Chicago: Our View

Chicago Skyline 2010

Last Thursday Kev and I got up bright and early, jumped in the car, and left for a 10-hour road trip to Chicago. It was our first visit to the Windy City and we spent a long weekend celebrating Kevin’s birthday, seeing a game at Wrigley Field, shopping in swanky boutiques and eating delicious meals.

And walking 5,672 miles a day!

Of course if I walked that far back home in Alabama, I wouldn’t even be to the nearest gas station.

Chicago Skyline 2010

We had some gorgeous views from our room at the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza on the Chicago River. We recognized the Sears Tower immediately! As we were driving into the city and first saw the skyline, it stood out head and shoulders above all the other buildings.

Chicago Skyline 2010

I’m pretty sure I should be able to see our hotel reflected in this building (it was right across the river), but I have yet to figure out which one was ours!

Chicago Skyline 2010

After making a quick stop for some doughnuts on our way up (more on those later!), we arrived in Chicago right at sunset… and right about dinner time.

Chicago Skyline 2010

We took a walk down the river to Portillo’s for a Chicago Dog, an Italian Beef, and their famous chocolate cake shake. It was an actual piece of fudgy, chocolate cake with frosting down at the bottom of a chocolate milkshake. Goodness gracious. Loved catching the moon peeking through the buildings on our walk.

Chicago Skyline 2010
24-70mm f/2.8 lens
ISO 400
20 sec

When we got back to the hotel I snapped this slow-release pic of all the cars and trains going by. One last view of the city before we fell into bed. More to come! :)

You May Also Like:

95 Responses
  1. Arsova

    I have seen many pictures from Chicago but never with that perspective that your photographs give to the town. I liked so much, wonderful Chicago.

  2. Christy Tucker

    Hi’ya Amanda, I just love your photos. Hubby and I are planning our first trip to Chi-Town and I was wondering if you would feel comfortable disclosing where you guys stayed. I absolutely LOVE the view. Thank you so much, and no hard feelings if you aren’t. :)

  3. Shyrlene

    As a local suburbanite to Chicago – I have to say, your photos of the ‘Windy City’ are gorgeous! Someone “pinned” it on Pinterest, which brought me to your blog. Lovely!

  4. Mindy

    I live here, always have. And your images took my breath away. The buildings. The river. The boats. The bridges. The train. The lights. *sigh* You captured everything I love about Chicago. Glad to see you hit up all the right places! Portillos, Lou’s, Wrigley :)

    I came from Prudent Baby. But I’ve been here before, on your bokeh tutorial. Totally tried it a few weekends ago and will be linking it up with Darcy’s bokeh linky party next week!

  5. Diane

    I got one of your entries this past summer and now I am trying to locate it and can’t seem to find it. I thought it was in this entry but it is missing what I am looking for. You wrote about the photos you took in Chicago and had some befores and afters showing how you use some software to accent the photos to make them more vibrant. Can you tell me what that software is and the location of that entry, please?

  6. Stacey

    You captured the beauty of Chicago PERFECTLY! I was living outside of the city 2 years ago and know exactly what you are talking about upon seeing the Sears Tower for the first time. You make me miss my short time living there! THANK YOU!

  7. Sarah Pogorzelski

    These are amazing. As a Chicago girl, you more than did our city justice with your beautiful images. I’m so glad you enjoyed it here.

  8. Kathy T

    Amanda – seriously awesome pics. My home is Chicago, but for now I’m living in NJ. What hotel did you stay in for your visit? We’re going home this weekend for a few days and I’d love to get that viewpoint for some photos (unless you’d be willing to sell your pics, and then i dont have to bother :) )

    So glad you enjoyed my lovely city. The people are great, the food is awesome and it’s just a wonderful place. And no matter what the ‘official’ name is, it’s always going to be Sears Tower.

  9. midwestmom

    What hotel did you stay in to have the gorgeous view of the river? My husband and I vactioned in Chicago about 7 years ago and had so much fun. We would love to back. Your pictures are gorgeous!

  10. sunshinecity

    Isn’t Chicago fabulous?
    I find it a touch more elegant than New York.

