Chicago Summer a la Carte: Summer Fun in Downtown Chicago

  • June 28, 2016
  • 6:45 AM - 8:50 PM
  • Chicago
  • 40


  • NOTE: Member plus guest will cost a total of $129. TO ADD YOUR GUEST: click on the "ADD GUEST" button at the bottom of the data collection form and enter the guest information, as indicated. Thank you.

Registration Fee includes Badger Bus travel w/Wi-Fi. Personal expenses and lunch is on your own.

Guest Registration Fee: $72.00

NOTE: Member plus guest will cost a total of $129. TO ADD YOUR GUEST: click on the "ADD GUEST" button at the bottom of the data collection form and enter the guest information, as indicated. Thank you.

Registration Deadline: June 27
Note: Cancellations after this date will not qualify for a refund.
Registration is closed

Take the PLATO bus into downtown Chicago where we drop you at your choice of trip locations so that you can explore, on your own, Chicago's world class museums and/or shop Chicago's great stores. (Click on the Red Locations/Text below for a photo preview, or website visit.)

First stop of the day: The Art Institute.

The new exhibit is America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s 

Featuring works by Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Grant Wood, this exhibition examines how artists redefined modernism while searching for a national art during the Great Depression.

Other notable new exhibit:

Invisible Man: Gordon Parks and Ralph Ellison in Harlem

Exploring the little known collaboration of Parks and Ellison, this exhibition reunites the never before seen photographs and unpublished manuscripts intended for two projects.

General admission to the museum is $19 for seniors.

Check out the great gift shop and the Institute's new wing.

There are three indoor restaurants to choose from for lunch.

And just across the street: Millennium Park.

You'll want to check it out. Take a "selfie" while looking at "The Bean".

Second stop: The Museum Campus.

There are three world-class museums located there:  The Field Museum, The Shedd Aquarium, and The Adler Planetarium.  Take your pick!  The Field is featuring a two special exhibitions:  China's First Emperor and his Terra Cotta Warriors and the Cyrus Tang House of China. Senior general admission is $19 or $25 if you want to see any 1 of the special exhibits ($30 for All Access ticket).  Choose from a bistro or a cafe for lunch.  

Go to and for more information about these museum opportunities.


Third and last stop: Navy Pier (our “new” Summer Only stop)

There are so many things to do at Navy Pier! From cultural programming, seasonal celebrations, special events, festivals, fireworks and entertainment to public shows in the exhibition hall space, there is always something happening here. 

Located just east of downtown on Lake Michigan, Navy Pier offers scores of entertainment and dining options, making it one of Chicago's top tourist attractions.  Free admission to The Pier, but separate charges for each attraction, ie. Ferris Wheel, Funhouse Maze, Imax Theater, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Sight-seeing cruises, and more.  


The Downtown Tour: For 20 years our Hop On Hop Off sightseeing tour has been the gold standard for entertaining and informative tours.

Covering 13 miles and 12 stops, the DOWNTOWN TOUR is a 2-hour eye-popping adventure through the heart of Chicago, giving you the option of Hopping On and Off at your choice of stops to visit the hottest retail, cultural, and family attractions. 

Online Price $33.00.  For map of stops, click here.

Fro further information, click on:


Chicago Line Cruises is also located near Navy Pier and provides a variety of architectural river cruises. To learn more, go to

Plan Your Day

It's all right if you want to visit more than one location, but transportation will be on your own between locations

During the bus ride to Chicago, your PLATO trip organizer will collect the following information:

  • Where you will get off the bus
  • Where you will get back on the bus
  • A cellphone number for at least one person in your party

If you change locations, keep your PLATO field trip organizer  informed of your return boarding location.

During the bus ride to Chicago, you will be given a handout with your organizers' names and cellphone numbers, your bus info, and the boarding schedule in Chicago, to carry with you.

Accessibility Policy. The public spaces in Chicago are handicapped accessible.  However, you must be able to board and exit the bus using its stairs. If you need assistance, we recommend that you bring a friend to give you a hand.

  ~  ~  ~   Chicago a la Carte Itinerary  ~  ~ ~        

Bear in mind that our boarding bus route is like Madison Metro or any other municipal bus service. Please arrive early at your boarding stop so you don’t miss the bus. When everyone is aboard and seated, we leave. Arrive early and we will all arrive in Chicago with plenty of time to enjoy our day.

– Don’t be late. We can wait just 5 minutes at any one location.

– Pack water bottles and snacks for sustenance on the journey.


Leave Madison

6:45 AM        Begin bus boarding at Oakwood Village University Woods

7:10 AM        Bus arrives at Capitol Lakes for boarding.

7:25 M        Bus arrives at East Towne Shopko for boarding.

7:35 AM         Bus departs for Chicago (Or, sooner if everyone is aboard)


Arrive in Chicago

 10:30 AM       Arrive at Art Institute of Chicago

10:40 AM       Arrive at Chicago Museum Campus

11:00 AM       Arrive at Navy Pier

Depart from Chicago

4:10 PM       Depart from Art Institute of Chicago

4:20 PM       Depart from Chicago Museum Campus

4:40 PM       Depart from Navy Pier

Arrive Madison  (Estimated)

8:15 PM      East Towne Shopko

8:30 PM      Capitol Lakes

8:50 PM      Oakwood Village University Woods


Mail-In Registration Forms:

PLATO Members

UWRA Members

For further information, contact Chicago a la Carte field trip organizer, Bob Blitzke, and 608-271-7741.





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For more info about PLATO contact:

PLATO Office Operations, ATTN: Edie or Louise
c/o UW-Madison Continuing Studies
21 N. Park St, 7th Floor, Madison, WI 53715

Phone: 608-262-5823
Fax: 608-265-4555

PLATO is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization

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