Weekend in Chicago: stuff to do


This is the final entry of my four part Chicago trip report: 1) getting there; 2) lodging; 3) eating; and 4) stuff to do. 

Chicago Photos
This photo of Chicago is courtesy of TripAdvisor

There is so much to do in Chicago, there is no way I can do it justice.  Instead, I’ll just describe the few things my family and I did on our last trip and I’ll leave the rest for you to discover on your own…

Millennium Park

If you’ve never been, this is a must!  “The Bean” shown above is alone worth the stop.  Be sure to walk underneath, look up, and try to find yourself in the reflection.  Also ridiculously cool is the Crown Fountain.  Two 50 foot tall dominoes face each other with moving video faces on each one (like Harry Potter paintings).  Every so often one of the faces will purse its lips and real water comes streaming out.  In warm months kids love running around in the fountain!  Unless there is an event going on, I don’t think Millennium Park is an all day stop, but it makes for a great half hour or so (or longer if your kids play in the fountain).

Chicago Cultural Center and Free Tour

We were walking through the city, bitterly cold, when we saw a “Visitors Information” sign on the door.  Eager to get out of the cold, we scurried inside.  There, we were greeted by a guy named Lance who asked if we’d like a free City tour.  We’ve done Chicago city tours before, but we decided to go anyway, and we were glad we did!  The first part of the tour was the Cultural Center itself.  If you’re into amazing architecture and history, you’ll find a lot to like here.  If you’re not into that stuff, it’s still pretty neat to see.  Equally cool were all of the teen oriented events that were going on while we were there.  Next, Lance toured us out and about (by foot) and then dropped us off at the Chicago Architecture Foundation where he showed us the detailed scale model of the city they have inside.  Very cool!

Before leaving us, Lance told us that if you plan ahead you can get a free bike tour of the city.  Contact Chicago Greeter at least two weeks before your visit and (according to Lance) you will be provided with a guide and bikes for a 5 hour tour!  Contact info: www.chicagogreeter.com, chgogreeter@explorechicago.org

The Art Institute of Chicago

This huge art museum is just south of Millennium Park so it makes sense to visit both while you’re there.  If you’re an art aficionado, I’m sure you’ll be awed by all of the famous masterpieces you’ll see here.  If, on the other hand, you’re completely uncultured (like me) you can still have fun.  There’s a really neat room filled with miniature rooms (like dollhouses) that each represent a time and place in history.  That was cool.  It’s also fun to walk around the modern art section in order to point out which pieces of “art” could have been done better by your two year old kid, or your cat, dog, goldfish, etc.  Note that admission is $18 per adult (kids under 14 are free), so you might want to check ahead of time whether they have a reciprocal agreement with any museums you are already a member of.  There are also a few options in Chicago for buying single price “Go Chicago” cards that will get you into a number of attractions for one price (plus you get to skip the ticket lines which can sometimes be quite long).

Other Stuff

On other visits to the city, we’ve been to the Field Museum, the aquarium, the planetarium, Navy Pier, multiple plays, bus tours, river tours, and more.  One of my favorite experiences, though, was a food tour.   We were guided around town to various food related places.  Along the way, we learned interesting stuff about the city itself (standard tour stuff, but very well done) then stopped at various food related places to sample and learn about food!  We did the “near north food tour”, but we’re looking forward to trying others.

Readers, what are your favorite things to do in Chicago?

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