Congratulations to Joe M and Jen V for winning the give away for Andrea Palpant Dilley’s memoir Faith and Other Flat Tires, searching for God on the rough road of doubt.
We got home from Chicago last night, A.K.A. our first vacation with the kids that didn’t involve visiting family or friends. Uh…yeah. The kids did phenomenal considering how far we walked every day, which for them is probably double the miles considering their little legs. On our last evening, while walking to the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), Little Miss said, “Oh dear! My feet hurt!” The cab we took back to the hotel might have been the best $10 we spent all weekend.
If you’re considering visiting Chicago, I highly recommend purchasing the City Pass, which gets you into five of the area’s most popular attractions for 50% off admission price. The Chicago City Pass includes the Shedd Aquarium, Skydeck Chicago, the Field Museum, The John Hancock Observatory or the Museum of Science and Industry, and the Adler Planetarium or the Art Institute of Chicago.
Not only is the pass 50% off admission, the tickets get you VIP entry into all the attractions (you should see the lines we bypassed at the Willis Tower and the Aquarium!), as well as entry into many of the paid exhibits and shows such as:
- At the aquarium – the dolphin and whale show, the Jellies exhibit (simply amazing!), and a 4d show.
- At the planetarium – a 3d show and a ride in the historic Atwood Sphere (a nearly 100 year old “ride” in one of the first planetariums).
- At the Field Museum – a 3d show and entry into the extra paid exhibits such as Amazing Mammals and Genghis Kahn.
- At the Museum of Science and Industry – one movie and a ride on the simulator (which my motion-queasy family chose to skip!)
And if this past weekend is any indication of the summer that Chicago is going to experience (record breaking high temperatures close to 100 degrees!), then spending a vacation in museums might be the most enjoyable way to experience what the city has to offer!
Every attraction has a variety of activities for each age group, with special places for kids to burn off energy (and parents to sit and rest) yet still engage in a form of learning fun:
- At the aquarium – Visit the Polar Play Zone (and eat lunch down there while watching the whales! A definite highlight for us!) Visit a small play area right across from the penguins, including a yellow submarine kids can play in.
- At the planetarium – in Planet Explorers: dress up in space gear, then pilot a space ship to planet X, and upon arrival drive a rover on the new planet.
- At the Field Museum – in Crown Family PlayLabs kids can dress up as animals, create to their heart’s content in the fully stocked art room (my two made a moon journal to record the moon’s phases over the next month), inspect things under a microscope, and open dozens of drawers to see the unique items inside from fossils to baby shoes from various cultures.
- At the Museum of Science and Industry – One of my favorite spots in all the attractions, the Idea Factory! A room full of hands on activities for the kids, including The Water Spectacle with 3,300 gallons of water where kids can build and navigate their own boats, discover how water moves objects and help set off the great geyser—an enormous water spray that is triggered by manipulation of hand and foot controls. Seriously cool! The Idea Factory also has a section specially marked off for children 36 months and younger.
Each museum also made great use of touch screen technology, meaning even the smallest child can interact with the exhibits, even if he can’t read yet.
Here’s a few tips of what to pack:
- Your most comfortable walking shoes.
- Lots of snacks (all that walking makes for hungry kids – and parents!- and the snacks at the attractions aren’t cheap)!
- Empty water bottles you can fill at drinking fountains (so you don’t have to carry the weight of the water in your bag or pay $3.50 for a bottle of Aquafina!).
- Stroller – if you’re still in this stage of life, take your smallest stroller. The Aquarium recommends bringing umbrella strollers. It can be a tight fit to maneuver around the exhibits with a bulky stroller.
- Ibuprofen for the grown ups. ‘Nuff said.
If you’re headed to Chicago, check out the City Pass. The pass is good for 9 days after your first day of use. You can do everything in 3 days, but I’d recommend taking 4 days – one for each museum and then do the Sky Deck at night. (There’s nothing like standing on top of the city’s twinkling lights. And with the Ledge – a clear box you can stand in overlooking the city – the view is incredible.)
City Pass is also available for Atlanta, Boston, Hollywood, Houston, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Southern California and Toronto. Hmmm….where to go next? No, I’m not getting paid for this endorsement. It’s just that City Pass helped us make some great memories with extra attractions we wouldn’t have paid for, helped us avoid some miserable lines, and saved us a lot of money.
And now, I’m going to go put my feet up. Or take a nap. Or maybe both! Happy almost summer!!