    I’m Italian and live in Rome… our culture’s so very different to yours as are our city landscapes.
    There’s something magical about big US city skylines that leaves me breathless every time.
    I’ve visited the US several times and have great pics to show for it… but every time I return and see those “skyscrapers”.. it’s like falling in love all over again!

    Thanks for sharing and jogging my memory!

  11. JokeLady

    All I can say is….WOW. You should sell your photographs! You have great talent in that area!! I live in Chicago and you have captured it in all it’s glory and beauty!! So happy that you enjoyed your visit. Quite different than what you are used to, huh? Keep up the great work. :)

  12. Lana

    WOW! Such beautiful shots of the Windy City! We are about 100 miles due south of Chicago, in Indiana. Glad you were able to take in Wrigley Field! I LOVE that old field and my Cubbies too, even though we are having one of THOSE years! Sigh….. Love Ron Santo and Pat Hughes. I usually listen to them on the AM side of the radio dial or my computer rather than watch! Some things I still like to do the old fashioned way!

  13. Brandy

    Welcome to Chicago!!! It looks like you’ve definitely seen the sites. Being new here myself (moved from CA > CHI 6 months ago), I loved the area near Wrigley Field and Lincoln Park the most when I toured. They’re very Urban Sheek– NY style. Enjoy your time.

  14. Mia_h_n

    Really stunning pictures! It’s great to get to come along to places I’ll probably never go to and food I’ll probably never get to try myself. With pictures as beautiful as yours this must be the next-best thing ;)
    Can’t wait to see more!!

    And I’m glad you added the camera info at the end. It didn’t save me a question, though ;) How important is a pol filter? How often do you use your pol filter? Do you use them for all your outside shots? How much of a difference does it make? Is it worth the cash, frankly?

  15. D

    These photos are amazing. It makes me want to run (fly) to Chicago. I have never been…where did you stay? Would love for my first time to be in a great location. Thanks ::)

  16. Ann

    Wow, never been there but those pix are beautiful! What time of day/night did you snap that last one? I’m getting into photography so it’s interesting to know little details. excited to see more! ;)

  17. Katherine

    Your shots were amazing. I really want to make it there one of these days. I would have thought that there would be people all around but you got that awesome picture of the bridge without a single person.

  18. Helen

    Welcome to our city. You’ve certainly captured the essence of it in the lights, buildings and water. Portillo’s has the absolute BEST beef and dogs. Be sure to visit Gino’s East while you’re here. Yummy pizza!! But, so is Homerun Inn Pizza. Delicious.

  19. Lauren @ Crave. Indulge. Satisfy.

    Those are some amazing pictures of Chicago. I absolutely love that city and will be there in October for the Chicago Marathon weekend, I can’t wait! What part of Alabama do you live in, I live in Mobile!

  20. Miranda

    Your pictures are absolutely breathtaking! I would love to be able to take pictures like that.. maybe someday I can get a camera like yours!

  21. Kelly

    Chicago is my home!!! I am so happy to hear that you had a good time and were treated well while you were here. Portillo’s is one of my absolute favorite places to eat. Here in the suburbs, we have quite a few here and there. They have the best burgers!!!! I can’t wait to see more. Your pictures are beautiful! Especiall that last one! Did you know they renames the Sears Tower to Willis Tower. It’s been a hard thing to get used to around here!

  22. Allison

    OMG Amanda! Those pics are GORGEOUS! Each one is totally frameable! I can totally see those being in some office or in those modern, industrial-style apartments/condos. Girl, you have talent!

  23. Pati

    Wow, wonderful pics!! I grew up near Chicago. It can be hard for some of us wrapped up in traffic and the busy-ness of city life on the ground to see (or remember) how cool the great city can look downtown, above it all. Thanks for giving us the spectacular bird’s eye view!

  24. Maryrose

    Hi, Amanda,
    First of all, thank you for sharing your life on this blog!
    Not sure if you will answer this, but I though I would ask anyway…on the last photo you posted (where you listed the information), did you put your camera on a tripod? If so, (and this may be stupid of me to ask), how did you get a vertical shot?
    Thanks again!

