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Four Generations Take on Chicago

 If you want to learn about sustainable housing, be sure to check out the Smart Home at the Science and Industry Museum in Chicago.  I had a chance to tour it recently and found the free standing structure on the Museum grounds to be fascinating and informative.

It is  modern and modular, built with latest of sustainability practice, green roof, solar panels that aren’t ugly,  ability to capture rain water, recycled furniture.  A 25 page book listing sources for everything comes with the tour.

 I took my 92 year old Mother, my daughter and my grand daughter to Chicago for an overnight. Finding activities that appealed to us all was an interesting challenge.  We found plenty of  activities  at  the Museum geared for kids, but Smart House for design mavens is worth the trip.








When we drove into  Chicago on a sparking Sunday afternoon in October we encountered a big surprise…it was the Chicago Marathon weekend. Streets and city packed.  Festive and fun.  We found our hotel and joined the excitement on the streets.  The energy was palpable.

Another surprise.  Our hotel was right near Apple store. It’s  windows were plastered with post-a-notes with messages about and to Steve Jobs.  Poignant.  The crowds gathered at all hours to read the messages and add their own.











A highlight of our brief foray to the Windy City was dinner at the American Girl store on Michigan Avenue.  Little girls sitting up primly with dolls in their chairs attached to the tables.  Cute. Fun.  Special for all of us. As a former retailer, I can appreciate the many details.   For example,  the napkin ring is a pony tail holder to take home.  A little box on the table contains conversation starters. The desert plate looks too good to eat….but we did.


I spotted some new shops on MIchigan Avenue to explore on another trip when I’m on my own. This one, from England intrigued me most.  Hundreds of vintage sewing machines create the decor and from what I could tell, 90 percent of the garments for sale are  black.  A sales person explained that it is one of 12 shops in the U.S.

I thought its location was interesting. Right next to the Zara–a wonderful fashion shop from  Spain.  My daughter loved Zara when she was a student in Madrid almost ten years ago and still talks about the fashion forward purchases she made then…..and now….it is next door to a large shop from London.  Sign of the times that Michigan Avenue in Chicago is now home to European retailers.










Lunch, a playground, a little shopping at Crate and Barrel and Gap Kids and we were on the road, headed home. I  Love Chicago.  Flowers. The Lake. The Big City Energy.  Can’t wait to go back. It is a great Destination for all  generations.

Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.


  1. posted by
    Oct 21, 2011 Reply

    Loved reading all about your 4-generation trip to the Windy City…what fun. Can’t wait to visit some of the places you discovered next time I go. Must plan a trip!

  2. posted by
    Oct 25, 2011 Reply

    When we took grandchildren and grand nephews to Chicago, the one place not to miss for us was the Children’s Museum.  Very entertaining!

    • posted by
      Oct 26, 2011 Reply

      Great suggestion.  Will put it on my list for next trip to Chicago with Maddy. 

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