Tag: Millennium Park

Sweet Home CHICAGO

Sweet Home CHICAGO


There is no better place on earth than Chicago and let me tell  you why…

  • Explore: Get to know the city through the CTA (Chicago’s public trains and buses). Students get U-Passes which provide unlimited access and serves as your passport to the city. This is a great way to explore different neighborhoods all over the city.
  • Cheer on Your Team: 24 hours after the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup for the 3rd time in 6 years, Chelsea Dagger is still playing in my head. Now Chicagoans are tracking the cup (AKA Lord Stanley) as it travels all around the city and prepare to continue the celebration during the parade and Rally at Soldier Field on Friday. Chicago is not only a hockey dynasty but also home to the Chicago Bears,  the Bulls, and crosstown rivals – White Sox and Cubs. Even if you’re not a die-hard Chicago sports fan, you can likely cheer for your hometown team with they compete in town (and Loyola students often have access to tickets ranging from $2-20 to check out these events)! This year not only did the Bulls make the playoffs, the Blackhawks win the championship, and the NFL held the draft in Millennium Park, but our own Loyola Ramblers won the Division 1 Men’s National Volleyball Championship for the second year in a row, but the Men’s Basketball Team also won the CBI tournament this spring. There really is no better place to cheer on both your collegiate and professional teams
  • Enjoy the Waves: Have you ever sailed before? Kayaked down the Chicago River? Or is the beach more of your scene? Or hop on an architectural boat tour of the city from Navy Pier. Either way, there are countless ways to enjoy Lake Michigan.
  • Get Fit: Work out at Halas, Loyola’s awesome new fitness center (complete with a new pool and rock climbing wall) that hosts several club, recreational and intramural sporting events and teams throughout the year. Or join a beach volleyball team, do yoga in Grant Park, run along the lake, or rent a bike from Chain Links or Divvy.
  • Bon appetit: Chicago has some amazing places to eat from Portillo’s  to Lou Malnatti’s to Taste of Chicago where you can try all of Chicago’s tastiest items (may we recommend a Chicago style hotdog, italian beef, and deep dish pizza). This is another time to hop onto the CTA and go to Little Italy, Chinatown, or any other cultural neighbordhood in the city to try some of the best ethnic food.
  • Appreciate the Arts: World-class artists & performers swarm the city throughout the year so catch a Broadway Show, the Joffrey Ballet, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Symphony, a late night show at The Green Mill, or concerts at venues all over the city. Looking to see an inexpensive show on campus, learn what Colossus means at Loyola (it’s one of my favorite Loyola events)!
  • See the Sights: It’s never too late to play tourist and find out why everyone takes selfies at “The Bean” or see why everyone loves Sue at the Field Museum. Don’t forget to check out the view of the skyline from the Adler Planetarium, the SkyDeck in the Sears Tower, or from the Signature Room in the John Hancock Building. While you’re at it, just hit up the rest of the museum campus – The Shedd Aquarium, and The Museum of Science & Industry (thought some of the smaller, more niche museums are among my favorites).

Really though, the only way to fall in love with Chicago is visit and explore it yourself!

Joyful Hearts at Millennium Park

Joyful Hearts at Millennium Park

Last Day of Class. Downtown Chicago. Millennium Park. The Bean. Christmas Lights. An Ice Skating Rink. Enough Said. Well almost…

To celebrate the last day of classes two of my roommates and I made our way downtown for an ice skating adventure. This wasn’t a spur of the moment decision, Chloe and I planned far enough ahead that we brought our ice skates to school with us. Bringing your own skates is a little trick we learned last year after we paid $10 last year to rent them at Millennium. Don’t get me wrong, $10 rentals aren’t bad at all, but when you can go for free instead…Count me in.

Reason #2 to bring your own skates: The rental wait on a Friday night is approximately an hour. Lucky for us, we were able to hop right on the ice. Considering I haven’t skated in a year, I was pretty impressed with how quickly I got the hang of it again. After a few laps I was feeling my inner “Michelle Kwan” break out. So, naturally… I fell. It wasn’t a full blown wipe out by any means. Thankfully, Chloe was holding my hand and was able to support me enough that I only slid on my knees for a bit. I escaped with a little bruise on my knee, but lost all of my Michelle Kwan confidence.

Chicago at Christmas time is one of my favorite parts of the year and ice skating downtown was the perfect way to spread so Christmas cheer. I don’t think there is anything more magical than ice skating under the Bean, enjoying the city lights, and soaking up a little Christmas spirit with some of my favorite people.

When the City Opens its Doors: Open House Chicago

When the City Opens its Doors: Open House Chicago

Exploring Chicago is one of the many perks of going to Loyola. But it’s not every weekend that the city gives you an opportunity to go into the buildings you only ever see the outside of. Some friends and I jumped at the opportunity to explore Chicago in an entirely new way when the Chicago Architecture Foundation opened the doors of 150 buildings throughout the city. Most importantly the event was free to the public. You know what Chicago? It doesn’t get much better than that.