    1. Amanda

      Hi Maryrose! Yes, I used a tripod. The head pivots so you can take a picture vertical, horizontal, diagonal, or at any degree in between. :) This is one like I have:


    2. Maryrose

      wow you answered me!! that totally has made my day!!! Think I’m going to purchase that tripod, too..I have an Amazon gift certificate that is waiting to be used ;)…I will make sure and buy it through the link you provided!

  25. Michelle Wallace


    Your pics are amazing. I have been following your blog for a couple months now, after searching for fonts for my photography, and I just fell in love with your site. I recently upgraded to a Canon 5D Mark II (and edit with Photoshop Elemnts & CS5) this year and I am still learning it. I was wondering what you do to all your pics that make them look so crisp and clear? Is it a certain Action you purchased or made?? I know SOOC they don’t look so vibrant, but they way you have them they just pop. I recently spent a week in Sky Valley, GA with my husband and remembered your blog post about Helen, GA. We didn’t go to any of the spots you mentioned in Helen, but we went mt biking in Smithgall Woods Conservation area and tubing down the lazy river in Helen. We also drove all over GA/SC/NC/TN, went zip lining, visited Belle Farms, hiking Tallulah Gorge, all the waterfalls, Dillard House, Higlands NC and even went to Great Smoky Mts NP and Knoxville. Now I have over a 1000 pics I took and need to edit them to make the gorgeous mts and clouds pop. Do you have any tips?

    Thank you, Michelle

    1. Amanda

      Hi Michelle! I sharpen and do the Pioneer Woman’s Fresh & Colorful action on all my pics. Here’s a tutorial I wrote: How do I Edit My Photos? I do this for just about every single one of my pics! :) And stay tuned for a *very* cool giveaway I have coming up! So excited to share this with you guys!! Hehe!! I’m like a cat with a mouse! :D

  26. Michele


    Your photos are gorgeous!! I was mesmerized especially with the last one. :) Is that the last show you used for slow release? If so, VERY VERy nice.

  27. Yvette

    Hi Amanda
    I’m from Chicago and I wish I could have met your because I’ve been enjoying your Blog for months now. It is acutally on my favorites list and I check it often and save quite a bit of info. I’m glad you enjoyed your stay here in Chicago. IT IS BEAUTIFUL. Hope you can come again. Have a great day!!! Yvette

  28. Bec

    Except it is no longer the Sears tower :( Now it’s the Willis Tower. Not as cool sounding. I wish you could have visited when Marshall Field’s was still MF and not Macy’s. It was magnificent!

  29. staci

    My husband and I jsut got back from Chicago last night (my brother was in the triathalon)! I have to say though…your pictures are so much better than mine! WOW!!

  30. Andrea

    Fabulous photos! I can’t resist a Chicago skyline pic though! Love the night version. So pretty. Please tell me you ate some deep-dish pizza! Lou Malnati’s, Giordanos, oh, yum. Glad you had a fun trip!

  31. Kayla

    Your photos of the city are BEAUTIFUL! I’m looking for a (small) new camera and I saw that you have the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H20/B 10.1 MP Digital Camera. Do you have any examples of photos you’ve taken with that camera that you could show me? I’d really love to get a feel for the quality of that camera’s photos before I buy it.

    1. Amanda

      Hi Kayla!

      All of the kayaking pics are taken with the Sony:


      Some action shots of Miley & Howie at the beach and swimming in the pool:


      This is a photo album from one of our anniversary trips. Some were taken with the Canon XTi and some with the Sony. It gives the full camera specs under each picture.

      Anniversary Photo Album

  32. Jodi

    Gorgeous photos! Wow! For me not being a city kind of girl they even make me want to go. The last one is especially amazing. You should make it into postcards or posters and have different places around Chicago sell them. People would love it!

  33. Maria Johnson

    Amanda you are amazing! I love your posts and seeing all the wonderful places you go. One question…. how do you keep your girly figure with all the wonderful food you eat!? Great pictures, wonderful post and inspiration!

    1. Amanda

      Walking 5,672 miles a day! :) Haha, no.. Even though we walk a lot, I still *eat* a lot! I think it’s about to catch up with me! :) When I’m at home though, Ive been trying to stay around 1200-1500 calories a day, so when we travel I can go a few days without having to worry about it. :)

  34. Cindy @ Cindy's Crafty Creations

    Gorgeous Gorgeous Gorgeous! Absolutely beautiful pictures… I’ve never been to Chicago but seeing these pictures, I might have to put it on the list of places to see! LOVE YOUR BLOG!

