Swissotel Chicago

The Perfect Mini Staycation

Adler PlanetariumI spent a fun action-packed weekend in Chicago, visiting the Adler Planetarium and staying at the lovely Swissotel, with my two boys last month. It felt like a vacation starting the moment the taxi picked us up to drive us to the train station. And by the time we arrived in downtown Chicago (even though it’s technically only 13 miles away) it felt like we were 1,000 miles away from home.

Oh, I love that feeling.

view from swissotel chicago

The first thing we did was check into our hotel room., kicked off our shoes, ordered room service, and relaxed overlooking our amazing view of Navy Pier and Lake Michigan. My boys loved the room so much, they could have stayed there all day.

After refueling and trying on astronaut helmets that the Adler Planetarium sent over for my boys, we took a water taxi to the Planetarium.

Yes! A Water Taxi! Did you know Chicago had water taxis? Who knew? So cool!

Our Water Taxi Adventure

shoreline sightseeing chicagoFrom our hotel, we walked to the Shoreline Sightseeing water taxi dock, which is located just east of Michigan Avenue. A water taxi took us to Navy Pier and then we transferred at Navy Pier to another water taxi that took us to the Museum Campus.

The river boat was smooth sailing, but traveling on Lake Michigan to the Museum Campus was a little too choppy for us.

Our Adler Planetarium Adventure

Welcome to the UniverseOur primary focus was to see the space show, Welcome to the Universe, and check out the exhibition, The Universe: A Walk through Space and Time. The show was mesmerizing! I know it sounds cliché, but the entire planetarium was mind-blowing and awe inspiring.

This is how the press release describes Welcome to the Universe:

“Audiences travel a billion light-years and back flying through space, orbiting the Moon, zooming into a canyon on Mars, and soaring through the cosmic web where a million galaxies shower down on them. Then it’s back to Earth, traveling faster than the speed of light in the most immersive space experience ever created.”

It’s wild how much humans know about space and it’s surreal learning about millions of galaxies across our Universe. I loved what Lisa, from, said about Welcome to the Universe:

“The thing I was most struck by in Welcome to the Universe was the visualization of how truly small we are.  Its something I’ve heard and known for a long time but as you ‘travel’ through the universe visually it really hits home how truly tiny we are in the grand scheme of things.”

Remembering where I am in this enormous Universe truly puts things into perspective.

My boys’ favorite part of the planetarium was the hands-on Lunar Leap exhibit, which allowed them to simulate what it feels like to jump on the moon. This gravity simulation has two inclined slider boards that recreate the sensation of jumping in the 1/6-gravity of the moon. Lying on the boards, my boys pushed up with their feet and the green-screen video made it look like they were jumping on the moon.

After a Long Day

Swissotel ChicagoAfter a fascinating afternoon at the Adler Planetarium, we grab a land taxi back to the Swissotel for dinner, rest, and relaxation. The kids swam in the indoor pool while I watched the sun set from the 42nd floor. This sunset, which was bursting with magenta and orange, was the most spectacular sunset I’ve ever seen in Chicago.

We were supposed to go to Lou Malnati’s for dinner, but we were too tired to move. So instead, we ordered pizza via room service and ate in bed while watching The Lorax. The kids thought it was heaven on Earth.

Heading to the Adler Planetarium?

Be sure to see Welcome to the Universe in the Grainger Sky Theater. It’s only a 25 minute show and runs at the following times:

10:30 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 1:45 p.m., 3:30 p.m.

11:15 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 1:45 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4:15 p.m.

For more information about the Adler Planetarium, check out one of their amazing website:


Disclaimer:  As is common in the travel and tourism industry, I received complimentary accommodations, water taxis, and admission to the Adler Planetarium. Opinions are 100% my own. The aerial photo and Lunar Leap photo are courtesy the Adler Planetarium.
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