Wednesday, April 29, 2009

10 Most Romantic Spots in Chicago

I think that Chicago is an intensely romantic city, which makes sense, because I fell in love there. Many of the places on my list of the most romantic places in Chicago (particularly downtown) are the places that Isaac and I discovered in our three years of dating. Not all of them, though. Some of them are places I discovered because of my own love of exploring.

*NOTE*.... these are photos are shared from public flikr photos so to see more from these flikr photographers, please click on the photos, which should take you back to their pages.
To view other Featured Flikr Photos, see previous posts about college life at Moody, drinks from around the world,  Papuan village life, Sentani, and Jayapura.

Most Romantic Places in Downtown Chicago

1. Art Institute, South Garden
Ah yes, it just so happens that Isaac and I discovered this place on our first date, walking home from the Celtic Fest. It is right in the busiest part of the city, but is set off the road and the garden is lower than street level and sheltered by low-hanging trees that make it feel like a secret garden. I'm sure it's busy during business hours, but in the evenings it is incredible.

Art Institute, South Garden

Art Institute Garden
South Garden, Art Institute

2. Millennium & Grant Park and the Lakefront
Really seeing Chicago requires a lot of walking, particularly for this part of the city. As long as you make sure there isn't a big festival going on in these downtown parks, Millennium and Grant Park provide huge areas of green lawns and rose gardens and old and new sculptures and statues, as well as the beautiful walk by the lake. On the other hand, on busy summer evenings I advise you to avoid the area at all costs, because it will be chock full of tourists.

View of Grant Park

Some elements of the Parks are:
The Pritzker Pavilion, a beautiful outdoor concert venue where you can see free concerts all summer. It also sort of looks like an aluminum can that exploded.
A Concert at Millennium Park

The harbor (I always wanted to set up a picnic for Isaac and I on one of the little piers, but never did)
Sunrise 30

Buckingham Fountain
Grant Park Fountain

And of course, the "Bean" (the real name is Cloudgate, which is cool). It has fast become one of the most photographed items ever. It really is stunning, so please indulge a few extra photos. I love that it takes on the mood of the city.

Sunrise at the Gate


"Cloud Gate"

Cloud Gate

Millennium Park Night

3. Alfred Caldwell Lilly Pool
I love this place and it is not very well known. It is hidden between Lake Shore Drive and the zoo. I just walked in and suddenly found these beautiful sights:
Alfred Caldwell Lilly Pool, Fall 2008 > Path
Less Known Oasis

4. North Avenue Beach Pier and Lighthouse
Don't go to North Ave. beach on a summer afternoon, or you will be swarmed by tourists and Chicagoans desperate for their yearly quota of sun. This place is best at sunset,twilight and evening. Walk out on the pier to this lighthouse... it's beautiful. One time Isaac and I sat and watched a lightning storm off in the distance on lake Michigan. Yes, it's rusty, but it is truly a fantastic view.

North Beach Pier
5. Garfield Park Conservatory
I catered here many times and I LOVE this place. Room after room of beautiful greenery, ponds, flowers, little walkways, and some benches that would be perfect for sitting and chatting. Again, avoid peak tourist season.
Green Fern Room

(this is actually my personal photo)
4.4.06 005
6. Fourth Presbyterian Church
Fourth Pres. is stunning because it is in SUCH a busy area, but if you walk into the little courtyard you'll find a picturesque little place of peace. I've seen wedding pictures taken there, sat and journaled for hours, and had long chats with Isaac.
Fourth Presbyterian Church

Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago

Gothic Cathedral

7. Bughouse Square/Washington Park/Nearby Park
This vote is totally biased. It the the park "nearby" Moody, hence the nickname, and hence my affection for it. I spent hours here on my own and with Isaac, and between the birds, the flowers, and the old Russian immigrants that sit and chat on the benches, it's totally cute.

(the above photo IS actually my photo)
8. The view of the city from Museum Campus, by the Planetarium
I rollerbladed all over Chicago, and this area was surreal because you would blade down the waterfront, turn the corner around the Shedd Aquarium, and suddenly all city and traffic noise disappear, and you'd be left with a stunning panoramic view of the city over the lake. I used to go here with my group of girls sometimes. We would load up in Missy's car (sometimes in our pajamas!), unload and wrap ourselves in blankets as we talked quietly and enjoyed the view. As the last photo shows, if you join the crowds on the right evenings, you can catch the Navy Pier fireworks.
Chi Town

July 4th Fireworks (Chicago)
9. Michigan Ave. during the holidaysI LOVE Chicago around Christmas time. The city is gorgeously decorated with Christmas lights on the Magnificent Mile, and when you add snow it's just like a Christmas movie... they totally should set more in Chicago. Forget New York! You get the lights, the Christmas music, the bustle of Christmas shoppers and pink cheeks and hot drinks... oh so romantic. Of course, my memory may be tinged by the fact that Isaac proposed to me at a big bay window overlooking the lights and snow. :)

Christmas Lights

it snowed alot tonight - part 2

(the above photo is not me)

And, while we're on the Christmas theme, I LOVE the German Christmas market that Chicago holds,
Kristkindlmarkt. It's the largest one outside of Munich. It's a little touristy, but I just love the nut crakers and apple cider and crepes and pretzels and carols and the huge Christmas tree.... *sigh*.... it's about as old-world European as Chicago gets.

