It has been a busy week. So busy that the only way I'm going to catch up on all the things we did is if we just stop doing things for a few weeks.
And I'm exhausted from my week of vacation. Not in a way that I want to go back to work, but in a way that I want another week of vacation.
We did make it to Chicago. And it was fabulous. Everyone had told us it was going to be, but it was so much better than I had thought.
We had so many plans...aquarium, museums, city, restaurants, beach. With only three days, we were pushing it just a little bit. we managed to fit it all in without completely overdoing ourselves. And each day could be its own post, but I'm combining the entire trip into a single lengthy post, so bear with me as I gush about our Windy City adventures.
We had planned on buying the CityPass, because it seemed like the affordable way to get all four of us into all the attractions we wanted without bankrupting us. But Chicago has other plans.
Our first day, we showed up at the Museum of Science and Industry (yes, my boys were more excited about this than anything else. They still say it was their favorite thing. We're a weird family.) When we went to buy our tickets, we were told it was a free day at the museum. So we decided to buy the CityPass at the next museum.
The Museum of Science and Industry was amazing. From the storm room where they made mini tornadoes, tsunamis, and avalanches to the huge model trains, it had my boys happy for hours. It was hard to get them to leave.
The next day, we went to the Field Museum.
And again, we were told it was free admission, courtesy of Target.
While the boys loves the exhibits about animals and dinosaurs, they weren't too sure about the Ancient Egyptian exhibit with the mummies. They latched onto Hubster and myself out of fear. My hand lost all feeling about half way through.
After lunch (of Chicago hot dogs, of course!), we went to the Shedd Aquarium. And, you guess it...it was free. It's like we planned it, or something (which we didn't. I'm not nearly that pulled together. Although we did pay extra for the "extra" exhibits at the aquarium...after all, they had beluga whales!)
While the boys may have liked dinosaurs and trains best, this was my favorite place.
The only attraction we ended up paying full price for was our trip to the top of the Sears-now-Willis Tower. Which was worth every cent.
All our friends are always talking about how wonderful the restaurants are in Chicago, and the selection. While going to an actual "nice" restaurant is still out of the question with Bug and Monkey in tow, we did decide to take them to RainForest Cafe.
With the jungle theme, we thought they would love it. Um, not so much. Bug was terrified of the animatronic animals and the "thunder storms." Monkey was so overwhelmed by the noise and surroundings that he didn't eat. It was probably sensory overload at the end of a long day.
Our last day, (after picking up my mom from the airport! Yeah! She has spent the whole week with us!) we went to Lincoln Park Zoo. Now, in the west at least, the idea of a free city zoo is just unheard of. When I heard the Lincoln Park Zoo was free, I was first surprised, and second, sceptical. How good can a free zoo be?
Well, pretty great, it turns out. It was such a great way to spend the last day in the city.
For me, the biggest surprise of the entire trip was Lake Michigan. With the third largest city in the U.S. on it's shores, I was expecting a smelly, dirty, ugly lake. Not the case. The water was beautiful, the beaches clean. We spent every evening of our three day trip at the lake, watching the boys splash in the waves, picking up sea glass, and relaxing.
Chicago is an amazing city. A city that feels cleaner and safer than I expected. One that feels like the people who live there take care of and are proud of.
Like Hubster said, "If you could get past the traffic and the parking and the noise, Chicago would be a great place to live." So basically, if we can get past the 12 million people living there...
We had a great trip...but I'll take quiet and small town most days...with a little city life now and then.