My sweet little Roarke David turned 4 last week. I tried my best to stop it, I told him he wasn’t allowed to get any older, but he went ahead and did it anyway. Rude.
Something that I’m a bit of a firm believer in is giving our kids experiences, rather than gifts. They have SO much stuff – in fact, I’m getting ready to do another purge – and in the end, I’d rather we make fun memories together than give him yet another toy that will be broken or lost in 6 months. For a brief second, we considered surprising him with a quick Disney World trip, but when we really started adding up the costs of said trip, it didn’t make that much sense to spend so much money for only a couple days. We’ll wait on that trip until we can really have the time to enjoy it!
So we settled on somewhere close by – Chicago! Our boy is OBSESSED with Lego’s and, as luck would have it, there’s a Legoland in Chicago so we knew it would be the perfect spot to celebrate him! And rather than just go up for the day, we decided to up the ante and just make a mini vacay of it.
Monday morning we set out on the 2 hour trek north. I know what you’re thinking – “Uhhhh, 2 hours is NOT a long trip, Dacia. It’s hardly a trek.” But with 2 kids and no TV (we took the Prius instead of the van to cut down on gas costs), it might as well have been the Iditarod Trail. And obviously, we had to stop halfway through to feed the little hyenas. We found the cutest little diner called Tyler’s Tender – it was the PERFECT spot for the kids. There was a huge electric train set up that they could watch endlessly, arcade games, and even a mini train that they could take a ride in. We’ll probably make this our permanent stopping point for trips to Chicago with the kiddos!
From there, we set out for Legoland. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the question “Are we there yet?” so much in my life. But eventually (after some rough Chicago traffic) we made it!
It happened to be Spring Break week, so it was fairly crowded. Pro tip: buy your tickets online in advance so you can skip the line. It’s not a huge place, but there’s some fun stuff to see inside. They had a replica of the entire Chicago shoreline built out of Lego’s – so impressive!
They also had a jungle area with life-size Lego animals, a Star Wars room, and several spots where you could just sit and build. I honestly think Roarke could’ve sat at one of those tables for 2 hours! Upstairs, they have a cafe and play area, along with a fun little 4D Lego movie. There are also a couple mini-rides you can do. And obviously, on your way out they have a store where you can buy Lego sets. Overall, it was a really great thing to do, especially with kids on the younger side. It wasn’t so big that we were exhausted by then end, but it was easy to spend a couple hours there and the kids really enjoyed it. They’ve already asked (several times) when we’re going back.
Afterwards, we loaded up and headed back into the city (Legoland is out in one of Chicago’s suburbs, so keep that in mind if you’re planning to travel there!) to our hotel. We stayed right downtown at a place called the Freehand. This place was SUPER cool. It’s basically an upscale hostel – you can rent out a single bed in one of their rooms for pretty cheap. We rented a whole room and the kids thought it was the coolest thing ever that we all had bunk beds!
The vibe at this place was amazing (they had lots of local events and meet-ups happening right in the hotel) and all the decor was totally on point.
That light. #allthehearteyes
The next morning we woke up and hit up one of our favorite donut spots: Stan’s Donuts. A definite must-try if you’re in the area! This activity was definitely kid (and parent) approved.
All in all, it was a successful little trip for us and there were lots of memories made. Believe it or not, this was our first overnight trip with just our little family of 4 (besides visiting family of course), so I was actually kind of anxious about it being a disaster, but JP and I both commented on what a pleasant day it was and how well the kids did for being totally off their schedules. I am SO glad we did this instead of buying Roarke a toy – I think it will be a birthday tradition!