Written by Amy Peck.
Picture this, Grandma, Mother & 2 sons taking a trip to Chicago for Spring Break. Well that is exactly what we did this year. My sons Zach & Max were just itching to go somewhere and since Dad had to work I thought that a couple of days in Chicago would be fun. Of course Zach “knew” he had been there before, even though it was when we were pregnant with him 10 years ago.
Both my mother and I had taken the train before to Chicago, but the boy’s never had. They were very excited and neither one of them slept much the night before we left. We decided to take the train from Battle Creek, due to better time options and really encountered only one problem, parking. The train station only has about a handful of spaces, so I ended up finding a public ramp next to the station and it is only $3 per day. The boys loved the train, especially the dinning car. Since they are used to long car rides with just a cooler of whatever mom packs, they were thrilled at the choices.
When we were approaching Chicago and you could start to see the skyline, Max was full of questions about how the buildings were built. Max at 7 years old, loves to build and design things, just like his Grandpa. Well the train station was another experience. With so many people, so many exits and so much activity the boys were in awe. I thought what happened next was just priceless, the cab ride to the hotel. Zach & Max have never been in a cab, so the whole process fascinated them. Our cab driver did not disappoint. It was fast and scary but too bad my camera was packed.
We chose the Best Western River North hotel mainly because it has an indoor pool on the 7th floor and it turned out to be in a great location. It is on the corner of Ohio and LaSalle and is just a few blocks from Michigan Ave. The hotel is moderate with not a lot of amenities, although it does have a restaurant. I think the biggest draw besides the pool is that the hotel has free parking. It seemed to me after talking to people that that was a big selling point.
Our first priority that afternoon was to get to the Lego store. We also had on our list Niketown and FAO Schwartz. Well I was shocked to learn that FAO Schwartz had gone bankrupt and it was tough explaining how mom could have made such a mistake. The Lego store is pure heaven for anyone that likes to build. But I found the displays even more amazing. A full replica of the White House, a man sitting on a bench with a birds nest on his head, a huge spider dangling from the ceiling and this was all outside of the store. The displays inside the store were equally fun. This was a store that we actually went to again before we left Chicago so my mom could see it.
On day 2 the attraction was the T-Rex Sue at the Field Museum. I never truly imagined how large these animals were and to see this thing up close was well worth the trip. The boys were for one of the first times speechless and my mom and I just sat and watched their expressions. In fact the entire museum is a trip in itself and I know we missed some things. The detail in the exhibits made it exciting. One exhibit in particular was of Whitetail Deer standing while trying to find food under the snow. Well when you looked at the prints in the fake snow they traveled from just behind the deer up and into the painted mural on the wall. My mother being an artist was truly impressed with this attention to detail and it became sort of a game to locate these things. Well we were tired and hungry by the end of today but we still had to go to the gift shop and buy some treasures.
We decided to go to the Rain Forest Café for dinner, mainly because it is only 1 block from the hotel and it looked like fun. It really feels like you have just walked into the jungle and every inch of this place is covered with something. The place was busy and so we spent our waiting time shopping in the gift area. I think we spent more on stuff than on dinner but oh well, we were on vacation. The restaurant is really geared towards families. With all of the jungle noises, elephants trumpeting and gorillas beating their chests it is hard to carry a conversation. It was a fun busy place that we would go back to.
Unfortunately we had to go home, but not before we made stops at Crate & Barrel, the Hancock Observatory, the Cheesecake Factory and of course the Navy Pier. Zach and I have decided that we have to go back this fall and hope that Soldier Field is finished with its remodeling and Max wants to go back to the Lego Store. It was a wonderful trip and grandma survived traveling with 2 very energetic young men.