Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   United States (
-   -   Chicago Itinerary August with teens (

jamierin May 5th, 2014 04:59 PM

Chicago Itinerary August with teens
Going to Chicago with 2 teens in August for a very special birthday celebration.
This is the itinerary so far:

Day One:
Arrive Chicago morning
Lunch at Portillo’s or head to French Market
Visit Sky Deck
Back to hotel to relax and refresh
Boys to White Sox at 7:10 pm,
Girls to dinner - daughter's choice

Day Two:
Rent bikes and go for a ride along the lakeshore trail
Lunch at Portillo’s
Back to hotel to swim, shower and relax
7:30 Dinner at Little Goat

Day Three:
Coffee and muffin breakfast and head over the Shedd Aquarium (opens at 9 am)
Lunch Slurping Turtle
Boys grab taxi to go to Wrigley Field for Cubs 7:05pm game start 9 (leave hotel around 4:30 and go to Slugger’s first for batting cages and beer for older fellow)
Girls to Lincoln Park perfume workshop followed by dinner at Café Ba Ba Reeba or Stella Barra Pizzeria

Day Four:
Field Museum
Head up to Mag Mile and have lunch at ?
Afternoon to shop and explore Mag Mile
7pm Cirque at Navy Pier?
Late bite at ?

Day Five:
10:30 CAF Architectural River Cruise
Lunch at Frontera Grill
Head up to Lincoln Park neighbourhood after lunch
Afternoon in Lincoln Park area – see zoo, shops and explore
Dinner at Sable
Head up to John Hancock to see night views

Day Six:
Brunch at The Gage
Art Institute of Chicago
Grab snacks
Millenium Park
Dinner at Piccolo Sogno

Day Seven:
Do whatever we want day!
Grab cab to airport by for flight home

Need to fit in Wicker Park/Bucktown area for an afternoon visit. Looking for input where there are ? marks, and also just general comments. I have never been to Chicago so any info re: timing and location would be helpful of course. Not sure where we are staying - possibly Palomar, or an even more upscale place with a pool if rates come down (Trump, Four Seasons or Waldorf). Thanks very much!!

tomfuller May 5th, 2014 07:30 PM

The Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium are next door to each other so you might want to visit them on the same day.
These are not cheap places to visit so this might help:
The free tour that I like is the Federal Reserve Bank on Jackson Blvd. across from the Chicago Board of Trade.

jamierin May 5th, 2014 07:55 PM

I was planning on getting the Chicago Pass (hence visiting the Willis + the Hancock, which normally I would not but they are both on the pass). Also, we like to do only one "major" per day - ie, one big attraction, so I don't mind going back to museum campus for 2 mornings in a row. If we try and do both in one day the kids (and most likely me as well) will burn out. Thanks for the heads up on the Federal Reserve tour...may be very interesting!

Marsan May 5th, 2014 08:49 PM

Hot tix is a good source for day of show reduced price tickets. Our boys liked Blue Man Group and Milliom Dollar Quartet.

eroz May 5th, 2014 09:16 PM

Catch the architecture boat tour. The kids won't get bored and it's amazing. A walk around Navy Pier is also fun and the Gage is across frm Millenium Park and the Bean!

abram May 6th, 2014 05:19 AM

I think the Museum of Science Industry is worth a visit. while in college, DH & I spent 3 days there so we could see everything without rushing.

Bitter May 6th, 2014 07:48 AM

I would ditch the bikes in favor of Science and Industry.

Bitter May 6th, 2014 07:54 AM

I'm not familiar with Stella Barra Pizzeria, but it may be great. I personally would hit one of the big names instead (lou's, Gino's, Giordanos). Everyone has an opinion on pizza, though!

Not sure if it will still be available, but the bridge tour is on my to do for later in the month. (it only operates during the summer, so I don't know when that cuts off).

While I'm a fan of portillo's, I don't know that you need two visits, (but gramted it is cost effective). Berghoff near the Art Institute is historic. There are threads that discuss other "tourist" restaurants that can be fun.

jamierin May 6th, 2014 09:43 AM

We are cyclists so doing the lakesore trail is a must. It seems to be the one physical family activity that we all ove and we try and ride in every place that we travel.

Stella Barra is newish I think and has thin crust, wood fired pizza and many other items on the menu that would appeal to us. We are not fans of deep dish - but we have never tried it in Chicago so who knows. Maybe Lou Malnati's would be a good place for us.

I wasn't going to do Portillo's twice - just once and on the second day if we do the French Market or somewhere else on our way to the Willis Tower on Day One.

I will look into the bridge tour - sounds interesting too! Thanks for all of the great ideas so far! We may try and fit Science and Industry in somewhere - should we perhaps do it instead of the Field Museum?

