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Q&A by Ilona Kauremszky

Q: Somehow you seem to give such good advice and recommendations when it comes to trip planning that I’m hoping you could do the same for me. Here’s the thing, my husband and I wish to take our small family (no pets just one son, he’s four) on a trip to Chicago. We will be leaving the end of August for four days. If you have any advice on what we could do.

A: Chicago has received a long list of monikers and continues to get loads of recognition. It’s been hailed as one of America’s Favorite Cities, One of the 10 Best Places to Live, one of the best cities in the world and recently awarded one of the “best walking cities” in the USA from Prevention Magazine. So what do you do in this crown of the mid-west?

For families there are plenty of pickings. Over at Navy Pier where the city’s ferris wheel swirls around in gonzo techni-color, the thoroughfare opens to a grandstand of swing rides and a vintage carousel. After snacking on cotton candy and popcorn, wander the pier and take in sumptuous views of the city’s skyline.

Pick out the Hancock Observatory Tower, the Prudential Building or see if you can spot the Sears Tower. For a unique dining experience, hightail it to Bubba Gump’s. The movie set-like eatery has all the hallmarks from the popular film, Forrest Gump. Servers sing “Happy Birthday” in a comical military tune to the kiddies and placing an order has its own surprises.

Worried about spending too many greenbacks? For most of us, cost is always a huge dilemma while vacationing. I always love to discover the affordable ways to see a destination so when in Chicago, I rummage through the many brochures you can pick up free at the Chicago Visitor Centre located on 77 E Randolph St. and inquire with information personnel on free events and activities.

It’s true what they say about the mid-western hospitality. Almost everywhere you turn there will be a thoughtful soul ready to point you in the right direction. Next time you’re in the Windy City, pull out your street map and see what happens. In my experiences, I’ve always had somebody offer directions. Currently, Chicago is celebrating its first full summer at Millenium Park with a series of free events featuring the city’s most talented performers and artists.

In addition, Chicago is offering free trolley services with stops to such landmarks as the Field Museum, which is the home to Sue, the giant T-Rex, the Shedd Aquarium, the Adler Planetarium and Navy Pier. Here’s a quick list of some other always-free attractions: Garfield Park Conservatory, Lincoln Park Zoo and Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows.

Select museums offer special free days too. Try the Art Institute of Chicago on Tuesdays. Check out the Chicago Children’s Museum on Thursdays between 5pm-8pm or visit the Glessner House Museum on Wednesdays.

For other travel information on Chicago call toll-free 1.877.CHICAGO, log onto www.877chicago.com or visit www.cityofchicago.org/ExploringChicago.

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