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6-day Chicago itinerary -- feedback wanted

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May 4th, 2009, 04:05 PM
  #1
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6-day Chicago itinerary -- feedback wanted

Am trying to put together a sightseeing itinerary of six full days in Chicago, and would like feedback that is not of the "stop and smell the roses" type. Am thinking the last two days may be a little light. Will order days according to when these attractions are open. If there's anything I'm glaringly missing, please let me know.

One day

-morning Loop sculpture walk
-Art Institute of Chicago
-Millenium Park/Grant Park
-Chicago Fed Money Museum
-Sears Tower

Another day

-Adler Planetarium
-Shedd Aquarium
-Field Museum of Natural History

Yet another day (North of the Loop)

-Lincoln Park
-Museum of Contemporary Art
-Newberry Library
-City Gallery
-McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum
-Navy Pier
-Hancock Observatory

And another day (Hyde Park)

-Museum of Science and Industry
-Robie House
-Oriental Institute Museum
-Rockefeller Memorial Chapel
-Smart Museum of Art

Still another day

-South Michigan Avenue walk (includes Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago ArchiCenter, Auditorium Building and Theater, Chicago Public Library, Fine Arts Building, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Spertus Museum)

One more day (Oak Park)

-Unity Temple
-Frank Lloyd Wright House and Museum
-Hemingway Birthplace
-Hemingway Museum

Many thanks.
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May 4th, 2009, 04:26 PM
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I think every day is too full. The Art Institute, Field Museum, and Museum of Science and Industry could easily take a day (or more each).

Many years ago, when we were in college, my husband and I decided to take out time and see every thing at the MOSI--it took us three days.
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May 4th, 2009, 04:47 PM
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I realize that this isn't what you want to hear, but I agree with abram. The day that seems the most...rushed...is the planetarium/aquarium/natural history day. (Feel free to ignore this advice, but maybe it will help someone else who does a Chicago search and comes across this thread.)

As for anything missing, I always recommend that visitors to Chicago catch a Cubs game at Wrigley Field and have a beer at a bar in Wrigleyville. However, I don't know when you're going on your trip and whether or not the Cubs will be in town. It doesn't seem like you'd have time for it anyway.

Also, an architectural tour could be fun.
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May 4th, 2009, 05:27 PM
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I've been to a game at Wrigley Field before, so I'll pass on it this visit. Great experience, no question.

Did a visit to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta not long ago, which is supposed to be one of the largest in the US, and saw everything there in about 2-1/2 hours. Spent about that amount of time at Boston's New England Aquarium as well and saw everything there. Is the Shedd Aquarium bigger than these two? The Shedd, Field Museum, and Adler are open from 9-6 and located near each other, and am surprised that it would be impossible to spend, say, 3, 4, and 2 hours respectively at these three sights and not experience them to a significant degree. Perhaps so.
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May 4th, 2009, 05:45 PM
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More elaboration:

Am thinking a Loop sculpture walk could be easily done in about a two hour stretch from ca. 7:30 AM to 9:30 AM. Chicago Fed Money Museum opens at 9 AM, and am thinking ca. 45 min. isn't unreasonable there. The Art Institute opens at 10:30 AM and closes at 5:00 PM and there's no reason not to spend most of the day there (have done similar things in London and Madrid, for two). Millenium Park/Grant Park surround this museum -- no reason not to spend about an hour or so. Sears Tower is open until 10 PM. I really don't mind very full sightseeing days.

Yes, I do eat during the day as well -- good sized early breakfast, with a quick cracker or cookie snack somewhere along the way, which holds me until a late dinner.

Maybe my timing is way off here? Perhaps so.
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May 4th, 2009, 06:57 PM
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I would add an architecture cruise and cut out some of the smaller museums, so you're not rushing.
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May 4th, 2009, 07:21 PM
  #7
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andrews98682, any suggestions on the architecture cruise?

Here's the thinking on Oak Park: Frank Lloyd Wright House and Museum has 11 AM tour, am thinking about an hour to 90 minutes. Hemingway Museum and Birthplace opens at 1 PM, am thinking about 90 minutes. Unity Temple is open from 10:30 AM to 4:30 PM, am thinking 45 minutes to an hour. That's 11 AM to 4 PM, tops. Am I underestimating? Perhaps so.

