Passport to Chicago

UPDATE: Since there are so many great Chicago travel tips,  I’m filing this under my new category Reader Travel Tips.  Make sure to read comments and feel free to add tips!

When Fuzz was about 3, I had the brilliant idea to take her to Chicago. Alone.

In hindsight, it seems ludicrous, but at the time Todd had been working long hours and Fuzz and I were going crazy trying to keep busy here on hot, summer days. Our neighborhood wasn’t built up yet, and going anywhere interesting meant lots of driving.

But Chicago was different. We could walk anywhere we wanted to go and it was cool enough to do so.  Plus, I’d lived in that city many years ago and knew my way around. I could see us strolling through Lincoln Park, browsing in American Girl and playing in the sand at Oak Street Beach. I’d even gotten an informal invitation from Grant Achatz (via a food bulletin board) to go ahead bring Fuzz to his then-restaurant, Trio. Sure kids were welcome! I was so ready to make this dream trip a reality that I booked a flight, wrote up a 2-day itinerary, and said goodbye to Todd who drove us to the airport.

I have blocked out events leading up to it, but I remember how that day ended — with Fuzz on floor of the American Airlines gate throwing a tantrum while I tried to calm her and other passengers looked on with sympathy. The flight eventually got cancelled, but our nerves were so frazzled that instead of letting them re-route us to another flight, I called Todd and asked him to bring us home. It was the trip that never was.

Since then, Fuzz has been on many trips and has proven herself as an excellent and enthusiastic traveler. She loves trying new restaurants, remembers details from past trips and talks about places she’d like to go. The other day, without prompting from me, she gathered up her materials and made herself a passport.

kid passport

kid passport 2

kid passport

Given the passport and all the talk she’s been doing about “cities”, I decided it was time to take the mother/daughter trip-that-never-was.

We’ve booked a flight on Southwest (I’ve never flown into Midway) and made reservations at two hotels (more on that later). But now I need help! If you have any suggestions for things to do with kids in Chicago, please let us know in the comment section. If Fuzz and I don’t use them on this trip, they will certainly help someone else. But we’ll have 3 nights and 4 days and will try to use them! I can’t stay in the American Girl Store for 3 days!

We’re not going until late August so I’ll still be here to bug you for 3 more weeks.

Related posts:

Comments

  1. M says

    Also along the lines of Navy Pier, if you stay long enough, they have fireworks at night during the summer (I think it’s at around 9:30 or 10 p.m., but you might want to double-check that!

  2. says

    Well, take some notes for me, will ya? So far, the only restaurant I’ve picked is Frontera (or maybe Topolobampo). We’re going to American Girl, Oak Street Beach and Lincoln Park, but I’d like to check out the art institute. I think there might be things there of interest to Fuzz. That, or some kind of improv or musical shows.

  3. says

    Hi Anna,

    We live in Chicago (Lincoln Park, actually) and have a young son (he’ll be 17 months old in August). I’ll do some thinking on it for you, but a few things that come to mind:
    The Children’s Museum
    The Museum of Science and Industry
    The Hancock Building (go to the top and have some lunch – great view!)
    The Lincoln Park Zoo (free)

    Food:
    Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder (awesome)
    HotChocolate – award-winning, but I’m not sure how kid-friendly
    Margie’s Candies (great ice cream – also good is Annette’s in Lincoln Park)

    Feel free to email me for any details because I could go on and on …

    Carrie

  4. judi0044 says

    Well Anna, my favorites as a child growing up in Chicago (Rogers Park) were always the museums, Field and Science & Industry. We spent some time at the Art Institute waiting until we could pick up my husband’s blood test and get our marriage license (a long story). I just visited my old address via a street view on Google maps – looks nothing like it did. Will be interested in hearing about the trip.

  5. says

    Having been to LA two years ago and NY this year (I’m taking a “mom” trip every other year), we talked about Chicago being the next choice. Never been there. Isn’t Gale Gand’s Tru restaurant there? I used to enjoy her Sweet Dreams show and would like to go there. I’m not sure it’s kid friendly. I would LOVE to try Frontera, love Rick Bayless, too. Pizza! Gotta try Chicago pizza. Sounds like a fun trip with your daughter! Wish I could be more help, but am excited to hear what everyone else has to tell you!
    Wonder if you looked around Food Network as they go everywhere tasting things, etc. and then often put recipes, etc. up?? Never tried that.

