Chicago Trip Report

Old Aug 24th, 2004, 06:27 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 284
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Chicago Trip Report

If anyone reads the Europe forum, I'm a single mom that took my kids to Italy in May but this trip wasn't nearly as well planned, exciting or interesting, but maybe will helps some do a better job of planning their trip.

My daughter figure skates and had a competition in Buffalo Grove, so we decided to make a mini-vacation out of it. My sister was visiting from California and she went along. We drove from a small town 45 miles east of Sioux City Iowa. We left on Wed morning at 9 am - took 20 to 35, got 80 from Des Moines and then it looked like 88 was a better road to Buffalo Grove.

88 was a nice drive, but if you are not familiar with tolls and you see a sign that says "Cars 40 cents" and you get your exact change out and then find out it's 95 cents, well I just think maybe it's time they updated their signs.

From 88 we took 355 to 294 which turned into 53 and our hotel the Wyndham in Buffalo Grove, is on Lake Cook Road, which is at the end of 53. Pretty easy to find. It was a very nice hotel, we got two rooms for $50 each at hotwire. Staff was very nice. My sister went down to the tiny bar every night and got to know them and so they were always very good to us. One of them even went out and bought her cigarettes when she ran out.

We arrived Wed night about 6:30 pm - left Monday morning. She had two days of competition so we really only had two days to see Chicago.

I did no planning other than stop by the auto club and pick up a book and some maps. Why didn't I use this forum like I did for our trip to Europe? I dunno.

Thurs Sarah had a 7 am practice session so later in the morning we decided to drive into Chicago. I thought I wanted to take 90 into the city, but missed the exit and ended up taking 291 which was a good thing, because that takes you right into Congress Parkway and you keep driving and the Lake shows up right in front of you and Lake Buckingham was doing it's thing right when we got there. And guess what else? I found a place to park RIGHT SMACK in front of the fountain.

Also, this was the weekend of the Blue Angels air show and they were practicing so we got to watch them do maneuvers all over the lake and city. Although it is a little disconcerting, post 9/11 to see jets that close to tall buildings.

It was a clear day, cool. From 94-97 I spent two weeks every summer in Chicago to get a graduate degree and it was always hot and muggy so this was such a treat.

We got back in the car and drove down Michigan Avenue, to the annoyance of many cab drivers who did not appreciate my slow driving. We found the John Hancock building and figured out where to park and went to the Observation deck. Kids really liked that. Such a clear day the view was great.

Now, probably if I'd done my homework and looked at this forum, I'd have known there was a restaurant on the 95th level with a $12 buffet. But I did not find this out until the next day. Instead we went down and ate at the Cheesecake factory. Good lunch but lousy view and more than $12 a person (Because of course we had to have cheesecake)

We walked around downtown and enjoyed the sights and ambiance. I kept telling the kids it reminded me a little of Rome, just newer buildings. "Yea and the fact that everything is English!" they corrected me.

By the time we got back to the car it was 5 pm and parking cost $21. Wow. And here I am driving in downtown Chicago at rush hour. What a good idea. How many lanes are there anyway? These cabs can turn a two lane street into 5 lines. Amazing. If the cabs were annoyed with me at 11 they were really annoyed with me now. I had no idea where I was going but I ended up on Ontario Street, I knew enough to drive away from the lake and ended back up on 90.

The next day Sarah had a competition in the afternoon. This was her first competition since moving up to pre juvenile level, her double jumps are not real consistent, so let's just say it was a good warm up experience and leave it at that...

Then we were in a mood for shopping. We decided to check out the woodfield mall. It's an easy drive from Buffalo Grove, off 53 in Shaumburg.

When we got there we got distracted by the "Streets of Woodfield", a charming little outdoor center. I guess they call these "Lifestyle Centers" - I saw a new one in Omaha. They are very charming but I doubt they are that charming in the winter out here in the Midwest.

They are pretty high end and my daughter was looking to spend her babysitting $ on back to school clothes. This was not the place for that.

