SO here's some of what had me so busy in the last few months. The main event was a week long family trip to Chicago to see the off Broadway production of Hamilton. I almost had to sell my firstborn for the tickets but I will say that they were worth EVERY DIME. LOVED LOVED LOVED it!!
Bear is very into theater and was beside himself to go. We had never been to Chicago and it was the perfect place to vacation with a 21 year old and 11 year old! It was also right after Braden's 21st birthday so it was great to continue his celebration there. There was so much to do we didn't even get to everything we had planned.
We used VRBO (vacation rental by owner, now known as HomeAway) to book an apartment right in the middle of the city. It had a rooftop pool which was very neat for us country folk! We were able to negotiate the price down to a budget we felt comfortable paying. This is the third or fourth time we have booked through VRBO and we have never regretted it. Each time we found an owner who was willing to negotiate, partly because we wait pretty close to the last minute to book (I wouldn't always recommend that lol). We chose places that have received good, current reviews and that seems to be key in getting a truly great place.
In case you go, here's the list of things we visited and loved:
1) Navy Pier - Great family oriented pier on Lake Michigan with shops, restaurants, cruises, 150 ft ferris wheel and much more. They have an amazing firework display twice a week that we really enjoyed.
2) 360 Chicago Observation Deck. Amazing views from the Hancock building on the 94th floor...you can see for 40 miles. There's a glass box you stand in and it TILTS you forward so that you are leaning out over the building looking down. CRAZZZY but exciting! We all did it but Bear was not thrilled about that drop! There's also a sky deck in the Willis Building (formerly the Sears tower) if you are over that way.
3) Architectural cruises - This is something you shouldn't miss, especially if you like history. We all enjoyed learning about the different buildings, seeing the architecture and which buildings were the highest/oldest, etc. It was a beautiful tour that began around the riverwalk area not far from Trump tower. P.S.- Bear wasn't interested in the tour but I kept finding him hanging out with some teenage girls...
4) Chicago Pizza - Oh. MY. I have obviously never truly had pizza before this moment. SO GOOD! An hour wait at lunchtime but worth every minute. Our pick is definitely Lou Malnati's (OK, we only tried 2 pizza places, but Lou's.....oh how I wish I could ship that home!) While we were waiting Bear spotted an mattress store of all things. They had handmade mattresses that were $20K -$50K. He liked them because they were comfy and buffalo check (that's my boy!) but he was really annoyed with us that we would not whip out the checkbook and buy the $40,000 one that he picked out.
5) Field Museum of Natural History - I'm not sure if they filmed the movie The Night of the Museum here but that's exactly what it reminded me of. In the center of it was 'Sue', the largest T-Rex discovered. It was incredible! The only thing I would NOT recommend unless your children are very young is the option for the Jurassic Park exhibition (on exhibit until January 2018). We paid extra for this and, well, it was cheesy. At one point one of the dinosaurs was a guy in a suit...after seeing Sue, the real deal, it was just unimpressive. Young children would probably enjoy it though.
6) The Magnificent Mile and Millennium Park - Both of these were fun to visit. The Magnificent Mile was a street downtown with store after fancy store. Of course, we had to hit the Disney Store and see the art of Dr. Seuss, just to say we did, but there were many upscale adult clothing stores, etc that would have been fun to browse in if we had more time.
Millennium Park was architectural eye candy...with the giant silver 'bean'. There was also a classical piano concert going on which was wonderful.
7) IFly - This was not exclusive to Chicago but super fun!! The boys got to skydive in a simulator and they LOVED IT! But now I'm terrified because Braden wants to skydive for real and I'm not ready for that!!
8) Oak Street Beach! - It was gorgeous and not something I would have thought to do in Chicago. The water doesn't warm up until August, so it was a little cold but still fun to hang out and eat outside at the grill there. The staff told us that Bill Murray eats there on occasion but sadly we didn't see him this time :(.
9) Ok, this is going to show my hillbilly roots, but we were really excited to ride in a cab. It had been years for me and Bear had never ridden in one. We learned very quickly that they are not used to Southerners chatting away and they are in a BIG hurry. Like they don't want any chitty chat as you are exiting the cab, LOL. I may or may not have made one a little mad...They like it snappy!
We got to visit with a couple of friends who live there and they guided our choices, so thank you for the wonderful recommendations, my friends!
There's so much more to do and we just hit the tip of the iceberg! I think it was a great first 'big city' trip for our youngest who hasn't travelled as much as his older brother. If you are considering a trip I'd definitely recommend visiting Chicago!
Have a great day! So glad YOU like to chitty chat :)