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Old 01-31-2010, 11:04 AM  
BigRedChief BigRedChief is offline
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Going to Chicago. What do I need to do? Avoid?

Going to Chicago for a little 4 day vacation(Thrusday - Sunday) on spring break. Going to the Bulls vs. Cleveland NBA game and see Lebron, Derrick Rose, Shaq etc on Friday night. What is the can't miss "stuff" in Chicago? Avoid? opinions welcome...

Staying downtown at the Allerton hotel.

Any Planeteers want to get together?
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03/22/2010 edit to pay it forward for future chicago visitors:
Transportation:
Definitely take the trains and bus’s if you are planning to spend a lot of time downtown. We saved a fortune in cabs. Get the CTA pass and you can get on how ever many buses, trains, transfers etc that you want for how many days you purchase. http://faremedia.chicago-card.com/store/main.aspx?DepartmentId=34 Check the schedule and plan your route out:
http://www.transitchicago.com/travel_information/maps/default.aspxhttp://www.transitchicago.com/riding_cta/populardestinations.aspx

We arrived at 8:00 at the O’Hara airport and not taking the train would have been a disaster. They highways are parking lots that time of the day. We flew out of Midway on the way out and took a cab out there to the airport.
We really enjoyed riding the bus’s and talking to the locals. They gave us great tips on where to eat etc.

You don’t need a car. If you are driving, there is no where to park and where there is parking is very expensive and driving downtown is dangerous trying to navigate all those cabs and buses? Not for the weak of heart.

Attractions:
Get the Go Chicago card: Saved us a ton of money on admission fees but more importantly we avoided the lines at the attractions to get tickets. It was snowing and the line to get into the Field museum was over an hour and a half to just get tickets to get into the museum. The lines to get tickets are long. Get your tickets in advance.
http://www.smartdestinations.com/chicago-attractions-and-tours/_d_Chi-p1.html?pass=Chi_Prod_Go

Sears Tower: Was cool but if you have to wait an hour or two? Question the value. The ledge is really cool. Nothing between you and the street 103 stories up but some Plexiglas. It’s an experience you can’t get anywhere else in the world.

John Hancock observatory: We actually liked it better than the Sears tower because of the better ocean and beach views. They have something cool there, a skywalk 93 stories up that you can walk along that is exposed to the wind, temperatures etc 93 floors up. Just some mesh screen between you and the sky.

Science and Industry museum: We all felt that this was the best of all the museums. You have to see the U-Boat. It’s another one of those you can only experience in Chicago things.

Millennium Park: The silver bean was really cool. Seems like a real simple thing but once you get there and see it up close you understand the draw the bean has for people. Make sure you go underneath the bean and check it out. Looks like a wonderful place to watch a concert.

Shedd Aquarium: We were disappointed in this one. Maybe we are just spoiled but we thought the Aquarium in Omaha was much better.

The Field museum: Another disappointment. Sue the T-Rex was really cool but the rest of the museum left us flat. Seemed really educational for kids but for us adults we would like to have seen more exhibits than some pottery.

Chicago Bulls game: We decided to take the bus out there. Straight shot to and from downtown. Not really a bad seat in the house. The mascot seems to be pretty athletic and entertaining. Highly recommend getting one of the monster dogs.

Navy Pier: We went there and it was cold. Looks like a great place to visit in the warm weather.

Second City: We saw “Rush Limbaugh, the musical”. Barney Frank, Hillary, Dancing Ronald Reagan’s…Very funny stuff. Had a bit in there when Rush with the Royals and George Brett on a toilet with hemorrhoids. Highly recommend checking out a show there.

The Art Institute: A wonderful place to see art. So many Picasso’s, Monet’s and Van Gough’s you can’t really appreciate them fully like if some were here in KC just because of the sheer volume of masterpieces in one place. Very impressive collection. We also enjoyed seeing the American Gothic and some American art.
http://www.artic.edu/aic/

Eats:
Ginos East: Great pizza. Love the crust. We went to the one on Shapiro and it has all the walls filled with customer graffiti. Not living off its past reputation. My son thought it was the best pizza ever.

Giordanos: on Shapiro, Excellent deep dish pizza here also. Better than anything you can get in KC. Try sprinkling a little Italian herb seasoning on the pizza here.
http://www.giordanos.com/locations.html

West Egg: Breakfast by the doubletree. Reasonable prices and great food. Everything we had was good.
http://www.yelp.com/biz/west-egg-cafe-chicago-2

Yokes: Breakfast on Lake Shore drive. Best crepes we have ever had. Very good food.
http://www.yelp.com/biz/yolk-chicago-2

Quaritinos: Best meal in Chicago. Very trendy and hip place but don’t let that push you away. You order 5-6 things and share them. Ravioli, Brusheta and the Bananas foster desert were our favorites but everything we had was real flavorful and well prepared. http://www.quartinochicago.com/


Lodging:
We stayed at the Allerton hotel downtown. I would highly recommend if you are coming to Chicago and you are going to do these things listed above to stay downtown. This was a great hotel. If you can’t afford the downtown rates just take the train into the city and go from there.

