Going to Chicago! in The Chat Board Posted May 31, 2014 If you are a member of another museum that is part of the ASTC group, you can get into several Chicago museums for free. Check your museum membership card, if you are a member, for the ASTC logo. With our museum membership that is connected to ASTC, we visit, for free, the Field Museum, the Museum of Science & Industry and the Chicago Children's Museum at Navy Pier. You still have to pay for parking and special exhibits, but it saves a lot of money. I think the Art Institute may be part of a reciprocal art museum thing as well. The Shedd Aquarium always has long lines and the tickets are rather expensive. For those reasons, we have yet to visit. We like the Art Institute and the Field. The Museum of Science & Industry has an interesting history of Disney exhibit up. If you like archaeology, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Egyptian history, then you might like the Oriental Museum on the University of Chicago campus near the Science & Industry museum. The Oriental Museum is in the Hyde Park area which is the neighborhood where the Obamas lived before moving to the White House. Parking in Chicago is very expensive. The easiest way to pay for street parking is to use your credit card. Otherwise, you will need to be carrying around lots of cash. Parking garages can be expensive, too. Park in the Grant Park garage accessible via Michigan Avenue to go to the Art Institute. The Field and the Science a& Industry have their own parking lots. Once you are parked in the Grant Park garage, then you can go to the Bean. We also like walking up and down Michigan Avenue. My son is obsessed with Nike shoes so we are now always visiting the NikeTown store on Michigan Avenue, very near the Apple store. There is an American Girl store and Lego store in the Water Tower mall. You can walk over bridge over the Chicago River that has been featured in a lot of films. Take a Wendella Boat ride that gives you an interesting perspective on the city and helps you understand the architecture, too, which Chicagoans are proud of. There is a hostel in the south Loop. It is near the main library building. From the outside, it looks quite nice. You are still going to have to park your car nearby. We often stay in the western suburbs in Oak Brook/Lombard area. It is about a 20 minute drive on expressways through the suburbs and city to downtown. That is, if the traffic is going fast. We like staying in this area because the hotels are fine, many serve breakfast, have pools and the parking is free. But then, we don't go out a lot in the evening. So we are usually exhausted and back in the hotel by 7 or so. Staying in the city mainly allows you to hang out at night. Frequently there are free concerts in Grant Park in the summer and fireworks off Navy Pier, so those are incentive to stay downtown. Chicago is a big city with big city prices. Plan ahead and you can save some money and time. You will like it.