My girls love Chicago like gamblers love Vegas.
To be more specific, they love the American Girl store in Chicago like gamblers love Vegas. So when I decided that we would return to the Windy City for three nights, I knew that we could not avoid the doll store altogether in favor of the city's many wonderful museums. It would be like taking Charlie Sheen to Vegas for a scrapbooking convention.
So we did the American Girl thing first and saved the Field Museum for last. But the real fun was had after the dolls and before the dinosaurs. And it was had on scooters.
We brought the girls' scooters and helmets from home, stashed them in our hotel and took them out on day two for a sunny lakefront tour. We picked up the Chicago Lakefront Trail near Navy Pier and began our adventure — our girls (ages 5, 7 and 9) on two wheels and my friend and me in our tennis shoes walking fast to keep up.
We passed Oak Street Beach and stopped for a break in the sand, then carried on till the 5-year-old got tired — just in time for lunch at Castaways overlooking the North Avenue Beach, where everyone cooled off and refueled on sandwiches and lemonade.
From there, it was less than a half hour to our final destination — Lincoln Park Zoo, where we saw seals, lions and monkeys; ate snow cones; and rode the carousel. After the 2.5-mile scooter ride and an afternoon of animals, the girls, as expected, were tired, so we threw the scooters in the back of a cab and headed to our hotel.
A warning: We scootered on a Wednesday, and the most difficult part was keeping the girls on the right side of the path and avoiding much faster cyclists. The trail would have been too crowded for them to safely navigate on a weekend or holiday.
Other highlights of the trip were the rides at Navy Pier, watching fireworks from the restaurant at the top of the John Hancock Center and splashing in the Crown Fountain at Millennium Park.
The DoubleTree by Hilton Chicago Magnificent Mile was close to everything we wanted to do and has a rooftop outdoor pool, the perfect place to decompress after our outings each day and before dinner.
The trip left us all more addicted to Chicago than ever, but in a good way.