Ours is a household of picky eaters…or, perhaps I should say, particular eaters. Every single one of us has things we cannot stand, and these inedibles rarely overlap–a situation which drastically reduces the potential menu on any given day.
But traveling brings out the adventurers in us (somehow). We ate a meal prepared by Mayans in the middle of the jungle near Tulum, Mexico. We went on a food tour through Trastevere in Rome, Italy. And all 5 of us loved every moment of both experiences.
As such, when it came to planning our trip to Chicago, we immediately started Googling food tours. I read up on the “Best in Chow” tour through Chicago Food Planet and signed us up.
It was a slam dunk.
First stop, Lou Malnati’s. (Very important preface: when one is about to embark upon a 3 hour food tour, one should probably not take one’s children to a huge breakfast. Live and learn.)
Lou’s was our first Chicago deep dish pizza ever (well, for 4 out of 5 of us). What’s not to like about buttery crust, stringy mozzarella and loads of chunky tomato sauce? Jack gave this a huge thumb’s up (even with a belly-full of breakfast…).
One good carbo-load deserves another, so our fantastic guide, Terry, walked us over to FireCakes for an old-fashioned buttermilk doughnut.
I’m not the biggest sweet fan on the planet, but these were so terrific that I walked back to FireCakes on our last morning to pick up doughnuts and coffee for our last breakfast in Chicago.
Next stop: Al’s for tastes of an Italian beef sandwich–again, the first tastes for all but one of us.
Clearly, Too. Much. Food. So much so that at our next stop, Theo asked for the leftovers to take with us and to hand out to folks we passed on the street who needed them.
Portillo’s is completely a Chicago legend, yet this is the one place where we did not eat a bite–but we did make some less fortunate Chicagoans very happy later on.
Jack pretending to take a bite in order to save face with our group and our guide. A noble effort on his part, to say the least.
We walked a bit and then paused for some popcorn at Garrett Popcorn. Not sure how anyone was able to eat anything else at this point.
The very last stop was the Cambria Hotel for a taste of the Palmer House Brownie–a dessert that made its debut at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. [Insert gratuitous plug for Erik Larsen’s outstanding book, Devil in the White City.]
We would recommend the Chicago Food Planet’s “Best in Chow” tour in a Minnesota minute. Every single aspect of it was awesome. We rolled out of the Cambria Hotel a little after 2 pm absolutely stuffed to the gills and headed to The Field Museum.
My boys have always loved science museums. We’ve spent countless hours at the Fernbank here in Atlanta, and anywhere we go, we try to track one down (London’s Science Museum may be our all-time fave…). The Field Museum was pretty spectacular as well.
We were stuffed and tired and sliding in to The Field with only a few hours left to explore, so we went on speed-mode.
Inside Ancient Egypt. Tucker pretending to be a mummy.
Underground Adventure. Going through the Shrinkerator, which shrinks you to 1/100th of your normal size and then plops you out in an underground world chock full of creepy crawlies.
With Sue, the T.Rex.
We wandered into the Hall of Birds somehow. (We are generally not birders…). Here, Tucker takes a photo with what Russ calls “the noblest of all birds”, the turkey.
[Insert Fleetwood Mac/Stevie Nicks joke here.]
We took a nice little break to see the 3-D movie entitled Waking the T.Rex. Then we entered Jurassic World, a special exhibition for which we’d paid extra.
While Jurassic World was indeed quite nifty, it was also very hot and geared for younger folks. Had we visited it 5 years ago, say, we might have been roaming the exhibit for hours. Instead, we sort of sped through it, ready to leave the heat and sit down again.
Because we’d certainly not eaten enough that day, Russ took us to dinner at Coco Pazzo. We took a much needed mid-length walk back to our hotel and settled in for the night.
Check out Theo’s outfit. The dinosaur tube socks really pull it all together.
We were up and at ’em on Monday morning, heading to the Sears Tower (which is actually now called the Willis Tower) in an attempt to beat the crowd.
We were not successful. The line length gave the boys ample opportunity to play the most annoying game ever invented in the history of the entire galaxy: Girl Power.
In Girl Power, my sons take turns covertly trying to touch me, and it absolutely makes me lose my mind. It doesn’t take long for the game to reach Chernobyl-levels of annoyance. Girl Power is something I’m sure we’ll laugh about at their weddings one day, but that’s a long, long time from now. About 5 minutes into it, I threatened to make the next person who touched me cry. That made the family in front of us in the line turn around, stare, and then shimmy themselves up as close to the people in front of them as possible.
The top was shrouded by clouds while we were in line…
This is just as creepy as it looks. Trust me.
You could also feel the building swaying lightly. We had to wait in line for over half an hour to take the elevator back down, and by the time we stepped out of the building, I was officially motion sick.
From the Sears Tower, we walked over to the Money Museum, which was a surprise find online and also quite interesting.
Tucker and a cube of 1,000,000 dollar bills.
Theo atop $50,000 in coins.
The Money Museum is very interactive and has many educational–and fascinating–exhibits. We give it a big thumbs up.
We split up for a quick lunch and then cabbed it over to the Shedd Aquarium. The line to get in was absurd. Russ walked over to the Adler Planetarium to see if admission was any quicker there (which it was), so we ditched the long line and headed to outer space.
I love me some space.
Quick true story: When I was in 5th grade, our class was assigned a group project on the solar system. We were split into 9 groups, and each group sent one member up to front of the room to draw that group’s planet from a fishbowl. Our representative, Matt Davis, was specifically told “DON’T DRAW PLUTO.” Guess which one he drew?
(You have no idea how excited I am about August 21st.)
Both the planetarium and the aquarium are situated on a little jetty poking out into Lake Michigan. The view back in towards the city is pretty fabulous.
After dinner, we walked around downtown Chicago a bit. This is one beautiful city.
Next up, we close out Chicago by celebrating Tucker’s half-birthday (oh, and also the Fourth of July…).