Thursday, April 17, 2014

Our Chicago Mini Trip using Groupon and a Budget of Under $200.00 Spending Money

We spent Monday and Tuesday of this week in the "Windy City." We are from Wisconsin and are used to the cold weather. Even though it was raining the first day, we still walked everywhere we went. Our first stop from Union Station was directly down Adams to the Art Institute. I research every part of our trip before we go. I read that kids 14 and younger are free. Yet my 14 year old was charged full price? I still plan on taking this up with the museum. I suppose I could have lied about her age but I am a honest person. So a trip for the four of us was $57.00. The highlight was going across the street to eat at Pret A Manger. This is a chain of locally sourced fresh ready made sandwiches, soups, and salads. The four of us ate for just under $30.00. My chicken and avocado sandwich was delicious and my daughter had the pesto and cheese panini. I am in love with this place.

One thing you can do which is free is walk to Grant and Millenium parks. There is blocks and blocks full of public art and the famous Bean. I took some really beautiful shots at night and love this place. There is also the Buckingham fountain which has a light show after 8 o'clock. Only in the warmer months. We walked all the way there and the fountain was drained.

A must see is the Bean at night. It is beautiful! All of the walking makes the kids sleep really good too. Chicago has a different fell at night. During the day is bustling with people. At night it's still busy but a bit easier to get around.
We walked from Union Station. We took the Amtrak in but you can save more money by taking the Metra Train from Kenosha. Union Station is also right by the old Sears/Willis tower. We haven't been to the top yet but I hear it's cool. We tried to stick to the free things. We still had a great time on a budget.

Our hotel was the Hard Rock which I found on Groupon. is a site where you can find discounted activities and dining no matter what city you are in. Just click and paste this link so they know i sent you! . Thi

The Hard Rock was centrally located and we liked it.  The theming on each floor is a rock star. We had Led Zepplin. Unfortunately there was construction directly across from our room and we had a pretty good view of the construction workers. We had a few problems like a $50/ per night charge held on your credit card. This overdrew our checking account. I had budgeted down to the penny and this was a real issue. Luckily Zack at the front desk helped us. And luckily I found the problem before I incurred overdraft fees for those charges. I had to run to chase down the block and deposit just to be safe. We got this hotel on a Groupon too. The site has some pretty good travel deals. There is also a cool bus system but we walked everywhere to save on money. We only took a cab once to Navy Pier.

Eating on the cheap can be done. We had a Subway two doors down and they had $3.00 subs of the day. This worked out perfect. My hubby also gets a discount at Walgreens as a employee and we purchased soda and snacks there. Also 7-11 is everywhere. We got a pizza for under $6.00 the second night. One of our favorite places to go is L'Appetito. It's located below the John Hancock building. You can have a hearty breakfast for $5.50. My family loved it too.

We walked down to Navy Pier and it was a real mess. They are re-doing the entire Pier and it was very boring. There was a cool free stained glass museum inside.

I purchased a  tea tasting at Adagio Tea for my oldest and I. I paid ahead of time and it was really inexpensive. We got to choose and taste three different teas and I asked a ton of questions. My hubby and youngest went to Mcdonald's right down the street while we went in. And we each got a free tea pot too.   Here is my Yelp review of the tea tasting. Yelp! is a online forum that is free and helps you find cool new places and events:

I had purchased the Groupon for my 15 year old daughter and I so we could have a girls day out. We took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up taking the scenic route of State Street. This shop is tucked in with a few others off of Ohio and State.

We made it for our two o'clock appointment and were warmly greeted. We began by choosing three teas. They are arranged in clear jars from white teas to the darkest. It smells amazing in there! We learned all about different types of teas and how they are made, also what temps to make the tea at. Each tea reacts differently to hot water. Some require a longer steeping time to extract their full flavor. 

We were seated in the middle of the shop and our tasting began with a mango tea. There were three different tea infused cookies for us to eat also. Our person (I believe her name was Amanda) was willing to answer all of our questions. I think our tasting went on for 45 minutes. (We Yelpers ask a ton of questions) We also sampled a oolong and chai tea. 

We each got to pick out our own tea pot too and purchased some of the teas we liked. They sell loose leaf by the ounce, in packs with bags or loose, and a variety of tea infused products.  The prices are pretty reasonable. This was a fun event for the two of us and the price was really inexpensive.

So my tips are: use Yelp! to research. look for Groupons you can use to cut down on costs, price places, and always expect some hickups. 

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