Did you know that you can ride the rails (Metra) as far and as often as you want every Saturday and Sunday for only $7? Plus, you can bring up to three kids under 11 for free. I’m thinking, hey, this could be a fun thing to do with Sophia, my almost-7-year-old granddaughter.
So after doing a little research about the options early this spring, I picked out the end-of-the-line destination, Kenosha Wisconsin. A cute little town with several museums. One of them, the Kenosha Public Museum, looked right up her alley with hands-on activities to go with the exhibits.
Exploring Ogilvie transport hub
Okay, first stop Ogilvie Transportation Center, 547 W. Jackson at Canal. This big transport hub downtown also happens to be in a beautiful building with offices and shops and multiple food options. Lots of places to investigate. Big assortment of eateries in the food court – from Chinese to burgers to fried chicken – on the second-floor.
But first we had to hit Claire’s Boutique and purchase some ice-cream and cupcake-shaped clip-on earrings. She’s waiting ‘til she’s 11 to get her ears pierced, so this was a fun compromise that looks awfully cute. She also learned that day that some clip earrings can hurt your ears a lot – and happily that piercing your ears probably doesn’t hurt any worse.
We checked out the Hudson News for candy and drinks to take on the train. But first we wanted something more substantial. Sophia pronounced her approval of the Jamba Juice berry yogurt smoothie. Then we shared the half-sandwich-with-salad-and-chips at Corner Bakery. Love Ogilvie’s be-beamed overhead glass canopy (see pic).
After lunch we sat to rest on the stairs. A lady official told us kindly we weren’t allowed to sit there, so we followed her instructions to a comfortable waiting room. Watching the real-time computer screens in the room, we saw exactly when our train started boarding and bustled ourselves over to Track 13 to climb aboard.
Enjoying the ride
Roomy aisles on the train. Generously wide, padded seats. We searched out a car with a bathroom. Sophia liked sharpening her drawing pencils and dropping the shavings into the convenient waste receptacle. She drew some amazing pictures while we spent a comfortable two hours riding to Kenosha. And, OMG, the train runs so smoothly she had hardly any jerky bumps in her lines.
We rolled on through the city, out through the ‘burbs, and into the countryside, passing stops like Fort Sheridan (where the US naval base is located – how I remember a memorable trip out there by car once when I was 17 years old), Lake Bluff, Great Lakes, Waukegan, Zion and Winthrop Harbor. At last, Kenosha pulled into view.
We asked around about local transportation and at last someone directed us to the stop where the trolley would pick us up and take as directly to the museum. Our driver, Bill, was thrilled to see us; we were his only customers. He even surprised us each with a Hershey’s Kiss.
The museum did not disappoint. Sophia particularly enjoyed the nature room with microscopes to look at stuff – feathers, scales, leaves and more. She did a couple of rubbings from molds. And we both really loved seeing the children’s art show that took up the whole second floor of the museum. Beautiful, creative, colorful and surprising works by kids from Kenosha’s public schools.
Time to eat, so we got directions to an Irish pub nearby. Mussels and chicken tenders with a fine view of the then-empty Kenosha bay – probably loaded with boats in season. We ran back just in time to catch the trolley. Bill said he’d been looking for us, was worried we wouldn’t make it back to the station in time. Our train was the last to Chicago that day.
We were very happy with our Kenosha day trip and will likely go back again another time. From the looks of their Kenosha Chamber website, there’s plenty to do when the boats and the tourists are out in force.
But then again, Sophia and I really enjoyed having the place almost to ourselves. Whenever you decide to go, check out the Metra and plan an adventure for yourself. Off-season can be just as much fun.