The Best of Chicago


I can’t believe that it has taken me this long to get this post completed, but it has been a busy summer! I went on my first Chicago vacation in June and this post shares some of the things that I saw and experienced as a first time visitor. Of course I did a lot of the expected things during this Chicago vacation and I loved every minute of it. I am already planning what else I will see and do the next time that I get there.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is sharing the highlights of her vacation in Chicago and her stay at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel.© Eugene Feygin | Dreamstime.com

I did a lot of pre-planning about what I wanted to do there, but didn’t really slot the activities into days. I just tried to fit in as much as I could from my list. I was there only for 4 days, so I didn’t have a lot of time. I literally jam packed each day from morning to night and collapsed in my hotel bed at the end of it all. The weather was fantastic for the majority of the days, but the final day was rainy which didn’t really stop me since I am from Vancouver where it rains a lot.

I traveled with my mom who had meetings and events to attend a lot of the time, so I did a bunch of exploring on my own during my stay and I felt perfectly safe.

Chicago Riverwalk

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is sharing the highlights of her vacation in Chicago and her stay at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel. © Elegeyda | Dreamstime.com

I stayed at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel, which has a fantastic central location. Right across the street there was access to the Chicago Riverwalk, so this was the first stop on the agenda and I grabbed a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants. I ended up walking along the Riverwalk every day several times getting to and from various places. It was a great alternative to walking on the streets. I walked a TON during my visit. I am glad that I packed comfortable shoes.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is sharing the highlights of her vacation in Chicago and her stay at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel.

Millennium Park and Grant Park

As the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel was very central, I walked to these parks several times. I knew I wanted to get a photo at Cloud Gate (The Bean) and Buckingham Fountain, but when I went to The Bean the first time it was crazy busy with people.  The next day my mom and I got up super early (5:30am!!) and were able to get great photos without any other tourists. It was well worth the early morning.   🙂

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is sharing the highlights of her vacation in Chicago and her stay at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel.

Buckingham Fountain is just stunning and this photo was taken mid afternoon. There were quite a few people but it wasn’t crowded. Look at that amazing blue sky!!

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is sharing the highlights of her vacation in Chicago and her stay at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel.

I also had a chance to meet up with a fellow blogger, Vanessa Lambert, while I was there. She took some photos of me at the park and then we went to get a coffee. I love meeting up with people when I am out of town. 

While I was there I also had a chance to connect and have brunch at the Soho House with the lovely Jennifer Lake, too. Her blog posts and social media feed provide me with a lot of mural and fashion inspiration.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is sharing the highlights of her vacation in Chicago and her stay at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel.

Water Tower

En route from my hotel to the fabulous shopping areas, I stopped at the Chicago Water Tower. I love the history of this structure and how it looks in the midst of all of the other newer structures. They had a Cards Against Humanity (love this game!!) exhibition there, but I didn’t get in to see it.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is sharing the highlights of her vacation in Chicago and her stay at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel. © Dave Newman | Dreamstime.com

Getting Around

I mentioned already that I walked a lot when I was there.  That was really how I got around for the most part. Using my hotel as a base, I just went from there. I love walked over all the bridges and looking down the river. The views were amazing.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is sharing the highlights of her vacation in Chicago and her stay at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel.

Another thing that I did was get a pass for Divvy Bikes. It is a bike ride share and was perfect for Chicago with all the trails an paths. I wouldn’t be brave enough to ride them on the busy street though.  One day I rode one to Navy Pier, parked and had lunch and then picked up another bike and headed along the waterfront to the North Avenue Beach where I parked the bike and enjoyed the water for a few hours and then I rode to the Lincoln Park Zoo. It was a great day! I highly recommend getting a Divvy Bike pass.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is sharing the highlights of her vacation in Chicago and her stay at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel.

Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel

During my stay in Chicago I was at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel.  I was so happy with how central it was to everything that I wanted to see and how it had a  “boutique” hotel vibe.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is sharing the highlights of her vacation in Chicago and her stay at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel.