If there was enough time in the day I would have loved to go into every building. But my friends and I barely made a dent on the list.

The first building we stopped in was completely on a whim. The Gensler office is on the third floor of the Sullivan Center on Madison Street. This architecture and design firm is one of the largest in the world and they didn’t shy away from beautifully and functionally designing their own office. The most interesting points of the space were definitely the ornate columns that were featured throughout the room.

We made our next stop at Millennium Park on the stage of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Having only experienced the architecture of this stage from the opposite end of the park it was really incredible to get to stand on the stage. To see the perspective of the performers—without the audience or the nerves of course—was pretty surreal.

The view from the office space of RTKL Associates Inc. was one of the best I have ever experienced of the city of Chicago. Another architecture and interior design firm, this office had a very sleek and modern look. The design draws your gaze out the floor to ceiling windows to the sights of the city. You can see everything from the Bean to Soldier Field and all of Chicago’s most popular attractions in between. Not to mention the majesty of the Lake extending beyond the horizon. I could handle a view like that from my desk.

Our last stop was the Oriental Theatre. This was the tour I was most excited for because of my love for Broadway. The building’s intricate interior detailing blew me away. My friends and I sat down in the middle section of seats, titled our heads back, and let the walls and ceiling do the talking. Every time you looked around you noticed something new and different. Elephants, marble columns, griffons, gold detailing, gods, symbols—all inspired by Indian culture. If I ever get to see a show there I would be just as excited to see the stunning interior again.

Three buildings I didn’t visit are ones I see every day because they are all on Loyola’s campus. The Institute of Environmental Sustainability, Mundelein Center, and Piper Hall were all featured on the Open House Chicago tour. All three of these are well worth a visit during your time here. So yeah, you could say our school and our city are pretty darn cool.

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s day, the dreaded holiday by almost all people. If you’re single, you are reminded of just how boyfriendless or girlfriendless you are. Or, if you have a significant other, like me, you are faced with the stress of getting them something, or doing something for them. And how much are you supposed to do? Is he going to get you something big? Because if he does, I need to figure out what to get him. But what do you get a boy on valentines day? After thinking of all these questions, I was stressed out about impending holiday.

See, the problem is that some people hate Valentine’s day, while a few love it and make a great big fuss over it. The trick is being able to tell what type of person your boy/girlfriend is. If you have not been able to tell yet, I am one of those people who don’t particularly enough the holiday. It’s not a hate, I mean who doesn’t like spending time with their significant other and making it special? It’s just that I never know what I, as a girl, am supposed to do for the holiday. More specifically I’m not sure what I should do for him.

So, about a week and a half before Valentine’s day I called my boyfriend and told him flat out: I have not gotten you anything for valentines day and I don’t want to make a big deal of it. We should just keep it chill and don’t surprise me with any big gifts. To my relief, he had not gotten me anything yet either. We agreed that he would come visit for the weekend and that our time together would be our gift to each other.

This turned out to be the best Valentines gift I could have hoped for. Having Chicago as a backyard really pays off when people come visit. We went ice skating in Millennium park (it’s free, and only $10 to rent skates), and then went to a nice dinner at Devon’s Seafood Grill (a little pricer), which is a restaurant right by Loyola’s downtown campus. I payed for the skates while he payed for the dinner and it was the perfect way to spend Valentines day.

Ice skating in the park!
Best Winter Dates

Best Winter Dates

It is that time of year. Lights fill the streets, trees are found in the windows, snow is starting to fall and it is time to take a girl on the best possible date ever. I’ve noticed that winter offers the best possible dates available. Let’s not kid ourselves, a dinner and a movie date is lame and cliche. Here are some of the outings I’m personally looking forward to trying and the best ones that have worked in the past.

1. The Perfect Night in the City – So it starts with ice skating at the Grant Park rink. Don’t be confused this is not the same as the rink in Millennium Park. Behind that rink a block down is another smaller rink that is half the price, has a better view and lacks the crowd. Then walk down Michigan Ave. pass the beautiful sights and end at the Hancock center where you can take her to the 96th lounge for drinks and desert above the entire city. From there you really have the best 360 view of the city and the food is amazing.

2. Evanston Light Contest – For this date it would be best to start with dinner at one of the smaller restaurants in Evanston. Then after a nice dinner take her through the local neighborhood and look for the best decorated house. During this time a couple Christmas songs together would lighten up the mood. From there the rest of the night is up to you.

3. Zoo Lights – In Lincoln Park you will be able to find plenty of perfect restaurants to take your date. Either way after dinner is where the fun starts the zoo turns all the Christmas lights and they have random arts and crafts placed throughout the zoo that you can do with your date. Yes it is a bit childish but personally I love pretending to be 10 again and I have never had a date that does not love going to zoo lights. Plus, you are at the zoo and many of the animals are still out to be seen.

