Our Chicago vacation using CityPASS

This past week, our family went to Chicago and used the CityPASS, which is a ticket booklet with discounts from five area attractions. City Pass claims to save you 50%, and you are also allowed to skip the main line and get a VIP entry. CityPASS is also available in other cities, such as New York City, Boston and Atlanta. Here is a run-down of each attraction that we visited in Chicago. Also read below for restaurant reviews.

1. Shedd Aquarium


Pros -

Free 4-D experience. (We chose the Ice Age movie, but it was just a scene from the movie, nothing new.)

The food is actually pretty good!

You get to pet sting rays.


Cons -

The aquatic show was a letdown, kind of slow and boring. It cost $2 per person extra, and we all agreed that the Indianapolis Zoo’s dolphin show was much better.

2. Skydeck Chicago


Pros –

You get to skip the very long line! The wait was an hour, but we only waited a few minutes.

Cons -

With  the long lines, you don’t get to spend much time out on the deck, so the experience is over pretty quick. Also if you are scared of heights, then this may not be  your favorite.

3. The Field Museum


Pros –

The animal exhibit is very large, and it was my boys’ favorite exhibit.

A 3-D show is included.

Lots of cool dinosaur bones! I loved the Egyptian exhibit and seeing the mummies. Underground Adventure was fun for the kids.

Cons -

The 3-D movie that was chosen for us was the T-Rex movie (you had to pay to see other shows). I was upset that there was no warning about this movie. It was very gory with blood and guts and also a bit scary. There were little kids crying in the theatre. My younger son doesn’t like gory things so he did not enjoy this experience.

Food was the most expensive here of all the museums. $50 for a family of four!

Most of the exhibits were not interactive or appropriate for kids. My kids got tired of looking at things and just wanted to play. There is a kids play area, but it was geared for ages 2-6.

From a mom’s perspective, I have to say that two stalls in a women’s restroom is not enough!

This is just me, but since I don’t believe in evolution, I felt like the theory of evolution was being pushed on us all day long. And since it was presented as fact and not a theory, it rubbed me the wrong way.

4. Museum of Science and Industry (or 360 Chicago which we didn’t do)


Pros -

This was the best museum by far! If you visit any museum in Chicago, pick this one.

Very interactive and lots for the kids to do. Fun for adults and kids alike.

Man-made tornado, lots of trains and airplanes, and classes and demonstrations going on all day. There’s no way to fit it all in!

Cons –

Food here was just mediocre. My pasta was good, but the breadsticks were just plain bad.

$20 parking – which granted, parking is expensive at all the attractions. On this day, we just happened to drive into the city and decided to park. On the other days, we used the  bus system, which easily got us to the other museums.

5. Adler Planetarium (or Art Institute of Chicago, which we didn’t do)


Pros - 

Fun play area for kids

Lots of cool I-MAX movies to choose from, except don’t do three in a row like us…

You could see everything in one day or half-day, depending on how many shows you saw.

Cons - 

Some of the exhibits were too boring for kids.



Giordano’s – We were told that we HAVE to eat here for some good Chicago-style pizza. Don’t get me wrong, it was very good, but my husband and I both agreed that our local pizza place has even better pizza (specifically Roselli’s in Carmel). The wait was only about 30 minutes for the ginormous amount of people waiting, so that impressed me. Customer service was great.


Ed Debevic’s - You have to eat here just for the experience. The servers are intentionally rude and snarky, and they also did a little dance number for us (see photo below). Our waiter for some reason didn’t do the whole “rude” thing, but we were able to watch the other servers interact and it was hilarious. Food was good but nothing special. You go here for the atmosphere.


Dimo’s – This little pizza place is located in Wrigleyville, so we went here before a Cubs game. The guy behind the counter was so friendly and showed us all of their pizzas. They had very unique pizzas, like a taco one and also macaroni and cheese, which I had. It was yummy! My boys got plain pepperoni but loved it as well.


Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. - This is located on Navy Pier right at the beginning. I always love the atmosphere of this restaurant, and the servers are fun. The food was good but nothing great.



Our hotel – Embassy Suites downtown


Pros -

Great breakfast with made-to-order omelettes. Skip the buffet line since this food gets a bit cold. Lots of food choices including chocolate donuts.

Fun elevators where you can see the city as you go up.

Great view of Lake Michigan

Close to Navy Pier, bus station and Magnificent Mile

Cons -

The wi-fi was not very good, which enraged our son who kept getting bumped off his Clash of Clans game.



The Hershey’s Store and the Ghiradelli store are right across the street from each other – it was like heaven! We treated ourselves to chocolate ice cream at Ghiradelli’s and then were amazed at all of the Hershey memorabilia.



All in all, it was a great trip! My kids got to experience city life by riding the subway, the city bus and taxi cabs. My older son said he liked it almost as much as going to Disney World!

Amber Tincher and Amy Leckrone

Co-founders of Camp Mommawatchi

Purchase at-home camp curriculum at www.campmommawatchi.com

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