Ah, just across the street - a REAL mall. We live near Sioux City so we don't get to go to big malls very often so this is a treat for us. We spent several hours there. Let's not talk about how much money. But the kids are ready for school. Even though she never found an Old Navy.

We went back to Buffalo Grove for dinner and ate at a pizza place that starts wtih a G - famous for the stuffed pizza, there are a lot of them. It was very good pizza. We were quite surprised to see that the store next door "Fabric and Glitz" (or something like that) had skating dresses hanging in the window. We have to go to Omaha or special order skating clothes where we are.

My sister is from California and is shocked by how much people smoke. I guess you can't smoke anywhere in California. Since I don't smoke, maybe she and I should trade.

Okay now we are up to Sat. My son wanted to see the Science Museum and my daughter didn't. Also there was a skating exhibition by some famous skaters she wanted to see so she went off with another skating family and they went to Long Grove, which my daughter describes as "quaint" little historical village with shops.

I thought one day of driving in Chicago enough adventure for one vacation so we drove to Arlington Park and took the train to downtown. After we got there, (since of course I had done no planning) I didn't really know how to get to the museum so we took a cab. Now that was exciting. Good thing I had my seat belt on. He was from Nigeria and very friendly and I highly recommend him if you need to get somewhere fast. Alive, is another question.

We enjoyed the museum. But between paying cash for the train and the cab ride was $20 including tip, I realized I had $5 cash left and no change for the bus. (Obviously a cab was out of the question) So now you think, why doesn't she go to the ATM? I didn't think of it till later. I told you this wasn't planned well. I did much better in Italy, really.

Anyway, bus far for 3 was $4.50 so the $5 bill did the trick. This was the #10 bus that stops in front of the museum. The cab driver told us it would take us back to the train station. Well, not really. 8 blocks away. But they are short blocks. And it's an interesting walk down Madison.

We got to Union Station and were a little confused because the train station we got off was called something transportation center. Some guy comes up to us and points to it. Oh I remember this gig from the Naples train station. "How about a tip?" he says. A tip? I dunno, how about getting a real job?

The train is a really good idea, if you are staying outside Chicago. For dinner we ate in the same area as the pizza place, Esxape or something like that, a sports place with a bowling alley. Good food. The waiter told me we got a free game with each meal and so the kids wanted to bowl.

Free game, yea. $9 for shoes though. It's been awhile since I've gone bowling. Used to be about $1.25 to rent shoes.

Sunday Sarah had another competition. We spent the rest of the day swimming and ordered room service and watched the Olympics. Left at 8 am the next day and got home about 6 pm.

We had a good time for it being so poorly planned.

Joelleinitaly04 is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2004, 06:38 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,739
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi Joelle! I really enjoyed reading your report, thanks so much for posting! Chicago is one of our fave cities so i always love hearing about it. Sounds like a fun, memorable trip! Did you post an italy trip report? I like your style of writing so i'd love to read it!
ellen_griswold is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2004, 06:47 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 3,291
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Enjoyed your trip report, Joelle! Glad you had a good time. We used to live in Deerfield, which is just a couple of suburbs to the east of Buffalo Grove. My daughter took skating lessons at Twin Rinks in BG. Sounds like you had your pizza at Giordanos on Lake-Cook? We've been there many times; one of the best!
ms_go is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2004, 06:47 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 459
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Joelle, the cabbies here are insane, just insane. We often see them on the side of the road after getting in an accident. They're one of the reasons I don't drive here too often!

Glad you got to see some fun Chicago things, though! The weather was terrific this weekend. Much cooler than usual for August.
strass is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2004, 09:50 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 284
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks Ellen - yes I have a trip report on the Europe forum -
Watch the wrap.

And yes Giordanos on Lake-Cook was where we had good pizza. Twin Rinks is where the competition was.

Joelleinitaly04 is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
United States
Oct 30th, 2012 11:23 PM
United States
Sep 11th, 2012 03:41 PM
United States
Jun 21st, 2010 06:53 AM
United States
Jun 11th, 2008 05:01 PM
United States
Dec 3rd, 2002 05:54 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -