Unlike my previous two full marathons, there wasn’t a Disney theme park to go to the day after the race. So, I had to make the best of it and take in as much of Chicago as I could. My feet were still a little sore from the race, but this was my day to experience the Windy City in all it’s glory! I took the trains into town and got off at the Chicago Theater.
I had booked a day on the Big Bus Tour. This is a hop on and hop off bus tour. They had 14 stops around town where you could get off the bus, explore, and hop back on later. If you ever visit a town that has something similar, I highly recommend doing it. Here’s the problem I had, though. It was Columbus Day and Chicago has a big parade to celebrate. The parade forced the Big Bus Tour to alter its normal route until the parade was over. So, the stop by the Chicago Theater was temporarily eliminated. After 20 minutes of waiting for a bus, I looked over the map I had printed out and found another stop that wasn’t too far away. I had a tour set up of Soldier Field (home to the Chicago Bears) at 1pm. So, I needed to make sure I could get there.
Fortunately for me, the stops by Soldier Field were the next ones from where I got on! Score! The tour guides for all the buses I got on were amazing!
We passed by Soldier Field on the way to the aquarium. It was fun to drive around the stadium. I made sure to note how to get back.
The stop brought us to this amazing view of the Chicago skyline!
I couldn’t resist a medal picture.
I got to Soldier Field with around 15 minutes to spare! The weather app on my phone said it was going to be sunny and in the upper 60’s. So, I didn’t bother to bring a jacket. Right before they let us in, there were a few drops of rain. Not cool! Fortunately, the rain didn’t last very long.
Here are some fun facts about the stadium. This stadium was built in tribute to veterans and current military who serve to protect our freedom.
A closer look at the bench will reveal some military pins that veterans donated to be included in the stadium. Kind of cool. Don’t you think?
Lots of tributes to the soldiers at this stadium.
Over the columns you’ll see some of the words to the official Chicago Bears fight song. I never knew they had one.
Each of the tunnels into the seating area feature one or more of the Bears Ring of Honor. This one features George Hallas, founder of the Bears team (also a coach and player) and Walter Payton. If you have seen the Bears play football, you’ll notice on their sleeve the initials GSH. They are George Hallas’s initials.
Like a lot of stadiums, there are tributes in the upper wall here to the stadium’s past.
As a USC Trojans fan, I was surprised to find that USC and Notre Dame played at least one game at Soldier Field. Another fun fact we learned on the tour…the Chicago Bears played at Wrigley Field before Soldier Field was built. The (now) Arizona Cardinals originated in Chicago and played at Comisky Park.
After the brief history lesson, we were headed to the field!
I could only imagine what it would be like to be a football player getting ready to enter the stadium to play!
Time to walk on the field!
We were all pretty stoked to be on the NFL field!
Along the sidelines were signs with the numbers of the players in the Ring of Honor.
Then, I had to get the mandatory selfie on an NFL field!
The view was amazing! Oh to dream of being a professional football player and to get to play in front of this many people…
Here are the benches for the visiting team. My Raiders were using those benches about one week prior to my trip!
Then, it was time to head to the visiting team’s locker room! As I said…the Raiders played the Bears one week and one day before my visit. They were in the very locker room I was now walking to!
It was a quick trip down the hallway….
…and we were in!
In a few of the lockers, they had jerseys hanging to give you an idea of what it might look like on game day.
I had to pose with Joe Montana’s locker….
and Drew Brees’s jersey!
Oh, and Aaron Rodgers’s jersey!
Here’s where the players go to get taped up before the game.
The equipment trainer’s room was super tiny and very boring.
The shower room area…
Down one of the hallways they had these rules and information about concussion. Very important stuff!
I love that they have signs explaining proper hits and penalties.
If only they had lockers like this for us runners. Dare to dream!
After the locker room, we made our way up to the luxury suites.
Check out the view! If only I could afford seats like this.
If you couldn’t tell, I was having tons of fun with this tour!
Our last stop was the outside. Through the fence is what remains of the highest seats of the old Soldier Field. Not that long ago, the Bears decided to update the stadium. In the old stadium, the suites I was just in didn’t exist.
After the tour, the sun was out and I made my way back to where I was let off the bus. Doesn’t Chicago look amazing?
I thought this might make a better picture with my medal than the earlier one in the overcast background.
Because I had a wait for my bus, I wandered around. These statues represent the signs of the zodiac…
This is the planetarium that those statues are in front of. If I had more time, I would have visited the planetarium.
Just down the road was the Shedd Aquarium.
Then, the museum of natural history. I didn’t get a good picture of this because we were driving by too fast. However, on the side of this museum they had a metal dinosaur skeleton. Because the Cubbies were in the playoffs, he was wearing a Cubs jersey. I so wish that picture had turned out.
