(yep, still haven't come up with a better name...I'm open to suggestions)
Have you noticed the sweet button that's been hanging out on my sidebar this month? If you click on it, it will take you to my friend Olivia's blog.
But before you head over there, you should totally read the guest post she's written here!
Hi! I’m Olivia and I blog over at Of Such is the Kingdom. I’m one of those eclectic bloggers—a little food, a little frugality, a little activity, a little philosophy, and little of all of the above. I’ve been blogging more about food lately; I think that’s because my three children are trying to eat us out of the house. The more I can bake and cook at home, the better I feel about our finances and our health.
I am thrilled to be guest blogging for Molly today, but when she gave me my assignment of “What to do with kids in Chicago,” I had no idea how challenging I would find my homework! There is a lot to do in Chicago. I could have planned an entire month, but I settled for preparing for our family’s someday week-long trip to Molly’s city.
Be forewarned: I’m a spendthrift, so our entire week in Chicago for a family of five is under $2200.
Where to stay:
Since I’m trying to keep this as real as possible, I’d have to say that accommodations are pretty much a non-negotiable with our family. We have a MUCH better time on vacation if the children have a separate bedroom, but we hate to break the bank on a place to stay (leaving no $$$ for the fun stuff).
So what’s a family like ours to do? Look outside the box for that good night’s rest, that’s for sure! There are great options at vrbo.com. Some of the two or three bedroom apartments very close to downtown are around $1500 for the week. (One of them even mentioned they’d be willing to negotiate. I’d say that by turning on the charm, I might be able to get that number down to $1250.)
This is totally amazing to me, since a hotel room costs around $200 a night. Yes, you heard me right. That is one room, 2 beds and cranky kids for MORE money than a peaceful vacation. ‘Nuff said.
After doing a little research on the www, I realized quickly that a 3-day Go Chicago Card would probably be a good thing. This is a lot of money right up front, but that will cover A LOT of touring in the city. A 3 day card for each family member totals to $484.45 . So anything below marked *GCC is already paid for by the card.
What to do:
With kiddos, there is a scary balance between boredom and crazy over-exhilaration. Either one has dire consequences. On the one side, you deal with whining and irritability, and the on the other, you deal with spaz children who either conk out in the middle of the street or stay up jumping on their bed all night. Just take my word for it; you do not want to go to either extreme!
Since our regular daily routine includes an afternoon rest time, when we’re on vacation, we try to keep somewhat to that schedule. Now, this does not mean returning to our nice little vrbo condo every day while we pretend that our kids pretend to nap. No, it just means planning some “down” activities into the afternoon. And yes, with the kiddos, we would try to return to our rooms earlier than the average city tourist might, just so that we will be able to enjoy the next day as well.
Here’s a rundown of a hypothetical week in Chicago with three children:
Arrive in the Windy City. Check into vrbo condo, make ourselves comfortable, walk out/order in some deep dish. (The momma can’t wait for that one.) Get some shut eye.
AM church and market for picnic and snack food for the week
PM Lincoln Park Zoo—free ($2.75/per kid carousel ride), picnic in Lincoln Park
9:15am Be at the Museum of Science and Industry when the doors open. *GCC
Check out the coal mine, Pioneer Zephyr train ride, fairy castle, amazing pinball machine, chicks hatching and idea factory. We don’t usually do souvenirs, but I hear that the ToyMaker 3000 is worth it. Five dollars for a toy made by robots to your own specifications as you watch sounds pretty cool!
12:30pm Picnic somewhere outside the museum.
1:30pm Head to Navy Pier where we can ride 5 rides each with our Go Chicago Card. Then find the Tall Windy Ship and take a ride. This will be a fun and entertaining way to relax for an hour or so while still going right on with the tourist thing.
5pm Pick up a bike at the Bike Chicago Navy Pier office and bike south, finding a picnic spot for dinner.
7pm Head back to condo for R and R.
8:45am Be at the Sky Deck before the doors open. Head up to check out the interactive exhibits and the beautiful view of morning Chicago. My older two would love the fact that there is a printable scavenger hunt for things you can see from the top. And of course standing on the top of the world on a glass ledge will be almost too exciting for a mother’s heart. *GCC
12:00 A quick walk would take us to Salseria for a Chicago take on Mexican. Waiting for food counts as a rest.
3pm Legoland! The land my kids would be waiting for! *GCC Purchase snacks inside Legoland.
7pm Head back to condo for dinner and more R and R (it is vacation!)
9am Spend the day at Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium *GCC
We'd probably spend an extra $10/person for one of the shows and have a picnic lunch outside.
6pm Eat at Butcher and the Burger
AM at beach—maybe the Kathy Osterman Beach
PM at Millennium Park catching the 1pm family performance and then heading over to the Family Fun Activity Zone for the day’s activity.
AM—shopping—American Girl Place and more
PM—game at Wrigley field On a perfect vacation, this would be a Cubs/Cardinals game and we would be that family that sits way in the top decked head to foot in Cardinals’ gear.
Pack up and say good-bye! Head back south.
So there you have it. I’m sure there are a lot of holes in this plan—like where to park and how to get from place to place via public transit, but at least you have the idea.
Someday we’ll make this trip for sure, and I promise to wave at each and every one of you as we enjoy this beautiful city.
I’m guessing there are some Chicagoans reading…
Where would you send a family of five in Chicago?