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My Kind of Town, Chicago is!

AWC > Travel > My Kind of Town, Chicago is! by Angie

"My kind of town, Chicago is
My kind of razzmatazz
And it has, all that jazz"
-- My Kind of Town, by Frank Sinatra
Standing in front of the Shedd Aquarium, looking back at the Chicago skyline.

Click Here to view the Military Discounts I found in Chicago

My husband and I just got back from our Chicago trip a few days ago.  Like any trip, it had its ups and downs, but it was mostly up and both of us really enjoyed ourselves!

It took us two days to drive from our home in Louisiana.  We stopped in Arkansas and spent the night on Tuesday and then got to our hotel in Lombard, just outside of Chicago on Wednesday evening.  It had been raining significantly in the days leading up to our arrival.  In fact, our hotel room was on the top floor and the ceiling ended up leaking right over the bed that first night!

The next morning, Thursday, I was able to get us a different room in the hotel and the issue was handled very professionally.  I dropped Jon off at his conference and moved our stuff from the first room to the second.  It was also on my agenda to head downtown and go to the Shedd Aquarium, but with all of the rain, I literally could not get out of our immediate area.  Whole intersections were flooded; streets were shut down because of standing get the picture.  I ended up at the mall, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.  One of the downsides of being stationed at Fort Polk is we have to drive an hour to get to the closest mall.  So I was able to hit up a Torrid to get some jeans that I desperately needed.  I spent the rest of the afternoon lounging in the hotel room and ended up eating some yummy room service at the hotel since Jon's tournament didn't let out until almost midnight.

Friday we got up late (I mean, we were on vacation after all), ended up eating lunch at Buca di Beppo, and then headed downtown.  The weather was very cold and it snowed all day, although it didn't stick.  Jon had the day free so he was with me.  We were originally going to try to go to the Field Museum, since that was his primary interest, but as luck would have it, we got caught in traffic on the one day that the museum closed early.  So we had to scratch that plan and decided to head to the Shedd Aquarium instead.  The Shedd is really beautiful and well-organized.  The only issue I had was that, because we got there so late in the day, most of the additional shows and exhibits ended up being sold out.  If you decide to go to Chicago and want to see the Shedd, make sure you go early in the day.

After the Shedd, we headed down to Navy Pier.  I was very interested in checking out the USO office they have down there.  I've been an Army wife for a long time, but, since most USOs are located in airports and if I'm in an airport, I'm running for a plane, I've never actually been in one.  The USO at the Navy Pier was very cool though.  The volunteer that was there was very helpful.  He gave us a print-out of the local attractions that offered military discounts and explained what the USO offers at their centers.  We left there and wandered around the Navy Pier for awhile, getting dinner at the food court before heading back to the hotel.

On Saturday, Jon had to be back at his convention, so I was on my own.  I had a very jam-packed day and the weather was perfect.  Cool, windy, but clear with sunshine.  I expected the traffic to be bad again, but I got to downtown very quickly and easily.  I was also a little nervous about the parking downtown.  I mean, most of the museums are on a "museum campus" and/or they have a dedicated parking garage, but this time I would be in actual DOWNTOWN.  Anyway, turns out I didn't have to worry.  I started my day at the Willis Tower (previously known as the Sears Tower) and there is a parking garage right across the street.  Super easy.  In fact, the traffic and parking was so easy that I arrived thirty minutes prior to it even opening.  But that's okay, because it gave me time to check out the literature in the lobby and talk to this sweet older man from Utah.  (Isn't that one of the best parts of traveling?  Meeting and talking to people from all different kinds of life?  Isn't that also one of the best parts of living a military lifestyle?)

The Sky Deck at the top of the Willis Tower is SUPER cool and I highly recommend it if you ever find yourself in the area.  They have small glass enclosures where you can step out and look down at the streets below.  There was one small moment when I got to the edge of the carpet where I experienced some serious vertigo, but for the most part it was just awesome!

After some exploring and picture taking at the Sky Deck, I walked back to my car and drove over to the Museum of Science and Industry.  This is another attraction that is not located on the museum campus, but they have their own parking garage located under the building.  I loved this place too!  I could easily have spent all day there and, if you have kids that are school-age, this probably should be high up on your list to see.  The whole place is very interactive and it's absolutely MASSIVE in size.  There was an F-18 simulator ride which was fun, but not too hard on my body in regards to any motion sickness, etc.  They have a huge OmniMax theater that shows two different movies at different times.  The whole museum is very hands-on and I could seriously have gotten lost in there all day.

But I couldn't!  I had one more sight to see that day!  I headed back downtown to the Art Institute of Chicago.  At this point, my feet were already hurting so I took advantage of their valet parking for $20.  That way I wouldn't have to walk as far and I didn't have to worry about finding parking on my own.  Easy peasy.  The Art Institute was another attraction that I could have easily spent all day in.  Very beautiful.  Very busy with a line to get in that wound all the way out of the door.  But I got to see and enjoy some really gorgeous, iconic works of art and it was totally worth it.  As the museum was closing, I headed back to Lombard and the hotel.  Jon and I ate at a local place that night called the Trademark Tavern.  Two words: cheese curds!  Delicious!