  6. Michelle says

    Anna,
    My favorite resource is Family Fun magazine. They frequently do features on family travel.
    Here are some links to their articles on traveling to Chicago. Be sure to click to see the other pages for dining & hotel recommendations. These are a couple of years old but I’m sure mostly still valid!
    http://familyfun.go.com/family-travel/places/feature/famf0703chicagosee_sa/

    http://familyfun.go.com/family-travel/places/feature/famf0500chicago/

    Hope this helps!

  7. says

    Veggiegirl, we are heading out the door to go to Target, but I took a very quick glance at your links and am REALLY looking forward to reading them later tonight when I can focus. I noticed that you mentioned Peninsula which is on my list. Awesome! You have gone into great detail, so thank you so much. Alternating between vegan and STEAK is so my style ;).

    We’re interested in just about all cuisines, but mostly I want the atmosphere to be fun. Below are places I’ve been fairly recently, but I like trying new places and want to expand the list.

    Coca Pazzo Cafe (loved it. May go back anyway)
    Coco Pazzo (original) (very good)
    Gioco (loved it)
    Gibson’s
    Wildfire
    Japonais
    Foodlife
    Restaurant at Omni hotel
    David Burke
    Greek Islands

  8. says

    Museum of Science and Industry, yes, but also the Natural History Museum. Oh, and the zoo! (Brookfield is bigger, bu Lincoln Park is closer and more accessible for you.)

    Have fun! :-)

  9. says

    Try Navy Pier. It’s a carnival atmosphere, and has a Ferris Wheel, putt-putt, and other fun sites to see. We also went by the Lincoln Park zoo- it’s free and kid-friendly! The Museum of Science and Industry is a blast as well.

  10. Michelle says

    I know virtually nothing about Chicago, but I did fly into Midway to go to the Wilton school. Midway is a breeze compared to O’Hare. It is comparable is size to the Buffalo airport and easy to navigate. Enjoy!

  11. Zain says

    The Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium were my favorites when I was living in Chicago.

  12. says

    We went to Chicago last spring for business. You must go to Topolobampo and order the three marias dessert. I would also take her to the Navy Pier and take the dinner cruise. It is a great way to see Chicago from a different perspective and the food is good.

  13. Katy says

    Hi Anna,
    I was actually born and raised in Chicago and my mother still lives by Navy Pier. I grew up going to the Museum of Science and Industry. Don’t miss it. The Impressionists halls in the Art Institute are spectacular, but the huge hidden secret and one of my fondest childhood memories is of the Thorne Rooms. The gallery is full of miniature dollhouses complete with running water and electricity. The individual rooms are encased in glass in the walls. Similar to a diorama. Each box is set at eye level and they supply risers for little ones for optimum viewing. It’s American Girl times 10!
    The architecture cruise is wonderful. Highly recommended and unique to Chicago. The original Coco Pazzo is much better than the cafe. Any Rick Bayless is great. The RL restaurant(Ralph’s only freestanding restaurant) is perfect for lunch or dinner, american food that’s well executed and good people watching. The Peninsula has a chocolate dessert buffet on Thursday nights. Gino’s on Rush for the deepdish pizza but it’s a gigantic (delicious) gutbomb. Skip Fannie May candies. They sold out years ago and it’s terrible sweet wax now. Garret’s popcorn is still good. Wait in line for the warm fresh stuff. Gibson’s for steak. Any hot dog. And try to pay a visit to one of the best gourmet food stores in the country, Fox and Obel. They have excellent takeout or eat-in at the cafe. The bakery is outstanding. It’s over by Navy Pier and a quick walk from Michigan Avenue.
    On another note, I checked out the cookie site you featured yesterday. I’m mostly intrigued by the addition of salted nuts in the cookies. How great would Alfieri toasted salted nuts be in the NYT CCC? Unfortunately I’m in NY for 6 weeks so I’ll have to test that out when I get back to SF. In the meantime I went to Bouchon today, so I’ll survive.

