Favorite Hometown Spots: CHICAGO

This article is part of my "Favorite Hometown Spots" series-- where women share affordable family-friendly ideas of things to do in their hometown. Check out previous installments: DALLAS, and ATLANTA.

{Note from Jess: Please email me if you'd like to contribute an article to share your favorite "hometown" spots in the place you grew up, or a metropolitan area near you. I'd like to share ideas from as many cities as possible, so that more families can benefit.}


Kendra Thornton, CHICAGO
Today's "Hometown" post comes from a world travelling mom, Kendra Thornton. Formerly a PR exec at Orbitz, she now enjoys being home with her three children, but continues to fan the flames of travel & adventure. Being the travel minded woman that she is, she first reached out to me to suggest these "hometown" posts, and I'm so glad she did.

There’s nothing I love more than traveling, but my home city of Chicago has enough to do and enough excitement to keep even the most travel happy person entertained!  

Chicago is a beautiful city, a varied cultural tapestry with amusements to suit everyone, no matter what their hobbies or tastes. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend checking out some of the best sights, events, landmarks, and shopping opportunities available anywhere.  

The Field Museum
It has been said that you should never stop learning, and whether you’ve got children of your own to amuse or are simply seeking an opportunity to expand your horizons, the Field Museum offers something for everyone.  

While it’s ideal for children with its wide array of activities and exhibits that are geared to excite young minds to greater heights, it has enough appeal for any generation. This museum boasts massive dinosaur fossils, as well as hosting an endless parade of new and fascinating traveling exhibitions. And you thought learning only happened in the classroom! 

Surprise your kids on a Saturday by bringing them to the Original Pancake House in Chicago! The whole family will love it-- just make sure they don't eat too many pancakes!

Under the Sea
Continue your exploration of the world within the city limits of Chicago by visiting the Shedd Aquarium. Located right on the shore of Lake Michigan, it’s home to more than 32,000 animals ranging across 1,500 species. Aquariums are one of my personal favorites, as I have always had a deep interest in sea creatures. It is almost mythical to imagine life underwater, and to come in close encounters with these animals at the Shedd is entertaining and educational.

Here, your entire family can enjoy a variety of activities that run from touring the many underwater animal habitats to a Beluga Encounter, where you and a trainer meet and greet a friendly sea mammal face to face!

Wander the City
Don’t forget to take time to simply wander the city streets and take in the ambience. The architecture is distinct to the area, and each neighborhood brings its own flavor and personality.

Feed Your Wonder
When in Chicago, you really should eat like the locals.  While this means eating from our uniquely multicultural plate, it also says “Deep Dish” in big, bold letters that should be impossible to resist.  If you’re seeking the best pizza in my town, you’ll need to book a table at Giordano’s.  Crusty, cheesy, and saucy all at once, deep dish pizza is a Chicago delicacy. Located both in the city and the suburbs, their pies have no equal.  Deep dish pizza is one of my favorite parts about Chicago, and it will be too once you try it!


Amanda said...

I love this series!

As a Chicago native myself, I would have to second the Giordano's bit of this post. Also, once you've tasted Garrett's Popcorn (the Chicago Mix) there's no going back. Seriously. ;)

I feel like there are some other really awesome places that merit at least a mention though. Sears (Willis) Tower is a must if you're only going to be in the city a short time. The views on a clear day are absolutely breathtaking - you can see up to 50 miles away! There is also the "ledge" - a clear glass box that allows you to stand 103 floors above seemingly thin air!

Then there is the Museum of Science and Industry - one of my absolute FAVORITE places to go! You could spend a few days just in this spot alone. With incredible hands on exhibits, and really unique things to see (a U-Boat from WWII!) you will never be disappointed! If you are a resident of IL, you can enjoy this museum, along with Shedd Aquarium, The Field Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago with FREE admission on certain days of the week.

Speaking of free things to do - there is Millennium Park (great year round, and if you're lucky in the summer time, you might even catch the Chicago Symphony Orchestra rehearsing in the park for your enjoyment!) with the "Bean", the Chicago River Walk is beautiful, Navy Pier (my husband proposed to me here!), Grant Park with Buckingham Fountain, and the Magnificent Mile (Michigan Ave) is fun to just walk up and down (the history and architecture is spectacular!).

As you can see, I love spending time in this city. It really does have something for everyone, and even if you're looking for some free things to do, it has plenty to offer. I hope this comment isn't too long! I'm starting to rival the post! :) I just love talking about Chicago . . . I hope you get a chance to enjoy it for yourself!


Anonymous said...

I third the Giordano's suggestion...hands down, THE best Chicago-style pizza!

If you don't mind a 45 minute or so drive, also check out the Jelly Belly Factory in Pleasant Prairie, WI. Free tours [plus free samples at the end!]. Great for kids and adults alike!!!