Monday, July 15, 2013

WHAT'CHOO TALKIN' ABOUT, "WILLIS"?  Too many bullet points on my recently completed one-week sojourn through Chicago and the Wisconsin Dells with the girls:

  • We got lucky on Chicago weather last week. My goodness. 80 and not-humid at Taste of Chicago Wednesday night to meet some friends at the free fun. concert?
  • Cannot say enough good things about CityPass. Had the attractions we were going to do anyway, at a good discounted price, and the ability to skip the entrance line at the Shedd Aquarium alone was worth quite a bit.
  • Cannot say enough good things about the Museum of Science and Industry, which I hadn't been to since Law School. Spacious, full of interactive stuff for the kids, and educational on top of it.
  • The Shedd Aquarium, on the other hand, was way too crowded, didn't seem to have much of any educational value at all, just a constant look at this fish! now look at that fish! But the kids liked it.
  • Field Museum: Sue, wow.
  • The Architecture Foundation boat cruise was too ambitious for the kids—thought it might at least satisfy them on a "look at the pretty buildings" level, but it didn't. Some basic knowledge retained, but ... too soon.
  • I didn't realize how much I missed Stanley's until I was back.
  • So much we didn't see, and I kinda wish we had just done a full week in Chicago and arranged a mini-ALOTT5MAcon. Next time.  And the girls want there to be a next time. Among other things, we never hit Navy Pier or the Zoo.
  • What can I say about the Wilderness? Imagine a hotel at the quality level of a Days Inn, but with Four Seasons-level waterparks.  I loved that there were multiple separate smaller water parks (three indoor, three outdoor) rather than mammoth complexes; it was much easier to track the girls that way. Rides at all levels of daring, from lazy rivers and splashgrounds with giant buckets o'doom to gravity-defying loops with weight minimums (because you'd never otherwise generate enough velocity to make it over the top). The food was crappy, not just on-site but everywhere in town.  Didn't matter.  Kids loved it.


  1. Joseph Finn2:51 PM

    Sadly, have to agree with you on The Shedd. It really could use some more educational value. (And jesus, that entrance line...)

  2. Governor Squid2:55 PM

    Maybe if they add enough educational value, the lines and crowds won't be so bad!

  3. Genevieve3:46 PM

    Will take note of your recommendations! Any of these you specifically recommend for teens? (We are probably going next summer.)

  4. I used to volunteer at the Shedd in the early 90s. They really emphasized the educational component at the time. For example, it was a dolphin presentation, not a show. We were told to stress to visitors that none of the dolphin presentation involved "taught" tricks--they were things they'd do in the wild. When I went back a few years ago, it was fully called the dolphin show, and they've added the belugas and the seals to it. Never mind that the three species don't ever come near the same water.

    I think they had to get more showy to keep up with Sue and the improved Museum of Science and Industry.

  5. Adam B.4:01 PM

    Teens will love all of them, except maybe not the Field as much (unless they have a dinosaur thing). Consider an Architecture Foundation walking tour.

  6. Adam B.4:02 PM

    Meanwhile, as noted last summer, the National Aquarium in Baltimore ended its dolphin shows -- you can just come in and observe them, whenever, for as long as you want.

  7. Genevieve--I'd recommend the SeaDog cruise at Navy Pier. It's a speedboat, which keeps the kids interested, and a bit of an architectural tour of the lakefront, which will keep you interested. My teen and tween nephews love it.

    And my 15-year-old nephew and his friends like Millennium Park. I would think that would be boring for a teenager, but he's always posting pictures around the Bean.

  8. Genevieve5:43 PM

    Thanks, Adam and Jen!

  9. LittleMascara9:40 PM

    MSI skews a little young (I'd say 5-12 is the sweet spot for that museum). (This is Stevie, btw. I had to create a new Disqus name for The Dissolve and apparently it carries over to other sites.)

  10. LittleMascara9:42 PM

    We have a membership, which lets you skip the entrance line and gets you free tickets to the dolphin show (which now features a dog, inexplicably). It was a gift from my parents, and they'll let our nanny use it with our kids, but my daughter is 2, so "Look at the fish! Look at the penguins!" is perfect for her. That said, I feel like the price has gotten out of hand -- it's almost $40 for an adult ticket now.

  11. Marsha5:14 PM

    Yes, the cost is out of control. I only go if I have out of town visitors who insist. My kids find it very dull. Just a short walk away you can find the Adler Planetarium, which is about 1/3 to 1/2 the cost, usually has no line, and is both much more fun and much more educational.

    Hands down our favorite in Chicago for the 8.5 and almost 6 year old set is MSI - we have a membership that we take a lot of advantage of. The "Bangs Flashes and Fire" demo never gets old.