A WEEKEND IN CHICAGO

Feb 15th, 2009, 11:39 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Apr 2008
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A WEEKEND IN CHICAGO

Hello
A friend and I will be visiting Chicago the first weekend of March. We will be arriving Friday afternoon and leaving Sunday night. It will be the first visit to Chicago for both of us. Would love to get some ideas on places to see, eat, and maybe have a few drinks. Any and all insight would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!!!
ek0530 is offline  
Feb 15th, 2009, 11:53 AM
  #2  
 
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Type in "exiledprincess" in the search box - you'll come up with tons of advice!
sf7307 is offline  
Feb 15th, 2009, 01:37 PM
  #3  
 
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I agree you should do some research on your own on this board or some of the other sites such as www.TripAdvisor.com or www.choosechicago.com.

A little bit about you and your friend will help posters make suggestions. What types of food do you like, what's your budget, where are you staying, what are your interests? ages?

Citylghts is offline  
Feb 15th, 2009, 01:43 PM
  #4  
esm
 
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You can start here:

http://www.fodors.com/world/north-am...inois/chicago/
esm is online now  
Feb 15th, 2009, 07:29 PM
  #5  
 
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Glad you will be visiting our friendly city shortly! The first full weekend of March, meaning the 6th through the 8th? Or the one before (March 1st being Sunday)?

The thing about first-time visitors and only a 2-day stay is that you barely have time to scratch the surface of Chicago and then you must be gone. But there are certain things which I would recommend that you experience.

The first of March in Chicago can have wildly differing weather. It could be a sunny 70 degrees F here one day and then a blizzard occur the next. I suggest that you make two "plans of action", one for inclement weather and the other for springlike.

Here are only a few suggestions how to spend those precious few hours:

If you have time in your itinerary for only one museum, then I recommend the Art Institute on S. Michigan Avenue. You might wish to take the "Highlights of the Art Institute" gallery tour when you are here and the exhibit "Becoming Edvard Munch: Influence, Anxiety and Myth" has just opened (until April 26). As I often feel the same mood as his most famous work, I'm a fan! (Only the AI's lithographic edition of "The Scream" will be on display, as the original paintings do not leave Oslo.)

If the weather is inclement and you are looking at another museum (with two days, I'd recommend only 2 museums max., figuring 3-4 hours in each), the Field Museum has a special exhibit of "The Aztec World" and is famous for Sue, the world's most complete T-Rex skeleton.

Another option, if the weather is disappointing, is a visit to the Chicago Flower and Garden Show being held at Navy Pier March 7-15, the hours are Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. So even if the day is great but the afternoon and evening hours miserable weather....

You could take an architectural walk and I highly recommend that you take one with the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Their main location, the ArchiCenter, is located in the historic Sante Fe (aka Transportation) building, almost immediately across Michigan Avenue from the Art Institute. I'd take a look at their website to get an idea of all of your options. Keep in mind that they also have bus tours, such as the "Highlights by Bus" tour on Saturdays and the Frank Lloyd Wright bus tour to Oak Park on Sundays, but those take several hours. Don't know if this is of primary interest or if you'd care to be doing other activities.

A visit to Millennium Park to study the architecture doesn't take a lot of time, though. The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink is still open (until March 15) but it's definitely too early for the gardens. Millennium Park is immediately to the north of the Art Institute.

If the weather is decent, then there are a couple of walks which you could take. Chicago's lakefront is a system of parks. There is the 18-mile long Lakefront Path which travels parallel of the lake, and Chicago's harbors and parks. For the best (and longest), I suggest that you take the #146 SB CTA bus from any bus stop along Michigan Avenue to the north of the Chicago River; on Wacker between Michigan and State; or on State Street south of the Chicago River out to the end terminus at the Museum Campus. Disembark at the Shedd Aquarium stop. You will have a marvelous view of the city skyline from the north terrace of the Shedd (great photo op). You then just walk along the Lakefront Path northwards to Jackson. I usually mention a stop at the Buckingham Fountain (which is situated between Jackson and Balbo, is the starting point of historic Route 66) when it is operating in warmer weather, but it is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation and won't be open until sometime in spring. It really is spectacular, being one of the largest in the nation. Taking Jackson west to Michigan gets you just south of the Art Institute and you'll see the ArchiCenter on the NW corner.

