Establishment: Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
Location: 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60637 (Hyde Park)
Editor’s note: If you are in Chicago with the kids, definitely check out the Museum of Science and Industry, shares Bel. Her family of museum buffs enjoyed their visit and here she shares some of their fave exhibits – enjoy this preview!
You truly have to spend an entire day here. Better yet, and time permitting, plant spend 2 days in this wonderful museum.
From the moment we stepped into the main foyer, we were simply blown away by the sheer size of the place. One can only imagine what gigantic exhibits will be revealed to us as we walk its hallways. Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry was on the list of our must-go places during our December holiday to the Windy City of Chicago. Being museum buffs, everyone of us were looking forward to this visit, and the Museum of Science and Industry here in Chicago certainly did not disappoint.
There was just so much to do and see here. You can get the full list of exhibits at The Museum of Science & Industry – I would definitely recommend looking through the list, and planning the visit properly. Decide prior the visit which exhibits are the must-sees for your family, and map out your route accordingly. Special tours can be booked in advanced and are conducted at different timing, so check that out too if you are keen.
First thing first… We were at the Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry in December, near Christmas. At the museum, it is their custom to host the one-of-a-kind seasonal celebration.
When we were there in 2013, it was their 72nd annual Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light celebration, and they have been hosting this celebration since 1942. Taking centre stage in the Rotunda was the Museum’s 45-foot Grand Tree with more than 30,000 red, green and white twinkling lights and hundreds of ornaments and trimmings. The giant tree was flanked by 50 smaller trees that were all beautifully decorated, by volunteers from Chicago’s ethnic communities to represent their various cultures and holiday traditions.
Our absolute favourites exhibits were a giant model Silver Streak train and an actual 737 jet in the Transportation Gallery. And then there is the famous U505 submarine, the only one in the USA.
The Boeing737 jet was for us the highlight at the Transportation Gallery. There are hands-on activities and interactive displays, we could even climb into the plane’s fuselage – quite an experience. United Airlines pilots also volunteer at the exhibit, talking to guests about the plane and aviation careers.
There were two flight simulator rides here too at the Transportation Gallery, the “Flight School”. We signed the kids up – and they certainly enjoyed it!
An amazing indoor exhibition – you literally step into the historical submarine and experience the living conditions aboard the vessel. The history of the submarine and how it was capture from the Germans were also showcased in a series of interactive exhibits.
This was already a great exhibit and our visit was a little more special as we opted for the optional escorted small group tour of the submarine, offered on selected weekend mornings. You can check the schedule for the tour here. The tour starts early, at 8am before the museum is open to the public. It’s very informative, the guided tour through the interior of the Submarine. After the tour we would wander around the inside and outside the Sub, with less crowd, before the museum opens too, which was great. The guide was informative, and also happy to take questions.
This was one of choices of three “Special Experience” at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry allowed on the Chicago Pass, which we used for admission to the Museum too. It’s worth the early start just to have the exhibit to ourselves, with less crowd around.
Silver Streak takes you on a trip back in time. To May 26, 1934, as a “passenger” on the Pioneer Zephyr. We were taken on the “record-breaking ride” from Denver to Chicago -a 20-minute guided tour on the train. The newsreel footages from 1934 gave us a real sense of the excitement that must have been, when the train was first rolled out. We explored the baggage, smoking, passenger and observation compartments of the Pioneer Zephyr, checked out the engineer’s cab, “drove” the engine on the interactive computer. It was great.
I would definitely recommend Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry to any family visiting the Windy City of Chicago. A lovely place worthy of many hours of exploration and many revisits.
Editor’s note: Read Bel’s review on the Chicago CityPass and an account of how her family used the pass to save on sightseeing in Chicago here. Do you have a museum (anywhere in the world) you’d recommend for a family touring with kids. Share your experience with us here -we’d love to hear from you!