  14. CPB says

    I travel to Chicago a lot on business and while I’ve not gotten a chance to take my kids yet, I really want to. I think they’d have a blast.

    Here are some things on my list of things to do with my kids in Chicago whenever we get to go that weren’t already mentioned:

    Shedd’s Aquarium: http://www.sheddaquarium.org/ I attended a private event there last year and we had the aquarium to ourselves. I didn’t get as much time to look around as I’d like so I’d really like to go back. I think kids would love it!

    Sears Tower: http://www.theskydeck.com/ In 15 years of several trips to Chicago a year, I can’t believe I’ve never been up in the Sears Tower!

    River boat tour: http://chicagotraveler.com/boat_tours.htm I took an architectural tour of the city by boat as a work event a few years ago and it was really cool. Now children might not enjoy it as much but this site (which I can’t vouch for–just found it with google) has other boat tours too.

    Magnificent Mile: on your way to or when you get done with the AG store (I have been there and WOW!!), do some window shopping along the MM. There’s also a Lego store in a little ‘mall’ that is on Michigan right near the Hyatt.

    Theatre District: http://www.chicagoplays.com/ Depending on what shows are playing, an evening at the theatre might be fun.

    A baseball game: http://cubs.mlb.com/ or http://whitesox.mlb.com/

    Hope something on this list is helpful.

    CPB

  15. Carrie says

    What fun! I am from Chicago, though I now live in Houston. I have a three year old and I can definitely relate to hibernating with a child in the summer! Our summers are analogous to Chicago winters-you mostly stay inside.

    All the above comments look great. I lived in Lincoln Park as well and it is a great walking neighborhood. Armitage Ave. has some very fun shopping- there is a store there called 1154 Lill where you can customize your own purses and accessories. It is pricey but they have small accessories- http://www.1154Lill.com. Also, I loved John’s Place on Webster. Very healthy cuisine and totally kid friendly. It was always packed for breakfast, but lunch and dinner should be ok. There is a fun bakery next door called Sweet Mandy B’s.

    When I go back to Chicago I usually stay at the Belden Stratford. It is in Lincoln Park, across the street from the zoo and they have rooms with full kitchens very reasonably. They aren’t updated, but the price, space and location more than make up for it. You can walk to the zoo and lake front from there and you are a short cab ride from Mich. Ave.

    Millenium Park is awesome. You could do that in conjuction with the Art Museum. Have your daughter bring a swimsuit if she would like running through the fountains.

    Also, riding the El is pretty fun, too. They used to have a neighborhood tour where you would ride it and a guide would tell you the history of the various ethnic neighborhoods. Another option is a boat tour on the Chicago river.

    You might get lucky and there will be a movie in a park night while you are there. The City of Chicago started doing these a few years ago. They set up a giant screen in a city park and play a family friendly movie.

    Oh, I am jealous, nothing beats Chicago in the summer. Have a great time!

    Carrie

  16. E. says

    I’ve been enjoying your blog for a while now, but this is my first time commenting. I live in Chicago, very close to the Museum of Science and Industry, actually! All those suggestions sound great. Midway Airport is really nice, because it’s not very crowded and there aren’t as many delays as O’Hare. The Orange Line subway line is right there, as are many buses.

    The Art Institute is a must, and I think admission is free Thursday and Friday evenings during the summer. The Museum of Science Industry is really lots of fun, even for adults. There is a place where you can rent bikes by the lakefront around the museum campus, where the Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium are located, and, depending upon your biking skills, it might be fun to ride by the lake. Tandem bikes are also available, I think. Walking by the lake is also nice. Shedd Aquarium is pretty fun, although not as exciting as the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I’m not a huge fan of the Field or Navy Pier, but it might be of interest to children. The very small Museum of Surgical Science in the Gold Coast is lots of fun if you’re in the mood for weird and vaguely disturbing old-timey medical equipment.

    I don’t know if the Signature Lounge on top of the Hancock building allows children, but that might be a good place to go. That way you don’t need to pay for a ticket to go to the top of the Hancock — just buy a drink or a dessert. The women’s bathroom has the best view, by the way.

