Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sundays in My City: Chicken in the Car

My blogging buddy, Unknown Mami, hosts a weekly meme that collects entertaining posts from cities/towns/villages around the globe. It's always a treat. This week, my post focuses on Chicago, which is obviously not my city but is a popular destination for vacationing Wisconsinites.

[Don't live near Chicago but like to support bloggers and nice people? Like Melisa's Facebook fan page or recommend the book's website to a friend before clicking away from this post, please. Melisa will love you for it!]

Obviously, Wisconsin is next door to Illinois, and although we like to poke fun at Illinoians, I have to admit that that Chicago is a doable distance for vacation travel, and it's a city full of excitement and fun for families. We've been there a handful of times with the kids, so when I learned that Melisa (Suburban Scrawl) had written a travel guide to Chicago (especially written for families with teen leanings), I bought one.  It took me a few weeks to find the time to open it, but now that I have, I'm happy to report that it's really terrific!  Melisa grew up in Chicago (and she lives there now), so she has an insider's scoop that made her an ideal person to write the book. She's also a very genuine, fun, thoughtful go-getter; it's no surprise that her book is awesome.

To be honest, at first I thought, "Why buy a book when everything you could possibly need can be found on the Internet?" but holding the book in my hands reminded me that, sometimes, us visual folks (most of the planet, I'm pretty sure) like to see everything in-hand, at-a-glance, and not having to click in and out of tabs (especially on small, hand-held Internet devices) is sweet. You don't need a wi-fi connection to have your entire trip plan at your fingertips :)

The book is super-organized (indexed alphabetically, by area, and by activity type), and each entry is simple and to-the-point. Melisa has a fun, engaging writing style that seems to say, "I know you want the nitty-gritty here, so I'm just gonna hit you with the stuff you really care about and ignore the rest. She also provided website and twitter info (when relevant), which is helpful.

Chicken in the Car and the Car Won't Go also has some special features, like Creating a Personalized Family Summer Camp, and a part all about pizza and hot dogs in Chicago. Some of us (Kendall, for example) would be horrified to order a hot dog in Chicago and be denied ketchup, but true Chicagoans like Melisa know that ketchup is not part of an actual, Chicago-style hot dog!

Planning a vacation for a family can be tricky when adolescents are involved (everyone has his/her interests) and sometimes it's hard to please everyone, but Chicken in the Car and the Car Won't Go has destinations that appeal to typical travelers, as well as the eccentric. If you have a history buff, that's easy, but pleasing a daughter in love with horses or an eccentric kid geeked-out about rock-collecting, can be a little trickier. Who knew that Chicago has fun stuff for the picky kids in the family, too? (Melisa, that's who!)

Each recommended destination includes excellent tips specific to teens, but this book is ideal for anyone with tweens, as well as those young-at-heart.  Melisa gives recommendations I'd never thought of, such as...

*taking the Chicago water taxi!
*downloading mp3 audio tours from websites before heading to your destinations
*staying a Downtown Chicago hostel! (My college kid, Kyle, will love this one!)

She also included a key for the cost of each destination, which comes in handy. (For example, it helps to know that if you're going to take the Chicago Chocolate Tour, you're going to pay $26!)

Chicken in the Car and the Car Won't Go would probably not have been on my radar, had I not known the author, but I'm really glad it was, and I highly recommend it--It's a great tool, and I look forward to using it this summer and in years to come!

[For the record, Melisa did NOT ask or even hint that I write a review of her book. I paid for it myself, and my post is inspired by a sincere appreciation for the book.]

Chicken in the Car Facebook Fan Page
Chicken in the Car website


  1. Sounds like the book is perfect for your family. It is a great little book and I hope it gets into the hands of many families so they can enjoy quality vacation time together in a great city.

  2. Really? Wisconsin folks make fun of people from Illinois? Interesting.

    Ellie from Illinois

  3. You can only do so much research for a short trip. It's nice when someone has done the leg work for you and made it simple. Off to check it out! I love Chicago but my family has never been!

  4. I hope one day to visit Chicago. Nice to know there is a down to earth guide.

  5. I <3 that you wrote about MElisa's book. I cannot wait to pick up a copy. Thanks for the nudge, state neighbor.

  6. I've only seen the inside of the airport of Chicago, but I once went to Sheboygen.

  7. I bought the first copy sold at her book signing - which was the day before the launch party.

    It IS a very well done book and guide to my city.

  8. I have to say that I enjoy travel guides far better than finding things online. It's also nice, if it is a small one to be able to carry it around with you. Way to support a fellow blogger!

  9. Did you hit 89 today over there like we did over here?

  10. Thanks so much for writing up my book, Mrs4444! I'm glad you like it! (Time to plan a Chicago visit, perhaps? :) )


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