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Visiting Sept 20-24, need help with itinerary

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Arkansas
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Visiting Sept 20-24, need help with itinerary

Me, my husband and our 3 year old son will be visiting Chicago September 20-24. We are staying at Inn of Chicago. I bid on Priceline, so the hotel can't be changed. I am already scared after reading reviews, so please don't scare me more, lol. I plan to pack Lysol and air freshener in my suitcase and hope for the best:). The location at least seems good.

We definitely plan on the Shedd, MSI, Willis Tower and Millenium Park. If we decide to get a City Pass, will probably do a quick run through the Field Museum and hit the highlights. And of course a little shopping.

Our flight arrives on Saturday at 5:20 pm, so will just eat dinner that night. Our 3 full days are Sunday, Monday & Tuesday, and our flight on Wednesday isn't until 6:50pm. It seems that both Monday & Tuesday are free IL days at the Shedd & MSI. So, any thoughts on which day is best for those museums? I assume even with the free days, still better than Sunday?

Whichever day we visit the Shedd, we will try to take the water taxi to Navy Pier afterwards, just for the novelty of a boat ride. The only restaurants I have picked out so far are Wildberrys and Lou Malnatis.

While my husband and I have been to big cities before, this will be our first time taking our son, so I am a little nervous about that. We will get a ventra pass to use while we are there, hoping that is all pretty easy with a 3 year old:)

Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,

Amber

Chicago
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1. Re: Visiting Sept 20-24, need help with itinerary

I have a young son and travelling with him means going really slow and taking lots of rests. I would go to the Shed but on free days it gets really insane so be sure to be there first thing. Taking the boat to Navy Pier is a lot of fun. Navy Pier is fun for a child there is the Children's Museum and carnival rides. For you, a walk through the stained glass museum would be fun. I would also consider going to the Free Lincoln Park Zoo as well as the beautiful conservatory next door. Another fun smaller museum is Chicago History--it is about 2 hours to go through and there is some fun children's activities--check the website. There is a big locomotive he can climb on and an el train he can walk through, things like that. Also at the Field there is a 3 D movie about critters which is fun and at MSI there is a lovely OMNIMAX movie about Butterflies.

Illinois
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2. Re: Visiting Sept 20-24, need help with itinerary

Shedd needs to be hit first thing in the morning. Lines to get in get insanely long.

MSI needs at least a 1/2 day for a decent visit. It's 7 miles south of downtown.

Weekdays at a museum are better than weekends.

Chicago, Illinois
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3. Re: Visiting Sept 20-24, need help with itinerary

I might take a Sunday over a free weekday. I went to MSI accidentally on a free day once and it was a mess. It was a while ago and now I always make sure not to go on the free days.

MSI is so huge it absorbs crowds pretty well and even on a typical weekend is not really that bad.

I've been to Shedd on summer weekdays and summer weekends and it's busy no matter what.

pgo
Chicago
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4. Re: Visiting Sept 20-24, need help with itinerary

The free days at the museums will be every Monday and Tuesday from September through November, excluding holidays. Since these are usually low attendance days, and kids will be in school, it shouldn't be brutal. However, it sounds like you should consider going to the Shedd on Wednesday. You would still have time to take the water taxi and visit Navy Pier for a farewell. In fact, you would end up walking distance from your hotel and could pick up your bags and head to the Blue Line in one taxi trip.

I wouldn't try to do two museums in one day with a three year old. The Field deserves its own day; it has a lot of different areas to explore, and crowds aren't as much of a problem because you can move quickly through the museums and stay ahead of school groups, for example. It was my kids' favorite around the age of you son. The MSI is a great museum, but better suited for school-aged children and adults, IMO. Consider saving it for your next trip.

There is an Imax theater at Navy Pier, which will have a new documentary on Madagascar's lemurs. www.imax.com/oo/navy-pier-imax/ You could spend parts of several days at Navy Pier, one just for the Children's Museum and one for the Imax, since it is so close to your hotel.

If you do decide to use the water taxi, keep an eye on the schedule at www.shorelinesightseeing.com/water-taxi/

Edited: 21 July 2014, 02:48
Chicago, Illinois
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5. Re: Visiting Sept 20-24, need help with itinerary

MSI is super fun for younger children. Very interactive. Take my nieces and nephews every time they're in town because they absolutely LOVE it. Free day or a Sunday - no matter what you're going to be dealing with crowds, so get there as early as possible.

Arkansas
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6. Re: Visiting Sept 20-24, need help with itinerary

Thanks for all the suggestions! I will definitely be doing more research.

Chicago, Illinois
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7. Re: Visiting Sept 20-24, need help with itinerary

We just had our 3 yr old grand nephew for a week. The Children's museum at Navy Pier was a big 1/2 day hit as were the Ferris wheel and carousel. The free Lincoln Park Zoo was a bore: the animals were too laid back for him. A ride on the brown line elevated was exciting. We only went as far as Southport and then walked to the a Red Line to take it back downtown (subway). The Shedd was too full of pre-teens who had no respect for a kid in a stroller. We ended up carrying him. The Observation deck at the Hancock was a winner: no fear of heights. Pushing elevator buttons. Running in the Crown Fountain, and a welcome ( by the adults) nap every day.

Your hotel is going to be OK. You'll be happy about its location.

8. Re: Visiting Sept 20-24, need help with itinerary

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