    Maybe you could catch a movie in the park with a picnic or a concert at Grant Park? Walking around Millennium Park is a must. It’s really fun and interesting.

    As Katy said, a great way to see Chicago is to go on one of the Chicago Architectural Foundation Tours.
    Just be sure to buy tickets ahead of time.

    This is a good resource for navigating the public transportation system:
    http://tripsweb.rtachicago.com/

    Frontera is fantastic. I’ve been there several times, and I’ve really enjoyed it. Chinatown has some great bakeries, dim sum places, restaurants, and boba tea shops. There’s a very cool Asian candy store there that I’m sure Fuzz would love and that all of my twentysomething/thirtysomething friends love too. For more on the Chicago food scene, check out lthforum.com. It’s like Chowhound but it’s focused on Chicago.

    Oh, I could go on! If you have specific questions, feel free to email me.

  17. A Mom Anonymous says

    We didn’t have much time (about 24 hours total) but I was just there a few weeks ago with my kids. DD turned 4 and we took her to AG. She was happy to just look at the dolls and we let her pick out an outfit her Bitty Baby.
    We went to the aquarium – they enjoyed that. Navy Pier was so-so but I’ve never been that impressed with it.
    I agree with Gino’s on Rush – ate there without kids a couple of years ago because I love Chicago pizza. Went to a great wine bar but that’s not exactly good for a mother-daughter trip.
    Have fun!!

  18. says

  19. says

    Dang it, now I want to go to Chicago. I’m going to have to talk my husband into doing a “mom” trip every year, not every other year!

    Katy-I made the NYT Ultimate and just for kicks threw in some toasted pecans (but they weren’t salted) to just two cookies. You can see one on the link if you want. (Just scroll past the boring ginger cookies.) I LOVE nuts in cookies, so had to try it.
    http://kevnkoi.blogspot.com/2008/07/pioneer-day-goodies.html
    I actually thought it was pretty good, but think these Ultimates stand alone without the nuts. I want to try other nuts though and will put some walnuts, maybe almonds in next time I make them, which will be next week.

  20. Emily H says

    The Shedd Aquarium!!!!

    It’s possibly my favorite memory from being a kid in Chicago, but alas, my family moved to Kansas City when I was little. Since I moved back to Chicago 3 years ago, I haven’t been, until this past weekend. It all came back to me and I felt completely kid-like again :) I even came home and watched Finding Nemo again because I was so inspired! Haha!

    Other favorites are of course the Lincoln Park Zoo (extra points for being free), any of the beaches, and here are a few restaurant ideas (none of which are very fancy, mostly neighborhood favorites which are kid friendly):

    Minnie’s (Halsted & Armitage, they have mini-everything, cute and great for kids)
    RJ Grunts (Lincoln Park – close to the zoo. Best burger i’ve had!)
    Adesso (Broadway & Buckingham…fantastic and inventive Italian place. I think they have a location downtown too.

    Have fun!! :)

  21. Chris says

    I’ve not read all the above posts, so some of this may be repeated. We love the Children’s Museum. It’s free on the first Monday of the month and on every Thursday night from 5-8. Be sure to visit Garrett’s – Trevor still talks about going there and it’s been 2 years since we’ve been there. We also like Bella Bacino’s. It’s on Wacker, not far off of Michigan. We’ve taken Trevor there and the servers have been very good to him.

  22. Betsy says

    I was just in Chicago and the Art Institute is doing a lot of renovations, so some of my favorites were not on display. It might be done by August … but also might not. The most famous paintings are still out, but instead of having many rooms of Impressionist art, there are only 2 or so. And the same is true for a lot of the art from the last two centuries.

    Enjoy! What a wonderful outing you will have!!

  23. Catherine says

    I was just in Chicago and the Art Institute is doing a lot of renovations, so some of my favorites were not on display. It might be done by August … but also might not. The most famous paintings are still out, but instead of having many rooms of Impressionist art, there are only 2 or so. And the same is true for a lot of the art from the last two centuries.

    Enjoy! What a wonderful outing you will have!!

