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Trip Report Back from Chicago: Some Tips

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I was in Chicago for 1 week in mid-April, mostly for business, but had a few spare time for personal sightseeing. Thanks to all Fodorites for your helpful advice and good trip reports. Some travel tips here based on my own experience it case it helps others.

* General Impression
Great metropolitan city -- cleaner and less crowded than Manhanttan. Don't feel the hussle and bustle of a big city. No gaudy neon signs and giant billboards. Subdued lightings of great architecture -- very classy look.

* Civic-minded and green. Lots of public venues and sculptures designed by famous architects and artists. Millenium Park is cutting edge, yet fun and accessible to the public. Green and green too. Didn't know a lot of the greeneries are actually on a green roof of a huge underground parking garage--what an ingenious and aesthetic and eco-firendly use of space!

* Food is fantastic! Yelpers are harsh critics! A 4* or even 3 1/2 * on yelp is equivalent to a 4 1/2 or 5 in other cities! And restaurants in the city center are packed every hour and every day, seems like. One to 2 hours wait for a table. That's the main frustration. I didn't have a strategy to tackle this, esp my plans were all spontaneous.

* Definitely join the free instagreeter walking tour! There are 2 locations in downtown--one at the Cultural Center and the other at the old Water Tower off Magnificient Mile. The volunteers are locals passionate about the city, and they give you a great orientation of the city. On the 2nd tour leaving from the Water Tower, my DH and I were the only ones in the party, and the gentleman who led the tour totally catered it to our interests, and showed us his neighborhood in the north part off Magnificient Mile. I said I'm interested in seeing some examples of Mies van de Rohe, and he showed them to us. And many other interesting buildings and small neighborhood restaurants that are off the beaten track. Definitely, take it and it's FREE.

OK, gotta run. More later.

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