Just about four years ago, I joined a social networking site called cre8buzz. It was a place where bloggers could connect, share pictures, videos, posts and ideas. It is where I met my very best bloggy friends.
A few months ago, Melisa’s second book was published. It’s called Chicken in the Car and the Car Won’t Go: Nearly 200 Ways to Enjoy Chicagoland with Tweens and Teens. Guess what I have? Mmm hmm…it’s all Tween Central up in here.
After I received a copy, a plan was born. My 12 year old daughter, Ali, and I would make a trip to Chicago and explore some of the places in Melisa’s book and Melisa would be our guide. It helps to know people.
Ali and I settled in with Melisa’s book, and her recommendations, and decided just where we wanted to go.
But then we hit a snag. Airfare is outrageous and we don’t own a reliable car, so the second part of our plan was figuring out a way to get there. Luckily, we were able to hitch a ride to Chicago with our good friends who were going the same weekend. It helps to know people, times two.
Upon entrance to the Windy City, it turned out that our friends didn’t have a reliable car either. Just on the other side of the Chicago Skyway Toll Bridge, the rear axle fell off. But, really, you can’t ask for more excitement at the beginning of your trip than standing on the side of the road, on the south side of Chicago at 10:00pm. We like to start our vacations with a bang! Or a thunk. Same difference.
This did not deter Melisa though. Ali and I, and our luggage, jumped the median and Melisa and her son picked us up on the other side of the road. We arrived at her house, exhausted, and she sent us straight up to her bedroom for a good night’s rest.
It was a good thing we rested.
We awoke early, took the train into Chicago and we were off. Kind of like a rocket.
Our first stop was that which will never be called the Willis Tower, also known as the Sears Tower. Melisa is an Ambassador for Skydeck, which is the name of the CLEAR boxes they have installed on the sides of the building on the observation level. You can, literally, step out of the building, into a box and see the city streets below your feet. It’s about ten shades of insanity. Also, I LOVED it.
My daughter loved it more.
After that, we enjoyed the Riverwalk and a walk along Michigan Avenue, before ending up at the John Hancock Building for lunch. If you want unequaled views of the lake and the city skyline, this is the place to go. The food was delicious too.
From there, we got off of our feet for a while and took a cab to Navy Pier where we enjoyed a beautiful architectural tour on a boat that traveled down the river. It was fun and informative and it was a gorgeous day to be on the water.
Following that, we walked the entire way around Navy Pier before I was forced to climb into a ferris wheel car. I was not pleased.
Now keep in mind, this was all. In. One. Day. And, we were not done.
Another cab ride took us to Millennium Park were we saw the amazing “Bean” and Crown Fountain, before hopping onto the train home and stopping at Portillo’s for Chicago dogs and Italian beef sandwiches. Whew!
I suffer from insomnia, but you can bet that I slept that night.
The next day, we visited the Museum of Science and Industry, before going to Ed Debevics for lunch.
If you’ve never been to Ed’s, you should go, but you need to leave your ego at the door; especially if your ego doesn’t like insults. The wait staff is notoriously rude, but even though they throw the menus on the table, “spit” in your water and call you dirtball, it’s a fun place to eat. It’s amazing how much a 12 year old enjoys watching her mother squirm because she might get scolded by the waiter.
We were told to wear these hats. We obliged.
After a short rest, we took a leisurely stroll around Melisa’s town before enjoying a dinner with fellow bloggers and the world’s best dessert; raw cookie dough (without eggs so it’s safe to eat). I ate the whole bowl. Of cookie dough. Don’t judge me.
I haven’t even mentioned the Vietnam Memorial, the Stained Glass Museum, the Tiffany ceiling in that which shall never be called Macy’s (also known as Marshall Fields), Buckingham Fountain, the 9/11 Memorial, the Naperville Bell Tower, deep dish pizza, photo ops in front of the Art Institute, the double-decker trains at Union Station…and MORE.
Melisa’s family was kind, generous and funny, the weather was beautiful and everywhere we went we encountered nothing but the nicest people you could ever meet. My daughter, who lately has been known as “The Surly One” actually smiled and LAUGHED. A lot.
Chicago is a fun, exciting and beautiful city and if you are a tween, teen OR adult, Melisa’s book is an invaluable resource for finding things to do and knowing exactly what to expect. The woman loves her town.
And, you know what? So do we.