Posts Tagged ‘Shedd Aquarium’

Chicago holiday weekend guide

 

Ice rink in Millennium Park in front of the Park Grill below Cloud Gate (The Bean).( Photo courtesy of City of Chicago)

Ice rink in Millennium Park in front of the Park Grill below Cloud Gate (The Bean).( Photo courtesy of City of Chicago)

 

Whether coming from out of town or the suburbs, spending a weekend downtown Chicago is such a treat you’ll want to make it an annual outing.

To help with the decisions because there’s so much to do and see, here’s a two-day guide (you probably settled in to your hotel last night) of steps and options.

 

Step 1

Choose a hotel close enough to walk to many sights shows and bus stops.

The CTA (Chicago Transit Authority has routes that can take you as close as the Magnificent Mile of North Michigan and as far as the Museum of Science and Industry near Hyde Park. St. Jane Hotel on Michigan Avenue would be an example because it is just south of the Chicago River so the North Michigan Avenue shops are within walking distance going north, it is an easy walk north to Millennium Park with its famed Cloud Gate sculpture (The Bean) where visitors take selfies, plus the Art Institute of Chicago and the Theatre District. And it is near a good bus stop.

But check other hotels and prices at the city’s tourism website, Choose Chicago.

Step 2

Figure out which shows you would like to see so you can snag tickets for those you want at times you want.

As an example Goodman Theatre is once again doing “A Christmas Carol” with terrific scene design and actors and The Joffrey Ballet is doing “The Nutcracker” with exciting choreography and sets that debuted in 2017.

Find show options at League of Chicago Theatres’ site Chicago Plays

Step 3

Remember to fit in downtime and coffee breaks so you and yours go home smiling, not exhausted.

 

 

Two-day weekend divided by location

 

Day One: South of the Chicago River

Do breakfast at Free Rein, a French brasserie with a patisserie up front that has great croissants but the restaurant also does omelets, oat meal, smoothies and other dishes. Free Rein is at  224 N. Michigan Ave. attached to St Jane Hotel.

Option One

Past scene in Macy's holiday window with a Charlie Brown theme and reflections from downtown buildings. (J Jacobs photo)

Past scene in Macy’s holiday window with a Charlie Brown theme and reflections from downtown buildings. (J Jacobs photo)

After relaxing over coffee, stroll west and south a couple of blocks to Macy’s at State and Randolph Streets to see how the department store decorated its State Street windows this year. Cross State Street to catch the #146 Museum Campus bus on the west side of State Street, and the north side of Washington Street. At he Museum Campus  you can see the dinosaurs and mummies at  The Field Museum , Penguins and dolphins at the Shedd Aquarium and the Destination Solar System show at the Adler Planetarium.

Tip: The museums have shops that are good for picking up last minute gifts.

Catch the #146 bus back to State and Randolph in front of Macy’s to go up to its Walnut Room on the 7th floor for lunch and to see its three-story tree.

If you couldn’t get a reservation for the Walnut Room, you probably can sit in the bar to the side and do lunch there.

Option Two

Walking up the bridge from Millennium Park to the Art Institute of chicago's Modern Wing affords a great view of buildings and the park. (J Jacobs photo)

Walking up the bridge from Millennium Park to the Art Institute of chicago’s Modern Wing affords a great view of buildings and the park. (J Jacobs photo)

After breakfast cross Michigan Avenue at Randolph Street to walk through Millennium Park, take photos at “The Bean,”hen walk up the Nichols Bridgeway, a walkway from the park’s “Great Lawn” that goes over Monroe Street to the 3rd floor of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Modern Wing.You have a good view of the skyline and the park if you turn around.  The Art Institute doesn’t open until 10:30 a.m. so linger over coffee or picture taking at Millennium Park.

Along with seeing famous paintings, visit the Art Institute’s Thorne Rooms. About seven of the approximately 100 miniature period rooms are decorated for the holidays. But all of them are fascinating.

Tip: Shops in the Art Institute’s main building and modern wing have great gifts.

Take a break with hot chocolate or soup on the mezzanine of the Modern Wing or do lunch at the Park Grill at street level of Millennium Park to watch ice skaters. Or visit the Chicago Architecture Center on Wacker Drive. Its diorama on the main floor shows the Chicago Fire and architectural places of interest. The exhibit upstairs is about skyscrapers. Both exhibits are superb and Chicago is internationally known for its architecture.

Return to the hotel to relax before heading out for cocktails, dinner and a show or go ice skating in Millennium Park followed by a casual dinner at The Gage across Michigan Avenue from the park.

If going to the Goodman Theatre to see “A Christmas Carol” consider making a reservation next door at Petterinos. The restaurant has excellent calamari and a reasonable wine list.

