Though there was an 80% chance of rain and thunderstorms the whole day, we spent the Saturday of Labor Day weekend in downtown Chicago, pleasantly enjoying the other 20%. Chicago is a city with a lot to offer… so what to do with one day, during which it will most likely rain, and two little ones?
Traveling with toddlers, less is definitely more. So we sat down the night before to go over our options and to pick one morning activity and one afternoon activity. We had so many great tips and recommendations, but in the end most of it had to go. We opted out of zoos and aquariums since we’d just been to the zoo in Columbus, and didn’t want to plan the whole day outside in case everyone (including the cranky check in lady at the campground) was right and Labor Day weekend was doomed to be a wash out.
The Sears Tower is an obvious choice, of course. Except apparently it’s not called the Sears Tower anymore. The admission prices seemed a bit unreasonable and we anticipated long lines (why else would anyone be willing to pay double the admission price to skip the line and go straight to the elevator?). Waiting in line isn’t fun for anyone, but when you’re 3 it’s like a violation of the Geneva Convention. And for the parents of that 3 year old? Yeah. Add into that the weather forecast, and it seemed like we’d be paying a ton of money to corral a 3 year old in line for a really long time to ride an elevator into a cloud and get a view of… nothing. Call us crazy but we skipped it.
We had to go to the Cloud Gate. It was one of the pictures in Emelie’s Babar’s USA book that we bought her to help her appreciate and understand what she’s seeing and doing on this trip. That’s in Millenium Park. So after parking at Navy Pier, we walked to Millenium Park to see “the bean”. Incidentally, we met a couple the other day from Chicago and when we told them we went to Cloud Gate, they had no idea what we were talking about. But when we said, “You know, the bean” they said “OH! Of course. Why didn’t you say so?”
Cloud Gate is designed so that you can see the reflection of the city skyline and yourself at the same time. It has a unique shape, and if you walk underneath and look up, you can see countless reflections. It was fun.
Doesn’t it look like something out of a sci-fi movie?
That’s us kinda tiny in the middle – but this way you can see how the skyline view works
Two Emelies jumping!
Peter also liked playing with his alter-ego
Mirrors are fun. Giant mirrors are even better!
This was parked outside the park as we left. Only in America.
Then we walked back to Navy Pier, ate lunch, and went to the Chicago Children’s Museum, which is on the pier. The Children’s Museum is a great place with lots of hands on exhibits, including a water room (they even have raincoats for all the kids to borrow so they can play without getting wet!), a dinosaur excavation, and lots more. Most of the rooms even had a cushioned area designed for babies to play, with developmentally appropriate things for the not-yet-walking crowd. Emelie and Peter both had a great time. It was pretty crowded – Labor Day weekend with rain in the forecast – but it was still a lot of fun and a place we’d recommend to anyone with kids.
Walking along the water back to Navy Pier
A room full of cardboard boxes and tubes in every imaginable size. Just for building and playing with!
Just for babies!
Digging for dinosaur bones
These plastic tubes with toys in them were such a hit! Seems like it would be simple enough to make at home!
Painting with water on stones. Love this look of concentration
Building water pipes. Once she got the hang of it, I think she could have been happy doing only this all day.