Madeline and I went to high school in Deerfield, Illinois, a northern suburb of Chicago. Segways would not hit the market for another 34 years. Going to downtown Chicago was a big adventure for 16-year-old teenagers. Just navigating traffic safely was a major concern. Then, we would park at the Grant Park underground parking lot. Its 3,000 parking spots was like a maze. We had to remember where we parked the car so we could find it again! We went to the Art Institute, Field Museum, Planetarium, and to the movies. Since we would be walking, we couldn’t go too far from our Grant Park location.
We’ve been back to Chicago many times. On our 2018 trip, we decided to take a Segway tour I booked on Viator. We walked to the conveniently located spot to find our guide and fellow tourists. The obligatory training session was straightforward for us. By this time, we were old hands at Segways.
The two-hour tour first took us along Lake Shore Drive. We first stopped at Buckingham Fountain, which is a beautiful Chicago landmark. Buckingham Fountain opened to the public in 1927, commissioned by Kate Sturges Buckingham as a memorial for her brother, Clarence. (I originally thought it was related to Queen Elizabeth!) The design of the fountain’s sculptures includes four sets of art deco seahorses that represent the four states bordering Lake Michigan.
Do you know which states they are? No googling! Illinois is obvious since you’re in Chicago. The others are Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan. For our after-prom celebration, Madeline and I visited Indiana Dunes State Park. That’s a great place to visit and a short drive from Chicago. Now, it’s a national park.
The tour took us right past Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, a.k.a., the Monsters of the Midway. With all the time we’ve spent in Chicago, we’ve never been to a game! Soldier Field was renovated in 2003, and now presents a façade that is both classic and contemporary. It’s still impressive, though.
Then we passed the Field Museum, one of the largest natural history museums in the world. That’s where we made our acquaintance with Sue, who is the most celebrated Tyrannosaurus Rex in the world. The museum named her Sue after Sue Hendrickson, who discovered the dinosaur in 1990 during a trip to South Dakota. It took six people more than 17 days to extract the dinosaur’s bones.
The Field Museum is named for Marshall Field, who was famous for his department stores. He donated one million dollars to establish the museum. It all started at the Columbian Exposition, the world’s fair hosted by Chicago in 1893. For a great read on the subject, check out The Devil in the White City: A Saga of Magic and Murder at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson. Today, the Field maintains over 40 million artifacts. It’s definitely worth your time. But on this Segway tour, it was a ride-by.
We then continued to the Shedd Aquarium, one of the largest indoor aquariums in the world with more than five million gallons of water. In high school, Madeline and I would walk to the Shedd, a long walk of about two miles each way. Of course, when you’re young, it wasn’t a big deal. On the Segway tour, we zipped there effortlessly.
The Adler Planetarium was even farther away. The Adler is a top-notch planetarium and research facility. It, too, is a fun visit but a ride-by on our tour. Be sure to visit the Field, Shedd and Adler when in Chicago. You can even get a CityPASS to reduce the cost and stop by some other Chicago institutions like the Art Institute or Museum of Science and Industry.
While on the tour, we took some great pictures of the magnificent Chicago skyline on a sunny day. Our guide gave us plenty of time for photos. And he recommended getting a famous Vienna Red Hot (Chicago hot dog) from a street vendor. We passed on the hot dogs. We love them but were saving room for deep dish pizza at Giordano’s (which you can have shipped to your home!).
The Segway tour of the Chicago landmarks is wonderful. We traveled close to 10 miles on our Segways and had a lot of fun on the way. Our guide let us take plenty of pictures and he filled us in on lots of Chicago history.
Speaking of the Chicago skyline, we had a great view from our hotel room at the Hyatt Regency that trip. It’s a great place to stay and the views are wonderful. Be sure to put Chicago on your bucket list!