Second City Savvy

Second City Savvy

Fun, food and fire truck tours await families bound for Chicago By: Liz Dwyer
Kids will love taking in views of the Chicago skyline. // © 2013 Thinkstock
Kids will love taking in views of the Chicago skyline. // © 2013 Thinkstock

Are your clients looking for a family vacation that’s a combination of world-class cultural attractions with a touch of Midwestern friendliness? Chicago may be their kind of town. It’s also home to a variety of tasty eats and some of the most impressive architecture on the planet.

Clients might start their trip with a journey to the top of the Willis Tower. The building’s Skydeck gives dazzling views of up to four states — visitors can go out 1,353 feet in the air on the all-glass ledge if they dare. Next, clients should see the Tribune Tower and the Wrigley Building while riding a kid-friendly water taxi down the Chicago River. Or, they can check out the city’s spectacular skyline while cruising on Lake Michigan between the Museum Campus and Navy Pier.

Once they arrive at Navy Pier, visitors can hop on the 150-foot-high Ferris wheel or ride the pier’s famous swings. Navy Pier is also home to the Chicago Children’s Museum. Kids age 10 and under will love its Tinkering Lab and the Dinosaur Expedition.

Next, visitors can head to Chicago’s South Side to visit the Bronzeville Children’s Museum, America’s only African-American children’s museum. Interactive exhibits and guided tours at this cultural gem engage 3- to 9-years-olds in the city’s rich heritage.

While your clients are on the South Side, suggest they check out the 40-foot-tall replica tornado at the Museum of Science and Industry in Hyde Park.

Once back on the Magnificent Mile, visitors can go to the Original Gino’s East pizzeria for a slice of deep-dish pie and graffiti their name on the walls (don’t worry, it’s allowed). Then clients can take the family’s pint-sized history aficionados three blocks up Michigan Avenue to one of only a handful of structures to survive the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the Chicago Water Tower.

Visitors can also hop onboard one of O’Leary’s Chicago Fire Truck Tours. Fun, guided rides on Engine 13, an antique, 1960’s-era fire truck, roll past plenty of the city’s landmarks.

Kids can cool off in Millennium Park’s Crown Fountain, which doubles as public art. Suggest that clients stop at Gold Coast Hot Dogs for more Chicago-style eats before catching a free outdoor concert on the lawn at the park’s Pritzker Pavilion, designed by Frank Gehry.

Thanks to Bobby’s Bike Hikes, kids ages four and up can safely bike Chicago. Tours provide bikes, helmets and a savvy guide that shares Chicago trivia on the way to Lincoln Park Zoo for some animal petting. Bonus: Riding on the city’s lakefront trail will give families another chance to enjoy that stunning skyline.

Your Guide to The Windy City

Where to Stay

The Drake Hotel
140 East Walton Place
Chicago, IL 60611

The Swissotel
323 East Wacker Dr.
Chicago, IL 60601

Where to Eat

Original Gino’s East
162 East Superior St.
Chicago, IL 60611

Gold Coast Hot Dogs
159 North Wabash Ave.
Chicago, IL 60601

What to Do

Bronzeville Children’s Museum

Lincoln Park Zoo

Millennium Park

Navy Pier

O’Leary’s Fire Truck Tours

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