On Hyde Park: Museum of Science and Industry opens at 9:30 AM, am thinking about 3-1/2 hours. Robie House tours take an hour, open until 3:30 on weekends. Rockefeller Chapel is open until 4 PM -- is this more than a short walk-by and look in? Smart Museum is open until 5 on weekends -- is an hour about right here? Oriental Institute Museum is open until 6 PM -- is an hour to 90 minutes about right here? Maybe these take longer than I think?
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May 4th, 2009, 07:53 PM
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Here's the thinking on North of the Loop: can walk through part of the south sections of Lincoln Park for an hour or two in the morning. Newberry Library's exhibits open around 8:30 AM or so, an hour to 90 minutes visit time? Museum of Contemporary Art opens around 10 AM, figure about 2 hours or so visit? What I've seen written about the City Gallery is that it's mainly a walk-by pop-in sort of attraction. McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum is open until 6 PM and again not a large museum, maybe an hour visit? The Navy Pier is open until 10 PM (1-2 hours visit?) and the Hancock Observatory is open until 11 PM (an hour visit?). There's some distance between all these attractions, but I've tried to factor in walking or other travel time. More than I'm thinking time-wise for this?
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May 4th, 2009, 07:54 PM
  #9
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I second the architectural boat cruise. Chicago is great, many memorable sights, but this tour was the best
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May 4th, 2009, 08:13 PM
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You could do 3, 4, and 2 hours at the aquarium, etc., assuming you don't stop for lunch. The day you have planned wouldn't be impossible; I never said that. It will just be a very full day.
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May 4th, 2009, 08:31 PM
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On January 30, 2009, The McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum announced it would close its permanent location on March 1, 2009. It now only sponsors traveling exhibits. The press release is available here: http://tinyurl.com/ccrxfd

I also think there's little point in going to both Sears Tower and Hancock. Since the Hancock is located closer to the other things you're doing, it would probably be a better choice.
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May 4th, 2009, 09:07 PM
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Most people on this board would probably recommend the Chicago architecture foundation cruise, which I haven't taken. I have taken a speedboat tour from Navy Pier in which the first half is on the river (slowly) and the second half on the lake going full throttle. And that was fun.
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May 5th, 2009, 11:47 AM
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When are you visiting Chicago?

Are you adding in any time to: 1) wait in lines - both to get into the museums/attractions themselves and then to wait to get into any regular or special exhibits (and this depends on the attraction - some have *very* long waits - sometimes up to an hour, at periods); 2) wait for public transportation (I'd add in an average of 20-30 minutes for every time you want to take a bus or el); 3) wait to get a table to eat, especially in the evening (15-20 minutes *hopefully* - but usually more or much more at popular restaurants)?

Also, please keep in mind that if you are going to any special exhibits at any of the museums (and these are the real stars during the summer months), they are normally done only on a timed entry basis. Busiest times usually require advance purchase to get your desired time of entry. You could wait until you get to the attraction, but then you run the risk of not getting into the exhibit at all.

Not to discourage you from your plan of action but I'm going to mention a couple of things that you need to keep in mind, if you are going to be going the "speed tourist" route:

1) Re the Loop architecture tour, you are planning on doing this smack dab in the middle of the morning rush hour. This is not the ideal time to do this; it's better to do it on a weekend, especially on a Sunday, when there is very light traffic. But - I assume you know that you would have to do the Loop architecture tour on a weekday (if you keep to your schedule) because you cannot access the Money Museum on weekends (or on banking holidays).

2) I agree that you would have a very rushed day if you were to go to the Field, Shedd and Adler. If you still plan on doing this, go to the Shedd first (it gets the longest lines), then the Field and then the Adler. The first two will take about twice as long to see as the last.

3) Lincoln Park is a *huge* neighborhood and park. Since Lincoln Park (the park) stretches along the lakefront all the way north to Montrose (4400 N.) from North Avenue (1600 N.) - that's a little less than 3.5 miles - and Lincoln Park (the neighborhood) stretches from North Avenue (1600 N.) north to Diversey (2600 N.) - that's a little more than 1.25 miles - all the way west to Clybourn, I assume that you are only going to be visiting the area around the Lincoln Park Zoo and the Lincoln Park Conservatory? If so, please keep in mind that the Zoo opens at 10:00 a.m.

4) The Museum of Science and Industry is downright *huge*. If you are planning on boarding the U505, going down in the Coal Mine, attending to any of the OmniMax movies or going to a special exhibit (i.e., Harry Potter), you will have timed entry and entry lines for each, not to mention how long it will take once you are in the exhibit/attraction itself. But let's say that you'll forego all of these very best exhibits and get through the museum in a couple of hours: The Robie House is also timed entry - and you can access only by guided tour. The Smart Museum of Art is closed on Mondays and holidays - and the Oriental Institute is closed on Mondays and certain holidays.

5) The Auditorium Theatre access is guided tour only, unless you are attending a performance there. Which Chicago Public Library? Are you speaking of the Chicago Cultural Center, which used to be the Chicago library building, or of the Harold Washington Library, which is on S. State Street and not on Michigan Avenue?

