Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Summer Vacation 2014 : Chi-Ca-Ca-Go! (Part 2)

Here are some of the other things we did while in Chicago.
We started one day by venturing over to Skydeck Chicago.  We had a CityPass that we expected to be useful in skipping the line, but the crowd was so thin first thing in the morning that the pass was pointless.  This was a fun experience for all of us.
Marlie sat my phone down on the floor of the observation glass and took this cool picture looking straight down.

We grabbed some Chicago dogs from Portillo's for lunch and even though I don't typically eat some of the toppings, everything together was SO good!  
For Father's Day we got my dad a behind the scenes tour of Wrigley and Bryan had the honor of getting to be his sidekick.    

We were able to visit the Art Institute of Chicago one morning.  It was also a Blue Star Museum so our family was able to visit it for free.  I'm sure it was an awesome museum, but it just wasn't a good fit for us with two young children.  There was a nice children's room but that is pretty much where we spent most of our time in the museum.

We took the girls to Millennium Park to see Cloud Gate and play in Crown Fountain.

On our last night in Chicago, my parents were kind enough to offer to watch the girls so Bryan & I could have a date night.  Chinatown was our dinner destination!  We enjoyed dinner at one of the top rated restaurants in Chinatown but I think it was top rated because it was your typical Americanized cuisine.  It was good though so I'm not complaining.

When Marlie found out there was a huge American Girl store in Chicago, she started asking us if she could have a doll.  I was not willing to purchase one, so she got smart and asked my parents next.  She had an awesome trip to American Girl Place with her Nana & Pop and they bought Marlie her first American Girl doll.  
On our last day in Chicago, we visited the planetarium, aquarium and finally got to go to the "beach"!  

Our whole family loved Chicago and I hope we have a chance to go back one day - maybe even kid free!
In my next post, I'll share which hotel we stayed at in Chicago (and highly recommend), what I wish we would have done, and what we did on our way back to Kansas.

You can read Part 1 of our Chicago vacation here : Summer Vacation 2014 : Chi-Ca-Ca-Go! (Part 1)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Summer Vacation 2014 : Chi-Ca-Ca-Go! (Part 1)

Bryan only had one week between graduating CGSOC and the start of SAMS so we had to quickly squeeze in a summer vacation.  We really wanted to go to the beach, but living in the middle of the country makes that a little difficult.  We were indecisive for a while, but we finally opted to go to Chicago for the week.  
Since we spent most of Monday driving, we decided to save a little money and spend the night in Aurora (a suburb of Chicago) rather than paying for our room downtown just to sleep in.  We made it to Hampton Inn & Suites just before dinner.  We checked in and went to grab something to eat at Panera Bread.  After dinner we made our way over to Oberweis Dairy Store to try their ice cream!  I hate that ice cream shops are so hard to find these days, so we all loved this place!

Once our bellies were full, we decided it was time for some fun in the hotel pool since we had been sitting in the car all day.  This Hampton had an awesome pool area!  There was a shallow kiddie pool with water spraying everywhere and the frog slide pictured below.  This pool was gated because there was another deeper pool right beside it, along with a hot tub.  This was one of the best indoor hotel pool areas I've ever been to and the girls loved it.    

On Tuesday morning we had the complimentary breakfast at the hotel before driving into the city.  The breakfast itself was pretty standard but I really appreciated the little touches for kids.  They had small kids plastic cups with lids and straws, along with coloring pages and crayons.    

After breakfast, we loaded back up in the car and drove to Chicago's Museum of Science + Industry.  MSI is a Blue Star Museum so we loved that they allowed us free admission.  Bryan & I found the museum very interesting and there was enough to keep Marlie intrigued.  

As for the 2 year old, she was mostly content walking around and pushing buttons.  And sometimes just lying down...  
After a few hours at MSI, we got back into the car and drove to our hotel to check in.  We let Em take a nap and my parents came to meet up with us.  Later that afternoon, we all went on a Chicago River Architecture Tour with Wendella Boats.  A few different companies offer the river cruises and we chose Wendella because their time was most convenient for us.  We ended up very pleased that we chose them.  When Bryan went to purchase our tickets, the lady working at the booth noticed his military ID.  She allowed him to ride for free and since Emma was free due to her age, we only had to pay for Marlie & I.  Originally we had second thoughts about taking the cruise because it had the potential to be so expensive for the four of us.  We really appreciate that Wendella made it affordable for our littlest one and our soldier.  Our group ranged in age from our 2 year old to my "senior" parents and we all loved the cruise!

We closed out our first day in Chicago by eating dinner at Pizzeria Uno.  I'm typically a plain cheese pizza girl, but we ordered two Numero Uno pizzas.  That was my first time having an authentic deep dish pizza and they were so good.  We all stuffed ourselves but still had plenty of pizza leftover to eat throughout the week.  

That was a quick recap of our first full day in Chicago.  The rest of our trip will be coming soon!