Recently I spent the day in the city with my family and friends of ours who just moved here last fall from the West coast.
I love sharing our city and suburbs with friends and family who are new to the area or are visiting.
I am proud to say I live in the Chicago area and there are so many fun things to do in and around the city.
We had tickets to go on a Shoreline Sightseeing cruise that docks off of Navy Pier and decided that it would be fun to take all our kids on the boat ride.
I should also say we had specific tickets for the Architecture tour, a 75 minute tour that tells you the history of buildings along the Chicago River as well as fun anecdotes about our amazing city.
I have been on MANY an architecture tour along the river, four total since moving here in 1989 and I have seen MANY an episode of Geoffrey Baer's WTTW Chicago River tours.
So of course that means I am an expert.
I love the above shows so much I was almost tempted to buy the 150 dollar sponsorship package back in 2002 because:
A - that guy could sell a car to a 98-year-old woman with no drivers license
2 - I MUST KNOW ALL OF THE HISTORY IN CHICAGO. ALL. OF. IT.
I am a useless knowledge nerd.
Not that knowing ALL OF THE HISTORY ABOUT CHICAGO is useless but I am the dork at a party who will interject into a conversation that is hitting a lull with a DID YOU KNOW THAT LEMON HEADS ARE MADE RIGHT HERE IN CHICAGO? DID YOU KNOW THAT WESTERN AVENUE IS THE WORLDS LONGEST STREET?
I am the kid from Jerry Maguire.
Only 40 years later.
And shorter hair.
So I have done the Architecture tour before and wasn't necessarily looking forward to re-learning everything all over again because DID YOU KNOW THAT THAT BUILDING RIGHT OVER THERE USED TO HAVE A CAR ELEVATOR INSIDE IT SO THAT THEY WOULDN'T GET ROBBED??
This you need to know: we were on the boat with five young people ages 14, 10, 6, 6, and 3.
A nice wide range, if you ask me.
As we were riding on the boat, I thought that is a perfect spread to see how well it works for each age group.
Our boat guide J.J was phenomenal.
His Chicarrrrgo accent was a perfect side dish to his great anecdotes about the city where THE LARGEST AMOUNT OF POLISH RESIDENTS OUTSIDE OF WARSAW LIVE.
This is why I loved him most: he called Willis Tower, Sears Tower.
It was as if I were riding this boat in 1995.
And he said it, like, 20 times.
My husband was almost standing on his chair clapping and cheering every time he said it.
My husband is a lifer.
His parents grew up in Chicago proper, his dad's dad was a Chicago cop, he has Chicago River running through his tough guy blood.
I had to tell him to settle down he was getting so excited.
I totally think he has a man crush on J.J.
The tour was great, the boat was smooth, clean and had a bar.
DID I MENTION IT HAD A BAR??
They even offered a special Shoreline drink.
Had I not had five kids in our presence I may have imbibed but I did the responsible mom thing.
And had a pitcher of margaritas after we got home while they played dress up in the basement.
Here's the reality of it all- the kids didn't really care if we were on the Chicago River.
In fact, three of them probably had no idea we were on a boat.
In fairness to the boat company, when you get two or more kids together who are friends, they are going to be more interested in what kind of shoes they have on or the fact that someone farted or has a booger in their nose than what color the top of the Wrigley building is.
The older kids seemed to like it and learned history and culture by osmosis.
Meaning they probably won't recite everything they learned but it will pop into their heads someday while they are at a party DID YOU KNOW THAT THE CHICAGO RIVER IS DEEPER THAN LAKE MICHIGAN?
I wouldn't recommend this specific tour to kids under the age of 10 but if you are feeling lucky, give it a shot.
There is a lake tour that I think my younger one would be more interested in, so we might try that next time.
Oh and Shoreline dispelled a rumor.
Oprah never lived here:
But John Cusack did.
If you are interested in Shoreline Sightseeing, check out the tours they offer here.
Disclosure: I received six tickets for free from Shoreline. All of the opinions above were mine.
Kari Wagner is stay-at-home mom by day, superhero by night. She loves to write about her adventures in life, love and decorating.
See more of Kari's stories here.
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