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Trip Report Chicago: Flooded with People and Water!

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We (DH and 7yo DD) just returned from a three day trip to Chicago. As an old city girl, now a small town gal, I had forgotten how hustling and bustling the city can be! And I was amazed at the pure volume of visitors that were there - who said there is a recession!

We used points to stay at a Country Inn & Suites in Elk Grove Village the first night and ate dinner at Ram Restaurant and Big Horn Brewery. Food was good but took forever - "large party ordered ahead of you" - ended up having our dinner comp'ed.

We drove into the big city the next morning via Oak Park. DD lost interest in the Frank Lloyd Wright houses after the first couple! But DH and I loved seeing them all, interspersed with the old Victorian houses.

We left our luggage (and car) at the Allerton Hotel because it was too early to check in. We started walking down Michigan Ave. - didn't buy an iPad at the Apple Store nor a new GPS at the Garmin Store. We decided to cab it down to the aquarium only to find the line went on and on and on, so we spent some time at the Field Museum instead. DD was thrilled to see Sue and her skull and the stegosaurus she studied in school. We made our way to Millenium Park, the "jelly bean" and fun water sculpture. We had planned to visit the Art Institute during the free evening hours but decided it was likely to be overrun with too many people. So we walked back to the Allerton; my DH had to carry our DD the last few steps because she was just exhausted! Off to Gino's East (conveniently around the corner from the Allerton) for dinner. The "forty-five to sixty minute wait" turned in to only thirty minutes and then the pizza arrived ahead of the advised wait time - all of which was a good thing because DD was about ready to crash!

The next morning we decided to head to the aquarium right when it opened - 8am, although the sign outside said 9am - instead of ordering tickets on-line (with an added $4.50 surcharge from Ticketmaster) that would have allowed us to get in via the will-call line. Since we were among the first 250 visitors that morning, our tickets were "upgraded" to include the Fantasea show. The aquarium was wonderfully empty and we enjoyed viewing a lot of exhibits alone until the camp groups and screaming children took over everywhere. The Fantasea show was incredibly contrived and full of actors - but it was nice to see the dolphins, penguins, Beluga whales and sea lion perform. Then we took in the Planet Earth show in 4D - the poke when the shark took a bite out of some other sea animal nearly scared our DD right out of the chair! We took a taxi over to the Art Institute and meandered through the beautiful building and artwork. We all got to see our favorites (Nighthawks, Le Grande Jatte, miniatures, van Gogh, etc.) and then walked our feet off again up Michigan Ave. I took a detour at Crate and Barrel while DH took DD to the Apple Store again to ogle over the iPad. Off to Pegasus in Greektown for dinner - great food! The torrential rains began while we were at dinner - and continued all night.

The Allerton was very comfortable for us - we booked a good Travelzoo rate ($124 per night) and then had the opportunity to standby for a larger suite for an additional $10 per night. We had a large one bedroom corner suite. Looking over the final bill, I noticed a different rate for the second night which the front desk quickly corrected - noting that this wasn't the first incorrect bill of the morning!

After checking out, we headed to our favorite breakfast place, Mitchell's at North and Clark, and found a new breakfast joint - Elly's Pancake House. Same great, greasy food! We headed off to Brookfield Zoo, only to find the I290 Expressway and every east/west road closed due to severe flooding - 6 inches of rain overnight. Memo to self - check the road conditions once in a while; the traffic report on our GPS didn't show any issues on our route - we suspect that was because there was no SLOW traffic on the road - but no traffic at all! After a seemingly interminable and random journey through the city, we finally decided to bag the trip to the zoo and headed home.

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