1st time visit to Chicago!

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Jul 16th, 2003, 04:07 PM
  #1
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1st time visit to Chicago!

I'll be visiting Chicago next week for the 1st time along with hubby who'll be there for business. We'll only have Wednesday - Friday evening. I'd like ideas on what can't be missed in this short visit. I'll be alone on Thursday while he's in meetings so I need ideas on what's safe and fun just for me. We're staying at the Hyatt Regency on Wacker Drive. What is this within walking distance to? We enjoy theater, good food (not necessarily fine dining), maybe some live jazz, just seeing the city! Thanks!
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Jul 16th, 2003, 04:24 PM
  #2
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Walk down to the John Hancock building on North Michigan (Mag Mile) and go to the top and have a few drinks. Awesome view of Chicago and even better at night!
 
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Jul 16th, 2003, 05:14 PM
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There are a lot of jazz/blues clubs in Chicago..check out the House of Blues in River North, not far from your hotel.

Also, if you want to get a drink, check out the lounge in your hotel, second level I think. Nice place, but bit of a pick up atmosphere on weekends, but it may be quieter when you are there.

If the weather is nice, I recommend a boat tour of the lake/river....Wendella tour boats load right under Michigan Avenue at the river....you'll see their sign in front of the Wrigley Building. Be sure to check that building out as well as the Tribune Tower across the street (look for the pieces of famous buildings in the wall ..the Alamo, the Kremlin...etc.)

Also, just walking up Michigan Avenue and State Street window shopping is an event in itself...lots of fun. Birmingham fountain, the Art Institute, Navy Pier, Sears Tower, the Aquarium, or take a ride on the "el" just to say you did. If it's warm, check out the Oak Street Beach. You should be very safe during daylight hours. There are also bus tours of the city and several free trolley lines if you get tired (it's a lot of area to cover)

If you want a good casual meal, try deep dish pizza at Giordano's or Uno's, and I also like the Grand Lux Cafe on Michigan Avenue. Rush Street has some good dining, and I also love the Chicago Chop House (a little more expensive, but wonderful service. There are tons of great choices along Michigan Avenue.

Hope this helps..have a great time and say hello to my favorite city in the world for me!!!
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Jul 16th, 2003, 05:30 PM
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Thanks for the great response Elizabeth! The Wendella boat cruise sounds like something we'd really enjoy. Would you recommend the 90 minute or the 2 hour sunset cruise? I assume this is better than the boats and dinner cruises that leave from the Navy Pier? I'm printing all the suggestions, thanks again!
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Jul 16th, 2003, 09:00 PM
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I think Elizabeth meant to say Buckingham Fountain. You should definitely check out the Art Institute.
Across the street is Russian Tea Time, great place to eat. Navy Pier is fun. They have several different boat trips from there. The Sea Dog is fun. I would second pizza at Uno's, or its bigger sister, Due's. Would also second going to either the observatory at the Hancock, or up to the lounge on 96th floor for a drink and great city views.
The Chicago Architectural Foundation does boat tours on the Chicago River.
The Wendella boat rides are a nice way to spend some time. Do a trip where you go on the river and the lake. Other recommendations: Shedd Aquarium/Oceanarium, The Field Museum
(where Sue, the tyrannosaurus rex is)- actually, far too much to see in 3 days.
You'll need to go back another time. Chicago's an incredible place. If you get tired of walking, cabs/buses are everywhere. Check with your concierge. There may be a play in town you would like to see. Buckingham Fountain is beautiful at night. Have a great time.
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Jul 17th, 2003, 05:14 AM
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OOPs..I did mean to say Buckingham Fountain......it was late. Sorry.......I didn't mean to send you all over the city asking directions to a mysterious fountain.....ha ha

But I am glad you found all of our suggestions helpful.

I do agree with the other poster who said you won't be able to fit it all in one trip..you'll have to come back again.

