We spent last week running around Chicago and the windy city did not disappoint! Todd had a work conference, so naturally Theo and I had to tag along. While Todd spent the majority of his days in meetings and networking events, Theo and I roamed one of my favorite cities.
Last time we were in Chicago I was pregnant with Theo, so it was extra fun to take pictures in all of the same places with my Theo. I love Chicago because it is so easy to navigate and the main areas are heavily patrolled by police, so I felt very safe without Todd.
We stayed at the Palmer House Hilton. This was our second time staying here and after requesting to switch to a bigger room twice, we finally landed in a room that was big enough for all three of us. They have some pretty tiny rooms that are basically a closet and there’s no way we could have fit a crib in the room. One of the hotel employees told us that there were bigger rooms for the same price! So if you stay here with a child, make sure to request a larger room.
After we unloaded at the hotel, we went straight to Pizanos for some Chicago style pizza. This is my favorite place to go, I like the atmosphere and the waiters are super nice. It only has a revolving door though, so we had to fold up our stroller to get in. I don’t know how you would get around this city with a super wide stroller! We also spent the evening walking around the city from Millennium Park down the Magnificent Mile to walk off our pizza. We popped in and out places to watch the UNC game, naturally. (Go Tarheels!).
On Monday, Theo and I went back to Millennium Park then made our way over to Ghirardelli’s for some hot chocolate. We sat upstairs and watched the boats coming and going on the river. It was pretty cold, so I made sure to duck in and out of stores as much as possible and Theo had on a HUGE winter coat and hat that he hated. We went to the Disney store a ton to let him watch the movies playing, color, and run around the mini castle. We even got lucky and had someone give us a coupon! Score! Theo also fell asleep after lunch with Todd at Grand Lux, so I went to Garrett’s for popcorn and made my way to the AMC Theater to watch Beauty and the Beast for a second time! Theo slept through half of the movie, so I felt childless! It was awesome! When he woke up he stayed quiet (thanks to all of the snacks and the stairs he was climbing) so I got to sit for an entire movie!
On Tuesday, we went to the Shedd Aquarium. Theo loves fish so he ran from exhibit to exhibit pointing. It was pretty crowded even at opening, but when we left there was a line out the door and down the steps to get in. So if you go, go at opening! We walked along the water on our way back and Theo fell asleep so I got to stop in and get lunch. We also shopped, went to the Disney store, ate more pizza with Todd at Giordano’s, and stayed up late.
Wednesday morning we went to brunch at my FAVORITE brunch place ever, The Peninsula Hotel. They have the best yogurt and granola and I had a coconut hot chocolate. Todd got biscuits and gravy and a cinnamon roll to try and Theo had a waffle. Everything is good there, you really can’t go wrong. We then we to the giant playground in Millennium Park to let Theo run around. This playground is what dreams are made of! It’s so big, Theo is a little small for the big areas, so we took turns taking him down the slides. He doesn’t like going down slides by himself, but he was squealing with delight going down the big slides on our laps.
I get asked a lot how we go out to eat with Theo. Honestly, it’s always a crap shoot. Sometimes one of us has to take him out. The best tips I have are these:
- Pull up the menu BEFORE you get to the restaurant so you can order right when your waitress comes over. A lot of the time, our waiter brought Theo’s food before ours so he could start eating too which was super nice.
- Have movies and games on your phone ready to play if they start to get fussy (we sometimes YouTube Elmo episodes or download episodes of Octonauts from Netflix).
- If possible, choose a restaurant that had a lot of noise (TV’s playing, music, lots of people talking, etc)
- Let your kids run around and play somewhere fun (Disney store, park, hotel room, etc.) before going out to dinner. If they have been sitting in their stroller for hours, they aren’t going to want to sit some more.
- Go early. We usually eat light so we can be extra hungry for dinner by four or five. There usually isn’t a wait and less people means your food will be out faster. It’s a recipe for disaster to wait for an hour to be seated just to sit some more in a restaurant.
Also, I learned that we can make one room work for sleeping. The first night was rough mostly because his hotel crib mattress was rock hard and I thought it was four in the morning when Theo woke up, but it was really one one! We are not co-sleepers, so we were extra tired from sharing a full size bed. For the second and third nights, we used the extra, soft blanket from the closet to wrap his crib mattress to make it softer and we put Theo in bed at 9 p.m., shut off all of the lights and climbed into bed too. Theo slept till 7 a.m. both mornings and took smaller naps in his stroller. He didn’t nap at all on Wednesday until our 4:20 flight, which worked out great because it made the flight super easy. He transitioned right back into his routine at home. I know not all kids are the same, but I think that when most kids are tired, they will fall asleep even if that is in a stroller. I always swore Theo was never a “stroller napper” but this trip he proved me wrong! Yay!
Places we ate:
Pizanos (Chicago-style pizza)
Grand Lux (The salmon three ways is my favorite!)
Ghirardelli’s (Hot chocolate and chocolates)
Garrett’s (The best caramel popcorn ever!)
Giordano’s (Chicago-style pizza)
The Peninsula Hotel (Best brunch place or just pop in for a treat from their bakery!)
We are missing Chicago already, but we are happy to be back in our warm Houston weather!