Field Museum and Alinea

Trip Start Mar 02, 2011
Trip End Oct 14, 2011

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Where I stayed
Super 8 Bridgeview/Chicago Area
Read my review - 1/5 stars
What I did
Field Museum of Natural History

Flag of United States  , Illinois
Wednesday, September 21, 2011

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My first stop today was the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, IL.  It's a huge museum located in what's referred to as Museum Campus Chicago, an area along the lake a little south of downtown.

The Field Museum started out in 1893 as the Columbian Museum of Chicago and its purpose was the  "accumulation and dissemination of knowledge, and the preservation and exhibition of artifacts illustrating art, archaeology, science and history."  Its original site was in the Palace of Fine Arts at the World's Columbian Exposition's, aka The Chicago World's Fair.  The museum changed its name in 1905 to honor their first major benefactor, Marshall Field, and to better reflect their focus on natural history although they've continued to study anthropology as well.  The museum moved to their current location in 1921.

One of the big attractions at the Field Museum is Sue, the largest, best preserved and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex fossil found to date.  The mounted skeleton is prominently displayed in the lobby of the museum.  There was information about Sue but nothing about the rather interesting story of all the lawsuits, arrests and prison sentences that occurred as a result of the discovery.

The museum is huge.  I stayed until closingtime and didn't come close to seeing the entire museum.  I had bought tickets to a temporary exhibit, Whales, Giants of the Deep, and the 3D movie Waking the T. rex: The Story of SUE.  The exhibit and movie were fine but I could have used the time to see more of the museum.  I saw almost none of the anthropology exhibits.

I had some time before my dinner reservation so I walked north along the lake shore to the Buckingham Fountain, a Chicago landmark in the center of Grant Park.  The rococo wedding cake-styled fountain is one of the largest in the world.  I then continued heading north to Millennium Park.  It's a pleasant stroll through mostly parkland along the lake from the Museum Campus to Millennium Park,

Millennium Park is best known for Cloud Gate aka The Bean, a large polished stainless steel sculpture by Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor but it also has the Crown Fountain, an interesting video sculpture that spouts water on visitors if they aren't careful, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, an outdoor bandshell designed by Frank Gehry, and a number of other attractions.

I had to rush back to my car so I could make it to Alinea in time for my reservation.  Alinea is considered by many to be the best restaurant in the U.S.  It was listed as number 7 on Restaurant Magazine's World's Best Restaurants List in 2010 and moved up to number 6 for 2011.  It was one of the two Michelin 3-star restaurants in their 2011 Chicago book and the only one in their 2012 listing.  The restaurant and Chef Grant Achatz have won numerous accolades and awards.

Dinner at Alinea was great.  I'd rate it as the best restaurant I've visited on this trip.  Everything is intended to make you approach food in a new way including the way the food is served.  One course was suspended between four thin wires.  Another had to be sucked from a glass tube.  Dessert was served directly on a latex tablecloth by Chef Achatz himself.  Dinner at Alinea is quite an experience.
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