Sunday morning, Jon decided not to finish his tournament and decided to spend the door touring with me instead.  We ate lunch at Giordano's so we could get some traditional deep dish pizza and then we headed back to the museum campus downtown to visit the Field Museum.  Yet another MASSIVE museum where we could have gotten lost for a full day.  They had amazing exhibits showcasing different cultures from around the world.  They also have the most complete T-Rex skeleton in the entire world on display.  Super cool.  Unfortunately we took so much time in one half of the museum that we didn't get a chance to go through the other half.  However I did pick up some super cute books for the baby in the gift shop!  Hopefully we'll get to visit Chi-town again next year and I will get to see the other half of the Field.

Monday morning we left Chicago to come home.  The original plan was to take another two days to get back, but we decided to drive straight through and ended up getting home just before 2 a.m. on Tuesday morning.

The rain ended up changing our plans quite a bit.  I never did get to see The Brookfield Zoo, which was on my original agenda for Thursday.  If I had to do over again, I would have gone to the USO first.  Before we even left for Chicago, I purchased a Citipass that got me into five different attractions.

I really thought it was a great deal, but when we got the list from the USO, most of the places that I saw using Citipass were places that offered military discounts.  Oh well, live and learn.

At the end of the day, that's what traveling is all about.  Learning.  You learn to be flexible, you learn about people from other cultures and backgrounds, you learn about the world around you.  And, if you think about it, that's kind of what I enjoy about being married to the Army. =)

We're getting close to baby's due date, but if nothing else changes, we're headed to San Antonio in a couple of weeks.  Stay tuned!  And don't forget to check out the Chicago pictures and full list of discounts available below!  (Unfortunately I can't find my camera cable, so you're stuck with the ones from my iPhone. LOL)

'Til next time!
Angie  =)
Standing in front of the Shedd Aquarium, looking back at the Chicago skyline.
The front of the Shedd.
I was standing just outside the parking garage, looking up at the Willis Tower.

Me! Floating above Chicago! (At the Sky Deck)

Baby chicks at the Museum of Science & Industry. There was another incubator where you could watch them push themselves out of their eggs. 

"American Gothic" at the Art Institute of Chicago.  Iconic!

Sue!  The most complete T-Rex skeleton in the world! She's located at The Field Museum.
Standing in front of the Shedd Aquarium, looking back at the Chicago skyline.
The skyline from the top of the Willis Tower.  Looking out over Lake Michigan.  I guess it would be kind of hard to clean windows from that high in the air.

Super poignant and awesome.  At Soldier Field.  Located on the museum campus.

The following is a full list of discounts available to military.  According to the paper we got (which was updated 10/03/12), all discounts are for Active/Guard/Reserve military members with current military ID.

Navy Pier - Free

  • Shoreline Skyline (applies to non-specialty tours only), 
  • Shoreline Water Taxi, Tall Windy Ship, Anita Dee, Children's Museum (Up to 4 persons)

Navy Pier - Discounts

  • Sea Dog (10% off)
  • Spirit of Chicago, Odyssey and Mystic Blue (15% off, excludes firework cruises Wed and Sat evenings)
  • Shoreline Architecture Tour (Child's Fare Price - $15.50)
  • Segway Experience (15% off)
  • Harry Caray (20% off for Active's meal only if in uniform)
  • Margaritaville (10% off of check, applies to food only)

Available from the USO Center: Free - Navy Pier Coupon Book; Discounts - IMAX Theater at Navy Pier (military and immediate family members)

City of Chicago - FREE

  • Adler Planetarium (active duty only)
  • Art Institute (active duty only); Museum of Contemporary Art (active or with dependent ID, Tues is free to public)
  • Chicago History Museum (active duty only)
  • Field Museum; Lincoln Park Zoo (Free to the Public)
  • Brookfield Zoo (active duty only)
  • Museum of Science & Industry (active duty only)
  • Willis Tower Sky Deck (active duty only)  
  • Shedd Aquarium (active duty only)
  • White Sox tickeTs (supply limited, regular & prime games only, show ID at gate 4);
  • CTA (must be in uniform)
  • Chicago Greeter (free to the public)
  • Wrigley Field Tours (must be in uniform)

City of Chicago  - DISCOUNTS

  • Ghiradelli (20% off)
  • Blue Man Group (if available, $35 per ticket, 2 ticket limit per ID, MUST BE PICKED UP IN PERSON 2 HOURS BEFORE SHOW STARTS)
  • John Hancock Observatory ($10 off; ticket price will be $7.50 and 2 guests may also receive reduced price)

We do not guarantee any of these discounts.  Discounts are always subject to change. Always verify with each company/event/establishment regarding any offers.


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