Finally, on the Art Institute...I'm assuming you are coming after May 16, since it is so near now. The new Modern Wing opening will increase the AI's size to the second largest in this nation. It would be a shame if you were to race through and not see this.
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May 5th, 2009, 12:28 PM
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Exiledprincess, you sure know your stuff!! I'm very impressed!
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May 5th, 2009, 01:07 PM
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Indeed! Now I want to go to Chicago (again) too!

Add me to those who recommend the Architecture boat trip...very interesting, relaxing and informative.
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May 5th, 2009, 02:06 PM
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Thanks for those specifics that have proven helpful so far. Much appreciated. Glad to have the info about the Trib Freedom Museum permanent exhibit closing up, will skip this one. Am anticipating getting a citypass that will hopefully help bypass some lines -- or will simply go at opening times to minimize waits. Have been trying to take travel time into account here as well, and am trying see if I can clump things together to minimize travel amounts. Do not plan to have dinner until after sightseeing is done each day, no need for lunches. Late dinner is fine with me.

Will say that while I'm keen to visit both large and small museums in Chicago, I realize I can't see everything in the biggest ones -- but don't want to spend three days in one at the expense of the rest or skip them altogether, either. Have been to the Louvre and Met more than once -- same thing, and if I return to Chicago again, will revisit the largest museums. It makes no sense to me to not go to (for example) MOSI if I can't see it all. For MOSI, have no interest in Harry Potter or Omnimax -- will contact the museum further to see how best to maximize a 3-4 hour visit. Will adjust schedule to include a tour of the Auditorium Theatre, and will see about pre-booking a tour at the Robie. Am planning the Hyde Park trip to not be on a Monday or holiday. Want to see both "libraries" (current and former), and the H. Washington one only appears to be a short detour from S. Michigan Ave. I intend to spend almost all day at the Art Institute the day I go there, and will see as much as I can. For Lincoln Park, am more interested in walking the southern part and seeing some houses nearby in the Gold Coast area before other attractions (MOCA, Newberry Library) open -- am not especially interested in seeing the zoo or conservatory further up. Will visit the Shedd, Field, and Adler in the order suggested. Will see if I can move the sculpture walk to a weekend early morning.

Am happy to do some tweaking, as that's why I'm posting this up in the first place. Good specifics do help a lot here.

Would love some specifics about the architecture cruise, as I haven't found anything yet about it.
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May 5th, 2009, 04:54 PM
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http://www.architecture.org/tour_view.aspx?TourID=8

Here is the link for the CAF cruise. Definitely worth taking.
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May 5th, 2009, 05:22 PM
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I couldn't remember the name, but now that I've seen Tchoiniere's link, I can tell you that this was the architecture tour we went on. Absolutely loved it. Tour guide was very knowledgable...I think he said he was a Ph.D student in architectural history at University of Chicago.
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May 5th, 2009, 07:51 PM
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Yes, if you check my past responses, I always state that, IMHO, the Chicago Architecture Foundation's River Cruise is the best way to spend 2 hours of your time visiting Chicago. Since the OP is going to the ArchiCenter, I assume that they will be looking into this choice.

Here are a couple more suggestions for you, depending on how energetic you are:

Move the Loop architecture walk to the same day you are on S. Michigan, especially since you might be going to the Harold Washington Library. There are three free downloadable (to your computer or MP3 device) walking tours for the Loop on the Chicago Loop Alliance's website (see "Loop the Loop" on their website). The Chicago Loop Alliance has also partnered with the Chicago Architecture Foundation to have these recorded tours available at the ArchiCenter. By the way, there are free exhibits and concerts at the Chicago Cultural Center each day, and there is free entertainment weekdays at noon at Daley Plaza (check the City of Chicago's website for "Under the Picasso").

On the day you are going to the Field, Shedd and Adler - move the visit to Navy Pier to that evening, if you can. Why? You can take the Shoreline harbor taxi from the outdoor terrace at the Shedd across to Navy Pier for a great skyline view. And, if you are coming during/after Memorial Day weekend, you could sit and rest, enjoying a brew at the beer garden (far east end) of Navy Pier while enjoying the skyline from there to the free live music.

Try to make the day you go to the Art Institute on the same day that there is a free Grant Park Symphony (or other) concert at the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. Make a picnic dinner of it and enjoy the music.

You might consider the Chicago History Museum instead of the Newberry Library. It would fit right in with your scheduling that day, with the exception of taking in the MCA after the CHM.

One last thing that I think you should consider during your travels. This is the centennial year of Daniel Burnham's 1909 Plan of Chicago. The Art Institute has an exhibit highlighting this subject and there will be many other seminars, exhibits and so forth happening as well. Please take in at least one activity/session/exhibit concerning this incredibly important influence on Chicago's past, present and future.
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May 7th, 2009, 07:53 PM
  #20
 
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IMHO you should skip the Planetarium all together. For the price it's not that great. If you have really young children in tow then they may enjoy it more. If you've been to Sea World then you will probably end up disappointed.
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