Friday, July 7, 2017

Lovebirds' Top 6 Activities for Kids Visiting Chicago

Visiting Chicago with the kids has been on my bucket list since Mr. Lovebird started going there annually for work, and a few weeks ago we got to accompany him for 4 days. Before going I crowd sourced via social media to find the top recommended things to do with kids. While there were so many suggestions to sort through, I found those from Chicago natives Natasha of Houseful of Nicholes, Ashley of Mommy Week, and Keyonda of A Real Urban Mom to be most helpful (thank you!). 

As an Ohio-native, I remember a couple trips to Chicago growing up and the last one was when my grandma drove me and my cousins there about 20 years ago. I imagined my experience would now be completely different especially with 2 kids in tow! 

I made this quick recap video of our visit:

Of all the things we did during our Chicago trip, here are my family's favorite 6 activities:

I was warned that Navy Pier might be too touristy/crowded, but once we spotted the Ferris wheel we knew we wanted to give it a try. It turned out to be not too crowded and while waiting in the line took about 5 minutes, we were thankful that the Ferris wheel was air conditioned. I let Nia ride on the swings too and we bought an Icee to share afterwards. I felt safe letting the kids amble about at their own pace and Nia became enamored with the Rolling Stone tongues on display asking me to snap pics of her.

5. 360 Chicago (aka the John Hancock Building)

I remember going up the Sears Tower as a teen and decided to do 360 Chicago instead letting Nia give the Tilt attraction a try. She's much braver than I am! 

The views were incredible and we ended up spending a couple hours up here while Grayson got his nap on. Building in a little break like that was nice before we left there to make our way over to Navy Pier, and it was fun to play a bit of Eye Spy and show the kids from up above where we were headed. 

4. EAT 

This is what I was most excited about and while we ultimately skipped over getting Chicago-style pizza, we did our fair share of eating at...



Little Goat


My kids are also popcorn fiends - they often ask to eat it for lunch - and while I was given the tip to get Garrett's in the airport, the first time we stepped out of our hotel they could smell it and started begging! Nia LOVED her butter/caramel mix, but I went with cheddar/caramel.

We've loved our science museums everywhere we've lived so visiting The Field Museum was a given. I was very impressed by their African exhibit just after entering - it's colorful design draws you in, and it's very thorough. We saw the Jurassic World exhibit, and while the dinos were quite lifelike giving Grayson a bit of a scare, the faux science/walk through part I could've done without. More dinos. Always! 

This was my favorite thing to do being the architecture nerd that I am (yes, I was in architecture club as a teen!) and at first I was nervous about the kids being restless while on a 75 tour with a guide talking the whole time, but they were absolutely fine. We took our tour in time to see the sunset and Grayson ended up falling asleep. 

The river cruise was so thorough, filled with humor and just the right amount of time. There are several tours to choose from and we picked the Shoreline tour linked above as we passed the ticket booth earlier while at Navy Pier. 

The kids wanted to go back about 3 times to play and thankfully, it was an easy walk from our hotel. Crown Fountain drew the kids in on day 1 - it was oppressively humid so we welcomed the cool down! Grayson was more obsessed with The Bean than Nia was; he ran all around it and through it looking at himself and striking silly poses. 

Maggie Daley Playground was the highlight and while there were some death defying structures, the fact that Nia could keep tabs on Grayson while climbing gave me some peace of mind. A warning though: there are SO many blind spots/hidden corners that you could easily lose your kids in. If you're used to the fenced in, one gate in/out typical of Boston and NYC playgrounds this is NOT it! 

Besides this favorites' list, I also met up with a couple friends while we were in town: a Wellesley College classmate (it was the first time our kids met!), and an online mama friend who I met for the first time IRL. I love how social media keeps us connected until our next visit!

Have you ever been to Chicago? What are your favorite things to do there?