There were amazing unique art pieces throughout the hotel like this taxi cab (created by Jen Talbot Design) above that is made from 24,000 pencils. She also created this wall made of little plastic people. It was amazing.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is sharing the highlights of her vacation in Chicago and her stay at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel.

Raised, an Urban Rooftop Bar is a bar/restaurant at the hotel that has stunning decor and amazing views down the river. I am sure that you will love it as much as I did.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is sharing the highlights of her vacation in Chicago and her stay at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel.

All around the hotel are nooks with all different types of seating to relax, connect with friends or eat.

The concierge at the hotel was incredibly helpful and I am so glad that I got to know her during my stay. She had recommendations on the best time to see things, how to get there and back, she helped with reservations,etc. I can’t say enough about how much I loved staying there.   🙂

Navy Pier

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is sharing the highlights of her vacation in Chicago and her stay at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel. © Eugene Feygin | Dreamstime.com

Navy Pier is a Chicago landmark and a great place to visit. I ate there one evening on an outdoor patio, which was a great way to beat the Chicago heat and humidity (which I wasn’t used to). I didn’t go for a ride on the ferris wheel, but I will try to check that off my list on my next Chicago vacation.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is sharing the highlights of her vacation in Chicago and her stay at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel.

River and Lake Cruise

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is sharing the highlights of her vacation in Chicago and her stay at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel.

One afternoon I went on a river and lake cruise with Mercury Cruises and I am so glad that I did.  I loved going through the locks, seeing the City from Lake Michigan, and the captivating architectural tour down the river. It was also a smoking hot day, so being out of the water was nice.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is sharing the highlights of her vacation in Chicago and her stay at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel.

I really enjoyed listening to the tour guides stores about each building. I don’t think a first trip to Chicago would be complete without this tour.   🙂

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is sharing the highlights of her vacation in Chicago and her stay at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel.

Chicago Murals

I planned out some visits to some of my favourite Chicago murals and I met up with a blogger friend Ali Stone who shot some photos of me (all except the flamingo, which my mom took).

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is sharing the highlights of her vacation in Chicago and her stay at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel.

This mural is created by mural artist, Victor Ving, and photographer, Lisa Beggs. They are on a cross-country road trip in a RV creating interactive murals. I have since got photos at similar murals in Seattle and Houston. I’d say it has been a great summer for mural photos for me!

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is sharing the highlights of her vacation in Chicago and her stay at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel.

This stunning flamingo mural is outside the Flamingo Rum Club on Wells Street. You can’t miss it!

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is sharing the highlights of her vacation in Chicago and her stay at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel.

This stunning mural in Chicago (West Loop neighborhood) is by Pose and it has colours to match any outfit.

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is sharing the highlights of her vacation in Chicago and her stay at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel.

This is a mural in Chicago (West Loop/Fulton Market area) by Lauren Asta and it makes the perfect backdrop for a colourful outfit.  So many people have commented that they would love to colour it in. It is like a huge colouring page. 

Chicago Theatre

The Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel was right across the street from the Chicago Theatre. I couldn’t resist getting a photo by this landmark one evening. My mom had to lay on the ground to get this perspective, but she is like me and will do it for the photo.  🙂

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is sharing the highlights of her vacation in Chicago and her stay at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel.

Skydeck

I stopped by one afternoon at the Chicago Skydeck and the line was horrendous, so I went back the next day early in the morning. I think I was in the first group up. The view was stunning and standing in the glass deck area was pretty scary for someone like me that isn’t too fond of heights (or elevator rides)!  

Blogger Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella is sharing the highlights of her vacation in Chicago and her stay at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel.

I know that was a photo overload but I have so many more that I haven’t shared.  I hope you have a great day!

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  • Chicago looks absolutely amazing! I would love to go there one day 🙂

    http://www.thesparklingdarling.com

  • Shelly

    I live in Chicagoland and haven’t been to half of these places! Brilliant idea to rise at 5:30 to get a coveted solo shot with the bean!

  • Gorgeous captures of the city, Bella!! You really highlighted so many wonderful aspects of our city! So glad that you were able to come! Visit again soon!

    • Thank you so much Jenn, It was such a pleasure to meet you!! I cant wait to come again.

