This is part II of our 2009 summer vacation. To find out our train trip vacation check out 2009 Summer Vacation part I: Train Trip.
We took Amtrak from Emeryville to Chicago (to read about our train trip story, see 2009 Summer Vacation part I: Train Trip). The train was running 2 hours behind schedule. By the time we arrived at Chicago it already passed 6pm. It was raining. On the way to Embassy Suites we got to take a quick first look of the city. There were lots of high rise like San Francisco, lots of African Americans, lots of tunnels and bridges.
Thanks to my Hilton Honor points accumulated over the years, we got 2 free nights stay at Embassy Suites. After spending the last 2-3 days on the train and be dull, we couldn’t wait to get to stretch out in our hotel room, and the boys couldn’t wait to go splashing in the hotel’s indoor swimming pool. Because of the train, we missed the daily evening reception– which was alright because we brought our snacks too, plus it was getting late especially for little Audrey who didn’t nap in afternoon. Instead of dragging everyone to head out for dinner in a rainy day, we decided to order to-go from the restaurant on site and ate it in our room. The food was expensive and not that good but we didn’t care– the boys couldn’t wait to get into the pool, and I couldn’t wait to take a nice shower and relax on the big bed!
We were lucky to get a room with city view. I tried to take some snapshots of the night views but none of them turned out any good. Later when Richard took the boys to the pool and Audrey was sleeping, I finally took a nice long shower. It felt so good and refreshing! One funny thing: Having been on the train for so long and got used to the train motion, I felt things moving while I was in the shower– and for a moment I thought was it earthquake??… lol.
The boys didn’t go for long. When they were washed up it was bed time. I looked at Audrey soundly asleep in the crib, hoping she would sleep throughout the night (being that age she was probably not feeling secure with another new environment). I then took a deep breath and a big stretch… Lights off!
Good morning Chicago!
Last night’s sleep was the best in last few days. Audrey woke up crying early morning but after we put her to sleep with us on our bed she slept some and so did we. Overall everyone had a good night of rest. We washed up and went downstairs to have breakfast– this is another reason we like staying at Embassy Suites because hot, cook-to-order breakfast is included. After we were fueled up we were ready to exploring the city. We planned to visit Museum Campus today, which is an area by the lakefront that house Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum of Natural History and Adler Planetarium. With 3 young children I knew we wouldn’ t be able to visit all three places but I was hoping to go to 2 places. First place to see was Shedd Aquarium. The line was VERY long because the admission was free during this week. We waited in the line for over an hour. Luckily there was a 3 tier lawn next to the line for Alexander and Ethan to run around. Since the aquarium was by the lake, we could see the Chicago city and lakefront view while waiting in the line.
It was very crowded inside the aquarium. We checked out different areas of the aquarium, ate lunch and watched a dolphin/beluga whale show. In my opinion the show was too short and not much about it– because the show took place inside the building against sunlight, the lighting was very bad. We couldn’t see much of the animals’ performance… really disappointed!
By the time we came out of the aquarium, it was already 5pm. For sure we didn’t have time to visit Field Museum across the street. We decided to visit Navy Pier instead and then walk back to the hotel. We took water taxi from the aquarium to Navy Pier. It was an experience and the boys liked it. Navy Pier is another tourist attraction in Chicago. We walked around trying to find some thing to eat and finally settled on expensive fish and chips and beef brisket. Right by the entrance of Navy Pier there was Chicago Children Museum. I read about it online and thought the boys might enjoy it. The museum was already closed so we decided to go there tomorrow morning before leaving the city.
On the way back to the hotel, we saw many high rise condominiums/apartments in downtown. I thought we are suffering economy downturn nationwide but these new looking condos made me think Chicago was exempted. Hmm… I wondered how much it costs to live out here?…
After we came back to the hotel, Richard took the boys to the pool again while I bathed Audrey and got her ready to sleep. I went for a short swim when the boys were back. Overall we had a long fun day today.
We had a tight schedule this morning because we were going to leave Chicago this afternoon but we still wanted to visit Chicago Children Museum in the morning. So after breakfast we walked to the museum, which is 3-4 blocks away from Embassy Suites.
The Chicago Children Museum is a 3-story building with lots of hands-on interactive learning fun. It is divided into different areas– home safety, musical talent show, cooking, indoor climbing ropes and suspension bridge, dinosaur discovery, water splashing zone, weather learning, construction building etc… It was a really nice place; Alexander and Ethan were having so much fun playing in the museum. I wished we could stay longer but we had to head back to the hotel around noon to get ready to check out at 1 pm.
We were taking Amtrak to Kansas City, Missouri this afternoon at 3:30pm at Chicago Union Station. Since we wouldn’t be arriving Kansas City until 10pm, we thought it was best to bath the kids first in the hotel. As soon as we returned to our room, Richard and I worked quickly bathing the kids, dressed them and finished up packing.
When we arrived at Union Station we had some time to eat lunch. Since Richard and I still didn’t have the chance to try the famous Chicago Style hot dogs, we decided to order Chicago dogs in the food court inside the train station. I am not a big hot dog fan so it tasted alright to me.
Overall it was fun. Our stay in Chicago definitely is too short. There are still lots of places to explore… it’s okay, this way we have excused to come back to the wind city. See you later Chicago…!
Our vacation is not over yet (not quite…). To continue please read 2009 Summer Vacation part III: Missouri.