Our Chicago Day
by Our Family
Chicago from Sears/Willis Tower
Our Chicago day is one we won't forget for some time! Our family decided to visit Chicago on a Saturday in October. Weekend round-trip train rates are real cheap, as of this writing they were still $5. (The conductor told us that it would soon be going to $7 - just to warn you!) We chose to leave from Waukegan instead of Kenosha because there were more times available on the return trip. (We thought that would be to our advantage, but backfired as you'll read on!) We happened to pick the "Express" train that left at 8:50am which saved time because it made fewer stops.
If you should choose to see the Shedd Aquarium, like we did, make that your first stop. The aquarium operator told us to be there by 10am to avoid standing in line for hours, and she was right. When we left the aquarium around 2:30pm, the line was out the door and down the front steps of the building. They were not going to have much time inside! The dolphin show, Fantasea, wasn't what we were expecting. Yes, it had all the glitz with lights and the backdrop and all, but we would have been much happier seeing more interaction (while educating us) between the animals and the trainers. We were unable to make the majority of the "Hourly Animal Encounters", partly because we didn't know where they were. We paid $16.95 to get in, and that was their special. I am so glad we did not pay full price that day. We ate in the Bubble Net Food Court, which was okay.
Our Chicago day would not have been complete without visiting the Pacific Garden Mission. We were given a tour of the facility and then sat in on the live radio taping of "Unshackled" at 4:30. If you ever get a chance to visit them, please do. It is amazing what they do there for the homeless.
Knowing that we had to be back to Ogilvie Train Station by 7:35pm, we skipped the meal with Pacific Garden Mission and walked to the Sears/Willis Tower thinking we had plenty of time to go up to the Skydeck. While planning our Chicago day, we heard that if you go after 4pm you'd miss the lines and enjoy a spectacular view of the city after dark. Well, they were right about the latter. But by the time we got through the l-o-n-g lines (metal detector, photo shot, ticket booth, movie, elevator-both up AND down, and the small skydeck see-through floor area) we missed our train! Those long waits in EACH line (even at that time of the night) made us late. They boast at having 25,000 visitors/day at $15/person. You do the math, that's quite a chunk of change!
When we finally left the tower, there were no places open to eat. So, it was back to the train station for Taco Bell and Arby's and wait for the 9:35 train out.
Our Chicago day was a long one, as we still had to drive back to Wisconsin. Was it worth it? I guess, only because the kids had never been there before. Will we do it again anytime soon? Maybe. But we won't need to go back to the aquarium or the tower, been there, done that!