Windy City fun for families

Chicago's downtown reflects in windows of an office building.  -- Photo by Alex L Fradkin, Getty...

Chicago's downtown reflects in windows of an office building. -- Photo by Alex L Fradkin, Getty Images

ILONA KAUREMSZKY -- Special to Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:58 AM ET

Q: My husband and I wish to take our 4-year-old son on a trip to Chicago. We'll be leaving at the end of August for four days. If you have any advice on what we could do, I'd really appreciate it.

-- F. Rubens, Toronto

A: Chicago has been hailed as one of America's favourite cities, one of the 10 best places to live, one of the best cities in the world and was recently named one of the "best walking cities" in the U.S.A. by Prevention magazine.

So what do you do in this crown of the Midwest? For families there are plenty of pickings. Head to Navy Pier where a ferris wheel swirls around and the thoroughfare opens to a grandstand of swing rides and a vintage carousel.

After snacking on cotton candy and popcorn, wander the pier and take in the great views of the city's skyline. Pick out the Hancock Observatory Tower, the Prudential Building or try to spot the Sears Tower.

For a unique dining experience, hightail it to Bubba Gump's. The movie set-like eatery has all the hallmarks from the popular film, Forrest Gump.

Worried about spending too many greenbacks? Rummage through the many brochures you can pick up free at the Chicago Visitor Center on 77 E Randolph St., and ask staff about free events and activities.

Currently, Chicago is celebrating its first full summer at Millenium Park with a series of free events featuring the city's most talented performers and artists.

In addition, Chicago is offering free trolley services with stops to such landmarks as the Field Museum, which is the home to Sue, the giant T-Rex, the Shedd Aquarium, the Adler Planetarium and Navy Pier.

Here's a quick list of some other always-free attractions: Garfield Park Conservatory, Lincoln Park Zoo and Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows. Select museums offer special free days, too. Try the Art Institute of Chicago on Tuesdays, the Chicago Children's Museum on Thursdays between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. or visit the Glessner House Museum on Wednesdays.

For other travel information on Chicago call toll-free 1-877-CHICAGO, log on to 877chicago.com or visit cityofchicago.org/exploring chicago.

Q: Where can I get passport application forms?

-- W. Noble, Toronto

A: You can obtain a passport application form directly from a Passport Canada office, post office outlet or online from the Passport Canada website, pptc.gc.ca. In Toronto, passport offices are located downtown, 74 Victoria St., Suite 300; North York, 4900 Yonge St., Suite 380 or in Scarborough, 200 Town Centre Court, Suite 210.


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