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Go Chicago- Road Trip from Toronto to Chicago

Mom, this train track was in the movie Divergent, said our 10-year-old as we arrived in the captivating city of Chicago. Clickety-clack said the train, linking the sky-scrapers above the road. Chicago is one of America's best cities; it's a blend of rich heritage and modern architecture. Our March Break Madness comprised a trip to Windsor to meet family friends and then drive further west to Chicago, Illinois, in theUnited States.

Directions:-The distance from Toronto to Windsor is 369Kms on Highway 403 West and 401 West. Toronto to Chicago is 840Kms using the same highways. From Windsor to Chicago, I-94 W highway and is 458Kms. Approximate travel time from Toronto-Chicago will be 8-10 hours, inclusive of breaks. Chicago time is an hour behind Toronto.

In South-western Ontario on the US border, Windsor, a city that showcases the Detroit River and beautiful Detroit Skyline. Canada is not only famous for its Hockey players but also for its sculptures and artists. Windsor lake-shore has a beautiful Sculpture park and, as they say, A Museum without walls. There are several monuments and benches donated in the memory of loved ones to the city. Since Windsor is Canada's border city, which connects to Detroit (US) through AmbassadorBridge and Detroit River, both cities celebrate Canada National day(1st July) and American Independence Day (4th July) together. A week before, both cities contribute and organize combined fireworks in the middle of the river; it attracts many locals and tourists.

While visiting Windsor city with our friends, they mentioned the oldest church in the community, built more than 120 years back. This church was recently closed down despite people donating millions to save the heritage architecture. The church holds memories of many who married and who got baptized here. It contains a special place in many people's hearts, and they are sad to hear about its closure.

Swami Vivekananda representedIndia and Hinduism at the Parliament of the Worlds Religions in 1893 in Chicago, US. It takes me back to my grade 8 History lesson when I first heard the name of Chicago. The city contains old heritage and history of World War.

After having -40 degrees temperatures in Toronto this winter, experiencing 20 degrees above zero in Chicago was cheerful, I could smell spring just around the corner. As we entered the city, we got in a flashback of the famous Hollywood movie-Divergent, where they showed a dauntless woman jumping out of the train to pass her test and her journey of becoming a Divergent. We parked our car in a public car park and started to explore the vibrant city on foot. A few clouds, a little sun, and no wind-chill made it good enough to walk around. While exploring the city, we reached Michigan Avenue, a famous Hotspot for tourists. A kind lady who worked in a souvenir store suggested we visit Millenium Park and Navy Pier, the two best main attractions of Chicago.

Millennium Park is the heart of downtown on Michigan Avenue and a favorite destination of everyone visiting this famous city of Chicago. The Park offers landscapes, striking architecture, sculptures, a huge play area for kids with smooth floors, and many more things to give you an unforgettable memory of a lifetime. Each famous destination has unique monuments and architecture, which sets it apart from the rest of the world; it was Millennium Park for Chicago.

Cloud Gate at Millennium Park, designed by British artist Anish Kapoor reflects Chicago Skyline in mirror shaped beautiful cloud sculpture built with pure stainless steel. Inspired by liquid mercury, the sculpture is among the largest of its kind globally, measuring 66-feet long by 33-feet high.

The vast play area for kids was another main attraction, showcasing the alluring Chicago Skyline. Kids enjoyed their playtime, happy parents, and electrified children enjoying the rides and swings on a beautiful warm day was a real delight. It felt like we just opened our doors to the universe after being trapped in the box for a long time.

Navy Pierwasour next destination on foot journey; it was a long walk around 20 minutes from Michigan Avenue but worth it while enjoying the sightseeing in the city. It was a warm day; luckily, it was 20 degrees in the middle of March. We found ourselves very fortunate and wanted to cover everything possible on the very same day. To get a real feel for the city, walking, riding the local transport is always a good idea.

Navy Pier was planned and built to serve as a mixed-purpose piece of public infrastructure. Its primary purpose was as a cargo facility for lake freighters, and warehouses were built up and down the Pier. However, the Pier was also designed to provide docking space for passenger excursion steamers. Pier, especially its outermost tip, was designed to serve as cool places for public gathering and entertainment. Today, the Pier is Chicago's number one tourist attraction. Ferris wheel, Children Museum, and Carousel attract a lot of kids and their families.

John Hancock Center is the tallest tower and a part of the magnificent Chicago skyline. The 95thfloor of the skyscraper offers a 360-degree glimpse of the city and Lake Michigan.

After walking the whole day, we were out of energy and took public transport to our parking downtown. Our feet were killing us, and we no longer wanted to walk anymore and decided to land in our bed at the hotel. It took no longer than 2 minutes for my hyperactive kids to fall asleep; I could feel they were exhausted after having an adventurous day outdoors.

