Downtown Chicago with a 2-Year-Old

I put all of the Chicago museum free days on my calendar long ago, and we finally made a trip downtown to visit Shedd Aquarium.  We rode a train, followed buy two buses.  The whole process sounds like something that might be a big pain (including the "missed nap" part), but it was completely worth it!
If you're taking a similar trip that will require a 2-year-old to sit still for long periods of time, as in a train or a bus, here's my tip:  take snacks.  Lots and lots of snacks.  Whenever the little guy started getting antsy, I found something for him to do, look at, or eat.  :)  Food bribery isn't in my regular repertoire, but for a special day, it's totally worth it.

"Hey, there are graham crackers in here!"

We traveled during rush hour and got to the museum by the time it opened. On a free day (or any day, when school groups are out and about), museums get very crowded by mid-morning.  Even when we got to the small children's museum near our home, if we get there when it opens, we can do whatever we want in a totally empty museum.

I had to let go of my desire to see the whole aquarium, or in some places, to even look at any fish.  Sometimes he just wanted to climb on stuff.

And he loved every minute!  (Except when we went past a very loud wave pool:  "I'm scared. I want to leave?")

Then we ate our picnic lunch, played in a fountain, and headed back toward the train station.

We walked.  And walked.  We took a different bus on our return trip, and the bus stop was pretty far.  But we made a fun little journey of it.  We missed our train, but we rolled with it again, and stopped at Starbucks.  Not a bad change of plans.

We pushed our umbrella stroller into our building roughly 2 hours past naptime, and he even got a decent nap before dinner.  What an incredible day!  It took quite a bit of planning (checking bus and train schedules, opening hours, packing lunch and snacks, etc.), but I'm eager to do it again soon.

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