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Old 02-02-2010, 07:07 PM   #136
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yes. the downside is they often get delayed or stopped due to issues. We almost missed a flight out of O'Hare because the Metra got stopped for 45 minutes due to an incident.
Yes, cabs or shuttles are a must to and from the airport.
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Old 02-02-2010, 07:12 PM   #137
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I don't know about you guys who lived in Chicago, but as a person who only travels thee and doesn't know the neighborhoods I always tell people to stay around the loop or Rush St. at night. I know there are other places too. But south Chicago doesn't seem like a place a tourist needs to be at night. Nor hanging around train stations.
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Old 02-02-2010, 07:19 PM   #138
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The wife and I are thinking about heading to Chicago for our anniversary in August. I've read through this whole thread but I just want to be sure about what I'm doing. We difinitely wanna hit the aquarium and museums on Lake Shore, but is it good or bad to stay in a hotel in that area?
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Old 02-02-2010, 07:57 PM   #139
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The wife and I are thinking about heading to Chicago for our anniversary in August. I've read through this whole thread but I just want to be sure about what I'm doing. We difinitely wanna hit the aquarium and museums on Lake Shore, but is it good or bad to stay in a hotel in that area?
I think these questions are hard to answer. The area isn't good or bad. What else do you want to do?

If I was going in your position, I'd probably stay north of the river. It could be quite a bit more expensive though, depending on the hotel. Also, "to stay in this area" is a bit vague. Do you have specific area, or hotel I guess, in mind? If you're just hitting museums, by all means pick a convenient place you like.

Also, what else you do you plan on doing? Nice restaurants, theater, shopping? What kind of a hotel do you want? That factors in a lot.

If you want to look up neighborhood information, I think that area is "South Loop". I'm not positive on that though...
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Old 02-02-2010, 09:32 PM   #140
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I think these questions are hard to answer. The area isn't good or bad. What else do you want to do?

If I was going in your position, I'd probably stay north of the river. It could be quite a bit more expensive though, depending on the hotel. Also, "to stay in this area" is a bit vague. Do you have specific area, or hotel I guess, in mind? If you're just hitting museums, by all means pick a convenient place you like.

Also, what else you do you plan on doing? Nice restaurants, theater, shopping? What kind of a hotel do you want? That factors in a lot.

If you want to look up neighborhood information, I think that area is "South Loop". I'm not positive on that though...

Thanks for the reply. The problem is I really don't know anything about where things are or what to do about it. Here's what we want to do for sure...The Field Museum, Shedd's, the best pizza place and the best Hot Dog/Italian Beef place. I've taken notes on these from the rest of the thread but unfortunately I'm not sure what would be the best way to go about it. I don't have to stay in the museum district, I just noticed that there were, what looked like, decent hotels really close. If there is an area to stay in that would be better I'm all ears.
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Old 02-02-2010, 09:36 PM   #141
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Hey BRC, what college team do you cheer for?
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Old 02-02-2010, 10:54 PM   #142
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Hey BRC, what college team do you cheer for?
Missouri State. I grew up in Springfield. I went back there for a few years, met the wife and at the time I was the editor of a local paper and also covered the sports for the paper. This was during the spoonhower era. Got to interview spoonhower and know him on a personal level. Got to see all the backstage "stuff" that goes on in college BB. But, I don't follow them religiously.
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Old 02-02-2010, 10:58 PM   #143
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Thanks for the reply. The problem is I really don't know anything about where things are or what to do about it.
This site has some damn good maps on it.

http://www.explorechicago.org/city/e...es___maps.html
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Old 02-03-2010, 10:02 AM   #144
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Missouri State. I grew up in Springfield. I went back there for a few years, met the wife and at the time I was the editor of a local paper and also covered the sports for the paper. This was during the spoonhower era. Got to interview spoonhower and know him on a personal level. Got to see all the backstage "stuff" that goes on in college BB. But, I don't follow them religiously.
Gotcha. I was going to suggest a couple "local" team bars in the area if you were inclined to watch some of March Madness. Unfortunately, a Missouri State bar in Chicago escapes my knowledge.
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Old 02-03-2010, 10:30 AM   #145
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Old 02-05-2010, 01:46 AM   #146
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So here's what we're thinking :

We get in Saturday around lunchtime. Fly into Midway, take the Orange line then red line to get to our hotel around Erie and Mich Ave. We'll walk around see what's around us and grab a bite to eat somewhere close by. Wife wants to go to the American Girl store, so I'm sure there's places to eat close by. We're headed to the Bulls game Saturday night (can't wait). I'm assuming we'll take a cab to and from.

