Chicago, Chicago that toddling town! Our recent trip to the Windy City turned out to be such a fun family visit! I’ve once again fallen in love with the Midwest and this travel has reminded me of my love for great parks, good food, and cultural vibrancy (is this what a toddling town is?). For those of you with Chi-town on your to-visit list, here are a few ways you can “Lose your blues in Chicago” (it’s pretty easy to do):
Eat all the food.
Chicago is known for some amazing foodie favorites, like deep dish pizzas, Italian beef sandwiches, and Chicago-style hotdogs, to name a few. Try it all and go back, because it is hard to find it this good anywhere else in the US! I was lucky to have my Chicagoan husband as a tour guide so we knew we had to hit some of Chicago’s bests- Lou Malnati’s, Giordanos, Portillos, the Original Rainbow Cone, and oh so much more. Trust me- try everything.
Hop on a Divvy bike or take a stroll down Lake Shore Dr to enjoy the best views in Chicago. We were so lucky to get outside and have perfect weather during our trip, which is great when you’re exploring the city. The summer weather can be amazing with breezy 70s and 80s (July is the time!). Head over to Navy Pier and ride the carousel, hop on an architecture river cruise or lake tour, or go see the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Splurge on some amazing cotton candy, which was one of our daughter’s favorites! Enjoy one of the countless parks, including some Chi-town favorites like Millennium Park (see Cloud Gate aka The Bean!) or Burnham Park. Do not miss the Lincoln Park Zoo if you’re traveling with kids. This is one of the last free zoos in the US, and you can see favorites like alpacas, bears, zebras, giraffes, and more (pro tip: walk, uber, or take public transit there, parking is $25+).
If you can catch a game, Chicagoans love their sports. Get outside and go see a Cubs game at Wrigley Field, a Bears game at Soldiers Field, a Bulls game at the United Center, or one of several others.
Shop on Magnificent Mile.
Magnificent Mile is the place to be for downtown shopping, events, and attractions, all nestled between the Chicago skyscrapers. The heart of Chicago has some of the best shopping with some kid favorites (I’m talking American Girl, the Disney Store, Sephora), on top of the luxury brands and good foodie finds. There are also several historic stops you’ll see as you stroll through downtown. Depending on the time of year, you can also catch some amazing festivals in this area!
You can walk (or take local transportation) to the Willis Tower, which is something you don’t want to miss to see all of Chicago. Pay a fee (around 20 bucks) to go all the way to the top and thrill yourself stepping out into the ledge of the Skydeck. Yes, you can see straight down. Yes, it’s insane and people only do it for the pictures. No, my acrophobic husband wouldn’t do it. LOL.
Go to festivals.
You can almost always catch a good festival over the summer/fall months in Chicago. A favorite is the Taste of Chicago (mid July), but really you cant go wrong checking out whatever one is going on. Since we were there over the 4th of July, we enjoyed the NorthWest Fourth Fest in one of Chicago’s suburbs. Chicago suburbs are also packed full of festivals (pro tip: consider staying outside of downtown to save $ and taking the Metra or CTA rail into town). Chicago has excellent public transportation, and you will want to use to get everywhere so you aren’t stuck with outrageous city parking fees.
Check out museums.
One of our favorite museums is Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. There are many hands on activities for kids (don’t miss the Idea Factory), and plenty other cool exhibits to keep everyone else in your party engaged (like an entire U505 submarine). Other Chicago favorites are the Art Institute of Chicago, Adler Planetarium, Chicago History Museum, and the Field Museum. We missed out on the Shedd Aquarium this time (aquariums are our thing), but we heard this was phenomenal and can’t wait to check it out on our next trip. The building is beautiful (right off Lakeshore Dr!).
Chicago has such a fun vibe and is an excellent vacation spot for those seeking a big city with a lot to offer its visitors. We are already missing the deep dish and thinking of when we can get back! Did I miss something? How do you lose the blues in Chicago? Ok, I’m going to listen to Frank Sinatra now…