ChgoGal May 6th, 2014 09:58 AM

Hi, Jamierin. You're my kind of traveler!

RE: Hotel. I’d stay at the Palomar Hotel if the have the pool. Great location; right near Grand Red Line. Also the Four Points Sheraton has a pool and is well-placed.

RE: Day One:
If taking train from O'Hare/Midway, get bus/subway/el Ventra card at Airport/train stations, 7-day pass $28 or pay as you go.
Lunch=I’d walk to Portillo’s from hotel, then grab the 22 Clark bus south to Quincy/Willis Tower for Sky Deck.
Visit Sky Deck, then walk east to Dearborn; catch either 22 Clark/36 bus northbound to hotel.
For the Girls' dinner: Café Lux, La Madia, Eataly, Cantina Laredo, Sable, Beatrix, Xoco, Purple Pig, are some nice, family-friendly choice.

Day Two:
I’d not rent bikes at all. It's not as pleasant as you'd think it to be on a summer day, unless you're riding early in the a.m. Bring hat/sunglasses, and pack a snack/b’fast. Walking is great b/c the path can be very congested, esp. if weather is nice, and if all of you are fairly fit, I’d recco walking east on Grand or Illinois to Navy Pier, see Olive Park, walk northbound to North Ave.—very pretty skyline, cut west on North Ave., walk south on State Parkway-very pretty homes… this is Gold Coast, to Division Street then a bit south to…
Lunch at (not Portillo’s but) Lou Malnati’s (1120 N Street).
Then walk south on Rush Street-nice shops-back to hotel.
(taxi to) 7:30 Dinner at Little Goat

Day Three:
Lunch hours at Slurping Turtle are only till 3… the ramen feeds 2-3, so ask for extra bowls. The pork buns would probably be popular for the kids. Have another option in mind if time is short and everyone’s fairly tired from the Aquarium; Eataly or Oysy on Grand could be fun alternatives near the hotel.

For the girls… taxi or brown line train to Armitage. If you get there a bit early, Armitage has lots of cute shops between brown line train stop and Halsted street; I’m not a fan of Ba Ba Reeba; not tried Stella Barra… Summer House looks good, too. Kameya (Japanese) is great, as is Dawali (Middle Eastern). You can walk south on Halsted, pass the wonderful Steppenwolf theater (pop into the lobby if it’s open – usually an hour before showtimes, only), then catch red line train at North/Clybourn south to Grand/hotel)

Day Four:
Lunch... If you get off bus around all the State Street shopping, maybe lunch at Vapiano on Wabash, or State/Lake restaurant in the Hotel Wit, or Lux Café, or L’Appetito in the base of the John Hancock, or Eataly.
7pm Cirque at Navy Pier? (Don’t know this show. If Chicago Shakespeare offers a child-friendly show, I’d jump on it. Brigadoon is at the Goodman… but only the first few days of Aug. Or Motown would be fun.
Late bite at ? (late night options are tricky for families… I’d probably just get groceries and relax at hotel… this day sounds really full.)

Day Five:
Lunch at Frontera Grill (if you go to Xoco, I might skip this and head to Lincoln Park for lunch)
Either the 22/36 bus north to Belden; east to Lincoln Park zoo, or (better) the 151 bus north to Wrightwood; walk south from the pretty North Pond cafe, south past Fullerton to the conservatory & zoo, continue south thru zoo to South Pond, then catch 151 Bus south back to hotel)

Day Six:
Grab snacks (Pret a Manger on Michigan is great for picnics/snacks)
Dinner at Piccolo Sogno (the location on West Grand is nicer than the one on the Chicago River)

RE: Wicker Park/Bucktown area for an afternoon visit. I’m always a bit underwhelmed by these neighborhoods… maybe someone can help on this.

Looking like a great itinerary. Hope you have a fantastic trip!

ChgoGal May 6th, 2014 10:06 AM

Just saw you post on the bikes. It does sound like a must for you guys, so disregard my advice there. The bike path is great for bike lovers, but will be busy if nice weather day, but don't let it discourage you much. You'll just need to slow down a lot for walkers/skateboarders, etc. I am more of a hiker myself, but you'll definitely see more of the skyline, as with a bike you can do the ride south of Navy Pier as well as north. Didn't know if you mean getting a Divvy bike for the day... but for safety, you may want to walk them over to the bike path before getting on them. I don't think riding them on the city streets is a good idea for folks new to the city. Divvy bikes don't offer helmets, other bike rental companies on the lakefront may- I just don't know for sure.

jamierin May 6th, 2014 10:09 AM

Wow Chgogal thanks for taking such time and care with that awesome response!! If you ever come to Toronto and need help I will be happy to return the favour.