Christkindlmarkt in Daley Plaza

The Marzipan booth

Christkindlmarkt - accordian
10. Millennium Park has an ice rink that opens during the winter. Sometimes it's packed or so cold you can't even hold hands or your fingers will fall off. If you can get there on a good day, though, it is filled with cheerful skaters, Christmas songs fill the air, and you're surrounded by city lights. And again... hot chocolate. I've totally seen romance bloom on that skating rink... several times. :)

McCormick Tribune Plaza and Ice Rink

Ice Rink Millenium Park Proposal

Okay, this has already gone on way too long, but
for honorable mention, these are not in downtown Chicago, but one must visit the Chicago Botanical Gardens or Ravinia if you're looking for a good date. Ravinia in particular. Great music under the stars with a candle-light picnic? Man... that's hard to beat.

And one thing I couldn't find a picture of and most people won't ever do is to go to W
ells Street bridge and find the trap door in the middle. This is the only trap door that isn't locked. You can scurry down onto the platform and dangle your legs over the edge and enjoy the private view of the river, the city, and the lights, knowing it was probably supposed to be locked, but until then... :)

So there you go. Chicago.... City of Romance....

Romantic Stroll

Chicago River


francesblank said...

Ah! I'm going to need to seek out Alfred Caldwell Lilly Pool! When I was church hunting I actually checked out 4th pres. We didnt work out, but it's such a gorgeous building.
Thanks for these! This was fun.

wee lass said...

I knew immediately that 4th Pres would be in this list. How many people got engaged there?! This ended up being one of our sites when I worked with the homeless.
I never knew about Alfred Caldwell Lilly Pool! Looks like I missed out.
Josh and I got engaged outside the Planetarium. We loved hanging out there at night.
Washington Park was nothing but a grassy lot with an empty water fountain when I was at Moody!
Nice post. Very nostalgic.

junglewife said...

Ah, Chicago. Dan didn't fall in love with it like you did - he doesn't like living in the big city. But we did have some wonderful times there, and lots of memories made there! We spent a wonderful couple days there for our 5th anniversary back in 2005, and that actually was our first time enjoying Millennium Park. I remember when I used to ride the South Shore train between South Bend and Chicago (at least once a month in 98-2000!) and that part of Chicago was just dirt and a mess. We had heard they were going to build something there, but had no idea what it was. Then we moved to Tennessee and back, and there was a beautiful park!

I LOVE the pictures. I'm not sure I'd want to live in Chicago but I do miss a lot of things about it!

Julie Glavic said...

Hello! I'll continue the coffee-conversation on your Chicago post. While I'd recommend Intelligensia if you're in Chicago (and I'd say it's a romantic spot, but my husband and I are coffee shop geeks), I maintain Stumptown's supremacy. :) I'm not quite sure how I'd compare the distinctions in the flavors between the two coffeeshops, but I've never tasted anything as smooth and velvety as Stumptown. Their in-store drinks are heavenly, but their beans hold up to their reputation too:

And if you want to know about Stumptown's crazy founder:

Just sharing the coffee-love! :)

kelleyann said...

4th Pres - so funny. I always wanted to have a romantic time there, but they must have gotten sick of the fact that random college age kids were always there - b/c I've gotten yelled at and kicked out twice for taking photos or for reading a book!

Kate said...

WOW, gorgeous......I've never knew Chicago was so beautiful!! Thanks for sharing! :)

Ok, in long overdue answer to your sister in law and brother in law who work in the Dao tribe with NTM are Derek and Sarah Grant. They recently came home, well Sarah did to have their first baby. Derek is still in Papua waiting for their visas then he will travel home, Lord willing. I'm going to give her your link just to see if y'all know each other. I know she is struggling with some culture shock for sure and of course missing her hubby...and then she's got those raging hormones too, poor dear. But it would be cool if y'all knew each other!!! :) Have a FAB weekend......hang in there with the job thing. It was really hard for us to come home from PNG (check out my blog label "Madang" or newsletters for our story)....I still feel that urge to DO something that makes a difference. For now I am working "a job"....that helps pay the bills. So, I guess it's just a different kind of difference and it's true, a stage. Keep holding onto Him!! :)

Annie Peterson said...

My sister got married in the Garfield Park Conservatory!