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ski_mom
06-25-2009, 10:59 AM
We are looking for something to do over the weekend of the 4th and are considering going to the Chicago area. I see that the Taste of Chicago is going on over that weekend and wondered if that is a good thing to do with kids.

We've never been so I looked at some of the activities planned and it looks like fun. But, I was just wondering if it is so packed that you really can't enjoy/participate in some of the activities.

If we don't do that, we may just try hitting some of the museums and shopping areas? I'm really up in the air at this point.

Thanks!
Becky

Momto3Girls&Max
06-25-2009, 11:05 AM
It is usually VERY crowded. The last time we went one of our DDs was in a stroller and people were literally stepping over the stroller -- as in lifting their leg over the corner of the stroller and stepping over to get by. DH nearly punched someone when he almost fell into her while trying to get by, so we decided that we won't return until all of our kids are much older. YMMV

nd5056
06-25-2009, 11:30 AM
Check out this post HERE: (http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2211873) about Taste & Fireworks in Chicago.

Crowded is a very gentle word for this event. July 3rd is (fill in your own word here). Any other Taste of Chicago is very crowded, best to do it on the weekday, except for the Friday July 3rd, the Fireworks day this year…

Taste of Chicago Web site:
(http://www.explorechicago.org/city/en/things_see_do/event_landing/special_events/mose/taste_of_chicago.html)

3rd of July Fireworks (http://www.explorechicago.org/city/en/things_see_do/event_landing/events/mose/3rd_of_july_fireworks.html)

And HERE: (http://www.urbanohio.com/forum2/index.php?topic=16654.0) you can see someone pics (how crowded it gets long before the Fireworks)from that event... :scared1:


Other Chicagoland Fireworks Displays (http://cbs2chicago.com/topstories/chicagoland.fireworks.2008.2.758811.html)

.

LaurenLC
06-25-2009, 11:36 AM
There is nothing about the Taste of Chicago that I like.... It's always crowded and in my opinion overpriced. I also don't really find it to be a safe or appropriate place to bring kids.... You see and hear A LOT of interesting things..... It is one of the Chicago festivals that I avoid like the plague…

ski_mom
06-25-2009, 12:05 PM
OK, we have definately decided not to do the Taste of Chicago. We would just be there on the 3rd and 4th and I'm sure it would be a madhouse.

Now, my next question - would accessing some of the other things in Chicago be crazy as well? I was thinking about things like Field Museum, Museum of Science and Industry, Navy Pier, Sears Tower, etc. If we do the Chicago area, I think we are going to stay around the airport or another suburb, so we would have to drive in and deal with parking.

I'm not familiar with the area - so I don't know if even that would be too much?

Thanks again!

slamzim
06-25-2009, 12:16 PM
I wouldn't recommend driving, parking, etc can get expensive. You can take the L train (I think) We took it from the airport to the motel, had to walk a couple blocks but not bad. Parking at the motel was like $19 per day. There is a free trolly with a couple different routes depending on where you want to go. You can google "free trolley Chicago" for more info. Definitely lots of walking, so wear comfortable shoes.

Hope this helps.

slamzim
06-25-2009, 12:17 PM
Okay, I just checked the google page, and it looks like they discontinued the free trolley Sorry

NotUrsula
06-25-2009, 12:17 PM
If your dates are flexible, might I suggest going for Venetian Nights instead? It's later in the month (July 25th), and is a much lower-key event that is not much advertised outside of the city. You still get the Lakefront fireworks and the festival atmosphere, but not the insane crowds. http://www.explorechicago.org/city/en/things_see_do/event_landing/special_events/mose/venetian_night.html


Hotel prices are jacked through the roof on the the July 4th weekend because of Taste, even in the suburbs. BTW, if you do stay in the suburbs near O'Hare, don't drive in except to go to Science and Industry. Take the Blue Line El train instead; you can park in a commuter lot. Parking in downtown Chicago is a nightmare, and very expensive, and the traffic tends to be aggravating if you're not used to it.

