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Best (or best located) Chicago Hotel w/ Free Parking?

Best (or best located) Chicago Hotel w/ Free Parking?

Jun 1st, 2008, 09:58 AM
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Best (or best located) Chicago Hotel w/ Free Parking?

We're be spending a long weekend in Chicago (June 19th - 22) for vacation. Although the downtown area looks wonderful, we've decided that we want to rent a car in order to be able to drive around through various neighborhoods and outlying areas. Because of that, we'd love to book a Chicago hotel with free parking (& preferably free internet) since we'll have the rental car costs. That probably leaves us in the mid-priced (or so) chain hotels, which we're fine with -- we'll leave the Peninsula for another day. Are there hotels or general areas that you'd recommend for a combo of convenience/proximity? Otherwise, I think I'll just start looking up each chain's list of Chicago hotels (which seems time-consuming).

We do have tickets to Cubs-White Sox one day, and we probably are planning to take public transportation for that (we can drive to a commuter lot, if necessary). Also, if it helps, have a family commitment in town near Devon Ave & Clark St (near Rosewood Cemetary) if that informs your recommendations.

kgh8m is offline  
Jun 1st, 2008, 11:24 AM
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Ack! (I meant "We'll be...").
kgh8m is offline  
Jun 1st, 2008, 11:30 AM
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kgh, is this your first time in Chicago? If it is, there is so much for you to do within the city for 3 days that won't require a car, that I'd suggest you rent one only for the day of your family commitment. Everything else can be done via the El (or buses, I guess, although I've never used them).

Where were you thinking of going with the car?
Jun 1st, 2008, 12:04 PM
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I agree, I can't think of where you could be planning to go on a 3-day visit to Chicago that would make finding somewhere with free parking in order to rent a car the best choice. Most tourist attractions are easily reached by walking or public ransportation from downtown hotels. Both ballparks are also easily reached by public transportation. The family commitment could be done in a cab. Why drive and face the added hassle and expense?
marilynl is offline  
Jun 1st, 2008, 01:22 PM
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I like to have a car too.... just in case.... in fact I'd even drive to the ballgame. However parking in downtown Chicago is usually in parking garages and most is valet parking which can be expensive.

If you need the car, then unfortunately you will just have to pay for the parking too.

travelor is offline  
Jun 1st, 2008, 04:12 PM
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This will be my first time in Chicago. The family thing is a party, and I don't know the location yet, though I'd suspect it wouldn't be too far by cab.

My husband and I were leaning towards the rental car, for two reasons (I'm SO embarrassed to admit this!):
(1) Chicago is known for food, and we want to hit some of the local favorites. I'm not talking fine dining, but things like the classic Chicago-style pizzerias and the hamburger/hot dog joints that are often on the Food Network. (Yes, I'm planning to eat my way across Chicago. I've already started adding elastic to my pants...) I know that the storied pizzerias are likely easily accessible by public transportation, but I'm not sure about the other restaurants (which have not yet been determined).
(2) One activity that my husband and I enjoy when we travel is driving through neighborhoods in various areas - the nice neighborhoods, the well-established neighborhoods, the great community neighborhoods. it's a great way to get a feel for how the city lives, and I really like looking at all sorts of housing architecture. Chicago offers some great neighborhoods for that, but if we want to really be able to see a variety of neighborhoods, it seems like it would be a bit hard to do that by walking or public transportation.

I was figuring that the cheaper cost of hotels outside of the downtown area would likely cover the costs of the car, and the huge hotel parking fees at downtown hotels make staying downtown with a car ridiculous. As for going downtown, I'd just park at/near a subway or El station with daily parking.

