Enjoying Chicago After ALA Conference Hours

Over the last few days I have written about Affiliate Assembly at ALA and my favorite ALA Events. While ALA was a seriously busy conference, we did manage to squeeze a little fun in the after hours that weren’t filled with banquets and other ALA sponsored events. Every time we went somewhere we asked our cab or Uber drivers to share things to see and do, and places to eat. We gave it a good college try that’s for sure. Here is a sampling of some of the ones we enjoyed!

Chicago Cultural Museum

I enjoyed touring the Chicago Cultural Museum, an institution in Chicago. The Cultural Museum was filled with five floors of artifacts and displays. The most unique one showcased a Tiffany Glass domed ceiling. I visited the museum with two Affiliate Assembly pals from California, Jane Lofton and Katie Williams. I learned that the building was originally stocked with 8,000 books gifted by English donors after the Great Chicago Fire, making it the city’s first public library. It wasn’t until nearly 100 years later, in 1991, that it became the Chicago Cultural Center. We went specifically to see the Tiffany Glass Dome.

Checkout Katie W., Jane L., and myself getting a selfie with the Tiffany Glassed Dome. Made with Canva

Palmer Hotel Lobby Bar

Jane, Katie and I went on to visit the Palmer House Hotel’s Lobby Bar next, on recommendation of Katie’s relatives who work in the area.  Several ALA events were held in some of the Palmer spaces. I learned this place is touted as the home of the brownie. Check out the  gold peacock doors!  In my research (you knew I had to) I found out that the Peacock Doors pay homage to House of Peacock, Chicago’s first incorporated business from 1837. House of Peacock was a Palmer House retail establishment known for fine jewelry and luxury goods like fine china, silver and gold. The arched ceiling was really special too. 

A few of our shared pictures from the Palmer House Bar – Made with Canva

Chicago Crime Tour

I walked so much after my first day, I had blisters on my feet, causing me to ditch the cute sandals in favor of comfy shoes after that. So I missed our AASL Region 4 Affiliate Assembly outing, which was a Chicago Crime Tour! My SCASL colleagues reported that I missed a lot of fun. The following pictures were on Region 4 Chair Misti Jenkins’ Twitter here and here. After the Bus Tour, they went to have Chicago deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s. (Confession, this was the deal breaker for me in my decision to skip it. Sore feet and, ick, deep dish pizza! I decided to rest my feet back at the hotel, eating a sandwich from a neighboring deli instead.)


In  other exciting news, SCASL President Cindy Symonds and colleague Katie High scored tickets to the broadway show Hamilton, which was in town and very close to the ALA venues. We were all rather jealous! Worse, I haven’t seen the first picture of their fun. 

Brittanica Event

All of Region 4 was invited to an evening out over at the Brittanica Corporate Office. Gladys Brown of Brittanica (and friend of SCASL) certainly showed us a good time! There was a tour and everything. The building is a classic, and it was featured on our boat tour the next night. Here is a shot of the building that I took from the boat tour.

My photo of the Brittanica Corporate Offices from the boat tour.


We left the Brittanica event early because we made reservations at Ditka’s. Of course we had to try it. It came highly recommended several times, and I shared that David Jakes years ago at a Science Leadership Academy Conference I attended raved about the Pot Roast Nacho’s. It didn’t take too much convincing for our party to make reservations. We were not disappointed.

Our visit to Ditka’s – Made with Canva

Favorite Meal in Chicago

We had some really awesome meals while in Chicago, but I suffered greatly from sticker-shock. I was dumbfounded by the cost of food and drinks! I so wish I had a photo from the Brittanica gig, as that was the most ridiculously good food I had, possibly even the best. But for me personally, a breakfast person, I loved the small little diner we found called Eggy’s. It was certainly off the beaten trail, and one had to be determined to find it, but Eggy’s did not disappoint. It serves both breakfast and lunch, and will not break the bank, and shocking most of all, they had GRITS!

Eggy’s Breakfast – Made with Canva

Chicago Architecture Boat Tour

At the encouragement of my friend, Heather Loy, we signed up for the twilight Chicago Architecture Boat Tour. While it was a fascinating tour along the river, and we even had to stop one time for a drawbridge lifting, it was freezing cold. These southern gals were ill prepared for the cool temps that dropped to the upper 50s by dark that evening. Factor in a stiff breeze off the water, sandals and only light weight jackets, and you can imagine how cold we were. No matter though, it was the best after conference event I participated in! The SCASL entourage and the CASL friends who joined us had an absolute blast. I heard on the news late that night that those cool temps were unseasonable for Chicago this time of the year.

Made with Canva

Time to say Good Bye Chicago

We bid a final good bye to Chicago by eating at yet another local’s recommendation. The cheese fries were to die for! Heather T had the highly prized chocolate cake shake. While Portillo’s is a chain, it was certainly new to us, and best, the food and fare was very reasonably priced. Based on the really long lines, we could tell it is a favorite.


Next ALA Annual

Next summer your SCASL cohort travels to New Orleans for the ALA Annual Conference. I’d better start saving now as my per diem did not go very far on Chicago food. I imagine that will be the same in New Orleans!

Picture Attributions: All the photos in this post are mine with the exception of the two Twitter photos which have links to the original posts.  Many of them were made using Canva. I have not yet taken the time to organize my photos, but if you’d like to scroll through the album, here is the link.

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