Days/Hours: Friday, February 11 through Sunday, February 20, 2011
Open 10am – 10pm everyday (with box office closing at 9pm), except Sunday, February 20, when it closes at 8pm.
Admission: $11 for adults, $7 for people 62 and older, $7 for children 7-12. Children 6 and under are free with a paying adult.
Advanced tickets can be purchased at DriveChicago.com.
Weekday discounts: Half price coupons available at BP gas stations. Discounts ($4 off a regular admission) are available by bringing in a specially marked Pepsi can, donating 3 cans of food, or bringing a discount coupon available from participating auto dealers or State Farm agencies.
Parking: McCormick Place has 3 parking lots. Lots A & C are $19, lot B is $14. All three are $10 after 6pm. We parked in lot A (level 4), which is just west of McCormick Place and was very convenient.
Free shuttles are available on weekends only for the Monroe and Millennium Garages.
Find information about public transportation options here.
Bathrooms: There are several public bathrooms, but no family bathrooms (at least that we were able to fine). Most of the bathrooms have changing tables.
Nursing: There are no designated nursing areas. There are many places to sit (some that looked very plush and comfortable) throughout the show. The Auto Show website points out that Illinois law allows breastfeeding in any location of a public building.
Handicapped/stroller accessibility: There are very wide walkways and, for the most part, it is very accessible. We brought a double stroller and found it to be very convenient. The only difficulty we had was the bathrooms are not near the elevators. Consequently, John took the boys downstairs to the bathroom while I waited with the stroller to avoid having to walk all the way to the elevator, then back across to the bathrooms, then back to the elevators again. Additionally, several of the different areas are slightly raised. Everything was carpeted so it was smooth and we didn’t have any problems with our stroller.
Other amenities: Coat checks are available for $3 per item.
Food/eating area: There are countless restaurants, food stands, and vending machines. As you would expect, it’s pricy ($2 for pop or water from the vending machines). There are lots of tables and chairs. Food is allowed in, although the website mentions they do not allow rolling coolers. We brought lots of snacks to eat while roaming.
Activities: It’s the Auto Show, so you have to try out the cars. Cooper and Dexter particularly liked the Mini Cooper.
There are several interactive displays, including test drives, simulated test drives, games, and photo opportunities.
“Sham-Wow City” (as John called it) has booths of products you can see demonstrated and buy, and they’re mostly the “As Seen On TV” type of products that clean or glue or perform some magical service you never knew you needed.
The Army, Navy, Chicago Police Department, and Chicago Fire Department all have displays so kids may like seeing all the men and women (okay, really we just saw men, but there had to be women there somewhere) in uniform.
And, as an extra perk, if you were planning to give blood or renew your driver’s license you can do it at the Auto Show. John and I both needed to renew our licenses and it took a total of about 10 minutes. My admission to the Auto Show was completely worth it for the convenience of that alone.
We spent: $28 – $14 for 2 discounted adult admissions, $10 for parking, and a pop and bottle of water for $2 each.
Our experience: We visited the Auto Show on a Wednesday night. We generally try to take a single stroller or no stroller if both John and I go somewhere, but we used the double stroller this time and I’m glad we did. There’s a LOT of walking so it was nice for the us and the boys to get a break. We spent a lot more than I generally spend on activities, but we had a lot of fun. It wouldn’t be something I’d want to do regularly, but once a year is perfect. The boys loved climbing in and out of cars and “driving” and the kids activities were great. It was nice to be able to do a lot of walking too since it seems like we don’t get to walk as much in the winter.