If you feel we'd really be missing out, I guess we could just get up earlier on Saturday, rent a car and hit a restaurant that's not accessible by public transportation and do a bit of driving in the neighborhoods before we head to the party, but that would mean everything else we did would have to center around public transportation. I'd be ashamed to take a cab to Superdawg.
kgh8m is offline  
Jun 1st, 2008, 05:02 PM
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I understand what you're saying, but you could see neighborhoods using the subway and bus lines, and then nobody has to drive. You could, for example, take the Clark Street bus through several Chicago neighborhoods, getting off when the spirit moves you: Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Wrigleyville, Andersonville, etc. It WOULD be hard to get to Superdawg on public transportation, but how about Hot Doug's or Portillo's? And you can take a lot of cabs for the cost of renting a car and parking it.
marilynl is offline  
Jun 1st, 2008, 05:29 PM
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I drive to Chicago quite a few times throughout the year and HONEST....we park the car and never get in it again until we leave!!!!

We've been to several different areas of the city and surrounding area and have had no problems finding a train/bus or cab to get us there.

Seriously - I believe most hotels are around $30 - $40 per night.

If you still feel like you need a car I would recommend going to priceline to get your hotel room to offset the price of your room. Just stick with a 5 or 4 star and you will get a great hotel.

If you happen to get the Sheraton (which is a very popular hotel on priceline) there is a parking lot next to it that I believe is fairly resonable and within walking distance to the hotel.

Are you flying in? If so, you can access most of the city from the airports via train.

cfntmpn is offline  
Jun 1st, 2008, 07:15 PM
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kgh8m, my advice to you is not to get a rental car when you are in Chicago, especially for such a short period of time as a long weekend.

Pertaining to your statement:
"One activity that my husband and I enjoy when we travel is driving through neighborhoods in various areas - the nice neighborhoods, the well-established neighborhoods, the great community neighborhoods."

I'm assuming that you mean neighborhoods such as Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lakeview (which includes the Boystown, Wrigleyville, N. Southport corridor and Roscoe Village areas), the Gold Coast and the like on the north side. Am I correct in that assessment? Well, the problem is this in a nutshell: Those very same well-established neighborhoods have very little street parking available. A large amount of areas in them are strictly parking by permit for the residents only.

IMHO, it would be actually *easier* and more convenient for you to visit them by public transportation - unless, of course, you prefer to drive around and around aimlessly for an undisclosed amount of time looking for a legal parking space where you won't be towed or finding a parking garage (with some type of availability) hopefully somewhere near to your destination where you will be paying for parking.

This is a true story. Living in Chicago (in the Boystown area of Lakeview), I do not own a car. Once, several years ago, I rented a car for a whole week because I was on vacation and was taking two road trips (one to Galena and then the Lake Michigan Circle Tour). Between the two trips, I had one day (a Wednesday) where I was in Chicago. I attempted to find parking in my own neighborhood (within four square blocks from my apartment) - which I know very intimately - and drove around for over an hour, looking for a single street parking space. I was so fortunate to find one - *only* because I was in the right place at the right time. Another person pulled from a space just as I was approaching. I immediately zoomed into it for the evening. If they hadn't had left just at that time, I don't know how long I'd have still been looking. Weekends are worse.

If you are still determined to visit these neighborhoods by rental car, though, there are pay parking lots by the Lincoln Park Zoo (they fill up very quickly on weekends so you have to go very early in the morning). There are a couple of parking garages just north of the 5-way intersection of Clark, Diversey and Broadway in Lakeview. There is a parking garage at Hawthorne Place and Broadway and some garages and lots on N. Clark as you approach Wrigley Field. Again, however, they fill up quickly when there are Cubs home games and they can be fairly expensive, depending on where you are parked in them.

I personally cannot imagine why Superdawg would be rated so highly as to warrant a special trip, but everyone has their preferences. Suggest that you go to Hot Doug's instead - you can easily get there and back by cab. It is widely considered the best place in the city for sausages and "encased meats". Go for the specials, though, and the duck-fat fries (Fridays and Saturdays only).
exiledprincess is offline  
Jun 1st, 2008, 07:40 PM
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Guys, you have convinced me. Thanks for your help. I compromised on the hotel (cost vs. central location) and chose the Hampton Inn-Downtown (near the Grand station on the Red Line). We won't get a car unless we just do one for the day.

As for driving the neighborhoods, we actually wouldn't worry about parking - we usually just drive through and don't really walk around. So, if we feel like we have time to do this and still want to, we'll rent a car. Otherwise, we'll leave it for another visit.

As for Superdawg vs. Hot Doug's or Portillo's -- I was only leaning towards Superdawg b/c I'd seen it featured on a "roadfood" show once. It doesn't even look like my kind of hot dog, and if the other places are better or just as good, then I'll be happy.

Thanks to all - I appreciate it so much!
kgh8m is offline  
Jun 1st, 2008, 08:05 PM
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And the Hampton Inn downtown has gotten very good reviews on this forum! You've made the right decision.
Jun 1st, 2008, 08:08 PM
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Glad you decided against the car. Although I live in the city, my car has been staying parked for longer periods lately. Gas today is around $4.25 per gallon and I saw one station where it was $4.37.

There are very few places in the city you can't reach via public transit. The CTA site, www.transitchicago.com, has a trip planner that can help you find your way around the city. You can also try www.hopstop.com.

Finally, as you'll be using public transit, consider visitor passes. They allow unlimited rides on all CTA buses and trains for a 24-hour period. A two-day pass is $9 and a three-day pass is $12. You can buy them from vending machines at either airport or Union & Ogilvie Stations.
Citylghts is offline  
Jun 1st, 2008, 08:46 PM
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Citylghts: Thanks for the rec about the unlimited ride CTA passes - we'll definitely pick those up.

www.hopstop.com is excellent - and it's what convinced me that staying out at O'Hare to save money would cost us one heckuva train ride each way. I use hopstop for getting around DC all the time.

kgh8m is offline  
Jun 1st, 2008, 09:37 PM
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besides pizza and hot dogs, you should try Italian beef sandwiches, an old Chicago tradition.



AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2008, 06:01 AM
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Add Ed Dubevic's to your list of places to eat if you've not done so already. It's a fun place and the blue cheese burgers are great.
cd is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2008, 11:21 AM
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AAFF and cd,
Those both sound great. I'll add them to my ever-expanding Chicago google map of gluttony.

Are there desserts that Chicago is really known for -- or is there an ice cream place I should try?

kgh8m is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2008, 12:04 PM
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I used to work for the largest parking company headquartered in Chicago and can tell you that there is no free parking in any downtown hotel. I passed the mid-range Days Inn last weekend and saw $45/day.

You won't need a car unless you're planning to go to Devon and eat Indian, and that's a LONG haul even with a car.

My brother and his wife rented a car to visit me over Memorial Day (I live downtown) and spent over $80 in two days for parking and used the car once, when we could've taken the CTA to Chinatown.

If you want quick directions to anyplace on the CTA, email me or post back here. Greektown, Little Italy, etc. are all easily accessed by trains or cabs, which still are cheaper than rental/parking.
Chicago_Heather is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2008, 12:16 PM
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The Swissotel Chicago was charging $49 a night for parking last summer.

I remember I drove to Chicago in October 2001. Nobody was traveling because of 9/11 and we managed to catch a rate of $59/night for a suite at The Drake. However parking was still $39/night.
dweebe is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2008, 12:47 PM
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While I think you can have a great tine without a car, the Best Western downtown Chicago DOES indead offer free parking for their guests. I have never been there and have no idea of its pro's or con's, but it does have free parking.
cd is offline  
Jun 6th, 2008, 09:54 AM
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Here is a link to a great part of the Chicago CTA (public transportation) website with public transportation directions to many great places, including some of the offbeat neighborhoods that might interest you.

On the same website you can also use a trip planning feature to plan a route for any destination by public transportation http://tripsweb.rtachicago.com

I lived for 10 years in Chicago after college without a car and some of the best times we had was on our "adventures" by public transportation to find some destination we had heard about.

Enjoy Chicago!

laurie_ann is offline  

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