  24. Cindy in Tempe says

    I just wanted to put in a second vote for the Shedd Aquarium. It’s our favorite, with the Field Museum second.
    When our daughter was about six, America West had $39 round trip fare from Columbus to Midway. We got up early, drove to Columbus, flew to Chicago, went up in the Sears Tower, went to Adler Planetarium and flew back all in one day. It was an adventure!

  25. Sue says

    I love Chicago, and after skimming through the comments I think you’ve received GREAT suggestions from your readers.

    For our family Chicago pizza is a must. We are big Gino’s fans. Someone above mentioned it, and I highly recommend it. I wonder if one of your Chicago readers could confirm it’s location though? I thought it had moved from it’s famous location on Rush St. The last time I was there we ate at a new location (don’t remember the address), but if they still have the location on Rush, go there!! I was hungry before logging on and now I’m really hungry!!!

  26. kelly says

    hi! i live in chicago (suburbs actually) and i am a huge fan of your blog! i’m 19 (almost 20) but i think there’s so much fun stuff to do here. some ideas:

    if you guys are into fireworks and will be here either on a wednesday or a saturday night, navy pier has a fireworks show on those nights. also, navy pier in general is a fun place to go. there is a huge ferris wheel and other rides that i think your daughter would enjoy (they are a bit young for me), plus a mall-ish area and an imax theater.

    if you have time to head out to the suburbs, they just opened legoland in schaumburg. i havent been to it, and i don’t know if lego’s are something your daughter would be interestested in, but it looks sorta cool.

    millenium park! check out the bean, the fountains, and all the gardens. the bean is really pretty neat, my friends and i always stop near it when we are downtown.

    if you wander up michigan avenue a bit, you get to the nbc5 studios, where if you time it right you could be on tv, i think.

    foodwise:
    -i’m a huge fan of lou malnati’s pizza. there’s always a war over deepdish pizza here, and some people like other brands, but lou’s is definately my pizza of choice.
    -portillo’s. it’s amazing…started out as a hotdog/italian beef place, but now they have salads, pasta, sandwiches, etc. so good.

    hope i helped!

  27. says

    These suggestions are all great! I will reply more, as I’ve read each and every one.

    But I wanted to comment on Midway. Thanks for clarification on the Orange Line. I was wondering how difficult it would be to take the train from Midway to the loop. Sounds like it’s not too bad. We’ll be arriving in the evening, so as long as we can stay safe.

    Also, Legoland???? I had no idea there was one in the suburbs. I have always wanted to go to Legoland, so that’s something we will consider if, and only if, we can figure out transportation. I think I’d need to rent a car and our trip might be a little short for that.

  28. Joanna says

    I have read everyone telling you to try Gino’s Pizza, but let me tell you I was born and raised in Chicago and LouMalnati’s id by far THE BEST!! My second favorite is Uno’s or Duo’s.
    Also, do not miss Garrett Popcorn!!! Warm carmel corn!! yummy!!
    Don’t forgett to try an Italian Beef ans a Chicago Style Hot Dog (no ketchup!!)

  29. Kelly says

    I also forgot my favorite cupcake joints! I was just in Chicago for a college grad present to see Wicked and Jersey Boys (as stated above). We found some great bakeries as well!

    Mollys cupcakes – 2536 north clark street
    cupcakes – 613 W Briar Pl
    swilrz – 705 w. belden

  30. Nicolette says

    I don’t usually do this but Chicago is my favorite city in the country so I have to add my opinions. There is a Hello Kitty store in one of the malls on Michigan Ave. My eight year old daughter love it. I think its in the mall with the Lego store. In 2003 we ate at a diner, Ed Dubevic’s, that had singing waiters. The Lincoln Park Zoo is a hidden treasure. The children’s museum was fun.

  31. Janet says

    I have only been through Chicago so I don’t have any ideas for you. But I do want to wish you and Fuzz a wonderful trip. That is so neat that you two are having a mother-daughter trip! Have fun!

  32. Carole R. says

    The Shedd is wonderdul. If you go, call ahead and get the feeding times for the whales and sharks. Small whales and sharks.

  33. says

    As stated above, it’s really easy to get to the city from Midway via the Orange line. Depending on where you stay, it should be a breeze. Where are you thinking about staying?

    I’ve stayed at the Four Seasons and it’s really nice, but I’ve heard that the Peninsula is amazing (and Jennifer Aniston and John Mayer were there a few weeks ago!)

