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Chicago day trip.....getting off my usual beat......suggestions

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Jul 6th, 2014, 03:43 PM
  #1
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Chicago day trip.....getting off my usual beat......suggestions

Planning a day trip to Chicago and want to do some different things away from the usual. will arrive on Amtrak or else try the Park n' Ride around Joliet (suggestions welcome on how to do that!). thinking about trying the free Chicago Greeters 1 hour drop in tour of the Loop. then thinking of navigating one of the L routes into the neighborhoods. saw a suggestion for Lincoln Park I like. Or else would also be interested in a neighborhood that is more casual this trip. going with someone who likes Irish, sports, history, and beer/wine.....if there is another neighborhood suggestion. also thinking about attending Saturday mass at a traditional/beautiful Catholic Church. Since it's summer, getting neat the water (besides on navy pier) would also be nice. Just a day trip to experience a few new things. thanks for any suggestions! Two adults and no kids for the day!
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Jul 6th, 2014, 05:11 PM
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About 5 years ago we took a food tour of the Gold Coast and Old Town. I think it was run by Food Planet. The guide gave us insights into the history and architecture of the neighborhoods as we walked between the various tasting sites. Everyone in my group really enjoyed it. I'm hesitant to recommend it because our experience is 5 years out of date. I'm wondering if anyone else has tried it recently. It was a great way to get away from all the tourist sites and into the neighborhoods.
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Jul 6th, 2014, 06:16 PM
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Across the street from the Chicago Board of Trade on Jackson Blvd. is the Federal Reserve Bank. They have a free self guided tour. There is a bit of security to get in but it is manageable.
One of the cheapest places to have lunch is Pierogi Heaven on North Wells (underneath the El).
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Jul 6th, 2014, 07:04 PM
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There are river tours to view all the cool,architecture.

Consider Holy Name Cathedral for mass. It's downtown.
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Jul 7th, 2014, 07:52 AM
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For us, a new trip (a couple years ago already) was to the Univ. of Chicago to visit the Oriental Museum, Robe House (didn't get inside) and the Smart Museum. I think there is also a modern art gallery somewhere on campus.

A month or two back, one afternoon we had lunch at the French Market (which I raved about elsewhere), walked over to tour the Rookery (reservations needed) and then to the Fed Reserve.

Fed Reserve is a little dry. Some nice exhibits but it is more museum than tour, with a video that made me sleepy.
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Jul 7th, 2014, 03:43 PM
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Thanks for all the suggestions....still planning but have added everything to my list of options!
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Jul 7th, 2014, 06:05 PM
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I had the best time with my Chicago Greeter. You do have to notify them ahead of time. She met me at my daughter's condo on Lake Shore and we walked all around Old Town. She took me into the Chicago History Museum where we toured that interesting place and had lunch. Then we walked over to the Lincoln Park Zoo and the gardens. As you can tell, spent a lot longer than 2 hours together.
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Jul 7th, 2014, 06:37 PM
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Cannot take any of the 'L lines anywhere around water because the tracks are at least one mile inland.

You have to be in Chicago for more than a day to get the Chicago Greeter service. However, the free InstaGreeter service is available for tours of the Loop and/or Millennium Park on a first-come, first-served basis (small groups which can fill fast on the weekends) originating from the Chicago Cultural Center.

The Chicago History Museum has their History Pub Crawls as well as a sports bus tour.

If you are taking an 'L, think about the Brown Line:

To the Fullerton station and walk west to the DePaul University area of the Lincoln Park neighborhood. The Sheffield Garden Walk and the Chicago Craft Beer Festival is next weekend: www.sheffieldgardenwalk.com

To the Southport station and visit the N. Southport Corridor. Addison is a couple of blocks north and then it's 5.5 blocks to Wrigley Field.

To the Western station and go to the Lincoln Square neighborhood. The Square Roots Festival (associated with the Old Town School of Folk Music) is this coming weekend. www.squareroots.org

What day are you planning on this? Chicago's calendar is full of neighborhood festivals for the upcoming weeks. Take advantage of it.
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Jul 7th, 2014, 08:21 PM
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I'm looking forward to the Chicago Greeter option! I'f we take Brown line to Armitage , any suggestions for a good lunch? I'm sure there are many but always love a recommendation.
also planning to go to mass at holy name cathedral. Any recommendations for dinner in that area? we will probably only be up for one big meal.. So if we have a good lunch in Armitage area, maybe for dinner just a good spot for drinks and appetizers before leaving the city? thanks again!
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Jul 7th, 2014, 08:22 PM
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We are also considering the food tour. If we do that, I'm assuming we won't wAnt to eat another meal??
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Jul 7th, 2014, 08:24 PM
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Thanks exiledprincess! I didn't see your post right away.....great information, thank you!
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Jul 8th, 2014, 09:40 AM
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Food tours. I never recommend them. And why? I think you are spending a lot of money on something you can do - better - yourself.

If you are going to spend your good, hard-earned money on a tour, I just think that the guide should be trained and knowledgeable in that particular field (architecture, history, etc.). (You can take **free** Chicago Greeter or InstaGreeter tours, with local volunteers.)

If you don't take my advice and are set on taking a food tour, as a rule, they usually give you "tastes" at each stop. Depending on your appetite, that might not be enough for you.

You can take the Brown Line to either Fullerton or Armitage and you are in the DePaul University section of Lincoln Park I described. One is just a little further south of the other.

Farm-to-table, my friends....If you are looking for just sandwiches and salads, the Blue Door Farm Stand is right on Armitage, just to the west of the Brown Line station. You might be interested in the Monkey's Paw (closer to Fullerton). Or Range (about equidistant between Armitage and Fullerton).

Vanille Patisserie is on N. Clark and Frank 'n Dawgs is on Clybourn, a little less than 1/4 mile away from the Armitage station.

If you are going for Bastille Day, Chez Moi! and they have a 3-course prix fixe every day @ 5:30-6:30 for $29.
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Jul 8th, 2014, 10:11 AM
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Oops! I see that I accidentally deleted a portion of my response above. That darn typist of mine!

What I meant to tell you was that Vanille Patisserie is on N. Clybourn with a new location on N. Clark.
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Jul 8th, 2014, 06:55 PM
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Exiled Princess has always had great information and is always very generous in sharing her info and insights. She gave us good tips when we went to Chicago for a family event.

As far as the food tour, all I can tell you is that all 5 of us had fun. Our guide was knowledgeable and we never would have gone to any of the establishments or neighborhoods without going on the tour. I guess it was sort of pricy because most of the food was just sampling size but then we ended with pizza. Each place told you about how their products were made, or background info. As I recall we visited a deli, a chocolate shop, a spice shop, oil shop, tea store and a pizzeria. We'd do another tour should the opportunity arise.
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Jul 9th, 2014, 02:02 AM
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mdwest, I'm going to expand on my comment, so that perhaps you can rethink your position next time you come into Chicago. For, as you know from my years of contribution on this forum, I want visitors to really enjoy themselves and discover the best of Chicago.

You could have used the **free** Chicago Greeter service to show you around the particular neighborhood(s). And YOU could have chosen which neighborhood(s) you visited.

Since there were 5 of you on that food tour, it probably cost you somewhere around $200 to $250, didn't it? And I'll wager you all didn't eat a fraction of that cost.

Just think of all the other types of fun you could have had with the money you could have saved.

Now, IF your guide had **formal** training in architecture (such as the CAF docents) or Chicago history (such as the Chicago History Museum utilizing a public historian for their tours), then I would agree that you are getting your money's worth.

YOU can choose which and how many places you go on your own DIY food exploration. You aren't limited to six. You could have both counter and sit-down service, and probably better places, too. You aren't even limited to a specific neighborhood, if you don't want to be.

Take a look at my above response to the OP - I gave her three very nice areas/neighborhoods, all being along the Brown Line. They could do a whole day's worth of progressive dining, if they wished.

So please think it over. If you want recs for dining the next time around, we are here to help.
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Jul 9th, 2014, 03:39 AM
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On a rainy morning a few weeks ago we really enjoyed spending time at the Chicago History Museum -- full of interesting info plus an exhibit of photographs by Vivian Maier.
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