PS: Don't mourn that trolley; it was always ridiculously crowded, too. Go to the CTA website and buy visitor passes ahead; they mail them quickly. That way you can ride any CTA bus or CTA train that you want to, as much as you want to. http://faremedia.chicago-card.com/store/main.aspx?DepartmentId=34

PPS: If you want to visit the Harry Potter exhibit at MSI, buy your tickets online in advance. They are selling out quickly.

taitai
06-25-2009, 12:24 PM
The Taste is insanely crowded all the time. The only time we would even consider it is a weekday during lunch. NEVER around the 4th. The above poster is correct, Chicago always does its fireworks on the 3rd. DO NOT EVEN CONSIDER DRIVING IN!!! It will be insane. If you do come for the fireworks, plan on a very, very long wait to get on an El for the ride back to the burbs. They do add extra cars but it is just so crazy with people it can take a long time to even get to the platform.

I believe you can buy advance tickets to the Shedd, etc and I would explore doing that.

I also second the suggestion of the poster above regarding Venetian Night. It is much less crowded and I actually think the fireworks are nicer that night.

Good luck

Momto3Girls&Max
06-25-2009, 01:08 PM
Now, my next question - would accessing some of the other things in Chicago be crazy as well? I was thinking about things like Field Museum, Museum of Science and Industry, Navy Pier, Sears Tower, etc. If we do the Chicago area, I think we are going to stay around the airport or another suburb, so we would have to drive in and deal with parking.

I'm not familiar with the area - so I don't know if even that would be too much?

Thanks again!

If you stay near the airport, you can take the Blue Line CTA train downtown. If you stay in a nearby suburb, you can take the Metra train in. I do not recommend driving in because it is super expensive to park and with the Taste of Chicago and the fireworks going on, it will be hard to find a space even at the crazy rates they charge!

First figure out where you'll be staying and we can let you know the easiest way to get downtown, to Navy Pier, the Field Museum, etc.

nd5056
06-25-2009, 01:51 PM
If you stay near the airport, you can take the Blue Line CTA train downtown. If you stay in a nearby suburb, you can take the Metra train in. I do not recommend driving in because it is super expensive to park and with the Taste of Chicago and the fireworks going on, it will be hard to find a space even at the crazy rates they charge!

First figure out where you'll be staying and we can let you know the easiest way to get downtown, to Navy Pier, the Field Museum, etc.

I'd say stay downtown. You'll waste so much time plus money for the trains/buses or parking, might as well add it up to the room and be right there.

Getting there is easy, getting back is fun when you'll find yourself walking among several hundreds of thousands people just like you, trying to get to the train...

.

ski_mom
06-25-2009, 02:49 PM
If you stay near the airport, you can take the Blue Line CTA train downtown. If you stay in a nearby suburb, you can take the Metra train in. I do not recommend driving in because it is super expensive to park and with the Taste of Chicago and the fireworks going on, it will be hard to find a space even at the crazy rates they charge!

First figure out where you'll be staying and we can let you know the easiest way to get downtown, to Navy Pier, the Field Museum, etc.


Ok, we're looking at a hotel that says that we could get on at the Downer's Grove station. I went to the Metra's website and see the schedule for taking that train (the BNSF route) to Chicago Union Station. Then do we take another train further into the city? I see on the Museum of Science and Industry that you can take the train to the 55th/56th/57th Street station, but how do I know which train to get on to get to that station? I'm sure it's a simple question, but I'm just not seeing it.

Thanks!

Momto3Girls&Max
06-25-2009, 03:08 PM
Ok, we're looking at a hotel that says that we could get on at the Downer's Grove station. I went to the Metra's website and see the schedule for taking that train (the BNSF route) to Chicago Union Station. Then do we take another train further into the city? I see on the Museum of Science and Industry that you can take the train to the 55th/56th/57th Street station, but how do I know which train to get on to get to that station? I'm sure it's a simple question, but I'm just not seeing it.

Thanks!

