Things to do in Chicago besides...

Old Feb 18th, 2016, 05:47 PM
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Things to do in Chicago besides...

I am planning a trip for 20 twelve-year-olds and six moms to Chicago next month. What hands on activity/class/event/tour do you suggest BESIDES the Art Museum, Field Museum, Museum of Sci & Industry, Shedd Aquarium, Willis Tower, theater show, Navy Pier & water tour? -- all which we already have tickets for. Thank you in advance for your help!
TraciS is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2016, 06:01 PM
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Check this out for private group tours, they take up to 25.... Maybe they'd let 1 extra
DebitNM is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2016, 06:05 PM
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They might like Sprinkles Cupcakes, across from the 900 Michigan Shops. I know I did!
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Old Feb 18th, 2016, 08:00 PM
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Do they feel comfortable on bikes? I took a biking tour of lakefront neighborhoods and had a blast.

Although with that crowd you may be forced to break up into 2 groups.
marvelousmouse is online now  
Old Feb 19th, 2016, 10:26 AM
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Across Jackson Blvd from the Chicago Board of Trade is the Federal Reserve Bank. You do have to go through some security, but you can take a self guided tour and see a clear block with one million dollars in it.
tomfuller is online now  
Old Feb 21st, 2016, 01:58 PM
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Sounds like you have them set for quite a lot, but there's also the Untouchables tour, a trip to Lincoln Park zoo (if the weather is mild... which is a gamble in March) or a deep dish pizza dinner at Lou Malnati's (the location at 1120N State) or lunch at Portillo's (100 W Ontario).

Good luck with your weather and the planning!
ChgoGal is offline  
Old Feb 21st, 2016, 02:55 PM
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For a cheap lunch in Chicago you can't beat Pierogi Heaven on North Wells.
It is underneath the L so it could be a bit noisy at times.
tomfuller is online now  
Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 07:19 AM
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TraciS, we have to assume that your planning of this trip is of a personal, and not of a commercial, nature. If that is not the case, please indicate the same.

I think that, although the above posters are trying to be helpful to you, some of their suggestions are more suited to a very small group and/or much warmer weather.

With a group this size, you just cannot show up anywhere (attractions, restaurants, tour centers, etc.) unannounced. Not even at larger fast food places - and some of these are suggestions are small. You have to make concrete reservations (such as in the case of restaurants) or go to group entrances (as in the case of the museums mentioned above).

How are you transporting all these people to the various locations? It certainly cannot be by public transportation. I very much doubt you will be able to get them all on a single bus or even an 'L - and certainly not during any rush hour. (It sounds like you have at least some weekdays involved from just the amount of activities you have listed.)

And I doubt that you are getting 7+ taxis at any given period of time - repeatedly. That would cost quite a bit. Privately chartered busses can only go certain places in the downtown areas and parking of them is very limited. So, you see, there really isn't much use mentioning other options until we know you can actually reach them.

I'm not sure what type of "water tour" anyone would want to go on in March. Water temps of Lake Michigan and the Chicago River - which, in turn, create air temps - will still be very cold. Besides March is well-known for storms, which cause much choppiness on the Lake, even inside the breakwater.

There are (most probably) no bike tours going to be held at that time of the year. That's really for much warmer weather. Even in April it would be questionable.

Navy Pier is under considerable construction at this time. What exactly are you planning on seeing there?
exiledprincess is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 09:49 AM
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I think you can reserve a private tour with the Fed Reserve, for that size group. There is a movie offered and I found it boring, but could be educational.

If you are in that neck of the woods, you could hit the French Market, which has almost any kind of food your could want (multiple vendors). However, much of it might be a little fancy or exotic for 12 year olds.

There is also a hard rock cafe that may appeal to that age, and across from it is Portillo's. If you could avoid right up lunch time, I don't know why Portillo's couldn't accommodate your group. (You just stand in line to order anyway, and find open tables). Lots of options there.

Walking (for me) is a big part of the Chicago experience. You could identify some of the physical landmarks, including buildings, river, and statues like the Bean, Picasso, Flamingo and create a nice (but perhaps chilly) hike and create some nice photo ops. Within the loop there are some enclosed and/or underground passageways you could incorporate (not particularly interesting, but may get you out of the weather for a few minutes).

If you broke up into teams (with a parent on each), you could do the L/El by loading on different cars and/or entrances. It will require some serious separation and orchestration and, yes, rush hours might be ridiculous.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 10:06 AM
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You can do a scavenger hunt. Here is a link to one, there are others. I'm not sure if this is the one we did but it was fun.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 11:40 AM
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I really hate to be a nay-sayer here, but...I dunno about 26 (or 27?) individuals doing a walking tour - on their own - just anywhere in downtown Chicago. That's a pretty big crowd. The sidewalks are crowded enough at certain times of the day. Even organized walking tours normally have size limitations, and for a good reason.

Maybe they could set up a group tour with the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Probably not a walking tour (March weather being iffy, anyway) but perhaps by another method - van, bus, trolley. As I mentioned before, there aren't any River Cruises at that time of the year.

JMHO, the OP should look at the Choose Chicago website (the City of Chicago's Department of Tourism) under the section for groups. There's bound to be quite a bit of information there. Even if they cannot find what they need or want, they could always send an e-mail for details.

I do agree that it would certainly be easier for them if the entire group was separated into much smaller ones. Each will have to have a parent or another adult legally responsible for all of the kids in it, though. Otherwise, that adult could have some real legal issues on their hands should something go awry (for example, a child getting hurt in some manner, sick, lost, etc.).
exiledprincess is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 11:43 AM
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OP hasn't found her way back here...
DebitNM is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 11:58 AM
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26 (or 27?) people all descending on any restaurant in one group at one time would be disruptive to that establishment, if unanticipated.

Haven't you ever been in a fast food place when one of those tour or school busses rolls up outside and the entire group comes tromping in? Quite frankly, I feel very, very sorry for those employees at a time like that.

During regular meal hours (breakfast, lunch, dinner), you have to consider the many other patrons who will be present. There's no guarantee that there would even be that many seats available for the OP's group.

Outside of those dining times, you usually have a diminished wait and kitchen staff.

The OP and group can do whatever they wish. But JMHO, they should be only consider places where they can get reservations.
exiledprincess is offline  
Old Feb 23rd, 2016, 12:01 PM
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DebitNM, they may be waiting for a little amount of time before reading through the results - or getting additional information.
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