We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Trip Report 7/7-7/10 with 2 & 4 Year Olds

Smithfield, Virginia
Level Contributor
429 posts
19 reviews
Save Topic
Trip Report 7/7-7/10 with 2 & 4 Year Olds

Hubby, our boys (ages 2 & 4) and myself went to Chicago from Thursday, July 7th – Sunday, July 10th. Since we stayed in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin the week before this, my husband and I were able to catch a Cubs/White Sox game July 1st at Wrigley. We drove into town and were running a little late, so we wanted to park as close as possible. We noticed people holding “parking” signs were ushering cars down the side streets, so that’s where we went. We got flagged down an alley and were parked in a single car garage behind apartments/condos. We ended up paying $30 to park and were just 2-4 blocks from the stadium. We sat about halfway between home plate and third base in the very last row of the stadium. It was fascinating to be in this stadium with so much history. While the game was going on, I googled Wrigley facts and read facts to my husband, learning what “Hey Hey” meant on the foul pole, how the ivy came about and other interesting things. I especially loved how people were watching the game from atop the buildings across the street. I thought it added so much character to the park. During the game I also had my first Italian beef sandwich (plain, since I don’t like peppers and onions). It was good and I made a mental note to get another Italian beef while in Chicago. Unfortunately, the Cubs lost, but we still had a great time.

Days 1-3 to follow in separate posts.

Smithfield, Virginia
Level Contributor
429 posts
19 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Trip Report 7/7-7/10 with 2 & 4 Year Olds

Day 1:

We arrived in Chicago with our family around noon on Thursday, July 7th. Our first stop was Giordano’s for their stuffed pizza. We called ahead and ordered a large stuffed pizza with sausage. We were able to find free parking on a side street near the restaurant. Right after we sat down and got our drinks, our pizza arrived. I strongly urge anyone with little kids to order ahead. It was great not having to entertain our kids for the 30+ minutes it takes to make the pizza. I am a huge cheese fan and as the waitress was placing each piece of pizza on our plates, the cheese was strung across the table and oozing out of the pizza. I was drooling then, as I am now reminiscing…what a sight! The pizza was really good and the toppings were generous. I believe it was the cornmeal crust, which we’ve never had before. The crust was our least favorite part of the pizza, but it wouldn’t stop me from going here again.

Once we finished up lunch, we got our leftovers boxed up and headed towards Wrigley Field for a tour. We parked in the lot next to the players’ lot (for free) and got our tickets for the 2 o’clock tour. We didn’t realize it was a 75 minute tour until after we had bought out tickets. We had about 45 minutes to wait, so we walked around the block and took pictures with the statues outside the stadium. Once the tour started, we did a lot of sitting in the stands listening to the tour guide talk. This didn’t go over well with our kids, so I worked hard to keep them quiet. The only areas we were allowed to see that couldn’t be seen by coming for a game were the press boxes and the dugout. Before we walked through the press area, the tour guide gave us a rundown about all we would be seeing. He said he had to do it this way because the hallways were too narrow to narrate as we walked. It was a little like, “First, you’ll see where so-and-so, the game announcer sits. Then you’ll see the organ. The organist has been with us for 30 years. And then…and then..and then…” It really was a lot to remember and certain things he mentioned I looked for, but did not see. After the press boxes, we walked around and sat in other areas of the stadium as the tour guide described renovations and other historical things that had taken place in the park. After we sat in the outfield bleachers, we walked around and were let in the home team dugout, which was neat. We were also allowed on the very near edge of the field for pictures. We were not allowed in either locker rooms this day because carpet was being replaced and a Cubs pitcher was in the park. Overall, we were disappointed with this tour. We have  been on several stadium tours and this one was the least exciting (and the most expensive at $25/each). But still - it IS Wrigley Field.

After the tour, we headed for our hotel, Embassy Suites Lakefront. On the way, the kids fell asleep, so we decided to drive around the city for a while. We ended up in the handicap drop off area at Soldier Field. My husband is a HUGE sports fan, so he jumped out and walked around the stadium to take pictures. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to get a peek at the actual field, but he still enjoyed being on the outside. Once he finished his walk (45 minutes later!), we headed to the hotel. We knew hotel parking was expensive, so we drove around the block to see our options. We saw that the hotel self parking lot was full, so we drove in to the valet/drop off area. I went inside to check in and asked the front desk about parking. They said there was an uncovered lot for $30/night right across the street, so I sent hubby off to check it out. Sure enough, he got in the lot and we saved a bunch of money by parking there.

We ended up on the 15th floor of the hotel, directly across the atrium from the elevator. This was a good spot to be because we didn’t get much foot traffic in front of our room. Our room had 2 double (or were they queen?) beds in the bedroom, with a nice view of the city. We let the kids have the bedroom, so we could stay up later in the living room area. We slept on the pull out couch, which wasn’t too comfy, but we survived. We got there in time for the evening manager’s reception. The line to the bar was very long, so we just had snacks and apple juice. They had several kinds of trail mixes, yogurt covered and frosted pretzels, raisins, chips and salsa.

After our snack, we headed out towards the Navy Pier. On the way there, we stopped at a Walgreens because someone on this board mentioned they had umbrella strollers for $15, but they were really $35. We decided that was too much and continued on our trek to the pier. It was Thursday, so the Children’s Museum was free from 5-8 this evening. We got there around 6 and it was very crowded, which is to be expected on a free night. My four year old loved the very first area, which is all about firemen. He got dressed up in a fireman suit (we had to wait a while to be able to make the completed outfit from the things the other kids were wearing), played on the truck and went through the “burning” house. He just would not leave this area, so I took our two year old to play in the grocery area, while my husband stayed with our four year old. While I was gone, my “fireman” collided with another boy in the burning house and ended up falling into a dresser and busted up his mouth. He had a pretty bad bloody tooth and the other kid busted up his knee. I’m not so sure how safe this burning house was, there was all kinds of craziness going on in there, which isn’t good when it’s hard to see where you’re going and no museum workers were in sight. Before the museum closed, we were able to check out a few other areas of the museum and really enjoyed it. I made a mental note that this would be a good back-up place in case of rain during the rest of our trip because I don’t think we even saw half of the place.

Once the museum closed, we headed out to look for food. I had planned on going to Portillo’s for dinner, but someone at a visitor’s info desk said it was quite a hike. A sit down restaurant wasn’t a good idea for our kids that late at night, so we ended up going to American’s Dog in the food court. We all got hotdogs and curly fries. They were just okay, which was fine with us, we were starving. We also had a side of mac n cheese. This was quite odd. It was noodles, covered with the liquid cheese they use on the hot dogs with some cheddar cheese sprinkled on top. I wouldn’t recommend it.

After we finished eating, we walked to the back of the pier. We went up to where the ferris wheel was and wondered how long it took to load everyone. Then my two year old saw the carousel and really wanted to ride it. We were surprised because usually he just goes with the flow and doesn’t ask for anything. So we were excited to ride. We found out we needed tickets, so I went in search for the ticket booth. There was only one open and the line was ridiculous. It would have taken at least 45 minutes to get tickets, which were $5/each. So, bummed, I had to go tell my little guy we couldn’t do it this night, but maybe we’d come back. On the way out, we passed a little train that was only $2/ride so the boys rode that and were happy.

We walked back towards the hotel and decided to stop back at Walgreens to buy one stroller. My husband was okay carrying one of the boys on his shoulders the whole trip, but I couldn’t do it. I was a wimp! Buying one stroller turned out to be a mistake, because the boys fought over who got to sit in it a lot. Oh well, live and learn.

We got back to the hotel and crashed for the night.

pgo
Chicago
Destination Expert
for Chicago
Level Contributor
7,206 posts
17 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Trip Report 7/7-7/10 with 2 & 4 Year Olds

Please post your follow up days as replies to this post. That way, your report will stay together and can be read all at once.

Smithfield, Virginia
Level Contributor
429 posts
19 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Trip Report 7/7-7/10 with 2 & 4 Year Olds

Day 2:

We got ourselves gathered and headed down to breakfast around 8. Embassy Suites has the make to order breakfast and boy are there a lot of options! The line for the make to order omelets, biscuits and gravy and other options was entirely too long of a wait so we hit the line with the fewer options. Our choices were pancakes, sausage, bacon, potatoes, scrambled eggs, cereal, yogurt, bananas and doughnuts. Our drink options were milk or orange juice. There were more options in the make to order line, but I’m not sure what all they had because I never made it in that line.

We ate our breakfast and headed out to catch a cab. My four year old thought this was the coolest thing and during this trip, I taught him how to do it. He thought he was soo cool!! We took the cab to the Lincoln Park Zoo and got there at about 9:15. I remembered that the zoo didn’t open until 10 so we walked over to the fountain near the entrance and the kids played there. I noticed people were walking in the zoo so I asked someone when it opened and she said she thought it was 9! I still don’t understand it (I even rechecked the website), but we went in anyways. We walked around a while and saw some animals. I noticed most buildings did not open til 10 and after 10, we saw lots more animals. For whatever reason, our boys were grouchy this morning. I had my four year old in the stroller, he was sucking his thumb and we were in the monkey building. This one monkey came down from up high, sat in front of my son and started sucking his thumb too. It was soo funny! I managed to get a picture of the monkey, but my son had stopped sucking his thumb as soon as I pointed it out. While at the zoo, we came across a carousel, cheaper than the one at Navy Pier, so we all took a spin on that. By 12:30 we had seen just about all the animals and exited the zoo in search of RJ Grunts. We were standing on the street corner outside the zoo and I was in the process of urging my husband to ask some joggers if they knew which way RJ Grunts was when a local approached us and pointed us in the right direction. During our entire trip we found locals to be very helpful and friendly.