The BNSF train will bring you to Union Station and you'll need to walk (about 8-10 blocks east) or taxicab to the Metra Electic Station at Michigan and Randolph and catch that train to the museum. Everything else you want to do, Field Museum, Navy Pier, Millennium Park, Aquarium require only the BNSF train to get you downtown and walking (if you're ambitious), CTA buses or taxi cabs to get to where you need to go. Chicago is a very walkable city, so we usually walk, but I know some people prefer to take buses or taxicabs as opposed to walking. Check www.metrarail.com for information on the BNSF and Metra Electric trains.

NotUrsula
06-25-2009, 03:18 PM
For Science and Industry you can drive; just don't go through downtown to get there. It's way south of the Loop, and has plenty of parking. (We're in STL, and we always do MSI on our last day when we drive, because it is so far south of the city proper, and because it opens earlier than the other museums. We leave directly from the museum to come home, swinging south via I94/I57 to I55 to avoid traffic.)

Metra trains from the Downers Grove area are fine comfortable trains, but using them for a tourist commute has a drawback, especially on a holiday. You and several hundred thousand other passengers will all get on and off at Union Station, which is pretty far from any of the usual tourist spots except the Sears Tower, and on a festival holiday, will be wall-to-wall with people headed only to that event.

Picking a place that is close to a CTA station will give you more options for transfers. (Also, CTA day passes don't work for Metra; different train system.) I would recommend looking in the Rosemont area (near O'Hare) for your suburban hotel.

PS: On the question of staying downtown: Staying in the Loop or on the Mile is definitely the most convenient, but when you are driving it isn't always the best option. Overnight parking at most hotels in those areas runs close to $30/night, on top of the higher rates they already charge. If it is too high, then there is no trip at all. Priceline works great to get around that issue, but when traveling with kids to a major central city, you have to be careful with it, because you can easily end up with a room that won't accomodate more than two people. BTW, The best local consolidator for Chicago hotels is hotrooms.com.

FINFAN
06-25-2009, 03:24 PM
well, if you are planning MS&I..you could drive there from Downers Grove...45 minutes in normal traffic, could add a half hour depending on what day you choose, it is am easy drive, just traffic that messes with you....you will hit traffic on I-55 heading east into the city, but then you will veer South onto Lake Shore Dr AWAY from the crowds. The museum closes at 5 or so I guess, which would get you out way ahead of the normal crowds. Any other museum you can take the train intoUnion station and there is a bus to the Museum campus from Union station. You could also grab a cab, not too $$$. I tihnk the further North you go for a hotel during the weekend of the 4th the better off you will be. Places like Navy Pier will be crowded,but not to the level of the lakefront on July 3rd. The John Hancock building is up N too, they have an open air observation deck now, kinda cool. Beaches are North as well, can easily walk to them form Navy Pier along the bike path. I mean, you will walk, but it's better than sitting in traffic. Traffic is your main enemy, so if you do want to have 2 days in the city, even tho the hotels can be pricy, time is money and you will not waste time and gas commuting back and forth. The Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum are adjascent to each other, so no travel issues...if you want to go up in the Sears Tower it is a short cab ride, we have walked it.
I have not taken the train from Union station to the MS&I...sounds like a lotof jockeying around , especially since you will want to get to the Museum when it opens...there is a ton to see there, wich they stayed open until 8 pm or so.
Check travelzoo and hotels.com to see if there are any last minute July 4th deals....you may get lucky as peole cancel all the time. The Cubs are in town tho, so that will add a little more to the hotel crowds.

Hope you can work it all out!

Glenn
06-25-2009, 11:51 PM
How can I best describe crowd levels at the taste, or anywhere downtown on 7/3.. lets say think of Epcot on New Years Eve :rotfl:. It the weather is nice there will be well over 1 Million at the lake front. The 4th itself might be a little lighter since so many were there for the fireworks the night before.
If you do come & want to see the Harry Potter exhibit at the museum of Science & Industry think of pre ordering tickets on line. It does sell out. If your staying in the western burbs Brookfield zoo can be nice but anything on that weekend will be busy. Are you thinking about that weekend because of the taste or its a long weekend. If its just the taste think of another weekend to take in the sites such as museums.