  • Fabulous images! We were in Chicago a couple of years ago when my son graduated from Navy bootcamp. My favorite part were some of the restuarants we visited!

  • Tania Potter

    I am stunned at how gorgeous Chicago is, your photos are amazing and the colours and sights quite mind blowing. What an amazing trip you had!

  • Chrissa – Physical Kitchness

    Oh Chicago, how I love you so!!! I’ve been a number of times but never made with to the Navy Pier. I NEED to go back – this post has me itching for another windy city vaca!

  • Chicago is such a great city, you definitely need to go on the ferris wheel at Navy Pier! It provides such a cool view of the city, especially at night!!
    xo, Syd
    anchoredinthesouth.com

  • Candy Kage

    Love taking the train up and spending the day in Chicago. You hit all my favorite spots. You look amazing roaming around the city.

  • mckenna bleu

    These pictures are beautiful! Chicago is such a fun city!

  • I LOVE Chicago! It looks like you hit all the beautiful spots!

  • Greta Hollar

    Your trip looks like so much fun! You hit all of my favorite spots!

    Greta | http://www.gretahollar.com

  • I am so jealous Chicago has an amazing street art scene and I have always wanted to go check it out. Glad you had fun.

  • These got me so nostalgic for Chicago! It’s one of my favorites to explore! Great tips too!

    – Rachel | http://www.theconfusedmillennial.com

  • Amanda K

    How did you manage to get a picture in front of the bean with no one there?! That taxi wall in that hotel is so neat. I would love to go back to Chicago just to do some photos in front of all the murals.

    xx,
    Amanda || http://www.fortheloveofglitter.com

    • I woke up really early lol.. like 4:45.. and isn’t it fun!!! There are so many great walls in Chicago!

  • It’s so cool that you’ve been able to see so much of Chicago. I really like that city. We used to live right outside of it for a few years.

  • You’re so cute! I have so many friends who live in Chicago. I really need to get up there for like a full weekend and just have it be totally action-packed and full of adventures.
    XO Amanda | http://www.glitterandspice.com

  • Chicago is my FAVORITE city, but it’s been a few years since I’ve paid it a visit. Looks like you had an amazing trip; you definitely hit the highlights!!

  • Elly Leavitt

    Have always wanted to go to Chigaco- impressed that you got a pic with The Bean empty haha x

  • Heather Gullett Denniston

    Amazing post! I loved it. I am there three or four times a year and you did that city justice. Can I ask, was it sponsored in any way. Just wondering how you got all those great photos and outfits! You look amazeballs!

    • It was not a sponsored trip. I tagged along with my mom when she was doing some business travel. 🙂 My mom or I took the photos, except for the ones that I paid photographers/fellow bloggers to take as noted in the copy. 🙂

  • SO fun. I want to go there so bad! Awesome round-up of must-sees!

  • I would love to visit Chicago one day! They have so much to offer, from food to the lovely architecture! I really think it’s such a beautiful place. That hotel you stayed in sounds amazing. Awesome outfit choices, by the way!

  • I have never been to Chicago but definitely want to! I love that flamingo wall, so cute!

    xoxo,
    Katie
    chicincarolina.blogspot.com

  • I loved Chicago when I went! This is such a good travel guide.

    xoxo, Jenny

  • Carrie Colbert

    Wow!!! What fabulous photos. You make me want to go spend more time there.

    Carrie

    http://www.wearwherewell.com

  • Chicago is just so beautiful!!! I loved all of your outfits!! 🙂

  • Amanda Love

    Very lovely! Chicago will always be an awesome place to go especially if you’re looking for some good food. The buildings are mesmerizing!

  • Amazing photos! xx

    http://tiateilli.com/

  • Katarzyna

    Chicago is on my bucket list if I ever get to visit US 🙂 You got some great photos!

  • I lived in Chicago for about a year and loved it! Your photos are the cutest ever. Just saying. 🙂

  • Marvina Musser

    Looks like a lot of fun 🙂

    https://itiswellwithmysoul741.wordpress.com/

  • I want to go to Chicago! That looks amazing!

