Sunday, March 11, 2012

Chicago Children's Museum

During our recent weekend trip to Chicago, my husband had a work commitment that I knew meant I'd be exploring on my own one day with a 2-year-old and a 2-month old. What to do that would be manageable for me, comfortable for Little Arrow, and yet still fun for Big Arrow?

When I realized that the Chicago Children's Museum was only 4 blocks from our hotel (Embassy Suites Downtown-Lakefront), I figured I could walk with the Arrows and spend a morning there, then retreat back to the hotel if it wasn't going well.

We ended up spending a few hours there, and had such a great time. There is so much to do here that it is almost overwhelming. There are several big exhibits that we never even had a chance to see. Since Little Arrow was strapped to me and slept his way through the museum, I'll let Big Arrow share some of his favorite exhibits with you:
  • Snow Much Fun: I shared pictures from Snow Much Fun on Friday. Big Arrow's favorite was decorating the snowmen.
  • Michael's Museum of Tiny Treasures: Just a little nook off the main hall in the museum, it was full of itty bitty collections of various items, from buttons to keys. Perfect for little hands and eyes to examine (especially with fun magnifying glasses!). If your kids love the I Spy books,* they'd love this exhibit.

  • Dinosaur Expedition: Big Arrow isn't really into dinosaurs, but he loved getting to dig around in the "dirt."

  • Pritzker Playspace: A great spot for really little ones. Tons of sensory things to play with. If we head back to Chicago when Little Arrow starts crawling, this would be a great exhibit for him to explore safely. Hours are limited, however.

Insider Tips:
  • I'm used to visiting children's museums that are a bit more spacious. This one is jam-packed with exhibits, and so it gets a little chaotic. Or maybe it was just particularly crowded on the day we visited. I would pick a few exhibits to focus on. Dinosaur Expedition and Tiny Treasures were pretty quiet and I think that's why Big Arrow liked them so much.
  • There is no cafeteria in the museum, but it is located on Navy Pier, which has a food court with several quick options, and a few other sit-down restaurants.
  • There is a nursing area in the Kids Town exhibit that I used for Little Arrow. However, this is a very popular exhibit and the nursing station is only separated by a small curtain. So there were lots of kids running in and out of the area, and it was hard to keep Big Arrow contained and in my line of sight. A better spot to nurse a baby would have been the Pritzker Playscape, but because of its limited hours, it wasn't open when Little Arrow was hungry.
And when our visit was over, we were all ready to relax for the rest of the afternoon in the hotel!

If You Visit:
Navy Pier, 700 E. Grand Avenue, Chicago
Open daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (later on Thursdays and some summer evenings)
$12 per person

Speaking of children's museums...
If you plan to visit a children's museum during your travels, you might also enjoy reading my tips for visiting a children's museum. I also love these rules for parents visiting a children's museum from Travels with Children. (I really wanted to rip the cell phones out of some of the parents' hands who were visiting while we were there. But my polite midwestern self refrained.)

*Links to my Amazon Affiliate account. A small portion of any sales made through these links will come back to support this blog, but this does not in any way increase the cost of purchase for you.