    Oh, and when are you going? The Green City Market is a great farmers market held in Lincoln Park on Wednesdays (and I think Saturdays). Lots of fun. There’s a great bakery (Bleeding Heart) that has a stand there.

    Hope it helps!

    Carrie

  34. says

    Saw your comment on my blog: The Omni is DEFINITELY a great hotel, and my parents and I always stay there; and yes, please do go to Karyn’s Cooked!! It’s a fabulous restaurant, for sure. And tell Lizzie hello back!! :0)

  35. Anonymous says

    Hi! I live in Chicago (Lincoln Park) and while I don’t have kids my family is from the St. Louis area and I have spent a lot of time playing tour guide! The Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder is excellent! They make a pot pie pizza baked upside down and flip it over at your table. It was featured on the Food Network and I highly highly recommend it, although go early becasue there is always a wait and they don’t take reservations. Other fun places are restaurants in Greek Town (I recommend Pegasus as it has rooftop seating)and I have not been but heard Minnie’s is good- they serve gourmet food in mini versions. My top spots for breakfast are Orange (fruit sushi and pancake flights!) or Wishbone (crunchy french toast). Here is a link where you can seach by feature, area, price, etc and read reviews on almost every restaurnt in Chicago, plus they provide menus: http://chicago.menupages.com/. The Lincoln Park Zoo, Shedd Aquarium and any museum are aslo fun. The architecture boat tour is one of the the best things to do! Everyone I know who has been on it absolutely loves it! Also, if you want to see what is going on for that particular weekend go to metromix.com, click on events and then pick the weekend you are going. You can search by dining, music, etc. Also, if there is a street festival going on during that time I highly recommend going. Here is a link to all of the festivals: http://chicago.metromix.com/events/article/chicago-festival-guide-2008/339943/content

    Lastly, if you are there during the Air and Water Show its a spectacular event (as I am sure you remember from your time in Chicago!).

  36. Whatever says

    A great place that kids love and is also extremely great for adults is the restaurant Hot Chocolate. Great food, awesome desserts and outstanding hot chocolate. Alcohol too for the parent who needs to relax from their kid. Its in the heart of bucktown also, which has shopping that appeals to everyone. It’s on Damen just two blocks north of Milwaukee and North. It’s 1747 N. Damen to be exact. Check it out.

  37. says

    Allison, thanks for the link to the LTH forum. That is going to be extremely helpful.

    Also, I have one reservation. Frontera accepted a reservation for 8:00 in the evening for two.

    Whatever, thanks for the tip on Hot Chocolate. Carrie recommended it as well and it sounds like the type of place I’d like with the alcohol and all ;).

  38. Dana says

    I don’t know that I have anything new to offer, but can second some of the other great suggestions. My husband and I went last summer, and had alot of fun doing pretty inexpensive stuff. The free trolley that runs all over downtown is great–we took it to one end of the Magnificent Mile, and walked all the way back down to Millenium Park. The Art Institute was free on Friday night. We had Saturday brunch on the patio at Frontera/Topolobampo, and it was the most amazing meal I’ve ever had! Navy Pier was fun to walk around (though it was raining so we didn’t stay long). Pizza at Lou Malnati’s near Millenium Park was great! A few years ago my daughter and I went to visit a friend there, and we went to the Aquarium–I’m sure Fuzz would love that.
    Enjoy your trip! I can’t wait to go back!

  39. Pamela M says

    I’ve been living in Chicago for a little over two years now, and I’ve definitely not seen everything. However, I do have some favorites as well as some comments on some of the suggestions that have already been made.

    Lincoln Park Zoo – This is a nice place to visit, but don’t miss the Farm Zoo located right next door. They have chickens and cows and horses, oh my! They even have a couple hives of honey bees. :)

    Margie’s Candies – a Chicago institution since 1921. I’ve only had candy from there once, but I go there for ice cream about once a month. Their hot fudge is homemade — a must try! Warning: If you go at night, the wait for a table can be long; I’d go during the day, if you can.

