Living from pay to pay definitely means that vacations are a luxury for the few. Even a flight to the East Coast to visit my own family is out of the question this year, as finances need to be kept in check. As a mom I feel guilty for not being able to give my son the experience of traveling to various destinations or even the Lake Erie peninsula of my youth. In Chicago itself, even a typical stay requires a small budget.
Eliminate guilt. What matters most is the time we spend together. Here are some options for higher cost alternatives.
If you can’t afford to go to a Chicago Bulls game, attend a local college basketball game, i.e. Depaul, University of Chicago, Loyola, etc. My 8 year old was just as happy, and it was pizza night in the game, so we saved money on concessions with a free slice of pizza.
Can’t afford the Mexican resort? – Take your kids to Pilsen, the Mexican neighborhood just off 18th Street, pink line train stop. Your children will be able to experience authentic Mexican culture in America instead of a sterile cruise ship and resort where everyone speaks English. Get educated at the National Museum of Mexican Art located at 1859 W. 19th St. Visit a Panadería (Mexican bakery). Let your children choose a delicious cake. Don’t forget to pick one for yourself too!
The following week, visit Chinatown! When the weather is warmer, take the kids to Ping Tom Park. The possibilities of touring the world within Chicago are endless.
Resort Activities: How about you take your kids and practice Zumba together? This works best for children older than 7 years. I took my son to a Zumba class with the teacher’s permission. Model for your children that movement is wonderful.
How about a family karaoke? A great place to do karaoke with the family over dinner is Hiromi’s, located at 3609 W. Lawrence. It is a quaint Filipino / Japanese karaoke restaurant run by a family. No stage is needed. You can sit at the table and sing with all your heart with the children.
Tour boats in Chicago can be expensive. Have you ever thought about the Chicago water taxi? An all-day pass costs $ 10.00 for the weekend. You can hop on and off at various points in downtown Chicago, as well as at Ping Tom Park in Chinatown.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the wonderful museums. A favorite museum with tourists and Chicagoans alike is the Museum of Science and Industry. A highly interactive museum that will keep kids busy for hours.
You can create memories that last a lifetime without an expensive vacation. Enjoy the city and, most importantly, the time you spend with your family.