A Day Trip to Chicago


Some people feel like there’s nothing to do in South Bend, and although I don’t agree with that, I can certainly see where they’re coming from. On more than one occasion I have found myself brainstorming ideas of what to do with a group of friends, and all we can think of are places to get something to eat. Are we just hungry, or do people  actually have a point? Is there nothing to do in South Bend? Well, I’m not here to answer that question, but I will give you a recommendation of something you could do this weekend. Take a day trip to Chicago.

The first step is transportation, and while most people immediately think car, I would advise against it. Instead, take the South Shore train, although it may seem pricey, the cost of fuel and then the cost of parking your car is actually almost three times more expensive than taking the train. Plus, once you get to Chicago, you really don’t need a car because everything is within walking distance, and, for those who really don’t like walking, taking a couple cab rides will still be less expensive than parking for a day. The train tickets are 14.25 in the station, and 15.25 on the train, with a total of one round trip fare being 28.50-30.50 dollars. The South Shore’s site to purchase tickets in advance and put them on your phone is, https://www.mysouthshoreline.com/tickets/purchase-tickets, where schedules can also be found. The train itself is pretty standard, nothing special, there are bathrooms on board, and the average trip time is 2 and a half hours.

Once you’re in Chicago, there are two main stops you would want to get off at;  Museum Campus and Millenium Station, which is the final stop. If you exit at Museum Campus, you are within walking distance to public attractions such as the beach, lake walk,  Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, and Adler Planetarium. From there you can easily meander your way into the city, or take the lovely lake walk down to Navy Pier. A twenty-minute walk from Museum Campus heading East along the lake will take you along Grant Park, where you can visit the Buckingham Fountain. Someone may yell at you if you try to swim in the fountain, but they’re just doing their job. Five Minutes away from Grant Park is Millennium Park which has beautiful fields and gardens, and the Instagram favorite, “The Bean.” In the Summer, near the Art Institute of Chicago, just 4 minutes away from the bean, you can visit the Crown Fountain where two massive screens showing people’s faces shoot water out of their “mouths.”  If a quick dip in either of those fountains doesn’t sound quite up your isle, you can take the Chicago Water Taxi from just outside the Field Museum directly to Navy Pier. At Navy Pier, you can grab a bite to eat, shop, explore the indoor gardens, or enjoy one of the many rides including the new 200-foot tall Ferris wheel giving you a fantastic view of Lake Michigan or the city depending on which side of the car you sit on. You could spend an entire day at Navy Pier, enjoying the food rides, different available shows, and lake tours, but if you like animals and laughter, the next two stops are for you.

Of course, there are always things you can go do in the city, such as the TILT 360 experience at the John Hancock Building, and although it is extremely fun, it’s a bit pricey. So instead, you can continue walking from Navy Pier or Millenium Park, or find a nearby Divvy Bike in the area, which is basically the Lime Bike of Chicago, and go along the lakefront walking and biking path. You can stop at the Chess Pavilion for a chess break, or one of the many food carts, or small restaurants along the way until you get to the turn west towards the Lincoln Park Zoo. The Zoo has no admission fee, and is surrounded by miles of beautiful park, and multiple gorgeous ponds. After seeing the Polar Bears and Otters, if you walk due South, you will be engulfed by Old Town Chicago. Here you will find no shortage of delicious restaurants and places to relax. The two places I would recommend the most are The Second City Comedy Club and The Chicago History Museum. To eat, just think of any cuisine and there will be a fabulous restaurant within walking distance. The Chicago History Museum is fantastic and has a very low admission fee, but for those seeking some of the best live comedy this earth has to offer, look no further than Second City. They have shows every night with varying prices, they can be expensive, but they are always worth it, although the shows may be considered more PG-13 and above so I would not bring your little brother or sister, or a conservative relative.

After a show, some local history, and some dinner, it will sadly be time to head home. Now you can, of course, ride your bike back to Millenium station, or walk back through the city, but both of those options may take you 20-40 minutes. So if you’re tired, call a cab or an uber, costing roughly 15-20 dollars to get back depending on the number of people in your group, and enjoy your last moments of the lights in the big city. If your still not ready to go home, right outside the entrance to Millenium Station is the Chicago Cultural Center filled with stunning architecture, fascinating information on the city, and a great places to wait for your train. Once you board your train, there’s no need to worry about what stop you are, because South Bend is the last stop, so if you don’t get out voluntarily, you will be forcefully removed. Although it might not always feel like it, there are so many things to do in South Bend. However, if you feel like you need a break from your routine or reality, let Chicago be your escape because nothing beats the Windy City. Except maybe Hawaii, but we don’t live 2 hours from Hawaii now do we.