Sergey Latokhin, the driver who'd be taking me on my first-ever carriage ride around the city, looking a little skeptical when I informed him I'd be riding alone. I knew people typically rode these fancy little carriages in pairs with intentions of proposing and hopes of getting lucky, but I was trying to break that mold. And as a recently single gal in the city, I thought it would be nice (or at least liberating) to ride solo. Latokhin happily indulged me and we set off for a relaxing ride around the city.
Starting right behind the old landmark Water Tower on Michigan Avenue, where a line of Noble Horse Theatre's carriages await, we headed east toward the lake and ventured through the historic pockets of downtown Chicago. Some of these streets were surprisingly quiet and residential, not at all what you'd expect given their close proximity to the bustling Magnificent Mile.
As we strolled through Chicago's Gold Coast area I was momentarily awestruck. I had already seen these historic mansions a handful of times and I'd even been inside a few, but really, the architecture here never gets old. This has to be one of the reasons so many out-of-towners decide to move to Chicago after visiting only once. Admittedly, I was beginning to have lusty dreams of real estate and a bottomless bank account.
Keeping in line with all that luxury, we headed down Oak Street, one of the quieter shopping strips, lined end-to-end with Chicago's most expensive boutiques and retail shops. The Gold Coast mansions may have had me daydreaming of a career change, but it was the shops on Oak Street that made me want to strap on a three-piece suit and go corporate.
I started coming back down to reality about 30 minutes later, when we looped back to our starting point. The ride was great and honestly, I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much with someone whispering sweet-nothings in my ear. But it probably would have been 10 times better with a bottle of champagne, as Latokhin later told me many couples request ahead of time. I decided a martini would make up for that and headed across the street to the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor of the John Hancock Center.
Guidebook Rating: Noble Horse Theatre's carriage rides offer a completely different perspective of historic downtown Chicago. The slow-paced tour gave me a chance to see things that I wouldn't otherwise notice on foot.
Stats: Carriages run daily from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.-midnight, and can be found at the corner of Michigan and Chicago (behind the old landmark Water Tower Building). Rides are offered year-round, with enclosed carriages available during the colder months. A 30-minute ride for as many as four passengers costs $35; the price doubles to $70 for an hour-long ride.