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Midwest Vacation Destination: Downtown Chicago

Updated on May 30, 2008
Tranquil Shore of Lake Michigan Right in the City - Photo: ClaudiaCastro,Flickr
Tranquil Shore of Lake Michigan Right in the City - Photo: ClaudiaCastro,Flickr

If you're concerned about high gas prices, try sticking close to home with a Midwest vacation destination this year. Midwest family vacations range from camping to luxury hotels, from savoring nature to sampling the city more sophisticated offering. Of all the places to visit in the Midwest, Chicago has the most amusements to over for family vacations. Bite the bullet and fill up the gas tank, check out all the fabulous Midwest destinations encompassed by downtown Chicago.

Chicago Has It All

For its architectural beauty, arts, and amusements, the best Midwest vacation has to be Chicago. Kids and adults alike will be amazed at the view from the Sears Tower Skydeck, and you'll all get plenty of exercise walking the miles of paths along the shores of Lake Michigan. If you're a history buff, you can even teach the kids the true meaning of the term windy city. (Hint: it's not the weather kind of wind!) None of the other Midwest vacation destinations have as many attractions as Chicago. Here are just a few:

Children's Museum at Navy Pier

Chicago is full of world-class museums, but the kids' favorite will surely be the Chicago Children's Museum at Navy Pier. Kids have get hands on experience with inventions, faux dinosaur bones, and sailing a make-believe schooner. Once the kids tire of all that education (and air conditioning), head outside to ride the Ferris wheel and eat some old fashioned carnival treats.

Wildlife in the City

Chicago's John G. Shedd Aquarium and Oceanarium is the world's largest indoor aquarium. Observing the sea life there will be spoil them for any other aquarium - but it's the good kind of spoiling!

The Field Museum is another favorite with it's full size T-Rex and King Tut exhibits. At the Museum of Science and Industry the whole family can walk through a huge, working model of the human heart. Plan a trip to the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum on a Friday for special programs.

Sears Tower Skydeck

Take in the spectacular view from the 103rd floor Skydeck of the Sears Tower, which at 110 stories is the tallest in North America. Clear skies will let you see 40-50 miles, including the gorgeous Chicago architecture, as well as into Michigan and Wisconsin. Waits can be long, but once you hit the elevators it's worth it. They feature 50-inch flat screen monitors that show images to make you feel like you're blasting off through the top of the Sears Tower and into space. Knee-High Chicago is just for children. This kid-level display extends all the way around the Skydeck. And of course, there are high-tech, high-powered telescopes to get that good look of the city.

After your high level sight seeing, return to street level and explore the Loop. You'll get up close and personal with sculptures by Picasso, Miro, and Chagall among others, and if you're lucky you'll also catch a street performance of a group of bucket drummers.

Buckingham Fountain

Buckingham Fountain is one of the largest fountains in the world, and is located in Grant Park. Since its opening in May of 1927, it has become one of Chicago's most popular attractions. Every hour on the hour from early April to early November the fountain produces a 20 minute water display, shooting it's 1.5 million gallons of water up to 150 feet into the air. At dusk, the show is accompanied by lights and music that coordinate with the water movement. If you have never witnessed a water display of this caliber - or even if you have - you will be mesmerized.

Deep Dish Pizza

Okay - maybe this really isn't a vacation destination, but you don't want to leave the city without sampling the deep-dish pizza. Chicago style pizza is like no other. Although, for the kids' sake you might want to opt out of the spinach, which is a common pizza topping. Then again, that may be the only way to get any greens into them during your vacation.


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