Tuesday, our fourth – and last full – day in Chicago, was another beautiful day, albeit a little warm for fall. We were hoping for cooler weather but it’s ok; we are used to warm fall days.
We ate breakfast at the hotel and then walked to Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) where we joined a loooooong line of people waiting to go to the top. Willis Tower is the 8th tallest building in the world and the tallest in the Western Hemisphere. I’ve been there up before, a couple of decades ago, but I was excited to go again…and especially to see Hannah and Joseph’s reactions. It was also a completely different experience, as I’ll explain in a bit…
The line wrapped around the building. When we got there we were on the exact opposite side of Willis Tower as the entrance to the Skydeck.
The wait really wasn’t bad. We got in line just after tower opening (10am) and was inside less than an hour later. Once the doors open, lots of people move in. There is a long process to actually getting to the Skydeck, including escalators, elevators and exhibits, and a maze of line ropes (in several different rooms). Fortunately for us, once inside we barely stopped moving, skipping completely past the big “waiting rooms” before taking the elevator to the top. We also purchased a city pass that gave us entrance to a few different Chicago attractions and allowed us to skip past the cashier portion of the line.
The elevator experience alone was a highlight for us, at its super high speed traveling 103 floors up in no time. Once at the top, you can see for miles (they say up to 50 on a clear day like the one we had).
We went straight to the line for the Ledge. Four glass walk-out boxes that were more recently built into the side of Willis Tower, overlooking the city in a surreal way. This new experience is optional, but it was a must-do for us. All but Joseph was all about it. It is a little disconcerting, I’ll give him that. And he was a trooper.
He stepped out there with us and we did this…
Christmas card photo!
But then Joe and I did this, and he was outta there.
You can see his little head in the corner of that photo above, just out of the glass box cantilevered off the side of a skyscraper and on non-see-through ground. I can tell you, doing a handstand and looking down on the city at those other buildings and cars so far below is most definitely thrilling.
We spent a little more time walking around the Skydeck before heading down to street level and catching an Uber to Lake Shore Drive near Museum Campus.
But first, a Chicago-style hot dog.
Yum. Spicy and yum.
We walked another mile to Adler Planetarium. It was hot – not South Georgia hot – but still hot.
The planetarium was also an option with our city pass and, since we’ve never done that with the kids, we were excited to go. We really enjoyed it, too. It was also not a huge time commitment (a couple hours) and we were happy to be in air-conditioning!
Meme had to leave early that morning to fly to work (New York) but gave H+J spending money for souvenirs. Joseph bought a firetruck toy at Willis Tower (random) and a non-space related overpriced magnetic light-up toy at the planetarium. Classic.
Hannah bought a Willis Tower-shaped pencil sharpener and a pretty purple geode and a pink agate coaster. More location-fitting mementos for her, but both kids were happy with their choices. 🙂
Joe’s mom and aunt met up with us and we decided on a double-decker Big Bus ride across town. As we waited, the sky darkened and it rained, but it didn’t last long. And the view across the lake was beautiful. The kids loved playing at the edge.
The bus ride was great. Our tour guide was equal parts informative and hilarious. I love those qualities together.
After a coffee stop, we made our way to dinner at Catch 35, a seafood and steak restaurant. It was delicious.
The next morning, we flew back to the South…
…driving from Atlanta to Valdosta just ahead of a hurricane.
We made it back (I was adamant about getting home!) and were thankful to be safe. It was a stressful end to a full and fun few days.
Chicago was wonderful. I love the Windy City…in the summertime at least.
The marathon went well and Joe did awesome despite the weather. I am so proud of him, for his hard work, and for accomplishing his goals and his dedication in fulfilling his dreams.
I am thankful for my mom and Joe’s mom who helped make this trip and all the things possible, but also added to the fun. It wouldn’t have been the same without them! We are also glad Aunt Barbara (and Sarah for part of the time) joined us, too.
We had a lot of fun with family and loved seeing all the sights. It was so worth the planning and taking the kids out of school.
So worth it.
I’m very grateful for these family trips – the experiences and the memories. And I’m glad I finally spent time and blogged about it. I guess sometimes being super behind is a good thing – you get to relive the memories.