Illinois: Chicago, Family Vacations – Shopping, Theatre, and Navy Pier with Teens.
Chicago offers families a multitude of entertainment options – always edgy and fun. From awesome music and art venues in Grant Park to the non-stop fun on Navy Pier the city delivers on the fun stuff. See the Blue Man Group; enjoy Shakespeare with a twist; discover a coal mine. Best of all Chicago has traditional street fairs in the warmer months seem to run continuously - all of them free. Chicago with teens can be fun and we have selected our favorite spots. Spend the day on the edge.
Navy Pier, on the edge of Lake Michigan is now the center of seasonal festivities. It is a place with attitude. That is a good thing. Fun can be had by one and all. During the coldest of months families will find sanctuary at the Children's Museum or the IMAX experience theatre. If being outside is essential there is ice-skating and cocoa nearby. During the summer months the atmosphere is carnival like. Few their award winning fireworks show every Wednesday and Saturday along with live music at the Beer Gardens. Water excursions depart from the dock and open-air restaurants provide places for people watching. There are street performing jugglers and magician as well as staged shows and rides and many other exciting things to do and see. Bonus points:
This is the home of the WhirlyBall ride/game - a combination hockey, lacrosse and basketball played in a bumper car. (Navy Pier. 600 East Grand Avenue. www.navypier.com
) Check out some money places.
Concepts about money are difficult to explain. Showing is much better and there are two places that will make a dent in the concept. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange is located at 30 South Wacker. It is a wild place with trading action in full swing only minutes after opening. The galleries from which to view trading commerce in action are only open to academic and city tour groups however the two Visitor Centers, for the Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Options are open to the public during the week.Bonus points:
The Chicago Board of Options and The Chicago Mercantile Exchange have now merged into one entity, CME, and the visitor centers are minutes from each other downtown. The helpful staff members at the visitor centers are willing to answer any questions you and your children might have. To get the most out of this stop, children should be at least 12 years of age. (The Chicago Mercantile Exchange. 20 South Wacker Drive. (312) 930-8249 or www.cme.com
and Chicago Board of Options. 141 West Jackson Boulevard (312) 786-5600 or www.cboe.com
) Go for the applause.
Anchoring Navy pier is one of Chicago’s premium theatre spots - Chicago Shakes. No matter the season they offer audiences innovative theatre in a state-of the art setting. Often productions run in tandem with plays geared to young complimenting general productions. Bonus points:
The theatre offers Pre-Ambles, Pub Cast Calls, and Talk Backs for many of there shows this season. These give you an opportunity to better understand the productions, meet the actors, and ask questions of the director and cast. (Chicago Shakespeare Theater. 800 East Grand Avenue. www.chicagoshakes.com
) Have a blue night.
Blue Man Group in Chicago defines wild and crazy theatre. No two nights will be the same but every night is outrageous and fun with innovative music, comedy, and multi-media theatrics. Basically it is party time once the lights dim and the audience is part of the show. Their shows with an atmosphere of creative chaos are ideal for anyone 10 years old or older. For parents with teens this is a perfect night out together. The music is loud, the lighting off the wall and the antics unexpected. Bonus points:
Elect to sit in the front section of the theatre, wear protective covering and become part of the show. Need to know:
Blue Man group has a children’s museum exhibit, “Making Waves”, which is currently touring the country. (Blue Man Group Briar Street Theatre 3133 N. Halsted, (773)348-4000 or www.blueman.com
Get a front row seat.
Chicago is the place for cutting edge entertainment and this creativity extends to performances dedicated to young audiences. The choices are abundant no matter what season, age or interest. The official Theater Information Line provides current information (312) 977-1755. It is often busy so the next best thing is to try one of the places listed below. De Paul Merle Ruskin Theatre. This company offers family programming during the winter months (60 East Balbo Drive,(312) 362-8455, www.theatreschool.edu). Hystopolis Puppet Theatre. This company provides a sophisticated puppetry performance geared to multiple ages (441 West North Ave. (312) 787-7387.) Stage Left Theater. While their productions are not geared to children many are appropriate (3244 North Clark Street (312) 883-8830 or www.stagelefttheatre.com
). Shop ‘til you drop.
If shopping is one of the reasons for being in Chicago then North Michigan Avenue and Water Tower Place will be on the list. The Water Tower complex has great shops – including Forever 21, Godiva Chocalatier, and French Connection, cozy coffee shops and charming restaurants all in a shopping maze with parking, of course. If shopping is your thing then plan to spend the day. Bonus points: On a clear day the John Hancock Center offers amazing views from the observation deck - a fun break from shopping (Water Tower Place, www.shopwatertower.com
and John Hancock Center. 875 N. Michigan Avenue. (312) 751-3681 or www.hancockobservatory.com
). Eat pizza every night.
We have our favorite eating places. Almost without exception food is served with a gracious, friendly attitude and one need only ask for an insider tip on almost anything. Ed Debevic's Short Order Place - This fifties style diner with a comfortable casual atmosphere has cherry cokes, floats, meatloaf and world-class chili. (North Wells, (312) 664-1707); Pizzeria Uno - This is the place where the Chicago deep-dish pizza was invented. If you deep dish is not your style they have many other choices (29 North Wells, (312) 321-1000); Pizzeria Due - Deep dish is also their thing. Located at 619 North Wabash, (312) 787-4522. Planning Details
The Chicago Office of tourism has a menu of deals and discounts for museums, attractions, and dining spots. To print the coupons of choice to take advantage of the savings log on to Explorechicago.org Content researched and created by FTF staff. Images provided by staff. Copyright 2012.