Going to Chicago without kids is one thing, but planning a trip to the Windy City with three boys - one only being 11 months old well, I was a little nervous.

I must admit, the day before we left for Chicago, I was questioning my sanity. Sure, I was looking forward to the trip; after all, I was the one who planned it!

My husband and I had enjoyed Chicago on our own and were looking forward to introducing our children to the city. Going to Chicago without kids is one thing, but planning a trip to the Windy City with three boys - one only being 11 months old well, I was a little nervous. We also added the extra dimension of taking the train because I thought it might make the trip a little smoother.


Day one

A little after 4 a.m. my alarm went off (again, with the sanity thing). But I managed tso haul myself from slumber and get ready, so I could then ready my troops. My top priority was making sure I had enough formula and diapers to last the long weekend. By the way, did I mention it was the Fourth of July weekend? Dragging my sleeping children to the car, we were off. Thankfully, we had packed most of our bags the night before.

Having never taken Amtrak before, I was amazed at the amount of people arriving. Staring at our bags and the baby in the stroller, I started to get a little more apprehensive about making it through the crowds. Surely it wouldn't be as challenging as I was imagining. Actually, it was. When the train arrived, most people bolted from their chairs and got it line. Since we had a stroller, three children and our bags, we found ourselves at the end of the line. No problem, I thought, we'd still make the train.

My husband and older two children took the bags and the stairs. The baby and I took the stroller in the elevator. This elevator must be the slowest known to man. When the baby and I finally made it to the train, it was slowly moving away. Thankfully, another passenger helped me heave the stroller onto the train and we found our seats. Whew! We were on our way. While not quite the relaxing experience I had hoped for, taking the train was indeed an experience.

Union Station in Chicago is busy any time, but remember I mentioned it was the Fourth of July weekend? That meant it was even busier than usual. Fortunately, we didn't have too much trouble locating our bags and a taxi driver. I was never so glad to be in a taxi.

Since I had pretty much been sweating my way through the day since 4 a.m., I breathed a sigh of relief when I was offered cool towels at the hotel. The warm hospitality of the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago was just what I needed to revive my tired spirit.

Normally, five-star luxury and children don't mix. But at the Trump, they do. While I busied myself checking in, the reception staff gave our children backpacks filled with Trump toys. Within seconds, the staff knew my children's names and continued to call them by name throughout the weekend. How they remembered I'm not quite sure, especially since I manage to call them by the wrong names myself.

One of the differences that set the Trump International Hotel and Tower apart is the attach service. Prior to your stay, an attach representative will contact you to determine which spa and restaurant reservations you may need. They also ask what interests your family has. So when we entered our room, the kids were thrilled to see their favorite movies, board games and even an Xbox awaiting them! I simply loved the view.

Since the Trump Tower is the second tallest building in the United States the view is incredible. And the location of the hotel is great for going downtown. It's across the Chicago River from the Chicago Loop and is only a block away from the southern end of the famous Magnificent Mile section of Michigan Avenue. Looking out the window is fun during the day, but the night is my favorite -- I love the lights.


Day two

While the kids enjoyed the X-box and games, it was the pool that really got their attention. We had only taken a look at the pool on our first day, so they were more then ready to get their feet wet by day two. The pool is 75-feet of indoor fun with a view of Lake Michigan. Our two oldest enjoyed a swimming class with trainer Luis Bracamonte. In one lesson, our oldest was working on new challenging drills and our second son had a new-found confidence in the water. After the lessons, the boys simply enjoyed the water and the hotel pool toys provided for children.

With an afternoon of swimming and Chicago sightseeing now behind us, they liked being able to get movies from the well-stocked movie library.

The Trump doesn't stop at the pool, movies and arcades. They actually go further and cater to them with a Trump Kids' Spa. I'm talking serious kid indulgence here. Children can put on a robe and slippers just their size and get treatments ranging from a Trump Jr. Pedicure Sundae to a Trump Kid's massage. Along with the spa services, there are also health and wellness classes.

Heading out of the hotel for food and the sights, we discovered the Melting Pot. Just inside of the street entrance for the Melting Pot is an elevator waiting to transport you to a new world. Walk past a fountain filled with pots of flowing water and you're immediately transported to a magical place. As a youngster, I loved the show I Dream of Jeanie and I'm sure Jeanie herself would have loved it here. It's completely eclectic. We sat down at a two-burner table and enjoyed a wonderful fondue experience. Our children actually enjoyed eating their vegetables at the Melting Pot! The menu is extensive and includes heavenly desserts.


Day three

Day three was a whirlwind repeat of day two. Since we were headed to Navy Pier, we decided to make it a point to lunch at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. The atmosphere was very loud and very family-friendly. We enjoyed our waiter who quizzed us on all things Forrest Gump. And once we were done eating the shrimp, we checked out the gift shop. The boys liked looking at all the different T-shirts and hats.


Day four

While our time in Chicago was fun-filled and busy, and I thankfully made it through the weekend with enough formula and diapers, our time in the Windy City was up. But first, we wanted to enjoy one last meal at the Trump. For families unsure if they want to tackle the upscale dining restaurant, Sixteen (children's menus available), there is extensive in-room dining service provided. We decided to opt for in-room dining and had a relaxing breakfast.

While Chicago is a great city to go to anytime, visiting over the holidays is definitely extra special. Children and adults alike will revel in the light displays and special attractions. To learn more about what's happening this holiday season, visit explorechicago.org.

Melting Pot
609 N. Dearborn St., Chicago Tel: (312) 573-0011

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co Restaurant
700 E. Grand Ave. Ste. 131, Chicago (312)252-4867