To get to RJ Grunts, we just needed to cross over to the next street parallel to the zoo, turn left and walk for a  block or two. Piece of cake. When we entered the restaurant I noticed a sign on the door saying “Please use revolving door” but since I was pushing a stroller I ignored the sign. Why are these signs so common in Chicago anyways? Once inside, the hostess showed us where to put the stroller since it couldn’t be at our table and another lady (the manager?) said, “No more strollers!” I thought that was a little rude. Also, while we were waiting in line to be seated, other groups that came in behind us were seated first, which I was a little offended at. We got seated at our table and from here on, everything was great. The menu was very extensive and the food was excellent. I got buffalo chicken nachos and my hubby got a barbeque burger I believe. For the kids, they had these neat little cup tops that prevented them from spilling when they knocked over their drinks. They fit right into normal drink glasses. Wish I had thought of that idea! The kids also got a fun toy with their meals, which were entertaining for both the kids and adults. They were fun enough, they even made the trip back to Virginia with us!

After lunch, we walked back a block to a playground we had passed on the way to lunch. It had a smaller playground for toddlers and a pretty big playground for the older kids. Shortly after we got there, a busload of preschool age kids got dropped off and my four year old was in heaven. He made a friend and I spun them on the tire swing for quite some time. Eventually we left the playground and caught a taxi back to the hotel for naps.

After naps, we decided to go to the John Hancock Observatory. We had the hardest time finding an unoccupied taxi! We walked for blocks and blocks until we ended up on Michigan Avenue, then we hit the jackpot. We hailed a taxi and made it to “Big John”. As we’re entering the building, my husband went to take some pictures and realized the camera card was full! He ran into Best Buy, which is right in the same building while I took the kids down and purchased our tickets for the observatory. We enjoyed the observatory very much although I thought the SkyWalk was a bit of a joke. If anything, I think it hindered our experience because the wiring on the windows obstructed our views and looked bad in the pictures. They did have a neat (free) photo op in the observatory though. Our family got inside a set that made it look like we were sky high, washing windows. A nice passerby offered to take our picture for us. There is also a nice café in the observatory with drinks and snacks. They had tables and chairs to enjoy the view while eating. The only thing we noticed we couldn’t see from the observatory that I think you can see from Willis Tower is the U.S. Cellular Field (White Sox stadium). We really had a great time at John Hancock Observatory and would highly recommend.

After Big John, it was time for dinner. We decided on doing something quick since it was getting late. We went to the Rock N Roll McDonald’s on Clark Street. I must admit, I was disappointed. It was not what I expected. We walked in and there’s not many people there, no music playing downstairs, no immediately visible “Rock N Roll” anything. Although it was huge, I wondered if we were at the right place. Once we got our food, we rode the escalator upstairs, where rock n roll music was playing. Still not many people up there and other than the music, not too much happening for the senses. There were a few cases with some memorabilia and some flat screen TVs, but it really wasn’t what I had imagined. I would not recommend people go out of their way to visit this place unless you’re a McD’s junkie.

After McDonald’s, we walked back to the hotel and called it a night.

Smithfield, Virginia
Level Contributor
429 posts
19 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Trip Report 7/7-7/10 with 2 & 4 Year Olds

Day 3:

We woke up Saturday morning and headed down for breakfast, again the line was too long for the make to order breakfast, so we did the fewer option line and headed out for Millennium Park.

With a quick look at a map, I had thought I knew where I was going. It was hot out! We walked down towards the Navy Pier and turned right. We had gone too far, so we had to back track some. Did I mention how hot it was outside?? We ended up walking down Lake Shore Drive (LSD) and there were so many runners, walkers, cyclists, it was really a neat thing. We stayed on LSD until Monroe Street, when I thought I finally saw Millennium Park. It looked like there was a fair going on, so we walked through. I was looking for Cloud Gate or the Crown Fountain but all I saw was a big concert pit looking thing. My husband ended up asking vendor where we were and she informed us we had passed Millennium Park! We ended up being in Grant Park and they were having the Gold Coast Air Fair. We kept going, so I could see the Buckingham Fountain. We had driven by it on our first night and I got a quick glance, but I wanted to stop and see it. It was the most beautiful fountain I’ve ever seen!! We missed the hourly show by 10 minutes and I would have loved to see it at night, but I still enjoyed it in all its glory.

