Family Fun, travel

Chicago Day: SO MUCH FUN

On Sunday we spent the day in Chicago!! It was a really, really great day. SO FUN!!

Chicago is only a couple hours from our house, but it’s not a place we go often at all. In fact, I think the last time we were there was when the boys were maybe around 3 and 5 and we went to the Shedd Aquarium with Ivan’s mom! It always feels “complicated” to go to Chicago. It’s really big, there’s a ton of traffic, we aren’t super familiar with it, parking is expensive/ a hassle, etc. That being said, there’s a lot of very cool stuff in Chicago, especially some awesome museums, so I do wish we took more advantage of it being so close.

Sunday we were going primarily for the Mexico vs. Ecuador soccer game at Soldier Field (home of the Chicago Bears football team). Of course, since we were making the trip down, we wanted to go early and spend the day! The original plan was to visit the Field Museum (which is a big natural history museum).

BUT….Saturday was a busy day (I was gone from 8 am- almost 6 pm with Ethan in Milwaukee for soccer). Asher had gone to an AJR concert (also in Milwaukee) with a friend’s family and slept over at his house after (they didn’t get back until like 12:45 a.m.!). Also, when I woke up on Sunday, it was raining, quite a lot. We were tired and felt lazy, so we decided to scratch the museum (which would require us to get down there ASAP, to take advantage of the ticket price/ have enough time). Instead, we took a slower morning and headed out by 10:30 or so.

We took the car instead of the van. GAS $!

Traffic down really wasn’t too bad. The kids were excited to see Chicago, since they barely remembered it from previous trips when they were little.

Heaviest traffic getting into the city

I had reserved a parking spot near Soldier Field a week in advance on the Spot Hero app. This worked out great and definitely eased the “hassle” factor of finding reasonably priced parking. $20 for 24 hours felt like a very fair price.

Our new plan was basically just to walk around and explore the city some by foot. It was already close to 1 pm, and the game was at 6, so we didn’t have that much time, really.

Buckingham Fountain and Lakefront Trail

We set out toward Navy Pier, about a mile and a half away.

Buckingham Fountain

The fountain area on the other side was mobbed with graduates taking photos!! So cute. πŸ™‚ They looked like high school age to me, but who knows. Could have been college- I’m terrible at gauging ages.

Asher took this nice picture of the rest of us in a little garden along the way:

The weather had felt quite chilly when we got out of the car (wind was blowing right at us off the lake). But clouds moved out soon after and it was a beautiful, warm day! Felt very hot in the sun, actually. Yet then again, very cool in the shade. It was one of those sweatshirt on/ sweatshirt off type of days.

The Lakefront Trail was nice to walk along.

Chicago was HOPPING, let me tell you. People everywhere. Bikers, rollerbladers, walkers, guys riding those little bike “taxis” with music blaring…. VIBRANT! πŸ™‚

Along the marina, there were some attractive boats, so Ethan, who was in a happy, silly mood, kept tying his sweatshirt around his shoulders and saying, “Do I look like a rich yacht owner??”

Sure, if 13 year old’s owned yachts, maybe. πŸ˜‰
Ethan took this one- he liked the shiny glass buildings here and the reflections.

Navy Pier

Eventually we made it to Navy Pier. It was also hopping with people everywhere. We mostly just wandered around for a while.

The boys were hot, so they asked to ride the swings- mostly to cool off and to enjoy the views. Ivan and I opted to stay on the ground and not ride the overpriced swings. πŸ˜‰

We rode the Sky Wheel the last time we were there. I don’t think the boys even remember it, but oh well. I’ll show them the pictures. ha.

This is one of my favorite pics of the day:

❀❀

From here, we started making our way to Michigan Ave and the “Magnificent Mile” stretch of Chicago.

First though, we had to stop at this fountain/ splash pad. Yes, the boys are teens (well, almost), but they had a surprising amount of fun running around here for a bit. They got just wet enough to cool off some without, ahem, ruining the rest of the day by getting soaked.

It has a cool design. The fountains form a circle around the outside and get bigger/ smaller with time. So if you time it right, you can duck and run around the whole perimeter under the “bridge” of water, without actually getting wet. This was a fun challenge. πŸ™‚

Over on Michigan Ave., we just mostly walked and window shopped.

We did go into the Water Tower Place mall for a little bit.

We used to come here at Christmastime when I was a kid…I really want to come back again with our family, when the city is all decorated. I remember them having Christmas trees lining that section in between the escalators, I think.

We didn’t have a ton of time, but the boys (all 3…) wanted to hit up the Adidas store. We also stopped in Nike.

By this point, everyone was hungry. Again, we didn’t want to spend super long eating- we had to make our way all the way back to Soldier Field before game time. Ivan found a taco place just around the corner, which was perfect. It was good, quick and a cute little place. πŸ™‚

After our late lunch, we needed to get moving back toward the stadium. Apple Maps showed it was about 2.7 miles back from where we were! Definitely a good hike. We briefly tried to figure out if we could take a bus, including standing at a bus stop for a while, but the one we needed didn’t seem to come at the time it said, so who knows. My phone was showing traffic being SO slow moving anyway, that we decided we could probably walk faster than the bus could even get there. Same with taking an Uber.

I’m glad too, because walking meant we walked through the Chicago River area- a very picturesque area (and a “classic Chicago” scene).

