As stated in the previous post, we had to table our original Spring Break plans when our kids’ school instituted a 10-day quarantine (independent of test results) for out-of-state travel. It all worked out in the long run though because that particular week ended up being quite busy at work for both Clay and I so the two of us only taking a few days off for our 3-night staycation in Chicago ended up being preferable to our original week-long plans. Our first 36 hours in Chicago had us checking into our hotel in The Loop, eating dinner at The Roanoke, exploring Millennium Park, going to the top of 875 North Michigan Avenue (formally known as the John Hancock Building), eating lunch at Billy Goats Tavern, shopping on the Magnificent Mile, enjoying crazy shakes at JoJo’s Shake Bar, eating deep dish pizza at Giordano’s, and taking in Chicago at night. Here is how we spent the last 24 hours of our staycation in Chicago.
We started the morning by grabbing coffee at Mojo Coffee on the way to our car. Started in New Zealand in 2004, there are 40 cafes across New Zealand, China, and now Chicago (of all places). The coffee was delicious and we can’t wait to purchase whole beans to grind at home.
We had a mid-morning reservation for the Museum of Science and Industry so we hopped in the car and drove a handful of miles down Lake Shore Drive to the museum. We pre-purchased a year-long membership that is also valid for many other museums in the area and offers perks like free parking and access to special events. There isn’t really a quick public transportation option from The Loop (where our hotel was) to the Museum of Science and Industry so we made the decision to drive and take advantage of the free parking.
We spent four hours wandering the various exhibits. Almost everything was open and we were handed free styluses to use to push buttons and the like. Some interactive elements of the museum were closed due to COVID-19 but overall, it felt pretty normal. Some of our favorite things were the Tesla Coil, the U-505 Submarine (pictured), the Zephyr, and The Cycle of Life. We did learn to pack our lunch for the next time we visit because the cafeteria food options left a lot to be desired. Lesson learned!
We relaxed back at the hotel for a little while because setting off on our next adventure – a Chicago River Architecture Tour. We were on a 4:00pm tour and while it was chillier than normal, we still had an amazing time.
I am not kidding when I say it was the best tour we’ve ever been on. Our guide was wonderful and our son, Weston, enjoyed correctly answering the architecture trivia questions he peppered throughout the tour.
Weston loves all-things architecture and is quite knowledgeable about various structures around the world. It was a joy to see him throughly enjoying the tour and being in his element.
There was a full-service bar on board so Clay and I had beers while the kids drank hot chocolate to keep warm. The tour was 90-minutes long so after we disembarked from the boat, we headed over to our reservation at Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse in River North.
If you’re looking for a kid-friendly Chicago steakhouse that still offers great ambiance and fantastic food, I highly recommend Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse. The kids meals even come with a sundae served in either a keepsake Cubs or White Sox hat. Clay and I both remember eating such sundaes at the Ground Round during our childhoods so we were happy to see our children have the opportunity to eat sundaes out of tiny plastic hats.
We were sure to visit Frank Nitti’s Vault in the basement too!
It was close to 9pm when we finished dinner so we meandered back to our hotel and marveled at how beautiful Chicago is at night. We have about 15 months left being stationed in Chicagoland so our plan is to do a few more overnight trips and multiple day trips to American’s Second City before Uncle Sam gives us orders somewhere new.
We’ve been making the best of pandemic life but truth be told, it is really starting to wear on us and our mental health. We had a wonderful time on our Chicago staycation but it wasn’t nearly enough to satisfy our itch for travel. We have a few trips planned that involve airplanes once the kids finish school for the year but from now until mid-June we’re sticking with local-ish adventures accessible by car. I have faith that we will travel far again but in the meantime, we’ll do what we can with what we have.