Doing lunch at Marisol at the Museum of Contemporary Art (J Jacobs photo)

Doing lunch at Marisol at the Museum of Contemporary Art (J Jacobs photo)

Day Two: North of the Chicago River

Do breakfast at Pierrot Gourmet, a European-style café and bistro similar to Free Rein but this restaurant is attached to the Peninsula Chicago Hotel at Superior and Rush Streets. If you can’t decide on ordering a dish on the menu or trying one of the pastries, eat there and take something to go. The Peninsula Chicago overlooks the Magnificent Mile

Browse the shops on the Magnificent Mile. There are individual stores such as Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany, department stores such as Bloomingdales and Nordstrom and indoor malls such as Water Tower Place, the 900 North Michigan Shops and the Shops at Northbridge.

Take a lunch break at Marisol, a new, neighborhood dining spot that is street level at the Museum of Contemporary Art a block east of Michigan Avenue. The dishes are innovative and yummy. Marisol is at 205 E. Pearson, a block east of Water Tower Place.

Restaurant access has no museum charge. However, there is a wonderful exhibit of Enrico David’s work, “Gradations of Slow Release” at the museum that is definitely worth a look

Back on the Mag Mile, continue exploring.

 

Lincoln Park Zoo Lights (Photo courtesy of Lincoln Park Zoo)

Lincoln Park Zoo Lights (Photo courtesy of Lincoln Park Zoo)

Option One

When dusk falls, take the 151 bus north from Michigan Avenue or cab it to Lincoln Park Zoo for Zoo Lights. See more trip planning information at Visit the CTA/RTA Travel Information Center

There are restaurants and food stands at the zoo. When through saying goodnight to the penguins and polar bear, head back to the hotel for a well-deserved night cap and rest.

Option Two

Shop until ready to go into the John Hancock Center just north of Water tower Place for great views of the city. Take the elevator up to the 96th floor for cocktails and view or to the Signature Room on the 95th for dinner and a view. Reservations are a good idea.

 

Four summer things to do in Chicago on a stacation or as a visitor

 

From going to museums and shows to enjoying neighborhood festivals and awesome public art, there is always something to see and do in Chicago.

Indeed, there is so much to choose from that trying to wade through all the information is akin to almost drowning in a sea of information.

So here are four suggestions for different ages and interests.

 

Sharks at the Shedd 

See and find out about sharks at the Shedd. Shedd Aquarium photo

See and find out about sharks at the Shedd. Shedd Aquarium photo

 

It doesn’t matter if you missed Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” programs at the end of July, you can visit the sharks and learn about them at the Shedd Aquariam, one of Chicago’s most visited museums.

Instead of merely watching Shedd inhabitants swim and cavort, find out more about what you are seeing by chatting with divers and experts during animal chats. They take place at different times each day at the Caribbean Reef with a diver during feeding time, at Wild Reef when an expert answers such question s as why the sharks you’ll see don’t eat their fish companions, and at the Oceanarium where there are beluga and sea lions animal chats. There is also a daily expert answering questions about penguins in the Polar Play Zone

However, there is also a 60 minute shark feeding tour experience at the Wild Reef that is fascinating. Because it is a behind the scenes tour it needs planning ahead of time and special tickets. For that info visit Sharks. For animal chats visit Shedd.

 

Musical Madagascar

Imagine DreamWorks 2005 film coming alive on stage.  With award winning director/choreographer Rachel Rockwell at the helm, the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s version of the characters is jazzy enough and cool enough to keep youngsters and adults clapping and moving for 70 short minutes. It’s certainly family friendly but adults don’t have to find a child to come and enjoy a show about New York’s Central Park Zoo residents escaping to an island country.

Madagascar "animals" escape from zoo on Chicago Shakespeare's stage. Liz Lauren photo

Madagascar “animals” escape from zoo on Chicago Shakespeare’s stage. Liz Lauren photo

‘Madagascar is at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre on Navy Pier, 800 Grand Avenue, Chicago, now through Aug. 27, 2017. For tickets and other information visit ChicagoShakes.

 

Andersonville Eats

Andersonville, known as home to the Swedish American Museum and ethnic restaurants, is holding its annual Dinner Crawl Aug. 9. However, if not able to make the event check out the website to put together your own taste of Andersonville.

Typcialy attracting 600 foodies, the event offers three choices: Golden Fork, Silver Spoon  and The Works routes and menus. The Crawl starts at 4 p.m. at the Swedish American Museum, 5211 N. Clark St. For tickets and a list of restaurants and stops visit Andersonville.

 

A Picasso Celebration of Public Art

For people who remember when that 50-foot tall, odd-looking sculpture was set up on Daley Plaza 50 years ago, it might seem like yesterday that Pablo Picasso designed an extraordinary sculpture for Chicago. People who keep an eye on the statue to see what sport celebration may be crowning it or hanging around its neck, the sculpture has come to signify city pride. And it’s universally recognized. So what to do when its 50th anniversary  rolls around?

Well, in Chicago the anniversary will be celebrated with a re-staging of its unveiling, music performances and a few speeches beginning at noon, Aug. 8.

Chicago's Picasso sculpture symbolizes city pride. Jacobs photo

Chicago’s Picasso sculpture symbolizes city pride. Jacobs photo

But if unable to make the storied event, this summer is a good chance to  appreciate the city’s year-long celebration: “20017 Year of Public Art.”  The Chicago Public Art Collection, managed by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, contains more than 500 art works scattered throughout the city.

From Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Gate (The Bean) and Jaume Plense’s Crown Fountain in Millennium Park to Jean Dubuffet’s  “Monument with Standing Beast” at the State of Illinois Building  and Alexander Calder’s “Flamingo” a the Federal Center Plaza, there are enough sculptures  to walk around just downtown for an entire day. For a guide to the art works visit DCASE.

 

 

Shout out for World Penguin Day

Zoos and aquariums are celebrating World Penguin Day today, April 25, 2017. The date was picked because that is when Antarctic penguins annually start migrating north.

Penguins at the Shedd Aquarium. Jodie Jacobs photo

Penguins at the Shedd Aquarium. Jodie Jacobs photo

 

In Chicago, the Shedd Aquarium is celebrating with a wonderful series of videos showing penguins making a nest at the aquarium, a new-born penguin being fed and a Shedd program that rescues African penguins in trouble.

Click Shedd  to watch the videos. And visit the Shedd, 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, to watch penguins play.

 

The Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago is also is a good place to watch penguins. Go to LPZoo for more information.

 

A good online site to learn about penguins and find excellent photos is EarthSky. A not for profit site, EarthSky is a good place for space information and our planet’s news.

 

On the west coast, the San Diego Zoo is celebrating World Penguin Day with special penguin themed activities. Go to SDZ to see the events.

 

Five family activities in Chicago for spring break

See weird specimens in a new, behind the scenes exhibit at the Field Museum Photo by Jodie Jacobs

See weird specimens in a new, behind the scenes exhibit at the Field Museum.  Photo by Jodie Jacobs

The kids are saying yea, no school for a week. But what’s a parent to do when there is more to plan for than a weekend outing?

From a tomb and T Rex to penguins and planets, the Museum Campus has lots to keep families fascinated for an entire day.

Penguin antics also make visitors chuckle at Lincoln Park Zoo.

Lego is a hit at the Museum of Science and Industry and at the Legoland Discovery Center in west suburban Schaumburg.

The Centennial Wheel and musical play equipment are awesome at Navy Pier. Check them out and enjoy.

 

Explore Chicago’s Museum Campus

Youngsters don’t all like the same things but on Chicago’s Museum Campus at the south east end of the downtown, you can probably satisfy two different interests if you plan carefully.

Children fascinated by mummies, dinosaurs and native American tribal life will love the  Field Museum while adults will likely want to detour over to its gem exhibit.

Anyone who likes penguins or  pretty much anything live that moves through water will want to stop at the Shedd Aquarium across from The Field.

Budding astronomers and space explorer wannabes will want to go to the Adler Planetarium that’s further down the museum campus’ arm.

Families might be able to take in some of two places but really shouldn’t try to do all three museums on the same day.

Tip: While on the museum campus walk past the aquarium towards the planetarium .then turn around and look at the city. This is where journalists take photos of the skyline and TV broadcasters go for a super camera op of Chicago’s skyline. Your photo will look like you are out in a boat on Lake Michigan because you are on a peninsula.

 

Put on your minor’s hat or thinking cap at the Museum of Science and Industry

The Museum of Science and Industry south of downtown should satisfy all interests from its coal mine experience, Lego exhibit  and futuristic thinking room to Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle, the Great Train Story’s model railroads and the Mirror Maze.

Tip: On April 8 and 9 and April 15, you can also see special Robotics week events.

 

You play at Navy Pier

Ride the Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Ride the Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

 Navy Pier, a 3,300 foot long entertainment pier jutting into Lake Michigan from Illinois Street east of the Mag Mile is home to the Chicago Children’s Museum,  a Ferris-type ride called the Centennial Wheel that is almost 200 feet high and ethnic festivals in its Crystal Garden.

Tip: There is also an IMAX Theater so check out its film schedule. Plus do ‘Impulse: An Interactive Art Exhibit,’  in the Polk Bros Park at Navy Pier, now through May 21. It’s a light and sound experience where visitors can try out seesaws and other play equipment that produce different tones and colors when activated.

 

Watch animals play at the zoo

Stroll through Lincoln Park Zoo to see two new, polar opposite,  animal habitats: South African penguins in their cozy cove (It’s not icy) and Arctic polar bears in a coldly comfortable place.

Tip: The zoo and its Lincoln Park environment are fun places to spend a day so plan on eating at Park Place Café which has Mexican, Italian dishes and burgers or if warm enough, the roof top Café at Wild Things above the Wild Things gift store. .

 

Discover what can be done with Legos

From things to ride, play with and see in 4D to Star Wars episodes to experience, there is an entire Lego world at the Legoland Discovery Center in Schaumburg,  Entry and experiences are ticketed so plan ahead because tickets are timed to prevent overcrowding, particularly during winter and spring vacation breaks.

Tip: Online tickets save money so check it out at Tickets.

 

 

 

 

 

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