Midwest Roadtrip Day 4 – Willis Tower, the Shedd Aquarium, and Millenium Park

Nums & Josh @ the Skydeck

Nums & Josh @ the Skydeck

Sunday morning, well rested, we had another complimentary breakfast at the hotel, and got on the road for the Shedd Aquarium. The weather was nice, the roads were less crowded, and we made decent time down to the area were the Aquarium and other museums were. However, we were dismayed to find the exit ramp to the parking garage was closed by police. We saw about 50 motorcycles on the other side of the road waiting to take the exit, so we wondered if maybe this was part of the Transformers 3 filming going on. Since we couldn’t find any way to get back to the parking area, we opted to change the itinerary by visiting the Willis Tower Skydeck first.

We found $13/day parking off on Wacker Drive, then walked over to the Willis Tower Skydeck. I hadn’t been to the Skydeck in 6 years — the one and only time I’d visited was during a trip to Chicago for a training class in 2004. Back then, it was a cloudier day, so today was an upgrade. The line to get into Willis Tower was huge, and we couldn’t find a “VIP” entrance anywhere. Furthermore, when I asked one of the college-age greeters, she said there was a special door out near the main entrance, but I couldn’t find any. We eventually barged our way past other people standing in line, walked into the lobby, grabbed a woman who was responsible for pushing the elevator button, and asked her. Sadly, she didn’t know what to do with a CityPass ticket either. I’d come to the conclusion that while CityPass is a nice idea, not everyone knows what to do with it.


Josh & Lily @ the Shedd Aquarium

The elevator woman finally agreed to let us just get on the next available elevator (skipping the huge line), and we went up to to the next level. There we found actual signs for CityPass, and we easily skirted the lines for security, the ticket counter, and the elevator line. Now we’re talking. After a brief elevator ride to the top, it was a nice view, but Joshua was bored for some reason. Sigh. Kids, you can take them to the Skydeck, but they don’t have to enjoy it.

After we came back down, we elected to leave the car in the garage, and took a cab to the Shedd Aquarium. Easier to get inside today with the CityPass, and we walked around until the 6pm closing, and grabbing lunch at the cafeteria / food court. Nice aquarium, but we only had 2.5 hours to enjoy it. The aquarium itself was nice, but I’d recommend to anyone planning to visit to skip the shows. We sat for an abbreviated showing of the film Happy Feet in “4D!” which is basically some 3D and they blast air and bubbles at you. Pointless. We also paid a little extra for the Fantasea show with dolphins, beluga whales, some penguins, and a red-tailed hawk. Wow, what a bad show. It was no Seaworld show, and pretty corny. I’d advise you avoid at all costs. How the Chicago Tribune thought it was so great boggles my mind.

Thrilling moments, truly eye-popping production values, and, overall, a remarkable achievement for the Shedd.

After the aquarium, at closing time, we had some difficulty finding a taxicab. Eventually grabbing two different cabs, we all met up at Millenium Park to check out that silver kidney bean-shaped shiny thing that people told me about. After resting there, Paul and I took a cab to the parking garage on Wacker drive, drove back to the park, and picked up everyone.


Millenium Park and whatever this thing is

In the evening, we ordered pizza and wings from a nearby pizza place, and ate dinner in the hotel. Tomorrow, we arrive in Michigan!

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