Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A mini-vacation

We haven't had a real vacation in years. This summer has been crazy, with Chris gone for two weeks for work, but we decided we really needed to take the boys somewhere, even if it was only for a couple of days.

Cue a whirlwind tour of Chicago.

The view from our hotel.
We started Monday with a trip to a water park with Lisa and her boys. Chris and I even went on the water slides (I haven't done that in... I don't remember when). A few hours playing in the water wore Wil and Sam out; Sam slept on the trip downtown.

After checking in at the hotel (the Hyatt Regency on Wacker Drive, which we would definitely go back to), we took a taxi ride to the tower formerly known as Sears. The boys wanted to see a skyscraper. Seeing the view from the top of one was beyond exciting for them.  

The view from 103 stories up, through the floor.

Tuesday morning we were treated to a view of window washers. They were on a building across the river. Between the window washers and the spiders outside the Willis Tower windows, the boys were in awe of things up high. 

Window washers, as seen from our hotel room.
Highlights of the hotel, since the boys had such fun feedback: Wil loved the bathroom. They both loved the view. Sam really liked the escalator, although Wil preferred the elevator.

So how many museums can we go to in one day? 

We started with the Field Museum of Natural History.
All three of my boys in front of Sue.
The boys were really only interested in the dinosaurs there, so we moved on to the Shedd Aquarium. It was incredibly busy, with a line out the door and down the stairs. Luckily, we had purchased CityPasses the previous night, which offered admission to 5 attractions, including express entry. We got to go right in, skipping ahead of the hundreds of people lined up baking in the heat.

Next up was the Museum of Science and Industry, a big part of why we chose to go to Chicago.

Watching a 1/3 scale Mars Rover model.
 The Henry Crown Space Center was very popular with our space loving boys.

They also enjoyed the Farm Tech exhibit.

Sitting in the cab of a combine.
 After watching the model train from every possible angle and a brief stop at the Science Storms exhibit, it was on to the reason Chris and I wanted to go - Mythbusters: The Explosive Exhibition.
Sitting on a swing supported by interleaved phone books.
 Wil's favorite was building a house to see if it could withstand wind. (Three Little Pigs - straw vs. wood vs. brick)
Wil building his 3rd design. 
  Then he had to test it:

Chris and Sam each tried pulling a table cloth without knocking over dishes.

There were many other myths to test, along with props and items from the show. 

Our last stop was the 727. Sam was thrilled to see the cockpit and sit in the seats. But by this point, we were all tired and ready to head home. 

If you were keeping track, we stopped at 3 museums in one day. Buying the CityPass was a great idea. We had planned to stop at 3 of the attractions (Willis Tower, Field Museum and Museum of Science & Industry). Without it, we wouldn't have stopped at the Shedd Aquarium (between expense and the long line). We saved money by using it, and would have saved more if we had spent more time and taken advantage of all the options. We skipped the Adler Planetarium, which would have been our 5th attraction. 

We'll definitely look into CityPass if we go to one of the other cities that offers one and next time we plan a museum tour of Chicago. And we'll definitely go back to Chicago to spend more time at the museums, but not until the boys are a little older and can appreciate more of the exhibits.

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