After I got all the pictures my heart desired, we headed back towards Millennium Park. We made it a point to see Cloud Gate (the bean) first. I was impressed! I had seen it in pictures, but it was much larger than I thought it was going to be! We took lots of pictures here and headed over to the Crown Fountain, which wasn’t far at all. The boys had a blast playing in the fountains. We had to keep reminding them to walk because the wet ground was slippery with their bare feet and kids were falling. We weren’t sure where to change the kids into dry clothes and looked around to see what other parents were doing. A lot of them were just changing their kids between the bench and the bushes right behind it, so we followed suit.

At this point, we were starving for some good food. We did a quick browse around and didn’t find anything we wanted to eat, so we grabbed a taxi and decided to try Portillo’s on Ontario. Boy am I glad we did this! I’m not sure what I was expecting, but this place was so much more! When we walked in, a worker handed us two menus. One for the hotdog place and one for the Italian (pasta, pizza) place. She explained there was one line for the hotdogs and another line for the Italian. The line looked long to me, so I grabbed hubby and the kids’ orders and got in line while they found a table. I was in and out of the order line in 5 minutes. It was fast! Hubby went to the pick-up counter to wait for our food. I ordered an Italian beef (with cheese) sandwich, hubby got a bacon burger and the kids got cheese dogs with a side of onion rings. It was about 5-10 minutes before our food was ready and this was during lunch hour. The place was packed, which to me means it’s probably pretty tasty! Although the main dining room was pretty full, there was also another room behind the stairs and it looked like you could also eat upstairs. Our food was delicious and the atmosphere was great. If I ever make it back to Chicago, I want to go here again!

After lunch, we went back to the hotel for some much needed naps. When the kids woke up, we decided we needed to end our trip with some Chicago deep dish pizza. We wanted to try Lou Malnati’s, so we gave them a call to order ahead. They explained they were not taking call ahead orders because there was a one hour wait. We thought this over and decided it would be best to order delivery. Some of you locals may be rolling your eyes at this point, but I believe this was our best option. There is no way our boys would hang out for an hour to be seated and another 45 minutes to get our pizza at the restaurant. Anyways, we ordered one of their specials. We ordered the “Malnati’s Chicago Classic”, which was described as having lean sausage, some extra cheese and vine ripened tomato sauce. They said it would be about an hour and ten minutes to deliver. So we took that opportunity to go to the hotel pool for a swim. I brought our two year old back up to the room about 45 minutes after we placed the order and the delivery guy was waiting at our hotel room door! I was super excited, paid him and dug into the pizza. I’m sorry to say, the pizza was not what I was hoping for. I’m guessing it would have been much better if we had eaten in, so I will keep this in mind for our next visit. I was disappointed in the amount of cheese (I thought it’d be more), the bottom crust was soggy and the “sauce” on top of the pizza just seemed like tomato chunks…not much sauce. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t horrible and I preferred the butter crust to the cornmeal crust at Giordano’s, but I had just expected better. I still ate two pieces before hubby and our four year old got back up to the room.

We went to bed at a decent hour this night since we had to be up early for our flight out of Milwaukee.

 

Well folks, here ends my trip report. I hope you enjoyed and please feel free to ask questions if you’d like me to clarify something! Thank you to everyone that answered my questions on TA, we enjoyed Chicago very much.

Chicago
Level Contributor
1,356 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Trip Report 7/7-7/10 with 2 & 4 Year Olds

Thank you for posting! You did a lot with two little kids especially in the heat! I would of ordered in too. Lots of locals order Lou's to be delivered.

As for the revolving door - think winter. Think cold winds. Think blowing snow. Think of the amount of cold, wind, and snow comes into a building everytime you open up a door to usher people in and out. The revolving doors help eliminate alot of that and keeps heat in.

Smithfield, Virginia
Level Contributor
429 posts
19 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Trip Report 7/7-7/10 with 2 & 4 Year Olds

I can't believe I didn't think of winter when trying to figure out why revolving doors were so popular! We don't get much snow here in Virginia and I'm going to blame it on that! ;o)

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
1,310 posts
118 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Trip Report 7/7-7/10 with 2 & 4 Year Olds

Great report!

About that McDonald's...they should tear it down.

Whitehouse
Level Contributor
4 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Trip Report 7/7-7/10 with 2 & 4 Year Olds

Great review!!! I am planning a trip with our 2 & 4 year olds and really appreciate your reviews and suggestions for lunches! Thank you.

9. Re: Trip Report 7/7-7/10 with 2 & 4 Year Olds

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 5:15 am, September 24, 2013