When I took Brooke to San Francisco last summer to drop her off for her ballet summer intensive, we went a day early to spend some tourist time together. It was really nice for us to have that time together doing mother-daughter bonding before parting for three weeks, and we decided to do it again this year in Chicago. Here are some of the highlights of our weekend.
We stayed at the Palmer House Hilton, and it is a beautiful hotel. I really prefer staying in these historic hotels over new branded hotels whenever possible. Everything about them is so beautiful. The Palmer House Hilton did not disappoint. We had an upgraded, slightly larger room that had a large seating area. Every single person on the staff we encountered was pleasant. The room was comfortable, and the location was convenient to shopping, eating, and tourist spots. It was also one of the less expensive options in the area, so I would definitely stay there again. Interesting fact: the hotel was actually a wedding gift from Potter Palmer to his wife. That is quite a gift.
On Saturday afternoon, we visited Shedd Aquarium. There were signs that the aquarium might reach capacity that day, and there was a long line at the door to buy tickets and enter. The Shedd Aquarium website mentioned that there can be a 30-60 minute wait at the door for tickets and entry, so I purchased tickets ahead of time as recommended. We were able to bypass all the lines and walk right in, so I definitely recommend buying your tickets before you arrive. There are two different levels of tickets, so make sure to get the “total experience” tickets. This ticket lets you see any special exhibits, experience the 4D theater, touch the stingrays, and see the amazing dolphin show. My favorite part of the aquarium was the dolphin show. Once inside, the aquarium did not seem overcrowded in spite of the line. We spent about 3-4 hours viewing everything except the 4D experience (which we skipped because they make me sick).
It probably does not come as a surprise to you that I am a big fan of art. When I lived in DC, I loved being able to visit the National Gallery regularly. Unfortunately, I haven’t had an opportunity to visit an art museum in a few years. So, I was excited when Brooke wanted to visit the Art Institute of Chicago with me. She has never been very interested in art, but she enjoyed it so much that we looked at every single exhibit in the museum. The Art Institute of Chicago has a very impressive collection of Impressionist art, and that was probably our favorite part of the museum. It was interesting for me to see what art caught her eye and how she responded to what she saw. In the end, we both agreed that the Impressionist art and the Asian art was far superior to anything else we saw. Brooke especially did not enjoy the modern “sound art” exhibit that featured sounds of people chewing. Still, it’s always good to expand your definition of art. The line for tickets at the Art Institute is not nearly as long as it is in the aquarium, but you may want to buy your tickets ahead of time online. One of the best things about visiting the museum is that kids under 14 get in for free.