As for the Wendella boat tour, I did the daytime 90 minute tour.....I think it's the better tour than a shorter cruise, because the longer cruise goes on the lake and on the rivers that run through the city...of course, a sunset cruise could be very romantic, and quite pretty. I am not sure how long those cruises are though. Remember to bring your camera....lots of photo opportunities......
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Jul 17th, 2003, 05:37 AM
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No wonder I couldn't find that Birmingham fountain! Even Google couldn't help. I did think that was strange! Now I'm going to do the search on BUCKingham -- thanks!
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Jul 17th, 2003, 05:40 AM
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We have been to Chicago many times but have never done an Architectural tour. This weekend we have decided to do that. We checked into the Wendella but decided on the Sea Dog from Navy Pier. We choose the Sea Dog because it goes on the river with architectural information and then ends up speeding on Lake Michigan. You might want to check both web sites to see which you prefer. Have fun!
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Jul 17th, 2003, 08:27 AM
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For 1/2 price theater tickets check out the hot tix booths, there's one at 78 E. Randolph Street near Marshall Field's State Street store or near Water Tower in the Water Works Visitor Center 163 E. Pearson. Lots of weekends you can get Second City tickets for Friday's late show at 11:00, improv shows and occasionally Blue Man Group. www.hottix.org is the website.

You can get all of the weekend shows on Friday.

There's a free el tour on the Saturdays that leaves from the Cultural Center, I thought it was a bit basic for locals but would be a nice introduction for visitors. It circles around the loop three times by elevated train, pointing out architecture on either side and one loop for the history of the el.

Website is http://www.ci.chi.il.us/Tourism/Thin...TourTrain.html

The architectural river cruise is quite good, I haven't done the Wendella tour so I can't compare. The one given by the Architecture Foundation is $25 (a little cheaper on weekdays) and only goes on the river, not Lake Michigan.

http://www.architecture.org/river.html

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Jul 17th, 2003, 08:40 AM
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I must chime in about the architectural boat tour! We took one and our interest was held captive for ninety minutes of fascinating history. I was amazed by the quality of the lecture, and how well versed and enthusiastic our tour guide was. We wished she could have continued speaking for another hour!
 
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Jul 17th, 2003, 12:43 PM
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I would also recommend the Architecural cruise. I really enjoyed it. If you like to shop, I would do what the others have said and just walk north on Michigan Avenue until you get to Bloomingdale's. There are a bunch of stores between the Hyatt and Bloomingdale's. You might also want to check out the shops on Oak Street. Otherwise, I would recommend going to one or two of our museums - they are all wonderful. The Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium and Planetarium are very close to each other. As for food, if you like tapas I would recommend Cafe Iberico on LaSalle (very good food and reasonable), for Mexican I would recommend Frontera Grill (some of the best Mexican in the country) but they do not take reservations and it gets crowded so get there early (5:00). Let us know what kind of food you like and I can make other suggestions. As for Jazz, you might want to check out Andy's on Illinois which would be a nice walk from your hotel.
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Jul 19th, 2003, 05:48 AM
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What about a recommendation for a great Italian place? or a nice waterfront place for dinner?
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Jul 19th, 2003, 06:45 AM
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We like trattoria no. 10, it is on wabash. We aslo like Atwood cafe at the Hotel Burnham.
I have never eaten here but there is a restaurant at the Shedd aquarium, I guess the views over Lake Michigan our the citys best.
Cirque De Soliel wiil be in Chicago at the United Center also. The production is Varikai, [SP?] Enjoy!! PJ
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Jul 20th, 2003, 01:28 PM
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Char2003
We ate at the Italian Village Saturday,(the upper level) and food, wine (they have 45,000 bottles! huge wine list!!)and atmosphere was great. Check it out at: http://www.italianvillage-chicago.com/
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Jul 20th, 2003, 01:50 PM
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Italian Village has been around forever and is still pretty popular. You get a lot for your money, too. However, my favorite Italian restaurant is Francesca's. There is one in Lincoln Park called Mia Francesca and one on Taylor Street, where there are several good Italian restaurants, called Francesca's on Taylor. However, you would need to take a cab to both of these. A couple of places that are good and would be a little closer are Maggiano's or Scoozi. There is an Italian restaurant on the River called Sorriso. I have not eaten there but have gone for drinks and it is in a great location to hang out and watch the boats go by. Otherwise, your best choice for waterfront dining would be at Navy Pier where there are several restaurants.
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Aug 13th, 2003, 08:07 PM
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I thought I'd tack on my first time to Chicago trip report here for people planning their first trip. First, I consulted Frommer's for hotels and Fodor's board for hotel advice. I find Frommer's format easier than Fodor's in this regard. Did the all the websites for hot deals in Chicago and ending up going with a rate from the Tremont Hotel I obtained by calling directly.
It was a AAA rate for $130. for a non-smoking king room for two for 5 nights. I couldn't beat that price in terms of location. I backed up that reservation with one at the Crown Plaza Allerton for about the same price commencing our second night. The Allerton wouldn't let us see the room so we stayed with The Tremont. Tremont has pros and cons--greatest of locations, comfortable bed, privacy, free coffee in the morning. Cons-one single elevator for the entire hotel, small reception area (little privacy), no ice machine, no room service after 2PM. Room was a little "tired" and needed updating. But again, great location, half a block from Michigan Ave. near Water Tower Place.

