4 places to build a fun spring break staycation in Chicago

Chicagoans are just so lucky. One of the nation’s favorite cities to visit is also an easy place to spend an exceptional staycation. Why not take a few days to enjoy the best of the Windy City with these four local-approved activities? (Deep-dish pizza optional.)

Top o’ the world

How big is your brave? If it’s roughly 1,353 feet high, you’ll do just fine with the Willis Tower’s enclosed glass Skydeck and vistas from the second tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. (Although longtime residents might have to check themselves from referring to the skyscraper as “the Sears.”)

Cost: $12.50 for ages 3-11, $19.50 for ages 12 and up.

233 S. Wacker Drive

(312) 875-9447

We heart dim sum

Dim sum, literally translated, means “dot hearts”: small treats that touch the heart. Dozens of carts wheeling around small plates and tins of delicacies (like fluffy steamed barbecue pork buns) make for an adventurous, satisfying and out-of-the-ordinary lunch after a morning spent exploring the shops of Chinatown. (Bubble tea! Lucky bamboo!) No worries if your Cantonese is rusty (or nonexistent) – most restaurants feature illustrated menu items, making pointing and ordering a completely legitimate move.

Cost: Really depends on how hungry you are.

The Phoenix, 2131 S. Archer Ave.

(312) 328-0848

The big spin

Many associate Navy Pier with strictly touristy endeavors, but in terms of unadulterated and childlike joy, it’s hard to beat a twilight spin on the 150-foot-high Ferris wheel. Whether marveling at views clear across the lake or at Chicago’s stunning skyline, there’s no better way to enjoy the Pier. (That is, unless you’re in line for a corn dog.)

Cost: $6. Parking can be pricey, so opt for the adventure of public transportation.

600 E. Grand Ave.

(800) 595-7437

Teeny tiny fantasies

Sure, the Art Institute boasts a glorious collection of Impressionist paintings and a nearly 4,000-year-old array of ancient and Byzantine art, but the real draw for your kids will be the incredible Thorne Miniature Rooms. Painstakingly crafted spaces featuring interiors and furniture from Europe’s late 13th century to the American 1930s are a wonderful (and oh-so tiny) intro to the magic of the Art Institute.

Cost: Free for ages 14 and under, $23 for adults. (For Illinois residents: Free 5-8 p.m. Thursdays.)

111 S Michigan Ave.

(312) 443-3600

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