    Green City Market – a farmer’s market full of goodies open Wednesdays and Saturdays from 7am – 1:30pm. I love going here when I have time. Warning: Parking is terrible around Lincoln Park, but it’s easy enough to take the 151 or the 156 bus here from downtown. I’m not sure if that’s where you’ll be staying, just assuming.

    As to restaurants, it all really depends on what kind of food you like. Chicago has so much variety in the way of food. If you have some favorite cuisines, I could make some suggestions specific to your tastes. Feel free to email me. Hope all goes well with the trip!

  40. Mindy says

    Anna, you have great blog readers to suggest all that has been suggested. I really have nothing to add except to tell you that my brother and I ate at Frontera in May and loved it. It’s quite a blend of singles, couples and families eating there, so everybody feels welcome. It is a little bit loud, though, but the fantastic house margaritas make up for that. Email me if you want more info. about what we ate at Frontera and other places we went to. As you know, I LOVE Chicago and will be moving there in 2010, so anytime anybody mentions visiting, I get tremendously jealous. I hope you and Fuzz have a great trip!!! (Oh, yeah, Garrett CaramelCrisp…it’s not caramel corn to them…is a must. And Giordano’s pizza. I could go on and on about Chicago, but I’ll shut up now.)

  41. says

    Hi Anna:
    Great suggestions here, and even as a suburban native I picked up a few ideas! Definitely hit the Thorne rooms at the Art Institute. Many other good ideas here. The Shedd is undergoing remodeling also – check their website.

    Re Legoland Discover Center in Schaumburg. You would need a car – the el/bus/train/trolley route is complicated. Other things are in the area, though, like Woodfield Mall across the street which has some unusual offerings, Ikea and more. It opened last weekend, and I took my five year old and baby. Inside was a 4-D movie in Legos, a mini factory with demonstration, a Dragon ride with fairy tale scenes, a cafe with limited offerings, and a huge area to ‘test out new products’ – lots of fun things there, including a jungle gym. Also we went through a sort of gallery of famous movie folks made from Legos. My son loved R2D2. There was also a Chicago lego scene. It was fun, but on the expensive side – it could be not everything was up and running yet.

    Enjoy your trip whatever you do.

  42. AppleTree says

    Yes, yes, a thousand times yes to whomever mentioned Hot Chocolate. Perhaps the best restaurant I’ve experienced in the recent past. We took my niece for her birthday (14) and she loved it, but I am not sure how it would be for anyone too much younger. The brioche and cheese it to die for and the desserts are truly amazing.

    Enjoy!

  43. says

    I loved visiting the giant Hershey’s store in downtown Chicago. It’s right next to American Girl, so you’ll probably go there anyway. I bought a giant cupcake, and it was so good. Rich, but good.

  44. CarrieBeth says

    I agree with the Gino’s suggestion. It is a total gutbuster but you will get nothing like it outside Chicago. And the atmosphere is really neat, too.

  45. says

    I’m going to Chicago next week so I’ll be watching this post w/ interest. I’m going for the Heartland gathering from eG, but I’m staying with a friend for another 2 days. We’re going to Frontera for lunch on Tuesday( they arent open on Monday). We’re also going to The Spice House for sure. Btw, I got a GREAT deal bidding on Priceline. The Hyatt for 59.00 a night. If you want more info, let me know.

  46. says

    Randi,

    I am using reward points for the first two nights, but I got a GREAT deal for Friday night. Or at least I thought it was. I used Hotwire and got the Intercontinental in Streeterville for $123.00.

  47. Kim in Colorado says

    Not sure if someone already mentioned it to you, but you can save some bucks if you get a City Pass. I think it gets you into many of the attractions you might want to visit for one low price. Also, some museums are FREE or have reduced rates on certain week days, so on certain days the museums will be packed with tons of kids who are bused in from surrounding areas on the cheaper rate days. Also might want to go to the top of the Sears Tower. Art Institute is awesome! If you are going for the deep dish pizza experience, Giordanos is really good. Our family prefers it over Pizzeria Unos, which I believe is the original deep dish pizza place. Boat Architecture Tour is great and is a nice way rest your feet from all the walking… bring good walking shoes… Enjoy! Whoops! Gotta go get my cookies out of the oven! Have a great trip!

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