One of the best things about living in Champaign (IMHO) is living so close to three cities with amazing offerings (Chicago, St. Louis and Indianapolis).
Our proximity makes days trips to each of these locations a real possibility, and as my girls get older and are able to handle the 4 – 6 hours in the car for a fun day trip, I expect to experience more and more in these great cities! For this reason I decided to make my first “test trip” with my older daughter (6) over spring break… and lived to tell about it.
She has visited the Krannert Art Museum several times in the last year – each time mesmerized by the different displays. In addition, she loves her art teacher and has always wanted to see the Mona Lisa (she knows it is at the Louvre, and she knows we aren’t going there any time soon, but that doesn’t stop her from talking about it.) So here is how the day went and my personal advice from the excursion:
8:00 Leave Champaign – bringing snacks and SMALL water bottle (no potty breaks)
10:30 Arrive in downtown Chicago
10:45 Find our SPOTHERO parking garage after circling the block twice… parking ALL DAY $10 ($15 normally, but I had a “first time user coupon” for $5 off!) I will never park in Chicago without checking Spot Hero again!
11:00 Park, bathroom and walk (only two blocks) to the AIC (Art Institute of Chicago)
11:05 ENTER the Museum (giggles, skipping and general excitement ensued). It was at this point that I realized I hadn’t been to the AIC since I was my daughter’s age – so it was like I was seeing it all for the first time as well.
For the next FOUR and a HALF HOURS we wandered. It was awesome.
- Make friends with someone who is a member of the Museum – FREE ADMISSION!
- Eat the pizza in the cafeteria for lunch and/or bring a sack lunch. ($4 per slice, and we drank water… then had a cookie)
- Carpool and you can split the gas money (We didn’t do this, and gas was the most expensive part of our trip ~ $60)
- Visit the Education Wing (we did so twice) – my daughter loved the puzzles, magnets and computer games… and was then DOUBLY excited when we saw the art pieces that she had been working with out in the actual gallery
- MINIATURES room! We looked at EVERY.SINGLE.ONE (~200) … by far her favorite part.
- WANDER without a plan. For the first visit, this was IDEAL for us – no pressure and plenty to see next time we come back. I told her more about the pieces she was interested in, but let her ignore what didn’t interest her … even if it was more “famous.”
If you can’t tell, we had an amazing time and can’t wait to go back (especially since it was so cost efficient!)
Gas: $60, Parking $10, Lunch $8, Cookie $2, Admission to Museum: Free!
We would love to hear your tips, thoughts and experiences at the Art Institute as well – what should we make sure to see next time?