An unexpected weekend trip with my cousin and some friends, while studying in Canada, was a great chance to take a breather and have fun.

Seeing this new city reminded both of us how much we enjoy travelling to new places. Seeing the busy streets and brimming bars and restaurants gave us a thrill. My parents had generously picked up the bill for our stay at the Downtown Marriot Hotel, which was ideally situated on Michigan Avenue.

Our room had an excellent view across Michigan Avenue to the city and when we woke up next morning, we saw that we could just make out the lake beyond the buildings. However, it was the buildings that we would focus on this first morning.

We had booked an architectural tour, so after a light breakfast we took a cab to Navy Pier and boarded the low, flat boat that would take us up the Chicago River. Sailing up the river allows one to see a broad sample of the major movements in the city’s architecture over the past 100 years. It was great to be able to see so many wonderful buildings around the city.

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After the tour, we went to Frontera Grill Restaurant for brunch. It’s a famous Mexican restaurant in Chicago. We each got different things and, as my family always does, we shared bites and drinks. Everything we had was wonderful. My favorite was our tex-mex meal.

We realized, as we continued on with the rest of the day, that we had booked for another architecture tour–only this time the subject was residential houses. Walking down lovely, tree-lined streets, what we found most impressive was being able to see an 18th century home across the street from a 1920s home, and then a few blocks away find a modernist apartment. There were even two Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes on the tour, I had no idea about these people but as our guide emphasized about them, I believe they were some important people of this field.

While going back from this tour, we passed through the Original Playboy Mansion and then headed for a place called Garrett’s, which is supposed to serve the best popcorns in the world and rightly so.

The best part of the whole experience was that the place was covered in snow and the amazing weather added a thrill in our experience as we enjoyed in the bars, both nights. We went to the Vertigo Sky Bar which is located at the 26th floor. The view is one to watch out for especially when the buildings are covered with snow. The next day, we went for Joe’s. It’s a great place with live music and lots of people hanging around.

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The following morning, we set off to explore south of the Marriott, heading down Michigan Avenue and over to Millennium Park. I really enjoyed seeing Kapoor’s Cloud Gate, where the convex and concave surfaces made for beautiful and interesting reflections. Shopping was not our cup of tea, still we could suggest some places near the Wicker Park which are filled with various shops, where you can buy stuff at decent prices.

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Before we left, we had one last meal together at McCormick and Schmicks–where we indulged in a terrific sampling of Oysters.

There are taxis and buses for local travelling but we preferred metros, being one of the cheapest, and faster means of transport.

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Chicago was an excellent weekend trip to chill out with friends and see the things around. I would hope to visit this place again in order to explore more as the city has a lot to offer.