We're going to Chicago! Eeek! Advice, please?

Okay, I decided to be Mother of the Universe and take the kids to Chicago this weekend. We’ll be staying at Holiday Inn Chicago-Mart Plaza, close enough (I think) for the boys to walk to Catalyst Ranch for the Hannah Hart meetup. While they do that, the Weeping Princess and I will…well, I don’t know what we’ll do.
Any ideas? Right now I’m predicting that we will walk around like a couple of goggle-eyed yahoos, but maybe we can be a little more directed than that.
Thinking we will see the Shedd Aquarium one day; otherwise, I’m overwhelmed by all the choices.
Advice welcome…
ETA: I should add that I would like to park the car and leave it. I really don’t want to have to drive more than I must.

If the weather stays like it has been this week so far do an architectural boat tour. Maybe rent bikes and ride along the Lake front paths.

What kind of food do the kids like?

If you do the Shedd, there’s also the Field Museum and the Planetarium right there, so you can kill a day or more easily.

As far as getting to the Museum Campus, you can cab it for not too much cash from your hotel, it’s about a 10 minute drive. If you wan a real adventure, I’m sure the concierge can tell you where best to catch a bus, but from there it’s not the simplest and would take about 30 minutes. It’s only about 3.5 miles from the hotel.

If you guys like to walk, you can also head east on Kinzie from the hotel and walk to Michigan Avenue. Head north and if you go in and out of a good majority of shops, you can waste a day fairly easily that way. If you’re still good walkers, heading up Michigan, you can detour even farther east and hit Navy Pier.

If you want to try the Art Institute, turn south on Michigan Ave from Kinzie instead. Not as much shopping on the way, but Millenium Park is there and you can take pictures of yourselves reflected in “The Bean” (Cloudgate) and noodle around that area. The huge water fountain and Grant Park are that way, too.

If you stick to downtown, you can leave your car at the hotel for the weekend and walk or cab ride and I think you won’t get too overwhelmed. If I don’t keep touristy visitors around my neighborhood, I’ve always been able to kill a couple of days between the museums and Michigan Ave.

This all sounds great! I’m actually kind of excited now. :slight_smile: I hope the weather is nice so we can do the boat tour–sounds like something everyone would enjoy. And the Planetarium–TBone will be thrilled!
Foodwise, they like about anything. I like not-so-expensive for this trip. Heh.
Thanks, you guys are making me feel so much better.
We will be arriving Friday. The boys will spend Saturday afternoon flirting with Hannah while the Weeping Princess and I find something girly to do. They we’ll stay Saturday night and have Sunday adventures before heading home late afternoon.

Definitely should be close enough; looks to be a 5-10 minute walk.

(Catalyst Ranch was founded by a former co-worker of mine. :slight_smile: )

Good advice on things to see has already been shared.

If you want stereotypical Chicago-style foods, you’ll want to get a Chicago-style hot dog or an Italian beef sandwich (both Portillo’s and Al’s are just a few blocks north of your hotel). A little pricier (but not bad) would be a deep-dish pizza; Pizzeria Uno and Pizzeria Due (the same menu, different locations) are a few blocks NE of your hotel; Lou Malnati’s and Geno’s are also nearby.

Greektown is fun and pretty cheap too. (It would be a cab ride.) Expensive girly is the American Girl Doll store.

The boat tours are a lot of fun. This weekend is going to be generally rainy and cool - low/high of 46/64 on Saturday with rain and sunny on Sunday with a low/high of 39/48.

If anyone in the family is in to science-y stuff, I couldn’t recommend the Museum of Science and Industry highly enough. That one’s a little farther away though, either a short drive or a Metra train ride to the south. I did a long weekend in Chicago with my then-fiancee last summer, and the MSI, Field Museum, and Art Institute were the standout attractions. We also had a ton of fun just walking around the city and ducking into local restaurants and bars. The whole trip was a great experience and I can almost guarantee we’ll be back some day, which I wouldn’t necessarily say about most of our one-off city explorations.

My son is extremely into science-y stuff. I wonder if we might hit the Museum of Science and Industry on Sunday after checkout–we could see that before we head home late in the day, maybe…

Depending on what you end up doing, it might be worth it buy a Go Chicago Card or Chicago City Pass. Have fun!

The Planetarium’s cafe faces the Chicago skyline and you get great views from there or from the outside.

If you go to MSI, you could also drive by (or stop for a few minutes if you can find parking) the site of the first man-made self-sustaining nuclear reaction. Wiki says MSI has a graphite block from it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Pile-1#Significance_and_commemoration

Chicago’s Storefront Theatres are a Hotbed of Talent

There’s hundreds of shows going on at any given time, so you could start with the performing arts section of the Reader and see if anything seems appealing. There’s also the Lookingglass, which is a beautiful space and would be a short cab ride (or 30 min walk) from your hotel. They do good work, and you’re equally likely to find something amazing out of an off-the-beaten-track theatre.