  35. Sue

    I have made two trips to Chicago (from Ca) and have somehow only seen it’s good side. I absolutely love that city and want to go back again many times. Your pictures are most excellent!

  36. Maureen

    Amanda .. thanks for the gorgeous pictures of my home town. Had I known you were coming. ;-) I love Chicago, although this summer has been a rough one weather wise .. but then again .. think we all got hit. Can’t wait to see what else you did in Chi town! ;-) Glad you liked Portillo’s .. wonder if you found our favorite cupcakes!! ;-) Isn’t Wrigley Field amazing! Waiting patiently for more!

    1. Amanda

      I hope I did too! :) We only got to go to one place… I had a couple on our list, but we ran out of time! Who has your favorite?? :)

    2. Maureen

      Note: Thanks for your reply. Sugar Bliss on Wabash is my favorite cupcake location in Chicago .. was that on your list? ;-)

  37. Cindy

    OHHHH! Portillo’s! You made my mouth water :) I think Chicago is a wonderful city and seeing your beautiful photos just reminded me of why . . .

  38. Andie

    I love how you put the photo info at the bottom of the picture. For someone like myself who’s into photography, I can appreciate that. Thank you! I’m glad you all had a great time, and Happy Birthday to Kevin!

  39. Jenny Flake

    Wow, those pictures are so beautiful!! That last one needs to be framed it’s so perfect! Think I am completely convinced to get that lens of yours, need it b4 SF!! Talk soon :)

    1. Amanda

      Love it! We will look like twins running around SF with our giant lenses! Hehe! Must get someone to take a pic! :)

  40. Kim @ Two Good Cookies

    Beautiful photos! They make me kind of homesick though! I love Chicago (I’m from southern Wisconsin), and always fly in and out when travelling. Looks like you had a great trip. I want to hear more about that Italian Beef. Mmmmm….

  41. PatriciaD

    OF COURSE, everyone has already told you but I just had to add my two cents and tell you how truly amazing these photos are. It was worth the 10 hour drive if for no other reason than your picts. Great job!!

  42. Diana

    LOVE. LOVE. LOVE Chicago! Your pictures make me miss it so much. Next time you are there, I highly recommend taking their moonlight cruise along the Chicago River and into Lake Michigan. It’s breathtaking to watch the city come to life as the sun sets! It’s very romantic!

  43. Diana

    I am from Georgia, so I know about the whole walking bit and never being close to anything. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us. This is the only way I get to travel. :)

  44. Marilyn

    I’ve been dreaming of going to Chicago for years and never have. One day =) Your pics are wonderful! I love the reflections and the last pic is breathtaking. Absolutely beautiful!!

  45. Shelia

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful pictures. I always enjoy them. It gives me the opportunity to see places I may never get to visit. Keep them coming!

  46. danielle fontenot

    Amanda, I’ve never been to Chicago, but this is absolutely beautiful! And so is your photography. Awesome job!

  47. Diane

    Love your photos Amanda!
    Especially love the “pink” tint on the first one….it looks like an old-fashioned post card.
    You photographed in my favorite light. I think my best pics come at that time of day. And your “reflections” photos are stunning!!
    Thanks for sharing your experience and your talent.

  48. Audreya

    Great pictures! I grew up near Chicago so I’m always excited when I hear others are visiting (especially for the first time). We are headed up in a couple of days. My MIL is coming with us and will also be a first-timer. I’m giddy for her! Good call on the Portillo’s!!

  49. Lesa

    Wow, I’ve been to Chicago many times living in Michigan, but you got some AMAZING photos Amanda! These are just beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

Do you have a question or comment?

Meet Kevin & Amanda

Kevin and Amanda

We love to travel and to eat! Here we share our favorite quick and easy recipes, plus travel tips and guides for our favorite places around the world. If you have any questions about what camera I use or how I edit my photos, check out my photography tutorials.


Subscribe via Email: