The reality of our Chicago trip was not exactly what I had dreamed up in my head. I expected to visit or do at least half of the items on the Chicago is My Kinda Town list, but it turns out that Chicago is way bigger than I thought and it takes longer to get to destinations because of traffic and crowds. Also, the fact that we had no idea where we were going didn’t help. We were also there the weekend after the Fourth of July, so it was really crowded.
So what did we do? The first night we at pizza at Gino’s East because it was close to our hotel and we were all tired from the 5 hour drive. I also went to Macy’s because it was really cool and I hadn’t packed any pants for my son. Did you know there are 8 floors in the Downtown Chicago Macy’s? And guess where the kids clothes were! Yup! In the very back of the 8th floor! Oh well, at least I got him something warm to wear.
The next day was Saturday. That was the only full day that we were in Chicago. I figured one full day would be plenty of time to do all kinds of things. Top on my list were Shedd Aquarium, Observation Deck at Willis Tower, Maggie Daley Park, and Navy Pier…in that order.
We started at the aquarium. It was nice. They had some features that our Newport Aquarium does not have. The main things we wanted to see were the dolphin show, the beluga whales, and the sawfish.
There is a dolphin show every hour and a half. We didn’t get into the 11:30 show so we had to do the 1:00 show. That meant we also had to eat lunch at the aquarium instead of getting a Chicago style hot dog like I had planned. No biggie though. The show was great, it was actually the best part of our aquarium visit.
The beluga whales were a very close second though. They were really fun to see. Especially since we had never seen beluga whales before. They reminded me a lot of dolphins because they were very friendly and definitely played to the crowd. They are a lot bigger than dolphins though, so they couldn’t do the jumps like the dolphins could. Still a very neat exhibit though.
The sawfish was a disappointment. We stood and looked in the shark tank for about 20 minutes and never did see it.
My overall thoughts on our experience at the aquarium are that it was just okay. It was fun seeing the dolphins and beluga whales, but the shark exhibit at our aquarium is WAY better. The rest of the exhibits were similar to the ones here in Cincinnati as well. I would recommend doing something other than the aquarium to people going to Chicago unless they had never been to an aquarium before.
We then Ubered to Willis Tower to do the Observation Deck, but the wait was two and a half hours! CRAZY! So we all decided not to wait. Since we had just spent money on an Uber, we decided to walk back to Maggie Daley Park. Wow! So much farther than we anticipated. If it were just my husband and I we would have been fine, but with kids! Just get the Uber! We made it to the park but by then we were so wiped out we just got an Uber and went back to our hotel room.
We didn’t make it to Navy Pier at all, but it was fine. We all napped a little in the room and watched Thor on FX. Thank God for air conditioning and Chris Hemsworth!!!
Saturday night we ate at a place called DocB. The food was good, the service was quick and friendly (always a good thing with kids) and it had a nice open atmosphere. Overall we were very pleased with it. We also walked to a place around the corner called Eataly. There were about 5 different Italian restaurants in the upstairs, plus a place to buy wine, cheese, and dried meats. But best of all, downstairs they had gelato, canollis, and loads of other Italian desserts. All I can say is that the cream puffs were delicious!
We left on Sunday. My opinion on the whole thing is that the trip was just ok. We did some fun things, but because we had our kids with us, what we could do was limited. So next time I would go with just my husband and probably spend and extra day or possibly two. I hope this helps all of you who are planning a trip to Chicago. No matter what, remember to have fun!