We made our way by where the staging area for the Chicago Marathon was the day before. I would have taken a picture of Buckingham Fountain. However, the water wasn’t running in it. So, it wouldn’t be recognizable. What is Buckingham Fountain? If you’ve seen the intro to the TV show Married with Children, you’ve seen the fountain in action. Instead of the picture of the fountain, I took this one of the NBC building.
The next stop was the Navy Pier. On the way, learned some fun facts about Chicago. Do you know why Chicago is called the “Windy City?” It’s not for the obvious reasons of how much wind blows there. It’s named the “Windy City” after the windbag politicians the city has had. I can’t remember the year, but Chicago with trying to outbid New York to host the World’s Fair. They wanted to do it in an anniversary of Columbus’s discovery of America. New York bowed out of the competition, allowing Chicago to get the Worlds Fair. Funny thing, though, the windbag politicians had so much trouble agreeing on what they wanted to do as hosts that they didn’t have the World’s Fair until one year after the big anniversary.
At the Navy Pier, I headed into Harry Cary’s Tavern. It was all decorated up for Halloween.
They also have some cool sports memorabilia.
Outside is the worlds largest Ferris Wheel. It’s currently closed as they are working on an even larger one. According to the bus guides, Chicago is the place where the first Ferris Wheel appeared.
There were plenty of Halloween decorations at the Navy Pier.
I love the views of the Chicago skyline. It’s got to be one of the best.
After getting back on the bus, we made our way to the Magnificent Mile. This is Chicago’s version of Rodeo Drive. All the big, expensive stores are here.
Here is one of the two buildings that did not burn down in the great Chicago fire.
Across the street is the other one. Chicago fun fact…Another nick name for Chicago is The 2nd City. Why? Because The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 burned the entire city to the ground. Obviously, the city rebuilt itself. So, this is the 2nd city of Chicago. The reason these two buildings didn’t burn down is that they are made of limestone. The rest of Chicago, in 1871, was made of wood. Even the sidewalks were made of wood. The fire of 1871 was something that was bound to happen.
I hopped off the bus to make my way back to the Nike Store on the Magnificent Mile.
I had read, before the race, that there would be plenty of official race merchandise at the Nike Store the day after the race. So, I headed there to pick up some shirts. Since I didn’t get to spend a lot of time at the expo, this was my chance to buy some Chicago Marathon merch and I did.
I also stopped by the Disney Store.
That center column is seriously cool! I loved walking around the store. If you’re ever in Chicago, and a Disney fan, you should visit. Even if you aren’t going to buy anything.
I also had to make a stop at the Hershey store. I was a little hungry and thought they would have some good snacks. Well, they had AMAZING snacks to choose from. Funny thing? They are across the street from a Ghiradelli’s.
On the way back to the bus, I saw this. Horse-drawn carriages.
All over town, the support for the Cubs was very easy to see!
Here I am on the bus. You have to ride the top deck on these buses. Funny thing? At one point of the day, my hat did blow off in a very strong and sudden gust of wind. Fortunately, it blew back only a few rows and I got my hat back.
The Hard Rock Cafe is the official 14th stop of the bus tour. If you wanted to take the tour start to finish, this would be the last stop. Because it’s a hop on and hop off bus, you can continue on.
As you can see, the sun was starting to set and it created this pretty cool picture for me. I love that the huge sky rise buildings are so close to the water!
We stopped for a while by the Trump Tower. This is the first stop of the tour.
Chicago is such a cool city to visit!
They do have river walk tours via boat you can take and learn all about the architecture of the Chicago buildings. They were also flying that Cubs flag!
These two towering buildings are kind of cool. They reside next to a shopping mall. The plan was to have a city within a city. So, the tall towers are where you would live. Since it was attached to a mall, you presumably would never need to leave because there is plenty of shopping and places to eat all within walking distance and without having to go outside.
I love all the art outside of the buildings! This is in front of the Willis Tower (aka Sears Tower).
I can’t remember what building this is in front of. However, I think I’ve seen it in movies or television somewhere.
Once we got back to the Chicago Theater, I hopped off the bus for the last time. There was a Chicago sports store nearby and I wanted to find some Cubs gear.
This is the shirt I ended up buying. I really wanted something that was geared towards the NLDS. But, this shirt was a good second best.
And with that purchase, it was time to head back to Park Ridge to watch the Cubs play the Cardinals in Game 3 of the NLDS with the friends of the family I was staying with. I had an amazing time exploring Chicago and need to come back again when I can spend more time. This day not only gave me the chance to celebrate finishing the marathon, but to get a taste of all Chicago has to offer. It might not be as much fun as going to a Disney theme park to celebrate. However, it was still tons of fun! Thank you Chicago for a memorable trip!