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I'm going to buy a CityPass. What shouldn't I miss?

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Manchester, England
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I'm going to buy a CityPass. What shouldn't I miss?

I'm flying out to Chicago on Friday with my 13 year old son and have decided to buy a CityPass. Now we're only in Chicago until Tuesday so might not get to go everywhere. I was thinking we'd definitely go up the Hancock Tower and to the Field Museum. I'd also planned on going to the Science Museum, but an earlier reviewer was unimpressed so I'd appreciate some comments on this.

That leaves the Art Museum & The Shedd Aquarium. We'll probably go to the Shedd, but I'm not sure whether Art will appeal to my Philistine son. What about the Planetarium?

Actually, the more I think about this, the more unsure I am. So I suppose what I'm asking is where you'd recommend in particular and in what order. Where should I definitely go and what is missable?

Thanks as ever.

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Chicago, IL
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1. Re: I'm going to buy a CityPass. What shouldn't I miss?

What's a must and what's missable is definitely a matter of personal choice. It really will depend on what you and your son's interests are. Everything on the City Pass is a top notch attraction if you enjoy that particular kind of museum/attraction.

Sounds like you've already decided on the Hancock & Field.

The Shedd Aquarium is the world's largest aquarium and if your son is into fish, it's an excellent aquarium. It's right next door to the Field so you can combine the two in one day. Both the Field and Shedd have dining options, the Field has a Corner Bakery and the Shedd has a cafe. The City Pass includes the Oceanarium and Wild Reef.

The Planetarium is also supposed to be excellent but if you and your son are not into stars and planets it might be a snooze for you. I haven't been there since I was a kid.

The Art Institute is fabulous, since you have the pass, why not expose your son to a little art? Who knows maybe he might enjoy it! :-) The impressionist collection is especially good.

The Museum of Science & Industry is a lot of kid's favorite museum. There is a genuine German U505 submarine that you can tour, a coal mine, body slices, an Omnimax theater (included on pass) and lots of other hands on stuff. The only issue with this museum is that it is not physically located near the other museums. The special exhibit there, Body Worlds, is not included on the City Pass.

The Field, Shedd and Adler are all within walking distance. The Art Institute is not too far from the others, I'm sure I've walked it or you can find public transport.

One thing to consider, if the weather is supposed to be nice while you are here, all of these attractions are indoors. There are a lot of fun things to do in Chicago that are outdoors like boat rides and a couple of zoos, riding/walking the lakefront, Millennium Park. You might just want to see a couple of those things once you see what the weather is like. Just a thought....

BTW, the Art Institute is free every Tuesday if you decide not to get the Pass.

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2. Re: I'm going to buy a CityPass. What shouldn't I miss?

Hi Matt (or Kat)

I hope you really enjoy your trip to Chicago. It's a great city to visit!

Regarding your question:

1) Hancock Tower is pretty nice (if you're hungry, I suggest the Cheesecake Factory on the ground floor -or- Foodlife located next door at the Watertower Place.) The Hancock Center is open until 11pm, so I suggest seeing it the first day you are there.

2) The Science Museum is my personal favorite museum in Chicago. I enjoy it so much, I paid to become a member of the Museum. It is a lot of fun and you can plan on spending a whole day there (at least I can.) If you plan on seeing IMAX, I suggest even more that you plan the whole day there.

3) If you want to do a full day of Museums. I suggest seeing the Field Musuem, Art Institute, and the Planetarium. All three are extremely close to one another and are very easy to walk. Regarding your son, since the price of the Art Institute is included in the City Pass, just hop in. If you teenager is bored out of his mind. just walk out and walk over to the Shedd.

PS- The Art Institute allows free admission on Tuesdays, so it will be one of the more crowded days.

Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Once again, welcome to Chicago!

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3. Re: I'm going to buy a CityPass. What shouldn't I miss?

hey mattnkatsmum,

I'm debating whether or not to even buy the citypass. We will hopefully be in chicago the end of october. We want to see the shedd, hancock, lincoln park zoo and then the museum of science of industry. We actually visit chicago at least once a year to take in the museums. The last time we went we saw the Field Museum and 3 hours wasn't really enough for us to see the entire building. There were so many interesting exhibits and our two children had a great time also. However, the museum of science and industry is the one we have visited more than once.

I agree with the one poster who said "it depends on what you really want to see". I must also say that I'm sure you won't be dissapointed with any museum in chicago. Go to the web sites of the different museums and read up on the attractions/exhibits and hopefully that should help you make a decision.

Chicago, IL
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4. Re: I'm going to buy a CityPass. What shouldn't I miss?

For a 13 year old, I would say the Shedd Aquarium & the Museum of Science and Industry are MUST DO'S. Those are the only museums that my neice cares for....she finds the others dreadfully boring and refuses to go back.

She really likes the MSI because there is alot of hands on stuff there to keep her busy all day long. She also really loves the IMAX theatre and we go to see all of the movies they play. She loves them all so we keep going back everytime they bring in another movie.

The Body works exhibit is truly mind blowing and she was so facinated by it she's talking about becoming a Dr. now......(she's 14 years old and a B+ student)

Here is the link to their website:


If you do the Shedd, might as well also do the planetarium since it's so close and won't take all day to do both.

I took my neice to the Art Institute and she didn't care for it & now won't go to the Museum of Contemporary Art....which I actually think she would like if she would go, but she really doesn't understand the difference between the types of art that both have.

Arlington, Virginia
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5. Re: I'm going to buy a CityPass. What shouldn't I miss?

I took my son to Chicago last year when he was 13 and we used a City Pass too. Here were his favorites in order of preference:

1. Field Museum

2. Museum of Science and Industry

3. Shedd Aquarium

4. Hancock Building

5. Adler Planetarium

6. Art Institute

The Field Museum and the Museum of Science and Industry were really a tie, but ever since my son saw the movie "The Ghost and the Darkness", he has wanted to see the Lions of Tsavo which are at the Field Museum. So that's why it's listed first. They are both first-rate museums and you should definitely visit them. He thought the Shedd Aquarium was very good and that the views from the Hancock Building were pretty neat. We both thought the Adler Planetarium was boring (and I even studied astronomy in college!). While I loved the Art Institute, he tolerated a couple of hours there for my behalf. He did, however, find the exhibit of arms and armour which was there interesting.

Swartz Creek
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6. Re: I'm going to buy a CityPass. What shouldn't I miss?

good thread.

Swartz Creek
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7. Re: I'm going to buy a CityPass. What shouldn't I miss?

good thread.

Barnstable, MA
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8. Re: I'm going to buy a CityPass. What shouldn't I miss?

The go San Diego Card is also a good deal, I think there are kids prices for the 13 and below kids. It includes the Handcock Tower, Field Museum, Art Museum, Shedd Aquarium and the Planetarium. Also, the attractions at Navy Pier, too. I think some miss-able things would be the Art museum if he's not into Art---but he would really enjoy Navy Pier, the IMAX and Lincoln Park Zoo.