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Spend a day in Chicago’s Loop

Lately it seems everyone on the El has their heads down, eyes glued to their smart phones or tablets. Which means they’re completely missing our favorite thing about the ride: the great views of the city. We took a trip around the loop and made a plan for your family to enjoy a whole day on the CTA Orange Line.

There’s so much to do off the CTA Orange Line. Your family can make a whole day traveling around the Loop.

Start at Harold Washington Library. The library has it’s ownstation so it’s easy to jump on and off the orange line even duringChicago’s blustery days. Before heading inside, have your kids lookfor the giant owl at the State Street side of the top of thebuilding. Once inside, head up to the 9th floor where you can readyour favorite books under the glass roof. The library also offersplenty of kids programs that can be found online at chipublib.org/forkids.

Harold Washington Library Center


Get back on the orange line and two stops later you’ll passthrough Quincy/Wells. We love the feel of this station, especiallythe vintage posters along the platform. Your family will feel likethey’ve traveled back in time.


Your next stop is State/Lake. Walk south on State and on theright you’ll pass the ABC7 studios. If you time your trip right,you can watch a broadcast through the glass from the sidewalk.Next, keep walking south and make a right onto Randolph whereyou’ll find our favorite Argo Tea. The outside looks like somethingout of a storybook, and inside you’ll find refreshments and snacksfor the whole family.

Before you get back on the train, walk north to Wacker. Fromhere, you’ll be able to see the river and iconic Chicago buildingslike Trump Tower, Tribune Tower and Marina City Towers.


Walk one block east and hop back on the orange line atRandolph/Wabash. As you travel south you’ll be able to see PritzkerPavillion in Millennium Park from the train. You’ll also pass thenew Roosevelt University campus. It’s the new stand-out in the cityskyline but up-close you’ll be able to see how they mixed new andold construction to create a unique building.


Step off the train at Roosevelt and walk, or take a bus, over toMuseum Campus. Spend some time at the FieldMuseum, Shedd Aquarium or AdlerPlanetarium, or just hang out Northerly Island with a skyline
view. Make sure to check our guide to Chicago’s museum free days
before planning your trip.

Free days for Chicago museums

Chicago’s museums are world-class, but all those bones, weather simulators and rides in Chicago’s first El train car don’t come cheap. Throw in parking, special exhibits and the gift shop, and it adds up fast. But in the philanthropic spirit of our fine city, most museums offer free admission for Illinois residents on certain days. Here’s a complete calendar for the next few months. You’re on your own in the gift shop.

Free days can change at the last minute, so ALWAYS call first to confirm before heading out to the museums.

Check out our complete guide to Chicagoland’s museums featuring reviews, upcoming exhibits and tailored tours for little feet.

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