Last week, we went to Chicago for three nights for our Spring Break vacation. The entourage included my wife/kids and my parents. We chose Chicago because my stepdad Greg, was going to be there for a train show and we had been wanting to go to the Museum of Science & Industry to see the U-505 submarine (more on that below). With any family vacation, there were stressful moments but overall, we had a good time.

Day 1 – Road trip, Swimming at the Pool and Games at Dave & Buster’s

Most of this day was spent on the road driving ~5 hours to Chicago. We did take our pup, Gertie, to the kennel before leaving. Nothing eventful happened on the way down other than eating lunch at Cracker Barrel.


It doesn’t matter where we go on vacation, the kids always find the pool. They went swimming every day. Fortunately, the hotel wasn’t very crowded so for the most part, they had it to themselves. Ethan has mastered the “belly flop.”


Dave & Busters is full of arcade games but I didn’t take many pictures of the family playing games. I took this picture of Camden playing this Simpsons soccer game because I love the Simpsons. We had a fun evening. Of course, the kids traded in all of their tickets for prizes afterwards.

Day 2 – Museum of Science & Industry

Visiting the museum was the main reason for the trip to Chicago. It houses the U-505, a German submarine captured by the U.S. in World War II. The sub is significant to my family because my stepdad Greg, saw it as a child and eventually built an 8-foot-long exact replica of the sub from scratch. He spent over 8 years building it and many of those years were during the time when I still lived at home. I’m planning on dedicating an entire blog post in the future to the replica model submarine Greg built. It’s really cool.


Of course, we had to take the obligatory family photo in front of a museum sign.


This might have been the only family picture we took the whole trip. I think it’s pretty cool.


The museum had a LEGO exhibit featuring creations by Adam Reed Tucker. This guy has made some amazing creations out of LEGO.


Tucker made the Golden Gate Bridge out of LEGO. How cool is that?


They had an area for the kids to copy LEGO designs for famous buildings from all over the world.


They had a scavenger hunt in the LEGO exhibit and gave everyone a sticker that completed the scavenger hunt. Mary actually did all the work but I wanted MY sticker.


The highlight for me for the whole trip was seeing the U-505 in person. My parents tell me that I saw it when I was a teenager but I honestly don’t remember. It was cool hearing my stepdad, Greg, talk about it and we took a tour through the inside of the sub. It was amazing.


I don’t remember the name of the place where we ate dinner on day 2 but they did serve my wife a ridiculously large Long Island Iced Tea. There were some stressful moments in the day so she deserved it.

Day 3 – Shopping in Downtown Chicago

Since we were in Chicago, we thought it would be fun to venture downtown for shopping and some Chicago food (although sadly we didn’t get a pizza). We checked out the American Girl store, the LEGO store and several cool places.


We stayed at a hotel outside of Chicago and caught a Metra train into and out of the city. The kids loved sitting on the second level of a train car. For me, it was cool watching the other train passengers interact with each other. It was obvious that they were used to spending a lot of time on the train together each day.


From the train station, we needed a ride to all the shopping at Water Tower Place. We piled into the back of a Taxi minivan (my stepdad was in the front seat). This was the first time the kids rode in a cab in a big city.


Does this even need a caption?


They have a hair salon for the dolls! How crazy is that? Of course, my daughter had to get her doll’s hair done. Notice how crazy the doll’s hair is.


Here’s the “after” picture of Maddie and her doll, Chloe. I have to admit. They did do a pretty good job with the doll’s hair.


The highlight of day 3 was definitely the LEGO store for me. Even if I had to take out a small loan to buy some LEGO sets, it was totally worth it.


Here’s the classic Batman LEGO set that I had been eyeing for awhile. When I took this picture, I was debating on whether or not I should buy it. In the picture above, you’ll notice that I’m holding a shopping bag that’s suspiciously shaped like this Batman LEGO set. Coincidence? I think not.


After we finished shopping, we grabbed lunch at Harry Caray’s Seventh Inning Stretch. The food was decent but not spectacular. The sports ambience was nice. I thought it was cool seeing all the pictures of celebrities with the bust. Camden and I took our picture so they would have something else to add to the walls (or not).

We were in downtown Chicago, how could we not load up on popcorn from Garrett's?

We were in downtown Chicago, how could we not load up on popcorn from Garrett’s?

Day 4 – Driving Home & Picking up the Puppy

The drive back home is always the worst part of any vacation. The good news is that Camden rode back with my parents so we only had two kids in the backseat. They seem to fight less that way. Traffic wasn’t bad and we had a pretty smooth trip back home.


I don’t know what it is about my daughter and gas station nachos. She absolutely loves them. Look at that smile on her face.


My wife and I had planned not to pick up our puppy from the kennel (because we wanted a good night of sleep) but the kids begged us to get her. She was exhausted after being at the kennel for three nights.

Overall, it was a great trip. We got to spend some good quality time with my parents. I feel fortunate that my kids get the opportunity to spend time with their grandparents. Seeing the U-505 sub in person inspired me to learn more about it. I’m planning on going over to my parents’ house soon to take pictures of his U-505 model and learn how to move it because it will be mine some day.

Until Spring Break next year…

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