Courtesy of Chrysler Canada, FW set on a family fun vacation to the windy city of Chicago. The perfect place to visit in your upcoming spring break- a city full of culture, entertainment, fantastic food and fun for all age groups!
The trip began with picking up our very own 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan for our long journey. The minivan quickly filled up, yet remained accessible and comfortable, with 2 parents, 2 kids and a baby. We set to leave Toronto and arrive in Chicago in a mere 8 to 9 hours.
The leather trimmed bucket seats; navigational system, DVD player with second and third row screens, and a Parkview rear back up camera were some of our favourite features. It didn’t even feel like we were in a minivan! With all of the storage space and comfortable captain seats, the drive up, in what seemed to be a conventional image of a minivan, couldn’t have gone smoother.
Passing all of Ontario, the vehicle felt in good control, maintaining good speed and agility. Even though the drive was a bit louder than other cars, the 6.5 touch screen that allowed the soundtrack of the DVD to be pushed back to the end of minivan made the trip calm to drive in. The children kept occupied watching their favourite cartoons, while my husband and I enjoyed satellite radio – another fantastic option offered in this miracle minivan.
The kids dozed off; we stopped for lunch and diaper changes, but were still making good time. Matter of fact, I got some free time to skim through a recent book purchase that I felt was quite appropriate to the trip, “How to Look Hot in a Minivan: A Real Woman’s Guide to Losing Weight. Looking great, and dressing chic in the age of celebrity moms- By Janice Min”. Wow- were Janice and I channeling the same thoughts or was this a sign? This lady was bang on. Pages filled with glorious ideas of how to look fab, and portray illusions of looking slimmer than I actually was- this was mommy heaven. (A must read for anyone who fits in the above category- AKA everyone we all know these days. Really fun fashion tips and nicely outlined pages that included step-by-step instructions!)
Passing the border was simple, and after numerous miniscule charging tolls we were finally in Chicago. It seemed unreal to have driven for over eight hours, but we still felt relaxed. The Dodge Caravan was so far the best thing any family could ask for on a family trip.
The very next day, we began our daring sightseeing and family adventures. With a mile long list and only a few days to cover all the must see places, my family and I were revved up! We were luckily staying at a friend’s on Michigan Avenue. Ohhh the beauty of Michigan Avenue! Most families would enjoy beaches, parks or scenic landscapes, but Michigan Avenue has a life of its own. The architecture is breathtaking; every building laid out to complement each other. Old world charm mixed with new age innovation- it really is an architect’s delight. Of course we visited The Bean in Millennium Park. Super fun for kids- just a big blob of fun to explore.
Over the next couple of days we visited various food havens. Giordano’s, the specialty Chicago Pizza, was super filling and no one can really eat more than one slice because it is loaded with mega ingredients that satisfy your every last taste bud, http://giordanos.com/ It was an authentic Italian eatery, definitely a fun place to visit, not to mention great accommodation.
Next on the list was the Grand Lux Café. Inspired by the whimsical art world of Gustav Klimt, I personally loved the view, the ambience, and the desserts were delicious. Dual as a romantic hot spot as well as a tourist attraction, we would highly recommend it. http://www.grandluxcafe.com/
We visited the Shedd Aquarium (particularly enjoying the automatic sliding doors and trunk of the minivan that day; parking was far and it was a drop off situation), which was an over flow of knowledge. The underwater world gave our kids an opportunity to learn new things- like the Jellyfish in their Jellies Exhibit. Our favourite part was the Ice Age Dawn of the Dinosaurs 4D Experience– every family will love it surely. (Note: The springtime will be perfect to visit the Shedd because the walk to the entrance will be pleasurable and scenic.) http://www.sheddaquarium.org/
We continued our family fun with some retail therapy. We highly recommend visiting the Chicago Premium Outlets -home to 120 outlet stores, including Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Calvin Klein, Coach, Cole Haan, Elie Tahari, Gap Outlet, Giorgio Armani, J.Crew, Kenneth Cole, Lacoste, Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren, Salvatore Ferragamo, Sony, Theory, Vera Bradley and more. A complete list of stores can be found at:
http://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlets/store_listing.asp?id=63 I am not going to lie, I went a bit cuckoo for mega deals and to top it off, rumour is they are coming to our very own city of Toronto!
Chicago should definitely be known for their variety of cuisines and portion sizes. Wherever we went, there was culture and charm oozing. Some great finds were Reza’s Restaurant – authentic Iranian kebabs http://www.rezasrestaurant.com/ and Al Hambra Palace Restaurant which was an Arabian restaurant with belly dancing, a theatre, a breathtaking interior and a lovely menu! http://www.alhambrapalacerestaurant.com/
The kids loved the Melting Pot– a fondue place, yummy! http://www.meltingpot.com/chicago/welcome and of course the infamous Cheesecake Factory. Wow- what a location and what selections. At the end of it we all did have to unbutton our pants but it was totally worth it! http://www.thecheesecakefactory.com/ My personal favourite was the Eleven City Diner. Charming location, yummy breakfast menu and huge servings! http://www.elevencitydiner.com/
Other very cool places to visit when in Chicago are surely the Sky Deck http://www.theskydeck.com/, The Planetarium http://www.adlerplanetarium.org/ and the Field Museum http://fieldmuseum.org/ The Sky Deck was a personal favourite of my husband’s as he dared me and kids to try the Sky Ledge. Over a 100 stories above the city- it is breathtaking and truly an amazing experience. The kids loved the huge planets at the Adler Planetarium, and the Chicago city skyline just outside was truly amazing!
Chicago can be called a city that caters to many different cultures or even the famous Windy City (FYI: the seat warmers and heated steering wheel in our comfy Dodge Grand Caravan were especially appreciated at those times). Chicago is filled with beautiful buildings and scenic visions, but most of all, it is a city that invites you, dines you, spoils you and leaves you feeling refreshed and joyous of your life. FW loved the experience and fell in love with Chicago- some many even compare it to our very own Toronto! The trip was a great escape to a land not too far away, but distant enough to call a family vacation!