Travel

Thinking of a road trip from Toronto to Chicago

  • Last Updated:
  • Jul 28th, 2017 12:16 am
[OP]
Newbie
Aug 22, 2016
18 posts
7 upvotes

Thinking of a road trip from Toronto to Chicago

Hi All,

My wife and I are thinking of driving down to Chicago with our 2 boys (2 and 6 years old) during March break week, leaving Toronto on Sunday and coming back from Chicago on Saturday.

We did some quick search and it's about a 8hr-9hr drive and it will probably be a lot longer including the rest stops for the 2 little boys. Should we stop somewhere half way to rest for 1 day (maybe either Cleveland or Michigan) or just make the drive with multiple rest stops instead?

Any suggestions/recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
31 replies
Deal Guru
User avatar
Jun 12, 2007
12069 posts
1887 upvotes
London
If you are an existing Ontario Science Center member, you can get free base admission to the Adler Planetarium, Field Museum and Museum of Science and Technology in Chicago:

https://www.ontariosciencecentre.ca/Mem ... in/Travel/
http://www.astc.org/wp-content/uploads/ ... 611-14.pdf


It might be worthwhile buying a yearly Ontario Science Center Membership. You'll have to work out the costs vs. savings
Deal Addict
Oct 17, 2005
3859 posts
2435 upvotes
Toronto
I have done the drive a few times. It's about 7.5-8 hours with 2 rest stops for gas(but we don't have kids) . Travel is usually smooth until you reach just outside of Chicago.

Cross at Sarnia. Make sure you gas up if you are travelling late night (I almost ran out of gas coming back through Sarnia; Couldn't find a gas station that opens until I reached London).

Traffic in Chicago is horrible(much worst than Toronto). Use transit locally if you can.

For cheap parking use SpotHero (You can find promo codes online for even cheaper parking):
https://spothero.com/
Last edited by Spiderpal93 on Mar 5th, 2017 4:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Deal Addict
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Mar 23, 2011
1164 posts
191 upvotes
I did the drive over the holidays. Cross at Sarnia, no delay at the border. There aren't a lot of great stops along the way and not a lot of great options to stay halfway. Throw enough electronics at kids they can survive the long drive.
Alex
Penalty Box
Apr 5, 2013
2819 posts
626 upvotes
markham
Spiderpal93 wrote:
Mar 5th, 2017 4:07 pm
I have done the drive a few times. It's about 7.5-8 hours with 2 rest stops for gas(but we don't have kids) .

Cross at Sarnia. Make sure you gas up if you are travelling late night (I almost ran out of gas coming back through Sarnia; Couldn't find a gas station that opens until I reached London).

Traffic in Chicago is horrible(much worst than Toronto). Use transit locally if you can.

For cheap parking use SpotHero (You can find promo codes online for even cheaper parking):
https://spothero.com/

24 hour gas in Sarnia...all exits off hwy 402..

Christina St exit south about 4 sets of lights(1km)..corner Christina/London rd 24 hour 7Eleven gas..

next exit..
Indian Rd go south..petro canada at London line...or keep on Indian to petro canada ..or keep going to Macs Milk..

not much..there are a few more...but these should be the easiest to find in sarnia

all have diesel on Indian rd exit
[OP]
Newbie
Aug 22, 2016
18 posts
7 upvotes
Thanks everyone for all the input. We will be driving there with taking multiple rest stops.

Just wondering if their zoo is worth visiting and apparently it's free. Are there any additional activities for the kids that we should consider taking them to?

Also, are there any good outlets and/or shopping malls in the Chicago area?
Deal Expert
User avatar
Mar 18, 2005
16614 posts
1033 upvotes
Niagara Falls
Iambroke wrote:
Mar 5th, 2017 7:06 pm
Thanks everyone for all the input. We will be driving there with taking multiple rest stops.

Just wondering if their zoo is worth visiting and apparently it's free. Are there any additional activities for the kids that we should consider taking them to?

Also, are there any good outlets and/or shopping malls in the Chicago area?
It's a decent zoo and it is free so I'd go if I were you. Easy way to kill half a day.

When we went last summer we also hit the Natural History Museum. If you kids like that sort of thing, it is a must to do while in Chicago.
The Field Museum of Natural History, also known as The Field Museum, is a natural history museum in Chicago, and is one of the largest such museums in the world.[3] The museum maintains its status as a premier natural history museum through the size and quality of its educational and scientific programs
Deal Addict
Jan 18, 2003
4211 posts
427 upvotes
Mississauga
shedd aquarium is awesome... especially for kids...

if you do plan to go field museum, make sure you do it before aquarium because everything is just a statue compared to aquarium where everything is alive...lol
Deal Addict
Dec 11, 2007
2380 posts
148 upvotes
Just curious why you're driving instead of flying.
Sr. Member
User avatar
Jun 12, 2010
661 posts
409 upvotes
Toronto/Santa Monica
BUY an EzPass. The tolls in Illinois are horrendous in the Chi area! Often $1 tolls every 6 mile stretch
Sr. Member
Dec 14, 2011
824 posts
233 upvotes
London
I would not drive.

I know a family (four people) that took the train from from Port Huron and loved it. They said it was cheaper than paying for the parking in Chicago.

The train is so relaxing.

I hope that you have a fantastic trip...make some memories!

Sunday, March 12, 2017
Port Huron to Chicago
6:20 am - 11:45 am
6 hr, 25 min
365 Blue Water (Amenities)
4 Reserved Coach Seats
VALUE
2 Adult
$68.00
2 Child
$34.00
4 Reserved Coach Seats
included
Subtotal
$102.00

Saturday, March 18, 2017
Chicago to Port Huron
4:00 pm - 11:38 pm
6 hr, 38 min
364 Blue Water (Amenities)
4 Reserved Coach Seats
VALUE
2 Adult
$68.00
2 Child
$34.00
4 Reserved Coach Seats
included
Subtotal
$102.00
Terms & Conditions Total $204.00

Times may not be optimal, but it will be a long day regardless. Maybe there are other options (Niagara, Buffalo, I didn't look).
Deal Expert
User avatar
Mar 18, 2005
16614 posts
1033 upvotes
Niagara Falls
I had no issues driving in Chicago. Yeah, traffic was garbage but it was nice for lugging around the stroller and such. I dunno, to each their own but I like having my own vehicle when traveling to multiple places.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Mar 23, 2011
1164 posts
191 upvotes
Iambroke wrote:
Mar 5th, 2017 7:06 pm
Thanks everyone for all the input. We will be driving there with taking multiple rest stops.

Just wondering if their zoo is worth visiting and apparently it's free. Are there any additional activities for the kids that we should consider taking them to?

Also, are there any good outlets and/or shopping malls in the Chicago area?
The Shedd Aquarium and the Museum of Science and Technology are awesome. If you are a costco member, get the Chicago CityPASS - make sure you would want to do all the activities on the pass. The cheapest option for it was through costco.
Planetarium wasn't great and the Field Museum has Sue the dinosaur. Definately do the aquarium and the Science and Tech museum.
Alex
Deal Guru
User avatar
Jun 12, 2007
12069 posts
1887 upvotes
London
mike229 wrote:
Mar 5th, 2017 11:19 pm
BUY an EzPass. The tolls in Illinois are horrendous in the Chi area! Often $1 tolls every 6 mile stretch
ez-pass-1362090/

Just wanted to point out that E-ZPass PAYG is the best option as there's no monthly account fee, but unfortunately it's sold in NY state only. The Illinois version is I-pass, but I believe it has a monthly account charge, whether it's used or not. Both can be used interchangeably in Chicago

It's probably too late to get an E-ZPass transponder for March break unless you make a special trip to Buffalo.

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