Landed in Chicago. No problem. Made it to the rental agency -- guess what? No vans in the lot. Waited around the lobby for about half an hour / 45 minutes while the staff scrambled to locate a van. Finally was given one -- Dodge Grand Caravan with Florida plates. We're in Chicago. Guess we'll stand out in a crowd. Kids fell asleep on the drive down the freeway.
Breakfast -- Lou Mitchell's. This has got to be the best place to go for breakfast in the city. We got there about 7:30 am before the crowd. Best omelots in town. Big meal. Cash only. Also, need to ask the staff where a good parking spot was. They are attentive about possible cars being towed, but it's best to move to a spot they recommend instead. Good place.
Asked the panhandler outside Lou Mitchell's for tips on Chicago. He pointed the best way to view and drive to Sear's Tower, Michigan Avenue Bridge and the Water Tower. Great directions for his tip. Got to Lincoln Park Zoo around 9 am. Although the park is open, most of the exhibits don't open until after 10 am. Great place to spend the morning - especially on a week day. Good tip is to go underground to watch the harbor seals. The underground viewing area is air conditioned and helps to stop and cool off.
Around 1 pm we were done with the zoo. Drank a lot of water and the kids had some popsicles and popcorn to beat the heat. Made it over to Oak Street Beach. Beach was fun. After that, we still had time before check in at 4, so we hit Binny's Beverage Depot to stock up on soda, water and stuff for our trip. Binny's has a great staff that helped us fill our list. We joined their club and got a great discount. They have off street parking which was a plus. It was great to get our refreshments out of the way before we started off the road trip. Scratch off Sam's Club for Friday, because we already picked up sodas and juice for the kids.
Around 4 pm we checked into the hotel. We requested a room with a view and the Marriott came through with our request. They gave us the 39th floor. It was great. We had plans to eat at Giordano's. The bell hop showed us from our window the street to take to the pizza parlor. After the luggage came, we headed over to Giordano's for dinner.
We hit Giordano's around 4:30. It was crowded. They told us it was about a 45 minute wait. They suggested we pre-order our pizza in about half an hour because it takes 45 minutes to cook. We ordered B-dog's special: Sausage & Mushrooms. Pizza was great. The boy fell asleep before it was served. Had some leftovers for our hotel mini-fridge.
The boy woke up on the walk back from the pizza parlor. We asked a panhandler for the nearest McDonalds. They always are willing to help you with directions. After we got the pizza back into our room's fridge and a cheeseburger fed, we went to the Art Institute to see American Gothic.
At the museum, Target has an offer with free admission after 6 pm. The museum was crowded -- packed. We saw American Gothic - done. Nighthawks was on loan to a museum in Boston, and the kids were getting tired on the timezone. We left the museum and stopped at Jamba Juice before they closed for a drink. We strolled around Millenium Park and watched people play in the fountain. At nightfall, we drove over to Buckingham fountain to see the light show. Buckingham fountain is featured in the old TV Sitcom "Married with Children". At night, the fountain has colors of plnk, green and blue. Later, we drove to the circle of the Adler Planetarium from a tip I got from a friend.about the great view.. From the partking lot, the city is lit up at night -- a perfect night view of downtown Chicago. We took some photos and headed back to the hotel for bed.