Some Tip here:- Always take a picture of where you've parked your car if you're in a new home, we tend to forget the directions, and it gets challenging to reach back. Showing the picture to locals can help you reach the right place.

For our stay, we chose Hyatt Place in Lombard, a suburb of Chicago. This hotel is 35Kms from downtown but worth it. It provides clean, spacious rooms, an extensive breakfast buffet, free Wi-Fi, and ample free parking space, not available. Very close to the Outlet mall, restaurants, and other necessities. Please read our hotel reviews here,

The next morning, the sun was out, bright clear skies, a gorgeous day but -4 degree Celsius, this forced us to be indoors with kids.

Science Industry and Museum of Chicago is a world-class science museum and another most visited destination in Chicago. A lot of science facts to learn from, suitable activities for kids, tours to explain history. Coal Mine and U-5 Submarine caught our interest, and we took a 45-minute tour of both attractions. We reached there around 11:30 am, and most of the main attractions had sold out for the day; this place was busy even on a Tuesday.

Some tips here:- Make sure to reach here as early as the Museum opens to get maximum exposure; there's a lot to do and learn about science facts and history.

Coal Mine Tour:-

Feet below in earth's crust, an elevator takes you down to a spooky area surrounded by black rocks. Our tour guide described how coal miners did back in the 1930s with no light, no ceiling, and without any modern technology. She explained three significant hazards inside the mine: Carbon Monoxide, Methane, and water. One of the other big dangers insides was coal dust, which could make breathing very difficult and created lung diseases for those working in the coal-mine. Since Methane was a poisonous gas, they carried a group of Canary birds below the ground. As these birds could sense Methane, whenever they stopped chirping, it was time to leave the place.

Young American white female must be in her college years, was quite confident and knew what she was talking about, she told us, "Labors earned only 17-20 Cents for their 12-14 hours labor and used the old machines to dig coal from the mine back in the 1930s". Nowadays, they use all modern machinery and techniques. How did those big machines could've fit in a small elevator and brought this deep under the ground??? The engines were brought into pieces and then assembled inside and were as big as five football grounds, she specified.

After the goofy lift below the ground, she took us to a historic train ride to give us a feel of a coal-mine and showed us those vast machines. She said It made loud noises due to which most of the people lost their hearing. These machines were brought into the Museum from a real coal-mine which was closed in Chicago. Since Chicago is the 5thlargest producer of coal in the United States, some homeowners now get Coal-mines insurance along with their home insurance; their house is at high risk of damage if there's an active coal-mine beneath, she mentioned.

This whole thing gave us a feel of the 1900s coal-mine and how those people worked hard for hours and very little money, risking their lives and staying in a spooky closed area for 12-16 hours a day and 365 days of the year. This coal-mine tour is a must while exploring the Science Center in Chicago.

U-505 Submarine-

Our tour guide this time was an African American lady with shoulder-length curly brown hairs, painted nails, quite stylish, and very well-spoken. She took us back to World War 2 in 1944 when Germans voyaged Bermuda. Capturing U-505 was only part of the battle; US Navy was asked to tow the submarine to know German military secrets. It was a difficult task as this U-boat was in danger of sinking. This submarine was later brought to the Museum after World war ended. The boat was brought in first through different carriages, and then walls and ceilings were built around it.

59 German men in 200-ton steel vessel feet below the sea level for 100 days, she mentioned. They had one room with multiple bunk beds and only two washrooms; they weren't allowed to wash their body due to lack of water and rubbed alcohol to clean their skin; imagine how bad it would stink?? She smiled. They had only two pairs of work clothes, two pairs of underwear, which they reused again. There was plenty of food for them, everywhere she said, in their beds, rooms, in the lobby, corridors, kitchen, and even in the bathroom, yuck, she sighed. There was a small kitchen where the chef prepared all three meals for 59 men every day. And to add to their misery, there was only one bathroom at the end of the submarine.

She informed us, Only one German perished during the capture of US-5; the rest 58 men were caught by US Army and jailed as prisoners. Guiding us inside, she took us from one corner of the historical boat to the end, explaining each and everything; we were very impressed by her knowledge and presentation.
The highlight of our trip was Mirror Maze, which I experienced with my son; glasses, images, and confusion added to our excitement, we had to go through the glasses and find the exit. I was mistaken most of my son's time; instead, it was his image, he scared me many times from the back. I thought he was in front of me, but he was somewhat behind me. It looked like Zombies roaming around coming closer to you; most people were walking with their hands ahead of their bodies. We didn't want to come out from there and repeated it many times. We wished for more but then saw one gentleman shouting and closing the museum at 4 o'clock. We were disappointed, wished it was open until late or arrived earlier than 11:30 am.
Soul soaring beauty of Chicago gave us an unforgettable memory of an American city. Our March Break was indeed fruitful inclusive of meeting old family friends and a road-trip to Chicago. So Go-Chi-Ca-Go.