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From the Burbs to Downtown for 1 day with 9 year old

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MHN
Columbus
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From the Burbs to Downtown for 1 day with 9 year old

Hello! we will likely stay in the west suburbs for a family gathering (Geneva, West Chicago), but would like to see the heights (literally) of Chicago on Monday. Any pointer/tips, best hotels by METRA- we are early risers and plan to get into the city by 9am. (Originally we wanted to stay in the city, and travel out to the burbs for the gathering, but based on the forums, seems it is more economical to do the reverse)

Thanks

Illinois
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1. Re: From the Burbs to Downtown for 1 day with 9 year old

Play with your dates using www.hotels.com or similar site to see what's available within your budget in the area. You'll find mostly chain hotels in the area. Plan on paying a few dollars to park at the Metra station for the day.

pgo
Chicago
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2. Re: From the Burbs to Downtown for 1 day with 9 year old

Kids enjoy the train ride almost as much as the city visit, so your plan is a good one. www.metrarail.com has the schedule for your commute. You'll want the Union Pacific-West (UP-W) line from downtown Geneva. This arrives at Ogilvie Station downtown in 60 to 75 minutes (rush hour trains are faster).

Once downtown, there are many kid-pleasing options: Willis/Sears Tower, water taxi, Navy Pier, Millennium Park, Art Institute, Field Museum, Lincoln Park Zoo, American Girl, etc. There are free concerts in Millennium Park on Mondays (and other days) in the summer.

Go to http://explorechicago.org with your child and talk about the things you would enjoy doing. When you have a list, feel free to post again and we'll help you sort out the transportation and other issues.

MHN
Columbus
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3. Re: From the Burbs to Downtown for 1 day with 9 year old

Thank you! We'll have to check out the Skydeck, and maybe even John Hancock too, based on his love of tall buildings! We also have The Bean on our list and anything else we can squeeze in will be a bonus. He wants the feel of a "Big City" (we're traveling from Columbus). Is it safe to leave your car parked at the train lot all day? Might a hotel offer shuttle service?

Illinois
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4. Re: From the Burbs to Downtown for 1 day with 9 year old

You'll be fine leaving your car at a Metra lot. Most suburban hotels have a local shuttle. It will be noted on the hotel's website.

pgo
Chicago
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5. Re: From the Burbs to Downtown for 1 day with 9 year old

Leaving your car at a suburban lot is fine; the cost is only a few dollars. Ask your hotel's staff for the best station for out-of-town parkers. Since many of the lots are owned by the suburbs, some sections may be reserved for residents. Give yourself an extra 15-20 minutes to park, pay and buy the train tickets before boarding.

Take the longish walk to the Willis/Sears when you arrive, passing over the river and glimpsing the underground trains arriving at Union Station. Once that is off your list, walk directly east to Grant Park; visit Buckingham Fountain to the south and the Bean to the north.

Instead of paying to go up in another skyscraper, your son might enjoy a trip on the elevated train that is so much a part of Chicago. These are separate from the suburban trains; you can board at any station in the Loop and take the train for a short ride (Brown Line is recommended), then exit the train and return on the same line. You could also get to the zoo this way, although it is a bit of a walk once you get to Fullerton Avenue.

MHN
Columbus
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6. Re: From the Burbs to Downtown for 1 day with 9 year old

Thanks for the recs. Now I need food ideas- we are not foodies, and eat to live rather than live to eat. That is, we don't like to spend too much time in restaurants, but don't like fast food either. (We usually eat very simple meals at home). So...are there quick places to grab a bite to eat? Sub shops or Mexican?

Thanks

Illinois
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7. Re: From the Burbs to Downtown for 1 day with 9 year old

Yes - there are many quick casual places downtown.

MHN
Columbus
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8. Re: From the Burbs to Downtown for 1 day with 9 year old

I appreciate the insiders perspectives and those who have been there/done that.

We are adding Navy Pier to our to do list, with the rides and mini-golf. So, in a day, we would like to see Sears Tower, Navy Pier, Millennium Park (for the Bean) and John Hancock. Is this doable? My son wants to see both skyscrapers, and honestly, once he is up there that will likely be it without too much other exploring, same with the Bean. Suggested routes including transportation and considering attractions at particular times of day? The "Go Chicago" card would be worth it for the rates I can get, but it looks like the Grey Line Hop on hop off does not operate on Mondays. I like the concept of Hop on/hop off, but seems to get mixed reviews. We plan to leave the city by 7pm or so.

Illinois
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9. Re: From the Burbs to Downtown for 1 day with 9 year old

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co at NavyPier for lunch then take the water taxi. There is a trolley during summer. The Hancock has a better view than Sears Tower. The doorway of the Tribune Building has little pieces of just about everything. Bring your GPS and set it on walk mode and you won't waste time turning around.

Chicago, Illinois
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10. Re: From the Burbs to Downtown for 1 day with 9 year old

The water taxi runs between Navy Pier and the Museum Campus (Shedd Aquarium) which is southeast of Grant Park. Your 9 yr old may not handle the walking from the "Bean" to in front of the Shedd. . You might want to take a taxi or if you think that the water taxi would interest your child you can take one from Adams street bridge near the train stations and Willis Tower to Michigan Ave. The Cloud Gate/Millenium Park is a couple of blocks south of the river, Navy Pier is within walking distance east on the River Walk www.shorelinesightseeing.com/watertaxis.html From Navy Pier take the #66 bus to Water Tower near the Hancock (Chicago and Michigan Ave). Have your child choose either the Willis or the Hancock. It costs too much $ to see the same city from two places.