We flew into Midway and took the El to downtown and walked to hotel. Four out of the 5 elevators worked going, five out of five worked getting back to the airport. It was a great adventure.
We bought a 3 day bus/el pass and used public transportation everywhere. Gave us more flexibility than the free tourist trolley. Dining highlight: Carsons: A Place for Ribs. The best b.b.q ribs ever! Tempo on Chestnut and N. State had great breakfasts. Art Institute-spectacular and I've seen the Prado, Louvre, and D'Orsay. Would have liked to have gone back. Chicago Historical Society-a delight to listen to an Abe Lincoln impersonator talk in the theater.
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Aug 13th, 2003, 08:22 PM
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Field Museum was interesting, but my thoughts were on the Art Institute. Museum would be great with children. The Chicago Line Cruise-Architectural and HIstorical Cruises at the historic North Pier Docks, not Navy Pier was a must-do! Our docent on board our Chicago River cruise was passionate about her city, the architecture, and history. The 90 minute tour flew by.
Found a $5.00 off coupon in a brochure.
Took the El to Wrigley Field, of course. Walked around Armitage street-some one-of-a-kind shops. We took advantage of free admission days/teacher discounts/coupons.Chain of bakeries-the Corner Bakery-great breads/rolls/sandwiches, etc. Make time to browse the major dept. stores downtown. Checked out the Zagat book from my library for quick consulations. Good map at airport brochure counter published by Where magazine. We had a wonderful time! The people were friendly, kind, helpful. I read in one of the hotel's publications that Chicagoans (sp??) were unpretentious
and I thought that was the perfect word. The weather in mid-June was a little bit of everything-one day windy, one day muggy, one afternoon rainy, the other days comfortable. What a great city!
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Sep 30th, 2003, 01:21 PM
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We'll be in Chicago for the marathon weekend, staying at the Hilton (S. Michigan Ave./Grant Park area). Can anyone tell me how safe that neighborhood is, particularly in the evening? Dare we walk to whatever restaurant we select (maybe the Italian Village), or is it more prudent just to take a cab?
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Sep 30th, 2003, 02:13 PM
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Take a cab. It's not thatthe neighborhood is bad... it's just not good.
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Oct 1st, 2003, 07:02 AM
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I wouldn't hesitate to walk that; it's about a mile distance, and there are no unsafe areas. The creepy thing about downtown at night is that it's so empty - stores close early and the number of cars and walkers is a small fraction of the daytime population. You'll probably feel most comfortable walking on Michigan Avenue to Monroe Street.

Just a side note - the weather here is running about 15 degrees below normal. Nighttime temps are in the 30s,daytime highs in the 50's, although this is expected to improve.
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