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whattodo Mar 20th, 2002 09:52 PM

Chicago & Great Lakes
We are torn. As first time visitors to Chicago in mid July, our family would like to take in as many sights as possible, extending beyond Chicago. Some other places of interest include Wisconsin, Upper Michigan and the Great Lakes. Is it too much to attempt to cover the area from Chicago to Mackinac Island in this amount of time? If not, what would you recommend to avoid or not to miss? We enjoy trying the local food, nature, outdoor activities and fun nightlife. Thanks for your sugestions!

arjay Mar 21st, 2002 01:39 PM

You don't say how long a period of time you have. There is more than enough to see/do in Chicago (and many attractions for kids of all ages) to keep you busy for 4-5 days, or more. Chicago to Mackinac is more than a 10-hour drive. Southern Wisconsin offers some nice rural landscape, but not a whole lot to see, other than the Wis Dells (which are tacky or great fun, depending on the age of your children and your personal perspective...and it's about a 3-3 1/2 hr drive from Chicago). Unless you are talking about a time period greater than a week, I'd say...just settle in and discover all that Chicago has to offer.

asr Mar 21st, 2002 01:55 PM

Maybe replace Mackinac Island with Door County Wisconsin. I think you will find similar sights and atmosphere to Mackinac. Door County features Lake Michigan on one side and Green Bay (the body of water, not the city) on the other side. There are several state parks, B&Bs, cute shops, etc. The Door County area is about 4-5 hours north of Chicago.

oopsforgot Mar 21st, 2002 02:41 PM

Thanks for pointing out I didn't mention -- we have 8 days and the kids are pre-teen. Thanks for suggestions. Is it possible to squeeze in a Great Lakes tour? Better by boat or car?

xxx Mar 22nd, 2002 06:06 AM

Decide how much time you are devoting to activities in the city of Chicago first. <BR> The suggestion of Door County, WI, is a good one. Much less driving. If you will be there over a weekend, start your search for a place to stay now.<BR> Milwaukee has ethnic festivals almost every weekend. Check out which one will be going on during that time.<BR> Pre-teen kids would probably love the Wisconsin Dells--you may not.<BR> Galena, IL, along the Mississippi, might be another place to check out.

arjay Mar 22nd, 2002 06:30 AM

Chicago has soooooooo much for pre-teen kids, from the zoo to museums-out-the- wazoo, that your kids will have a great time there, esp if you are not from a big city. For starters: Navy Pier (where there is a ferris wheel and Children's Museum, among other things), Museum of Science & Industry (I don't think there's a kid alive who doesn't think this place rocks!); the Field Museum (mummies and dinosaurs); Shedd Aquariaum (rock back in your recumbent seat and see a simulated sky show); Shedd Aquarium, which recently underwent a major expansion. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. There's also the Sony store and Disneyquest they'll want to explore (on/near Michigan Avenue) and a trip to the top of the Hancock for a matchless view of the city - skip the observatory, and go to the lounge (someone might have to correct me here, if I'm wrong about the kids being able to have a coke with their parents in the lounge??) Twilight on a clear nite offers a spectacular view. Then there's paddle=boating in Lincoln Park, maybe renting some bikes for a ride thru the park; a visit to Oak Street beach (with it's drop-dead backdrop of Gold Coast skyline - like no beach anywhere else). Oh...and don't forget a boat ride on the Lake or river, and maybe a Cubs game at beautiful Wrigley Field. Or watching Buckingham Fountain lights (in Grant Park) at nite... <BR><BR>See where I'm getting, whattodo? Lots and lots for kids in Chicago. And in an 8-day period, a trip *around* the Lake is def out of the question. And Door County (which is a great family destination) will require minimum three days of your time...piling the kids in the car and driving for 5 hours (from downtown Chicago). You arrive in DC midday, give yourself one day to play and then pile back in the car for another five hour drive. IMHO, it's just trying to squeeze in too much. <BR><BR>Here's a good "experience the shore" alternative....Make the drive to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore...You're talking maybe an hour and a half's drive, and the kids will see some truly impressive sand dunes and get a day of swimming. Good luck to you!

marilyn Mar 22nd, 2002 07:24 AM

You have received some great advice about what to see and do in Chicago. If you still want a "country" segment to your trip, my suggestion would be taking the Badger car ferry from Wisconsin to Ludington, Michigan. As I recall the ferry ride is about 4-5 hours, and the area around Ludington is very scenic, with dunes, etc. I'm in the minority, I know, but I have never quite understood the attraction of Door County, about 6 hours from Chicago and with things and an atmosphere you can find with less driving time.

Linda Mar 22nd, 2002 07:31 AM

Took my kids to Chicago twice- they love it. Taste of Chicago is from June 28-July 7. It is in Hyde Park.They have over a hundred restaurant booths plus incredible free outdoor concerts and many other activities.I heard that the Disneyquest in Chicago was closing. Is this true? That would be a shame, we loved it.

marilyn Mar 22nd, 2002 08:26 AM

That would be Grant Park that is the location of Taste of Chicago--Hyde Park is the neighborhood around 5700 South around the University of Chicago. Yes, DisneyQuest is closed.

Linda Mar 22nd, 2002 08:28 AM

Thanks Marilyn- I was confused!(happens a lot) And I would suggest doing the food thing during the week and early, as it gets really crowded.

whattodo Mar 22nd, 2002 09:16 AM

Wow! Thanks for all of the great suggestions! I hope you don't mind one last question -- What dining places just scream out Chicago -- We'd really like to experience the local food, unlike what we'd find out here on the West coast.

patg Mar 22nd, 2002 06:59 PM

Mr. Beef<BR>Berghoff<BR>Chicago Chop House<BR>Prairie<BR>Lou Malnati's pizza<BR>Chicago Dogs<BR><BR>hope you are not concerned about your cholesterol level

patg Mar 22nd, 2002 07:13 PM

Sorry that should have been Gold Coast Dogs. And add Harry Caray's to the list. Also, take the kids on a tour of some of the older, fancy hotel lobbies, like the Palmer House and Chicago Hilton and Towers. Have an ice cream or lunch there for a special memory.<BR><BR>A great side trip is an hour and a half ride to Starved Rock State Park, SW of the city. It has history, hiking and river activities. Nice lodge, too.

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