, beer, cocktails and burgers. The buffalo with blueberry BBQ sauce is still one of the best burgers I have eaten.
  • Smoque (3800 Pulaski Rd at Grace) One of my favourite BBQ places in America  – all the meat was excellent. Orders were flying out the door. You can sit in but it’s not fancy!

29th May – 31st May 2012: We drove out of Illinois and into Indiana stopping in Middlebury to visit the Dutch Country Market and see the Amish community. We stayed in a B&B in Amherst, Ohio a small town. We mainly chose this as we wanted to be relatively near to Ceder Point Amusement Park which we visited on 30th May and had an excellent time. The rides were amazing and the weather was perfect. For dinner we visited Momocho Mod Mex in Cleveland, Ohio – the food was very good and the portions were massive! We left Ohio and headed West along the Lake Erie shoreline through Pennsylvania and New York State and into Canada.

31st May – 2nd June 2012: We stayed in Niagara Falls and as well as experiencing the falls we visited Niagara on the Lake. The Falls themselves are amazing, to see them from a boat, up close, and also from the side is a real experience. However Niagara Falls the Town was very touristy and gimmicky and nothing stood out. Niagara-on-the-Lake however which was a bit of a drive was a more pleasant area but we only stopped for a coffee.

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Niagara Falls, 2012

2nd June – 5th June 2012: Toronto, Canada. I have to say this was our least favourite part of the trip. I’m not sure why but we just didn’t like the City. There were parts that we liked like the  Distillery District was pretty cool with it’s shops, cafes, bars but the main area we found to be a bit soulless. Also I always heard that service in Canada was supposed to be better then the US but I found the opposite to be true and when everything is so much more expensive it makes a difference. Our top picks were:

  • The Distillery District including: Balzac’s Coffee Roasters, Mill Street Brew Pub, Hot Chocolate place and a Cafe (can’t remember the name) which served amazing cookies.
  • The Harbourfront where we stumbled across a god training camp.
  • Guu Izakaya (398 Church St at McGill St) A great Japanese Izakaya serving some great food and drink with a fabulous atmosphere.
  • The Fish Store & Sandwiches (657 College St btwn Grace & Beatrice) Great place for a quick lunch, top produce.

5th June – 6th June 2012: We left Toronto and Canada and drove East into Michigan staying in a Hampton Inn in Flint which was actually really nice. We had dinner at Beale St Smokehouse BBQ in neighbouring Fenton which was surprisingly good and the beer was great too. We also visited the US23 Twin Drive-In movie theatre, although having experienced it I can say I much prefer the superior quality of a proper Cinema with proper sound.

6th June – 7th June 2012: We left Flint and headed west towards Lake Michigan and New Buffalo where we spent our last night. The New Buffalo lake shore is very pretty and it was the perfect place for our last evening of a memorable roadtrip. We even had time to sample the Ice Cream at Oinks Dutch Treat which was excellent. The next day we left New Buffalo and Michigan and slowly followed the lake shoreline to Illinois and then headed home via Chicago O’Hare Airport.

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New Buffalo, MI – 2012

Six States and Toronto, Canada: DONE!

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