What do you do when your trip to Chinatown via the Metra train and water taxi doesn’t work out? Take the water taxi to Michigan Avenue, of course. But when your kids have already done that trip a half dozen times, it takes a little creativity and a lot of friends to make it worthwhile. Here’s what we came up with for a Sukkot trip without much work or money.
1. Gather 4 of your bravest friends and a bunch of their kids (there were 20 of us in total–enough to be mistaken as a yeshiva by one guy).
2. Head downtown on the Metra while your kids go nuts over being on a real train with a conductor, a second level and a horn. $3 for adults from Rogers Park and $1.50 for kids over 6.
3. Pick up the water taxi outside the station and laugh at all the suckers passing by who paid nearly $50 for an architecture tour on the same river. Your taxi costs $3.40 round trip for everyone over age 3 (You have to all split 10-ride passes for this reduced rate. See my complete directions for the train and water taxi in a previous post.)
4. Head over to Millennium Park for a picnic.
5. Divide into teams and spend the next 45 minutes doing a Scavenger hunt using cell phones. Your kids will run, get fresh air, pay attention to sites and statues they otherwise would ignore, build up the courage to ask strangers to cooperate, think for themselves, work as a team and have a blast. You, meanwhile, will try not to shake the camera phone while you laugh too hysterically throughout.
6. Head back to the water taxi and the Metra home.
My inspiration for today was from 20 years ago (!) when my camp counselors let 40 of us loose in downtown Indianapolis armed with Polaroid cameras and a list of photos. After a few hours of posing in restaurants, with statues and with every weirdo we could find, we left with what became one of our best camp memories.
I’m hoping our kids remember today for just as long. Plus, I’m hoping this scavenger hunt idea’s gonna get me to a few more sites my older kids are tired of visiting. Chanukah rematch at the Museum of Science and Industry, anyone?