Chicago - Architectural Boat Tour/Hotel

Old Jun 8th, 2009, 09:47 AM
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Chicago - Architectural Boat Tour/Hotel

We are finalizing plans for our cross-country road trip and it looks like we will be in Chicago July 24th and 25th. We definitely want to take the Architectural Boat Tour but I hate booking things through Ticketmaster and paying all their ridiculous fees. Does anyone know how far in advance the Boat Tour books up? Would it be possible to arrive in Chicago, go to the Architectural Foundation and purchase tickets for the next day?

Also looking for hotel recommendations -- would like a decent place in the downtown area for less than $150 per night. I know there will probably be a huge parking fee, so if anyone has any recommendations for a place slightly out of town with quick transit connections that would be welcome too.

Is there perhaps a helpful "Chicago Tourism" web site?
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Old Jun 8th, 2009, 09:56 AM
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We took the same boat tour but through the Chicago Historical Society. We booked directly with them by phone (no fees). The tour was great & they were very reputable.
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Old Jun 8th, 2009, 10:21 AM
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Get a hotel in the O'Hare airport area. Many have free parking. Most have free shuttle to/from the airport where you can catch a train to downtown.

If you are just going there and back, buy a regular fare of $2.25 each way. If you have some other plans, buy a day pass for $5.75. Day pass is good for 24 hours from the time you use it for the first time. It may be a good idea to buy the day pass just because.... You never know what else you may want to see during your 2 day stay.
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Old Jun 8th, 2009, 10:27 AM
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IMHO, staying at O'Hare to visit Chicago is penny-wise and pound-foolish. You'll spend two hours a day commuting (which is two fewer hours in Chicago), it will tire you out, and you won't be able to go back to your hotel during the day. Big mistake.
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Old Jun 8th, 2009, 10:43 AM
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I can't speak for Chicago specifically, but many garages in downtowns of major US cities offer much lower parking rates on weekends than on weekdays.

Since you'll be there Fri-Sat, perhaps it's worthwhile to investigate this, before you decide to stay outside of the city?

For example, in Boston, weekday garage rates in the city are about $30+, but weekend rates are only about $10.

The same goes for San Francisco. I recently stayed at a hotel @ Union Sq. Parking in nearby garages are about $32/day, but on weekends, it is $15 for 24 hours.
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Old Jun 8th, 2009, 11:57 AM
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I have recently stayed at 2 River North hotels that were very good - Courtyard on Hubbard and Residence Inn on Dearborn. I had very good rates at both. Parking is insane though - about $45 per night for valet. You don't say where you are driving from, but you might look at taking the commuter train into the city. Many people from Michigan drive to Michigan City in Indiana and park their car and take 1.5 hr $7 train ride which goes to Millenium Park. From there it is a cheap taxi ride to River North or lower MI Ave hotels.

We did boat tour on Wendella. But the Historical Society does claim to be the best.
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Old Jun 8th, 2009, 12:12 PM
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bookmarking
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Old Jun 8th, 2009, 12:18 PM
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Among the least expensive parking in the central city is the Millennium Park garage at around $24 per day. It's south of the river and about 3-4 blocks to the Hyatt, Hard Rock, Hotel Monaco, Swissotel and Sheraton. The entrance is on Columbus Drive south of Randolph.

The Sterling Self Park on Kinzie between LaSalle and Clark is just north of the river and would be about 4 blocks to Homewood Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Westin River North, Residence Inn & Spring Hill Suites on Dearborn, Marriott on Michigan, Hampton Inn & Suites, Comfort Inn on Ohio and Intercontinental. It's also $24 per day and $6 after 3 pm and on weekends.

There are several new hotels in the city. La Quinta just opened in the west loop. It's a couple extra blocks from the tourist sights, but it could be worth the walk if the savings is substantial. The Wit on State Street opened about two weeks ago and the Comfort Suites on Michigan Avenue and Felix are only about a month old. I'm sure you could find deals while they try to build their client base.
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Old Jun 8th, 2009, 01:52 PM
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laurieb - I tried to find a web site for Chicago Historical Society but it keeps sending me to the Chicago History Museum site -- no mention of boat tours. Do you know what number you may have called?
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Old Jun 8th, 2009, 02:29 PM
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I think laurieb may be referring to the Chicago Architectural Foundation.

http://www.architecture.org/tour_view.aspx?TourID=8
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Old Jun 8th, 2009, 02:45 PM
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There are many tours a day, and the tickets can be bought at the Architectural Foundation shop, but I am not certain that relives you of the Ticketmaster fees. I think you should be fine going the day before.

Study www.biddingfortravel.com, www.betterbidding.com and look at www.hotwire.com for an affordable stay in Chicago.

And the Best Western River North is the only hotel I have seen that has FREE Parking.
http://www.rivernorthhotel.com/
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Old Jun 8th, 2009, 02:51 PM
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Hi - I have booked the new LaQuinta at $116 per night...now I have to try to find a way to get around the $36 per night parking fee. Citylghts, do you know of any public parking lots near this hotel (on Madison near the Sears Tower)?
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Old Jun 8th, 2009, 02:54 PM
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this could help

http://www.chicagoparkingmap.com/
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Old Jun 8th, 2009, 07:34 PM
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Thank you lincasanova; that is a great resource. I just wish it told what the rates were for all the various parking lots.
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Old Jun 8th, 2009, 10:16 PM
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yes, the other sites I know for DC, BOS and NYC do have that option which, of course, is what would interest you! I checked several of the lots' own websites and they do not even list their prices there. A shame.
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Old Jun 9th, 2009, 12:34 AM
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Check to see what airport parking is then take the el back into the city. This will consume time as either airport is away from downtown but may save money.
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Old Jun 9th, 2009, 05:02 AM
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hi azzure,

i'm in the same boat as you (pardon the pun) ... i don't want to pay the ridiculous fees AND i don't want to take the tour in the rain!

however, i'll be in chicago from july 1-5 and want to take a tour on the 3rd. i'd like to buy tickets the day we arrive. i contacted the office for the chicago architectural foundation and they said that if tickets sell out, the GENERALLY sell out a few days before ... so, if you can, perhaps you can try contacting them on the 20th or so and ask them how full a specific tour is ... that may help you make your decision. also, ther person who took my call said tours on fridays/saturdays tend to be the busiest and also the first to sell out.
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Old Jun 9th, 2009, 05:06 AM
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this may help:
http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...-boat-tour.cfm
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Old Jun 9th, 2009, 05:14 AM
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No -- it was not through the Architectural Foundation. But what I wrote was confusing. There is an affiliation with the Cultural Center. This is the website: http://www.chicagoline.com/
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Old Jun 9th, 2009, 10:47 AM
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Here's another parking locator website for Chicago that if you do put dates and times in purports to calculate the rate if available. http://www.parkinganytime.com/garage...=6&qe=19&qp=47 Overnight parking in that area for places that show the price is about $30-$32. There are so many in that area it might be worth driving around for the few blocks when you arrive and choose somewhere with the best rates. They are typically posted on a sign near the entrance.
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