Nicole721
06-26-2009, 02:26 AM
As a native Chicagoan, I don't go anywhere near the Taste of Chicago on the 4th. I don't even usually go near the Taste. It's overcrowded, it's hot and the combination of the two makes for very impatient and testy people. The crowds make it very easy to get separated and though it seems your children are a little older, it's still very scary to get separated in a place you aren't familiar with in crowds of hundreds of thousands. I really don't recommend ANYONE go to the Taste at any point with children. Then again, I really don't recommend anyone go to the Taste LOL. It's overhyped and overpriced.

I'd stick with museums and shopping, but those will be pretty crowded, too (though, not nearly as crowded as the hundreds of thousands of people who will descend onto Millennium Park, the lakefront and the Taste).

ski_mom
06-26-2009, 12:02 PM
Well, thank you everyone for all your help! We have actually decided not to do Chicago over the 4th - you've scared me away:scared1:!

I am saving this thread though and hopefully we can take a long weekend there some other weekend that isn't so crazy!

We are now thinking of heading to Cincinnati. We are from the St. Louis area, so it's about an hour further from where we are, but the Reds are playing the Cards, so that should be fun. I"m sure it will be crowed there too, but not to this extent!

Again, thank you all very much. Sometimes I start making plans before I really think them through - that's why this board is so great! It helps me make better decisions.

mommyrants
06-26-2009, 01:15 PM
Actually the Taste on teh 4th is not bad - the 3rd is INSANE. I'm born and bred and have been going for years. I'm planning on bringing my kids on the 4th this year. Love the Taste!

Hotdoggie1977
06-26-2009, 01:31 PM
thinking of heading to Cincinnati. We are from the St. Louis area, so it's about an hour further from where we are, but the Reds are playing the Cards, so that should be fun. I"m sure it will be crowed there too, but not to this extent!


Cincinnati is small and won't be that crowed downtown, expect right before/after the game. Compared to Chicago or even St. Louis the drive will be cake.

ski_mom
06-26-2009, 01:49 PM
Cincinnati is small and won't be that crowed downtown, expect right before/after the game. Compared to Chicago or even St. Louis the drive will be cake.


Yeah, it's funny how things work out. I just got done booking our stay in Cincinnati. I found a suite with 3 queen beds and a pull out sofa (which we really won't need) and free hot breakfast and 2 tickets per night to King's Island for $119/night. It's also next to Cincinnati Mills which doesn't hurt.

So, I think we're going to drive there on Thursday afternoon/evening. Go shopping Friday morning, do downtown to check it out a bit before the game at 7:10 with fireworks after the game. On Saturday will head to King's Island and hopefully have a great day there too! I'm pretty excited now and things seem to be somewhat falling into place.

You can also get much better ticket deals at their ball park than we can in St. Louis, so all around it's not going to be too bad for a trip that I've been trying to keep as low cost as possible since it's just a last minute trip before our vacation.

Thanks again for all your help!

Hotdoggie1977
06-26-2009, 02:02 PM
I don't know if you are planning on going to Cincinnati Mills(Cincinnati Mall), but I would skip it. Tri-county mall is a few exits down and is a better mall is you're going mall shopping.

LaurenLC
06-26-2009, 05:28 PM
Hope you come visit Chicago sometime over the summer! Chicago is GREAT during the summer... Like someone else suggested, I highly recommend Venetian Night!

ski_mom
06-27-2009, 03:04 PM
I don't know if you are planning on going to Cincinnati Mills(Cincinnati Mall), but I would skip it. Tri-county mall is a few exits down and is a better mall is you're going mall shopping.


Thanks for the advice. That's probably where we would have headed, so we'll check out the Tri-county mall instead!

Hope you come visit Chicago sometime over the summer! Chicago is GREAT during the summer... Like someone else suggested, I highly recommend Venetian Night!


I hope we make it there too. I went up with the girls about 2 years ago to do the American Girl thing, but we've never been as a family. We won't be able to go for the Venetian Night because we'll be on our week long vacation. We're going with my in-laws this year, so we like to take a few little trips on our own when we go with them. Gives us a little recovery time:laughing:!

Thanks again!
Becky