An 11 year old visiting Chicago

In July, I may get an opportunity to take my son to Chicago for a day. Besides getting authentic Chicago-style pizza (pizzaria suggestions welcomed), what should we do while we’re there. Art museums and zoos are a plus.

Moving to IMHO from GQ.

General Questions Moderator

The aquarium is awesome. I had a ton of fun at the planetarium too, and the Field museum will blow your mind. Note: these are all relatively close to one another, IIRC, but teh museum takes more than a day IMHO.

I used to work at the Shedd Aquarium and Oceanarium; I highly recommend it. He’s at about the right age to get a kick out of the Adler Planetarium too, and the Field Museum (dinosaur bones!) is right nearby.

Plenty of good pizza places downtown, I’d recommend Gino’s East. Another fun place is Ed Debevic’s.

Museum of Science & Industry.

Check to see if the Cubs or the White Sox are in town, and take the kid to a ball game.

Museum of Science and Industry to see stuff like a WW-II German U-boat.

Another vote for the Shedd; in addition to the usual fish tanks, they also have dolphins, belugas, seals, and sea otters. There’s usually a special exhibit of some kind, too.

As far as zoos in the Chicago area go, you’ve got two options. The Lincoln Park Zoo is smaller; you can easily see all of it in an afternoon. The star attractions are a few large ungulates, some large carnivores, and some primates. It’s not right downtown, but it’s an easy cab ride (or bus ride) from downtown. The Brookfield Zoo is out in the suburbs; it’s much larger, has pretty much any animal you can name, and would take a full day (if not more) to see all of. Cab fare from downtown would run you upwards of $50 each way, and public transport’s not all that easy; if you’ll have a car, though, it’s worth looking into.

Agree with those above about the Museum of Chicago and Industry. The German sub is cool.
I first hit Chicago about that age, and I really wanted to see the Natural History Museum.
Take him for a ride on the Loop, too. And don’t forget the Hot Dogs that Cecil always wrote about. Let him put ketchup on it, if he wants.

Another vote for the museum campus (Field, Shedd and Adler). If you are coming before July4 you can hit Taste of Chicago and try a bit of the great Chicago restaurants and catch some bands. Take him to the top of the Sears Tower (yeah, I know it’s now called the Willis Building) and check out the view from the ledge. The Art Institute is phenomenal.

If art is a plus, go to the Art Institute in Grant Park, highly recommeded. Also, Millennium Park is right there next door, and it’s kind of cool.

I loved the Adler Planetarium when I was his age; a stars show are pretty cool. I also agree with Shed, Museum of Science and Industry, Natural History Museum (dinos!), and that a ride on the elevated is pretty cool.

Also If you go for deep dish, keep in mind that it takes at least 45 minutes for your meal to come. Bring a Nintendo or something. Or go for thin/cracker crust pizza, which for me is the real Chicago pizza, and second to none. And it gets to your table much more quickly.

Heathen! Heretic! You NEVER call thin crust Chicago style. It’s always the thick one. Go to Uno’s. If you remember the classic Saturday Night Live “Cheezburger! Cheezburger!” skit, go to the Billygoat that it’s based on. Check out Second City for some awesome comedy.

I don’t know your son, but you might just want to warn him if you decide to do this one. My daughter’s rather shy friends made her leave Billygoat when the counter guys “yelled at” them.

I’ll second both the Art Institute and the Museum of Science and Industry. MSI also has that really cool model train setup. Although he’s probably a bit old (or young) for the baby chickens hatching. My kids love the Field Museum, too, and it’s closer to several things, so it might be more doable for you. How does he feel about mummies?

Nonsense. I lived in Chicago for 25 years, and the preferred pizza everywhere there, except by downtown tourists, is thin crust. Really, the best thin crust pizza anywhere (IMHO) can be found in Chicago and neighboring regions as far away as St. Louis and Milwaukee. Ask for “cracker” crust.

And, yes, thin crust is also Chicago-style. The other style is “Chicago Style Deep Dish” (or pan pizza). I enjoy pan pizza, but to me its not even pizza, but some other dish that’s also very good. Pizza-loaf, if you will.

I suggest that you pay a little extra to tour the inside of the U-boat, as well. It was really cool and gives you a detailed history of what that exact boat went through when it was captured by the Americans. It also gives you a good feel for exactly how cramped and crowded those things were. If you’re claustrophobic, I don’t recommend the tour as when the door shuts, you’re stuck until the tour’s over.

I’m claustrophobic but it should be no different than an airliner. How long is the tour?

All told, 15-20 minutes. It’s a little more claustrophobic because you go into each section with a group of roughly 20 people. My girlfriend came close to freaking out for a second, but once she stopped and calmed herself down, she was fine for the rest of the tour.

Depending on when you’re visiting, if you decide to do the U-Boat tour (and I also highly recommend it) be sure to get your tour tickets in advance. The tours sell out quite often.

Good call, I went on a random Friday afternoon in June and got in just fine. A weekend day might be considerably more busy.

Chicago is a great city for bas cuisine. In addition to pizza, they also have Italian beef sandwiches and Chicago-style hot dogs. I’ve had the latter from Superdawg more than once and really enjoyed it.