Beatrix in the Aloft actually caught my eye for dinner with my daughter as well. She doesn't eat red meat, pork, seafood or most fish so she is pretty limited but likes chicken dishes and most veg dishes. This is why we tend to go to Italian restaurants rather than seafood or steak places.

jamierin May 6th, 2014 10:20 AM

Wondering if a 9 am bike tour would be better for us? Saw one with an outfit called Bobby's Bike Hike but hubby initially vetoed it because he likes to take off on our own at our own pace. If we are going to be limited as to movement anyways maybe a bike tour would be okay.... Would probably rent from a rental company for the helmuts. Kids are steady on bikes but we never go without the head protection. And we would go early-ish on a weekday morning.

ChgoGal May 6th, 2014 10:28 AM

Yes! I would love to visit Toronto someday!

As for Bobby's bike hike, I have seen them about, but have never done this.

But as the weather warms up, I'll be on the bike paths alot on the weekday mornings. I'll post back with my impressions. The weekends are definitely bustling; weekdays may be perfectly pleasant for you all so don't nix the idea yet. This should be really nice for you, hopefully.

Beatrix was very good, I thought. You can't go to wrong with food options in the city. We're all big eaters here.

jamierin May 6th, 2014 10:36 AM

We are big eaters here in Toronto too and have such great restaurants. Everyone I speak to that has been to Chicago from here loves it and tells me that your waterfront is what ours should have been. And I bet your mayor is a heck of a lot better than ours too:)

I was so excited when I saw that Eataly had opened in Chicago. We will probably end up there for a lunch or even to get snacks for our hotel room. It looks terrific and I have yet to visit the one in NYC. When we were in Rome I wanted to visit but we only had 4 days and the Eataly location there is a bit out of the way.

Thanks for posting back on the biking situation.

ChgoGal May 6th, 2014 10:55 AM

Yeah... your mayor's a mess. Sorry about that.

Do you have a Sat/Wed morning free? Because my fave thing to do (in nice weather) is go to the Lincoln Park farmer's market in the morning (151 Sheridan bus to Lincoln, or 22 or 36 Bus to Menomonee or Lincoln Ave), walk around South Pond, through the Lincoln Park Zoo, see Cafe Brauer, walk through the conservatory, walk around North Pond.

I posted on another thread about things to do if you want to experience a bit of the neighborhood.

"Walk north through the zoo toward the gorgeous Lincoln Park Conservatory (may not interest kids but it’s free and I think it’s lovely), continue north to cross Fullerton, walk north along the scenic North Pond (keep pond to your right) to the gazebo (toward the brick, arts & crafts style North Pond Café & playground), then take the underpass left and you’re on Deming. Walk west on Deming over to Clark Street and you’ll be on a stretch of Clark Street that is full of casual restaurants. Aloha Grill is a casual Hawaiian restaurant and has a big “snack plate” of Chicken Katsu which is easily shareable. Molly’s cupcakes is a few doors down. Lita’s Empanadas is good-casual also. Vapiano is a big, Italian cafeteria style place which is wonderful and bright and great for kids. Their margherita pizza is excellent. I go here often.

jamierin May 6th, 2014 11:16 AM

The Saturday is the day that we planned to do Lincoln Park in the afternoon. I could switch the CAF tour for later in the afternoon on Satuday and head up to the Lincoln Park area in the morning. For some reason I had it in my head that the CAF tour is best done as early as possible in the day (summer sun?) but we could do it at 4 pm too.

Would just have to fit Frontera Grill in for lunch on another day (not Sun or Mon as they are closed).

jamierin May 6th, 2014 11:52 AM

Oddly enough was checking out Summer House and it looks like it shares space with Stella Barra. I noticed that the addresses are identical at 1954 N. Halstead.

kansasmom May 6th, 2014 01:43 PM

I think biking along the lakeshore is a great idea. It is beautiful and hopefully won't be too crowded or hot if you go early enough. We like those "physical" activities with our teens also to help break up the one-museum-after-another rut that sometimes we can fall into. I would highly recommend doing a Segway tour also, especially since it is your first time in Chicago. My teenage daughter and I went on one last summer, and it was the highlight of our trip (along with seeing the "Bean", of course). Can't remember the name of the company we used, but they are probably highly rated on tripadvisor. Have fun -- sounds like you have a great trip planned.

gardendiva May 6th, 2014 04:01 PM

If you find an extra minute, go into the Cultural Center to see the Tiffany Ceiling on the third floor. It's free and only takes a few minutes. It is beautiful.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:05 AM.