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Shedd/Museum Science during free days plus hotel

Wisconsin
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Shedd/Museum Science during free days plus hotel

Hi I have a couple of questions about visiting the Shedd Aquarium and the Museum of Science and Industry.

1. We are planning to visit the Shedd/Museum January 20 and 21. This is a Thursday and Friday. It is also free week at the Shedd and during the free month at the Museum. Will the crowds be horrible or with the $200 savings will they be bearable? I guess I just want to make sure the savings are worth it.

2. We are thinking of taking the train. Any tips?

3. Also are there any nice hotels nearby that anyone that can recommend?

4. Family friendly restaurants nearby? We will be coming with our 3 kids (8, 6, and 4) and also be bringing my parents along (50's and 60's).

Any information that you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

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Rensselaer, Indiana
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1. Re: Shedd/Museum Science during free days plus hotel

You need to keep in mind that it's only the general admission at the MSI and the access to the original galleries at the Shedd which are free. You still have to pay extra for the special exhibits at each, coatcheck, audio tours, boarding of the U505, and the like.

There is no way that anyone can definitively answer your question about the possible amount of people there on those days. But, as a rule of thumb, if something is "free", expect crowds. And usually, the later in the day you go, the bigger the crowds are.

Also, just because the local kids might be in school, it doesn't necessarily mean that there will be few people there. There could be school trips happening when you are planning on going.

Which train? Both Metra and Amtrak have stops in Wisconsin.

How many hotel rooms are you planning on getting? Three?

chicago
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2. Re: Shedd/Museum Science during free days plus hotel

These are really discount days not free since you have to pay to get into the good stuff

These days are very crowded

just about every restaurant in chicago is kid friendly, what kind of food do you like and what's your price range

Illinois
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3. Re: Shedd/Museum Science during free days plus hotel

1. The MSI is 7 miles south of downtown. You need to allow at least a 1/2 day for a decent visit.

2. If you're referring to local transit - http://www.transitchicago.com/ - CTA visitor passes might be a good option.

3. Several good hotel deals here - http://www.travelzoo.com/hotels/chicago/

4. www.chicagoreader.com and www.chicagomag.com for dining and entertainment information. Both sites have restaurant reviews and let you search by area, cuisine, budget etc.

Illinois
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4. Re: Shedd/Museum Science during free days plus hotel

While the "free" days at the museums only cover general admission, it still represents a significant savings. If I had to guess, I would say that it will be more crowded than on a normal weekday, but not as crowded as it would be on a weekend. I would suggest that if you want to get into any of the special exhibits (e.g. U-505 at the MSI) that you buy your ticket in advance, since these can fill up. Are you planning on arriving to Chicago on January 19? I would recommend this so that you can get an early start. These places will simply become more crowded as the day wears on.

I would also suggest staying in either the River North or Magnificent Mile areas rather than trying to get a place near either of these attractions since you will be closer to family-friendly restaurants. It will probably make more sense to get around by taxi rather than dealing with public transit, since there won't really be any cost savings when you factor in having 6 or 7 people (not sure from your post if you will have a spouse along or not).

I'm not sure if you are taking Metra or Amtrak. If you are planning on taking Metra, they do not have any storage for luggage, so you will be hauling it on the train with you. I would suggest not taking Metra during rush hour.

pgo
Chicago
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5. Re: Shedd/Museum Science during free days plus hotel

The La Quinta at Franklin and Madison would work well for your group. With 7 people, you won't want to take a lot of buses or taxis; the LaQuinta is walking distance from both Union and Ogilvie train stations, close to the El train and a short walk to State Street, where you can catch the #10 express bus to the MSI or the #146 bus to the Shedd Aquarium. It has a good, free breakfast, a small indoor pool, and is newly built, in a modern style.

Illinois
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6. Re: Shedd/Museum Science during free days plus hotel

We went to MSI on a free Sunday a few years ago. By early afternoon, it was so crowded that cars were backed up onto Lake Shore Drive, and they inched to the parking garage ($16 if you drive). The lobby area was especially crowded. Remember that MSI is very large, so once you get into the exhibit areas, the crowds thin out a bit. We concentrated on the submarine, but didn't actually go into the sub. It was a great afternoon. Would we go on a free day again? Definitely. ChiTownFriend and EBob make a good point - the crowds will increase as the day progresses, so plan to go early. Also, visit the MSI web site and look at the list of exhibits so that you know ahead of time what interests you.

http://msichicago.org/whats-here/exhibits/

BTW, we visited the Morton Arboretum on Christmas Day since it was free. The indoor attractions were closed, but with an admission fee of $11 per person, we saved $44 and had a lovely hike.

Wisconsin
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7. Re: Shedd/Museum Science during free days plus hotel

Thanks for all the replies so far. Here is what we are now thinking:

We will leave from our house early Thursday morning and drive to Arrlington Heights where we will take the METRA to the Ogilville (spelling?) station where we will then take the bus to the Museum and be there for the 9:30 opening. We will then take the bus back to Ogilville and then the train back to Arlington Heights to spend the night in a hotel. Then Friday back on the train to Ogilville then the bus to the Shedd, then back home.

How does this sound? My father will not drive in Chicago so that is why we want to take the METRA. After someone posted about not having luggage storage we figured we would stay in Arlington Heights so we wouldn't have to haul everything with us.

Does anyone know where I can find the information about bus times out of the Ogilville station?

If you have any comments, please let me know. If you have a better/more convienient idea I would love to hear it as we want to make this as easy as possible.

BTW we will be a group of 7, my husband, myself, our 3 kids, and my parents.

Thanks again for all the help!

Wisconsin
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8. Re: Shedd/Museum Science during free days plus hotel

Oh yeah, would we be able to do both of them in one day, Thursday or Friday? Then we would drive down the night before, stay in Arlington Heights, and take the train/bus to just once that day.

Are they both doable in one day?

chicago
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9. Re: Shedd/Museum Science during free days plus hotel

No, you can't do both in one day. Arlington heights is over an hour away. Plan on the bus taking an hour as well. That's a lot of commuting. It can also take an hour to get in the museum on the free day.

Illinois
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10. Re: Shedd/Museum Science during free days plus hotel

Trust me, I would not drive in downtown Chicago either, but the drive to MSI isn't that bad, and I would do it in a heartbeat instead of taking the train and bus. You can take 355 south from Arlington Heights to 55 which will take you to Chicago, then Lake Shore Drive south to MSI.