4. Dinner and a Movie – This is not the normal dinner and a movie, on a night that is cold and snowing the best thing to do is stay inside and who better to be with than that special someone. To make it a perfect night simply make her dinner to start off the night, move to some hot chocolate and end with a Christmas movie of choice.

5. Christmas Tree Watching – On this date after dinner downtown at the restaurant of your choice take her around the city and look for the best Christmas tree (this could also apply to decorations in general). Maybe stop and see Santa, definitely walk by Macy’s and just a prior hint the best try is always at daily plaza. But this date is set up to give time to talk and enjoy the Christmas spirit.

My Merry Weekend

My Merry Weekend

With finals week quickly approaching, my friends and I knew this was the last weekend of the fall semester we would be able to let loose in the city. We had high hopes for a fun-filled, holiday-themed weekend and boy did the Windy City deliver! With plans for an ugly Christmas sweater party on Saturday, a few girls and I set out after classes on Friday in search of ugly sweaters at Ragstock on West Belmont Ave, a quirky, fun resale-type shop in the Boystown neighborhood of the city. I was looking for something sparkly and unnecessarily festive– I found a kooky, comfy, white pullover sweatshirt with Christmas teddy bears on the front. It was very ’90s and perfect for the party, and only $10!

Later Friday evening, like my fellow blogger Raven, my friends and I headed to the Lincoln Park Zoo for the opening of the ZooLights event. The zoo puts on all kinds of events all year round– one of the greatest things about this is that admission is always free. During the month of December, ZooLights is open in the evenings from 5:00-9:00 p.m. with all of its colorful lights on display.We watched a man carve an ice sculpture right in front of us, got some popcorn, and ran into Santa in the Kovler Lion House next to the king of the jungle himself! If you want to check it out, head over this coming weekend (December 9th-11th), or any night between December 16th and January 1st (except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day).

On Saturday, the following day, we rolled out of bed and took the Red Line to Millennium Park to ice skate at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink. A few friends rented skates from the park for $10, but I brought some old skates from home so I got to skate for free. It rained a little on us, but it was still a blast. The rink wasn’t too busy because of the questionable weather, so we had lots of room to ourselves!

Every year, the CTA runs a Holiday Train that travels across the whole city. After leaving Millennium Park and grabbing hot chocolate from Starbucks, we headed over to the L stop at Madison and Wabash to catch the Holiday Train on the Brown Line. It was magical– it was like we were riding the real life Polar Express. It smelled like cinnamon and was decorated with all kinds of lights and ornaments inside and out. You can find detailed schedules of where the train will be at what times on the CTA’s website— I recommended tracking it down before it’s gone for another year!

I finished my Saturday with friends at our ugly sweater party. It was put on by Cru, a Christian student organization I’m involved in on campus. A bunch of us dressed up in overly festive garb and hung out and listened to Christmas music. In my opinion, it was a pretty great way to spend our chilly Saturday night.

There are so many fun and festive things to do in the city this time of year, and the best part is, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a great weekend with friends. I am looking forward to heading home at the end of next week for the holiday break, but definitely not looking forward to leaving behind the beautiful lights and sparkle of the city during the holiday season!

All photos were taken by me!

5 of the Best Unlikely Places to Study

5 of the Best Unlikely Places to Study

As a nursing major, I study a lot. It’s vital for me to have plenty of different options of places to study at, or I get sick of my surroundings and can’t focus. Here are a few of my favorite (and less commonly used) study spots:

5. Millennium Park – This is not the place to go when it’s rainy or cold out, but Millennium Park is just a quick train ride away. It’s huge, so you have plenty of options for places to sprawl out and work. And there’s the added bonus of great people watching and great restaurants downtown when you need a study break.

4. The Mundelein Greenhouse – Located in Mundelein, Loyola’s center for the Fine and Performing Arts, the greenhouse is awesome if you want some quiet studying, but don’t want the crowds of the library and Information Commons (IC) or you don’t want to go to far from your dorm. Because of the panoramic view, I recommend going there in the early hours of the night or when it’s storming or snowing.

3. The beach – We’re lucky enough to have a beach within a few blocks of campus, so why not take advantage of it? If the weather is mild and you have homework that doesn’t require a computer, nothing is more pleasant than reading on a beach towel while getting some sun and watching Lake Michigan.

2. A coffee or tea shop…downtown – Most students know just how awesome it is to study in the multitude of great coffee shops that surround our campus (The Daily Cup, Metropolis, etc), so if you want to go to a place that isn’t swarming with students, I recommend going downtown. Personally, I highly recommend Argo Tea off of the Lake stop of the Red Line.

1. The Field Museum – It’s a bit of a hike (you take the Red Line to Roosevelt and then walk about 15 minutes), but when I have a particularly bad case of cabin fever, this is my favorite spot to go.  I know it seems a bit out there, but the Field is notorious for discount or free days, and there is something about reading your Nietzche, Anatomy/Physiology or other college reading on the couches in the World of Mammals section that makes you feel very much like a boss.