Another shot looking back on Michigan Ave:

With only minimal complaining, we made it back to the Soldier Field area and joined the masses of people in Mexico gear (or fewer, but still many- yellow Ecuador gear). The atmosphere was CRAZY!! LOUD, music, people drumming and hooting and hollering….super fun! We stopped to buy Mexico soccer jerseys from people selling them along the way for the boys, and Ivan needed a new one too.

Mexico vs Ecuador at Soldier Field

Upon arrival, we had to wait for Ivan’s cousin, uncle and 2 friends to meet up with us. We had seats together, but they drove down later, just for the game.

their new Mexico jerseys!!
no jersey for me, but I had my (much cheaper) NOT original Mexico tank top from Amazon. πŸ˜‰

Finally made it inside, and hiked up to our seats! We did not have the world’s best seats, not gonna lie. We bought the tickets too late, and everything was either super picked over, or REALLY close (and insanely expensive). Oh well.

Love this!
Watching Guillermo Ochoa, Mexico’s goalie warm up- he’s my favorite!! He’s super cute and seems like a really cool guy. I see him on TV ALL THE TIME when Ivan (constantly) watches Mexican soccer- adorable. Love his curly hair.

There were 3 national anthems- first the U.S., then Mexico’s, then Ecuador’s.

fireworks after each anthem

The game itself was so- so. They ended in a tie! Boo! We all wanted to see the stadium erupt when someone got a goal!!

Okay, our seats weren’t close, but this pic makes the players look extra small! It really wasn’t that bad! 🀣
There were 61,104 people at the game, according to the sign. WHOA!

The boys each got a hot dog from a vendor in the stands.

When the guy told me “$18” for the 2 hot dogs, I handed him a $20 and said, “These better be the best hot dogs of our lives!!” He winked at me and said, “Inflation.” LOL!!! πŸ˜‚

The half-time show was a band from Sinaloa, Mexico. Very festive, with trumpets and the whole shebang (and more fireworks).

Ethan was really into watching the game and was great at pointing out the players’ mistakes. πŸ˜‰ We joked that we wondered how they were even playing, without their parents on the sidelines yelling instructions to them!! (lol. At his game on Saturday, some parents were getting a little….”yelly”….to the point that one kid finally turned and yelled back, “PLEASE stop talking!!”. It was great.)

It was extra fun once the lights came on.

After the game, it took a while as the 60,000 people all tried to exit the stadium….but it wasn’t too bad.

Our parking spot was not far, and the traffic home actually was much lighter than I had anticipated!

This was, all in all, an incredibly fun day. The energy was amazing. Mexicans are not, by nature, quiet people when in big groups, so I expected a VERY lively/ festive atmosphere, and they did not disappoint. πŸ™‚

We do not normally attend many live sporting events. In fact, I can’t even think of any we have gone to as a family like this, except I guess Milwaukee Brewers baseball games. But this made me want to do more of this!! Maybe a Green Bay Packers game this fall??! This was a perfect activity to do with teen boys. Just a super fun day all around!

6 thoughts on “Chicago Day: SO MUCH FUN”

  1. What a fantastic day! We only live a couple of hours from Chicago and we rarely go do touristy things. I have heard that a lot of stores on the Magnificent Mile closed during the pandemic, but it looks like things are pretty well back to normal – that’s awesome. Also, I’ve never heard of this Spot Hero app, but it sounds perfect for a day trip like that and I’ll definitely keep it in mind the next time we head to Chicago.

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    1. Yes, the parking app was awesome! Highly recommend. Loved just typing in the parking garage address and going straight there, no need to drive around searching for parking.

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  2. What a fun day trip for you guys! I love Chicago. I used to go several times a year because my company has a huge office there and I’d try to visit a couple of times a year plus my brother lives outside of Chicago so I could combine a work trip with seeing family. That was pre-kids, though, and pre-covid. I will probably get to Chicago sometime this year, though. I love the walk along Wacker with the bridges that cross the water. It’s so picturesque. I love running down to the lake – you can get some pretty shots of the lake with the city skyline! One year we did the architectural tour which was really fun. Your boys might find it too boring. And the Frank Lloyd Wright home/studio tour in Oak Park is so good! I’ve done it twice.

    The game sounded fun, too. Going to sporting events can be really fun, even for a person like me who is not very into sports! Except baseball games. I find them sooooo boring. But gosh the comment about the yelling parents at soccer games – so disappointing. My friend worked for a soccer association when she was first out of college – she would get tons of calls from parents screaming at her! It was nuts. She wasn’t involved in the coaching – I think her organization oversaw all the different teams or something like that? This was almost 20 years ago and I can still remember her talking about getting horrible phone calls late at night from parents. I can say with certainty that I’ll never yell during a game except to cheer and I can not envision a world where Phil yells during a game!

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  3. quite a packed and fun weekend! i haven’t gone to any play forever, it would be fun with the girls now that are older. will keep that in mind.

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  4. This looks so fun. Love all the jersey’s and the beautiful weather and the water fountains.
    What a great day and everyone just looks so happy and satisfied with the day. Yay!

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  5. What a great family day. I’ve never been to Chicago (well besides at the airport, haha) but would love to go. The Chicago River area looks so amazing and reminds me a lot of Hamburg. They have a big river going right by buildings there too.
    I love that you took the boys to a game. Great memories that will last a lifetime.

    P.S. Comment galore incoming… once again, I am behind an catching up. Fair warning πŸ™‚

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