Take a walking tour of the Loop. If you go to the Chicago Loop Alliance's website, you'll find three free downloadable tours of the Loop (the historic theatres, art and landmarks) with interactive maps. The Chicago Loop Alliance has joined with the Chicago Architecture Foundation where MP3 devices loaded with these tours are available at the ArchiCenter. Something to keep in mind if you are traveling light - or if you only have a couple of hours.

Speaking of the Loop theatres, all of these historic venues have their own tours. The Auditorium Theatre, designed by Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler, with some help from a newcomer (at the time) named Frank Lloyd Wright, is pretty special, IMHO. If you can catch a show there, so much the better.

Walk Wacker Drive eastward from Clark or State to Michigan Avenue. You will see some of the iconic architecture of Chicago (Marina Towers, the Tribune Building, the Wrigley Building, etc.). When you get to the intersection of Wacker and Michigan, you will be near the two points where Chicago first began. You will see the Fort Dearborn brass markings embedded in the sidewalk on the SE and SW corners, indicating the perimeters of the fort (several levels lower, of course, at that time). And just to the north of the Chicago River, east of Michigan, is Pioneer Court - where Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable was the first settler and founded Chicago. While you are in this area, examine the three sides of the Tribune Building facade and see the numberous pieces of history inlaid there.

If you will be in Chicago on March 1st, you could take a great 2-hour backstage tour of the Lyric Opera of Chicago. These is very special as they only given three days a year. (One was today and there are only 2 left now.) You get to see the fantasic wardrobe and wigs rooms, scenery and props areas, go into the dressing areas and in the orchestra pit and see the beautiful venue up close. (BTW, the Lyric Opera House is 1 block north of the Sears Tower).

Eating: Well, you will be at a world-class dining destination. Advise your budget and cuisine preferences and we can make some suggestions for you.

Drinks with a view: Of course, there is the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor of the John Hancock Building. Sixteen at the Trump International Hotel and Tower has a different sort of view.

Nightlife: Chicago has one of the most vibrant theatre scenes in the nation. The Broadway-type shows are usually performed in the Loop Theatre District or on the Magnificent Mile (at Drury Lane Water Tower). The Goodman Theatre in the Loop usually has great options. The Chicago Shakespeare Theatre is also located at Navy Pier and would be an excellent choice if you plan on going to the Chicago Garden and Flower Show. They were the winner of the 2008 Tony award for Regional Theatre. And, speaking of a view of the skyline - great one there. However, for a true Chicago theatre experience, you might consider going to the Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, Lookingglass or one of the many other troupes, depending on what piques your interest.

Comedy: You may or may not know the name "Second City", but I'm sure you know of their many famous alumni. Whereas Second City is improv, Zanies is stand-up comedy. Both are located in the Old Town neighborhood on the north side. I/O (near Wrigley Field) is also improv and the grittier Lakeshore Theatre on N. Broadway has a variety of comedy and music (to drop some names: Robin Williams did some impromptu performances there last year; Julia Sweeney is appearing there March 8; and Jeanne Garofalo will be performing there in May).

Music: So many genres from which to choose. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is one of the best in the world. Jazz: the iconic Green Mill was frequented - and perhaps more - by Al Capone (and you might be interested in reading their history on their website, some of which is definitely not for the squeamish). The Jazz Showcase has reopened at Dearborn Station in the South Loop. Andy's Jazz Club is located in the River North section, very near the downtown (aka the Loop). And for the Blues, the South Loop is also the home of Buddy Guys Legends (for the time being). Of course, these are only a few of the many venues. It really depends on who is playing where when you are here. Isuggest that you take a look at Metromix or the Chicago Reader online for the information on the performers here during your visit.

So, you see you have many things from which to choose. It just depends on your individual tastes and desires. Hope you have a lotta fun while here!
exiledprincess is offline  
Feb 19th, 2009, 03:39 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
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Exiled Princess:
You are fantastic. One could not ask for a better tour guide to Chicago. I am a Chicago native (and love our beautiful city). I happened on your advice after becoming a devoted Fodorite while researching our 3rd trip to Argentina. I thought it would be interesting to find "experts" in Chicago as there are quite a few Fodorite experts in Argentina. I know your advice is well researched. Your information is thorough and up to the minute with TIMELY advice. I will continue to follow your excellent Chicago information. Sounds to me like your "exile" is not such a bad thing as you appreciate all the opportunities in our world class city.
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