Friday, March 22, 2019

St. Patrick's Day Weekend In Chicago

A year ago as we drove back from our spring break destination on St. Patrick's Day (we were coming from sunny, warm Florida) I sat in the passenger side seat, looked at my husband, and said, "next year we're celebrating this day in Chicago." So we did. It was a quick weekend getaway to the Windy City since Hubs couldn't take time off work. We arrived in the city late Friday night, stayed at the always wonderful Hyatt Regency on the river so we could watch the river being dyed green from our hotel room (read about that here), and from there a whirlwind weekend progressed.

I was shocked by the amount of flooding we saw through Iowa and some of Illinois.

Their first viewing of Legally Blond thanks to the Kindle. Car treats, a movie, books, and sleeping kept the minis busy for our 5 1/2 hour drive.

The view of the river from our room. Our leprechauns surprised the minis in our room to watch the river dying with us. Read about both here and here.

The minis could hardly wait to see the green river! They woke up before 7 a.m. staring out the window, loudly asking when it was going to be green. When I informed them they had another two hours to wait they found other ways to entertain themselves. Like being dentists with the headboard reading lamps.

Next time we watch the river dying the minis requested we be on one of the party boats on the river. Ever since our first visit to the city a few years ago, they equate party boats with the Chicago River....and it's a bucket list item for all three.

We decided to stay with friends Saturday night so we had to check out of our hotel before heading out. The Hyatt was amazing and let us keep our vehicle in their parking garage all day (even after check out). 

Up close with the river.

Our big outing for Saturday was Shedd Aquarium. While that was wonderful, our walk through the parks wound up being the most eventful. You see, when we decided to go to Chicago for St. Patrick's Day weekend, we knew ahead of time that we'd be skipping the parade. The parade can get a little crazy (although I have very fond memories of a naked man running through Grant Park being chased by the police--still one of my favorite St. Pat's memories) so we decided a museum would be best during that time. However, we also wanted to walk to Museum Campus from our hotel and that meant dealing with closed streets, sidewalks, and witnessing the parade set up. It took us a while to walk around all of the closures, but we made it (after a stop at Maggie Daly Park). It's amazing how warm 37 degrees can feel after a long winter!

Shedd Aquarium was one of the only museums in Chicago that we haven't been to. It wasn't one of my favorites when I was younger, so I wasn't sure how the minis would like it (which is why we've been putting it off). Turns out I didn't need to worry because the minis LOVED it!

The minis and I may have broken out into a rendition of Yellow Submarine as soon as we saw this.

I realized this was the minis first time seeing a dolphin! Elizabeth's face seeing them jump for the first time was priceless (below).

In case you were wondering about my maturity level: the only reason I took this picture is because my husband and I instantly looked at each other and noted that it looked like an we giggled and snapped the picture.

One of the big reasons the minis loved the Aquarium was how interactive it was. Each tank of fish and/or exhibit had tablets next to them. You could scroll through to identify each and every fish, plant, rock, etc. I truly feel as if they learned more here than at any other museum simply because of how simple each exhibit was.

By the end of our visit, everyone was tired.... 

But we had a ways to walk for our early dinner with friends. We walked through Grant Park, Millennium Park, visited The Bean (Cloud Gate), and down a few of our favorite streets before heading to Pizano's.

Our annual picture in The Bean.

After dinner we took the kids shopping on Michigan Avenue and Water Tower Place. We made one little girl cry because we wouldn't buy her a $115 doll at American Girl, but the hot chocolate afterwards made up for it (a little at least).

Everyone went to sleep quickly Saturday night. Even me, your classic night owl, could barely keep my eyes open. I slept until 9 a.m. Sunday morning and could have easily slept longer! Between not getting sleep the night before and a busy day, I was exhausted.

Sunday we dressed in our green and went to the greenest spot in Chicago: Garfield Conservatory. 

We came here for my friend's wedding and knew we had to bring the kids back some day because of the fun kids area!

How the photo shoots usually go (above) just so I can get a decent one (below).

My friend from high school, Deanna, not only let us stay with her but hung out with us all day. We had a great time!

We had had reservations to the Safehouse Saturday afternoon, but had to cancel them while at the Aquarium because I quickly realized we'd never make the 2 p.m. aquarium show and a 3:45 reservation off North Michigan Avenue (especially walking). The minis were extremely disappointed until I said we could go on Sunday before we left for home. 

I'm so glad we did because it was such a fun lunch! To give you a quick rundown, it's a spy themed interactive restaurant. We spent around 3 hours there eating, doing a scavenger hunt-type thing, and being secret agents. The boys had a great time with it, while Elizabeth was nervous the entire time. This just wasn't her thing, but she did say she really liked her mac and cheese, so that's a bonus!

Once our access was granted to the Safehouse (we had to gain "security access" from the front desk first), we had to come up with our special secret agent names.

We had Agent Curly Sue, Agent Shorty, Agent Aunt Becky (my favorite), Agent Dr. Pancake, Agent The Dad, Agent Fennex.

We got mustaches to wear, saw a magic show, special drinks, and a scavenger hunt that was so much fun!

The massive dessert Deanna got that fed all six of us....well, mostly the three youngest. I honestly can't believe they polished it off after our lunch!

My favorite moment at the restaurant was when Matt (Hubs) was poking around at the "spy things" and the waitress playfully caught him. Elizabeth put her hands up, shielding her eyes, and whispered/groaned, "oh my god, dad! Just stop!" I'm not sure if she was truly embarrassed or if she was worried about getting into trouble. Either way, she said this line A LOT in our 3 hour interactive lunch. I'm convinced Dad being a goof is a big reason she didn't enjoy the restaurant as much as the boys. She also didn't enjoy the lazers at the end and trying to find your way through the tunnel to the exit.

It should come as no surprise that our ride home was quiet and relaxing. We had dinner from a drive thru (as Elizabeth asked us in the middle of Illinois, "do you trust us to get McDonald's to eat mom?") and fell into bed when we got home at 10 p.m. Hubs had to work first thing Monday morning, but the minis and I took advantage of our planned day of rest. However, that quickly became a day of laundry, but that's the usual after any weekend getaway.

Of course, the minis have added more to their list of Things To Do In Chicago and have already asked when we're headed back.