Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   United States (
-   -   Back to Chicago in a week. Will be staying for 3 weeks. (

gtrekker2003 Sep 30th, 2004 05:50 PM

Back to Chicago in a week. Will be staying for 3 weeks.

I'm coming back to Chicago in about a week. Was just there in July. I'll be staying for 3 weeks on this trip. I had a very nice time on my last trip and took some of the suggestions given on this forum. Visited Astor St, Millenium Park, summer concerts, shopping, and explored a couple different neighbourhoods, namely Wrigleyville, Lakeview, Roscoe Village. Any suggestions for off-the-beaten path things I could do on my next trip? I really love taking walks, exploring different parts of the city by food, people watching, outdoorsy activities such as hiking, and music events. I'm on a budget so the cheaper, the free-er, the better. Not really into museums and such, unless they're smaller, unique type.

Many Thanks,


Kristi Sep 30th, 2004 07:14 PM

Well, it seems like you've covered a good chunk of the north side, maybe give the south side a chance. Hyde Park, near the Museum of Science and Industry and the University of Chicago, is a nice area to explore. Go check out Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House, some of the mansions along Woodlawn and the U of C campus.

Prairie Avenue is another interesting section of Chicago, you can see the oldest house in Chicago and several of the mansions of the industrialists at the turn of the century.

How about Pullman? There are guided tours and also a visitors center where you can pick up info to do a self guided tour.

Or maybe head out of the city and visit Oak Park or up to the north shore to the Botanic Gardens, both of which can be reached by public transportation.

As far as budget options go, take a look at the offerings at the Cultural Center, all are free and there's a wide variety of music, lectures, performances.

Sign up for a Chicago greeter and go explore a neighborhood with a native, it's free but should be reserved in advance.

Go for a walk through Graceland cemetery, it's not as morbid as you would think, cemeteries back then were designed as parks.

The Lincoln Park zoo and Lincoln Park conservatory are free every day as is the Garfield Conservatory.

On Sunday head over to the new Maxwell Street market (Canal and Roosevelt) and grab some inexpensive Mexican food.

Go over to Chinatown, have some dim sum and do a little shopping.

seetheworld Sep 30th, 2004 07:44 PM

Although you said you were not really interested in museums, if you find some time on your hands you could visit the Art Institute on Tuesdays - admission is free.

gtrekker2003 Oct 1st, 2004 07:00 AM

Thanks everybody for the suggestions!

I was wondering if there is a site where I can see when and if any other museums have 'free' days or evenings. I remember when living in NYC, many of the museums had certain hours on particular days that were free. I'd be interested in that. Any suggestions?

Thanks again for the ideas. I really like them! I do enjoy exploring yur city! :)


swalter518 Oct 1st, 2004 07:18 AM

I believe each of the museums has a free or discount day-the Art Institute's is Tueday but I'm not sure if that's the free day for all of the museums. Here's the website for the Field's discount day.

Kristi Oct 1st, 2004 07:25 AM

This has a list of free days but I would double check with the museum's website as things do change, note that most of the biggies only have free days in the off season

Another idea for tours, heavily skewed towards architecture of course, are the ones offered by the Architecture Foundation. They are mostly $10

strass Oct 1st, 2004 08:38 AM

I think that the Art Institute may have switched its free day to Thursday--best to double-check on the website!

I second the suggestions for Hyde Park (57th Street has some wonderful used bookstores and little places for lunch) and Lincoln Square. Oak Park is also worth exploring--the downtown is really beautiful and quaint, and the neighborhoods north of there boast some gorgeous old houses. You can take the Green Line to Oak Park.

You could also look into the hip, artsy Bucktown/Wicker Park area--take the Blue Line to Damen. Lots of interesting boutiques and low-key bars around there.

If you like jazz at all, I highly recommend the Green Mill, Al Capone's old hangout (it was a speakeasy) and a terrific vintage venue for music. It's in Uptown, which is an up-and-coming neighborhood on the north side (where I live!). Take the Red Line to Lawrence.

As for hiking, about 90 miles out of the city there's Starved Rock State Park, which is supposed to be beautiful. I've never been, but I'd love to spend a day hiking and exploring there. and will be very helpful in your planning!

Kristi Oct 1st, 2004 10:58 AM

Tuesdays are still the free day at the Art Institute but the late day (open until 8)was switched from Tues. to Thurs.

In addition to the Green Mill, the Uptown neighborhood has a lot of cool old terra cotta buildings like the Uptown Theater, the Aragon Ballroom and the WPA murals at the post office on Broadway are also worth checking out. I think that kind of exploring is best done during the day however.

tmh Oct 2nd, 2004 11:51 AM

As odd as it might seem, there's the Haunted 'L'. Where else can you go in the US and have the city use their mass transportation for a little bit of Halloween fun?! Ya gotta love it.

It runs from Oct 9-30th; Thursdays at 7:25; 7:50; 8:15 (all PM). Saturdays and SUndays: 11:40; 12:05; 12:30; 12:55 and 1:20 pm You contact the Cultural Center at 312-744-3315 and purchase tix.

seetheworld Oct 2nd, 2004 03:36 PM

Just to comment on Chicgal's post, the coal mine tour is free with general admission - and we thought it was terrific!

flamingomonkey Oct 20th, 2004 04:58 PM

A few sugestions.

Take the free trolley to Pilsen and Chinatown. Pilsen is an increasingly trendy Mexican neighborhood with an outstanding Mexican Fine Arts Museum. I haven't been to Chinatown in years, but I've heard it's been cleaned up and quite a bit more attractive now.

As for hiking, Starved Rock is an excellent suggestion. There is also Matthiesen State park across the road, and historic towns like Ottawa, LaSalle, and Utica. Utica, unfortunately sustained a lot of damage in a tornado this spring, but is still a must to stop at. The visitors center can explain all about the I & M canal that this area is a part of. There's also an excellent local history museum. For even more hiking, there is the I & M canal trail, running all the way from Joliet/Channahon in the far southwest suburbs out to LaSalle. You'll need a car for this excursion though. You can rent one cheaply at Enterprise for the weekend. This can certainly be a day trip, but consider spending the night.

Pullman is a good suggestion, and be sure to visit the Beverly and Morgan Park neighborhoods, just a few miles west. You can take a train or bus to Pullman, and from there you can catch a bus on 111th Street, heading west. Ask the driver to call out Longwood drive. Then just head north on foot to 91st Street. Over two miles of stunning, gourgeous homes in a neighborhood that is one of the cities best kept secrets. There are restaurants and shops on 95th Street. Every 4 blocks along Longwood there is Metra commuter train station, you can take the Rock Island line back downtown to the La Salle street station. Trains will be at least once an hour, Mon.-Sat., one to two hours on Sunday.

Vittrad Oct 20th, 2004 05:35 PM

Definately visit Beverly if you are heading to the South Side it is a lovely neighborhood with some very nice (and huge) older homes. I spent many a St. Patrick's day there as a youth with a family friend whose house was a block away from the parade route.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:14 PM.