  • What a beautiful city. You captured it well in your photos.

  • Love all these pictures! Last time I was there I was going through boot camp. haha. I remember riding the ferris wheel with my grandma and mom. I’m going to have to go back to visit again. I had so little time to see it all.

  • Sara Kate Steadman

    Oh I love Chicago! Such a beautiful city… I love all of their parks and whatnot. Great round up.

    xo,
    Sara Kate Styling

  • WhatWouldVWear

    Love these pictures of Chi City and it was so fun meeting you!! You are doll! Love and miss ya!
    I hope your day is as beautiful as you are!
    xoxo, Vanessa
    http://www.WhatWouldVWear.com

  • lexhan

    the pictures speaks for chicago, great images i got to feel like i was there. thanks

  • Fantastic pictures! I’ve never been to Chicago but just yesterday met a friend of mine who had just arrived back from her 3 week trip to Chicago with her daughter to see her parents. She said it was a wonderful trip and now when I saw your pics i understand what se meant.

    • Aww how fun!! I would have loved to be there for that long!!! I did a lot in the week that I was there though.

  • hzajac13

    Chicago is my favorite city! Great post and great pics.

  • I love Chicago but haven’t been in forever! So cool that you got an empty picture with the Bean!

    Tori

    • I woke very early to get that picture ahah! you will have to go again soon!

  • These photos look like you had a great time! I haven’t been to Chicago in the summer time but I am definitely making a point to do so next year!

    Meghan | BeyondBasicBlog.com

  • holy moly macaroni, your camera quality is TO DIE FOR. what camera did you use for these pictures?!

  • Wow, you brought some fun dresses along with you! I love both the yellow ones! I’ve been to Chicago more times than I can count. I’ve done Millenium Park, the River Walk, etc. I’ve never done the whole cruise thing. Maybe one of these days!

    Nina
    aworldofdresses.com

    • The cruise was so peaceful!! the yellow dress is a go to summer dress for me! Thank you

  • Lily Travella

    I was ill for my whole time in Chicago :/ wish I’d been able to see more. I was desperate to see the skydeck. Will have to use your photos for wanderlust now.

  • Milton Coyne

    this is one of the places that I really love to visit! I just know Chicago from the Musical haha but I never got a chance to step my foot here… Hopefully I could get a chance to visit this place and explore its beauty

    • Its a great place to visit, Hopefully you get to go one day! Thank you for stopping by.

  • Imogen Clegg

    Your photos are so good! Chicago looks so interesting and colourful, I really want to visit now!

  • Fatima Ali

    I still need to visit Chicago and it sure looks like a fun place to be. Love the photos you have posted. So bright and cheerful!

  • Marie Davis

    I would love to visit Chicago, the pictures look amazing. Definitely one for my wish list.

  • Bucket list!!! Those walls are amazing!

  • herownbeat

    Great pics and a beautiful post! I have only traveled to Chicago for business, and it always been in the winter. I will definitely have to return next summer for fun.

  • Cat

    Having lived in Chicago for a few months, you did a wonderful job of hitting all of the must-see spots! You did a great mix of both the tourist activities and the fun blogger activities too!

    Cat
    Class Meets Couture

  • Sam

    This looks wonderful! Sounds like a great trip! The photos are gorgeous! If I ever get to go to Chicago I will have to make sure I hit some of these places. also I’ve been seeing these cool walls in your instagram photos and been wondering where they were and now I know 🙂 haha.

    Sam
    Shortgirlsam.wordpress.com

    • Thank you for stopping by Sam. I hope you get to go to Chicago one day!! Its so much fun and there are tons of more walls then just these ones!

  • I think you just sold me. We were debating a new trip with a few of our kiddos and Chicago was in the mix. After reading this I now what my vote is 😉 Thanks

  • Your pictures are fabulous! I love your suggestions and I hope I can go to Chicago someday!

  • I live near Chicago and forgot how great it is with all the negative press lately. Thank you for the reminder.

  • May

    This looks like so much fun! I love all the sunny photographs, and really wanna visit Chicago now.

    https://queensandkinks.wordpress.com/