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Chicago Challenge

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A friend and I have one or two days to explore Chicago before we attend a conference in May. She is driving. I am flying but haven't chosen an airport yet. She is willing to pick me up at the airport. Any tips on making airport pickup easier for her? Do any of the hotels have free shuttle pickup? Any tips on getting a good deal on a hotel with hotwire or priceline that might have free airport pickup to spare her the job of driving into the airport?

The only definite plan we have is to visit the art museum. I have the Fodor's Chicago guide but I need suggestions about where to stay. We need a budget hotel. Since she has a car we can drive in and out of the city but perhaps it's like Boston and we'd be better off staying in the downtown area near public transportation.

What's your favorite Chicago neighborhood to explore? We like a variety of food, art galleries and unusual shops.

Your Chicago advice is appreciated!

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