Sunday, we're open all day. I'm thinking the Signature Lounge at night in the John Hancock Building to see the view of the skyline (link far below). Hopefully not much of a crowd because people will be watching the Super Bowl. I'm taking one for the team here and missing the Super Bowl so we can get to everything we'd like to do. During the day, I'm considering the Art Institute, Blue Man Group (expensive, but we've never seen them), Museum of Science and Industry or even a show at Second City. I can probably only really get to two of those I'd guess. We'll probably work lunch in at Gino's East or Giordano's.

Monday, we're probably going to Shedd Aquarium and maybe Field Museum. They're free that day, so if we get through them quickly or decide not to spend a lot of time due to crowds, we can leave without guilt. We fly home that afternoon, most likely very tired and content.
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Old 02-05-2010, 08:25 AM   #147
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So here's what we're thinking :

We get in Saturday around lunchtime. Fly into Midway, take the Orange line then red line to get to our hotel around Erie and Mich Ave. We'll walk around see what's around us and grab a bite to eat somewhere close by. Wife wants to go to the American Girl store, so I'm sure there's places to eat close by. We're headed to the Bulls game Saturday night (can't wait). I'm assuming we'll take a cab to and from.

Sunday, we're open all day. I'm thinking the Signature Lounge at night in the John Hancock Building to see the view of the skyline (link far below). Hopefully not much of a crowd because people will be watching the Super Bowl. I'm taking one for the team here and missing the Super Bowl so we can get to everything we'd like to do. During the day, I'm considering the Art Institute, Blue Man Group (expensive, but we've never seen them), Museum of Science and Industry or even a show at Second City. I can probably only really get to two of those I'd guess. We'll probably work lunch in at Gino's East or Giordano's.

Monday, we're probably going to Shedd Aquarium and maybe Field Museum. They're free that day, so if we get through them quickly or decide not to spend a lot of time due to crowds, we can leave without guilt. We fly home that afternoon, most likely very tired and content.
I'd go to SCTV. Dump the BMG, while I'm a fan, the shows are pretty much the same as everything you've already seen.
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Old 02-05-2010, 08:42 AM   #148
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I'd go to SCTV. Dump the BMG, while I'm a fan, the shows are pretty much the same as everything you've already seen.
We are going to second city on Sunday to see "Rush Limbaugh, the Musical". We got the train and bus pass to go wherever we want to while we are there.
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Old 02-05-2010, 09:07 AM   #149
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So here's what we're thinking :

We get in Saturday around lunchtime. Fly into Midway, take the Orange line then red line to get to our hotel around Erie and Mich Ave. We'll walk around see what's around us and grab a bite to eat somewhere close by. Wife wants to go to the American Girl store, so I'm sure there's places to eat close by. We're headed to the Bulls game Saturday night (can't wait). I'm assuming we'll take a cab to and from.

Sunday, we're open all day. I'm thinking the Signature Lounge at night in the John Hancock Building to see the view of the skyline (link far below). Hopefully not much of a crowd because people will be watching the Super Bowl. I'm taking one for the team here and missing the Super Bowl so we can get to everything we'd like to do. During the day, I'm considering the Art Institute, Blue Man Group (expensive, but we've never seen them), Museum of Science and Industry or even a show at Second City. I can probably only really get to two of those I'd guess. We'll probably work lunch in at Gino's East or Giordano's.

Monday, we're probably going to Shedd Aquarium and maybe Field Museum. They're free that day, so if we get through them quickly or decide not to spend a lot of time due to crowds, we can leave without guilt. We fly home that afternoon, most likely very tired and content.

The Hancock at night for a cocktail is a great idea. My wife and I did that when we were there and it was pretty cool to see the clouds and fog roll in. The restaurant up there looks to have a decent menu and the prices are about the same as most decent steakhouses. We at a place called Wildfire which was outstanding. The best french onion soup I have ever had was there.

We thought we would eat at either of those pizza joints as well...turns out we did not want to wait in line outside for a hour to two hours. Crazy how busy they are.
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Old 02-05-2010, 11:07 PM   #150
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The Hancock at night for a cocktail is a great idea. My wife and I did that when we were there and it was pretty cool to see the clouds and fog roll in. The restaurant up there looks to have a decent menu and the prices are about the same as most decent steakhouses. We at a place called Wildfire which was outstanding. The best french onion soup I have ever had was there.

We thought we would eat at either of those pizza joints as well...turns out we did not want to wait in line outside for a hour to two hours. Crazy how busy they are.
What's the dress code there? Am I good with nice jeans, sweater and brown shoes? Trying to to limit my packing as much as possible.
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