Chicago Family of Five

Jul 1st, 2009, 05:48 AM
  #1  
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Chicago Family of Five

We are planning a last minute trip to Chicago in a few weeks. Where should we stay, it is so hard for a family of 5 (me, hubby, d11, s14, s17).

We want to stop by American Girl Store, Field Museum and Harry Potter Exhibit at MOSI with a stop at Navy Pier. Pizza somewhere is a must too!

Should we just stay outside the city and travel in via shuttle or whatever? Or any other suggestions for the odd sided families?


thanks!
lselmek2 is offline  
Jul 1st, 2009, 05:51 AM
  #2  
 
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No reason to stay outside the city unless you want the extra expense and hassle of a commute for five people.

Stay at the Embassy downtown or get two hotwire or priceline rooms.
GoTravel is offline  
Jul 1st, 2009, 06:35 AM
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Try to get an apartment. Plenty of choices on www.vrbo.com

Anywhere in the near north, river north, old town neighborhoods. Around $200-250 per night for 2-3 bedroom units. The plus side is that you will have a full kitchen. That could save you some money on some meals. No need to run out for breakfast or midday snack, etc.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Jul 1st, 2009, 07:30 AM
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Our family of 5 stayed at the Hampton Suites that is just a couple of blocks off of Michican Avenue. It cost much less than the nearby Embassy Suites and the suite was much bigger - even a full sized fridge and stove/oven!
missypie is offline  
Jul 1st, 2009, 07:35 AM
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Iselmek, from where are you traveling? It will help us logistically.

With all due respect to previous posters, you *don't* have to stay downtown (the Loop), on the Mag. Mile or River North to experience what Chicago is really like. After all, a great many folks live here in Chicago proper - and how many Chicagoans do you think really live in these areas? A few but not a whole lot.

Consider this: Commuting from the most populous Chicago neighborhoods takes at least 30-45 minutes each way in itself. Several of them take longer, sometimes up to a 1/4 longer. Just about what it takes to come into the downtown area from the airports.

I also wish to remind the folks here that, while there is a commute involved (and there is little hassle about it, since 100,000's do it every workday for their jobs), the hotels by the airports* are often *1/3 to 1/2* the price of a single room downtown - especially when there are conventions or large events happening. That's two or three rooms for the price of one, folks. And that's not even counting the cost of parking, if the family is driving in from somewhere.

I say don't discount this option. As we all know, it is a tough economy nowadays. If this method allows someone to enjoy a vacation - or even give a few more days of visiting - then it is a good option.

*Caveat: Of the airports, I'd choose the O'Hare over the Midway area - but it really depends on from which direction or airport you are traveling.
exiledprincess is offline  
Jul 1st, 2009, 08:53 AM
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As we all know, it is a tough economy nowadays. If this method allows someone to enjoy a vacation

Exiledprincess always gives terrific advice on things to do in Chicago. But as a tourist to that town (which we love!) many times, I have to disagree with this. Staying in a suburb or by the airport and "commuting" to downtown is a sure-fire way NOT to enjoy your vacation. Sorry, but there is nothing like waking up and walking outside and being where you want to be, as opposed to waking up and having to get where you want to go.
sf7307 is offline  
Jul 1st, 2009, 09:49 AM
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"Sorry, but there is nothing like waking up and walking outside and being where you want to be, as opposed to waking up and having to get where you want to go..."

sf7307, so how many of the main attractions of Chicago are actually *in* these areas you say you are staying and want to be? Very, very few. Only a handful, in fact. Most of the best restaurants? Sorry, they are not there. How about the best theatre? Well, maybe a couple - but the best are far away. How about museums? With the exception of the Art Institute, they are miles from where you are staying.

The areas of the Loop, Mag. Mile and River North are centrally-located, it is true. But you *still* have to travel to other areas to get where you are going.

My point specifically is that staying in the downtown, Mag. Mile or River North areas is *NOT* the only option.

Even if a person gets a room for $99/nt. in the downtown, Mag. Mile or River North areas (which is extremely low and probably not even possible when there are conventions in town or large events, such as the Chicago Marathon), the end cost with taxes is around $125/nt. IMHO, that's one very good reason why the amount of time spent on vacation is getting less and less. How many of you here even see people staying 4 days any more?

Parking in these areas is $25-50/nt. and, IMHO, is going no where but up.

On the other hand, I've seen many hotels out by the airports charging $35-50/nt.

So, you can have a family stay 2 nights in Chicago or 4 nights if they stay out by the airport or elsewhere outside of these few areas.
exiledprincess is offline  
Jul 1st, 2009, 10:20 AM
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exiledprincess, I understand you can stay much cheaper (and therefore maybe longer) if you stay by the airport. And I understand you may have to "travel" to a museum or other site you want to visit even if you are staying downtown. I'd still rather get up and be in the Loop or on the Magnificent Mile than have to first get there. Just my opinion, and honestly, it goes for EVERY city -- I want to be in the heart of the city when I travel, not some distant suburb.
sf7307 is offline  
Jul 1st, 2009, 10:21 AM
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I should add that I'd rather stay a day LESS in the downtown area, than a day MORE out by the airport.
sf7307 is offline  
Jul 1st, 2009, 11:02 AM
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I'm all for airport hotel for anybody that's staying just for a 24 hours or so and just want to have a quick look around downtown for few hours.

In fact I suggested that in previous threads when the person(s) were asking for exactly that and I was shut down by many others, but everybody is entitled to their opinion.

In this case, and I'm just assuming because we really don't know from the OP, but if this is a long weekend trip or maybe even a longer one, and the entire family is coming, 2 adults and 3 children, then staying in the proximity of downtown area is a must.

Children have different needs. The family can take a short bus/train ride to whatever attraction they want to visit in the morning, and still be close enough to get back in the afternoon to relax or whatever. Have in the room/suite/apt lunch, refresh and head out again.

Staying in the O'Hare area would most likely cancel that possibility. It takes ~50 minutes train ride from the airport to downtown area. Add another 15 or so minutes for the hotel shuttle, each way, and another 15 minutes for walking , etc,, and you're looking at almost 3 hours a day wasted on getting to and from the airport to the downtown area.

If the kid(s) get tired and want to get back in mid afternoon then the rest of your day is pretty much done.

Not worth the few $ savings IMHO.

I agree with sf7303 on this one.

OTOH, if the family is just coming for 1 day of sightseeing, then an airport hotel may not be a bad idea.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Jul 1st, 2009, 11:14 AM
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I will be checking out embassy and Hampton suites. We are coming from Toledo and only planned on 2 nights, possibly 3. As mentioned above we want to see the Field Museum, Harry Potter exhibit at MOSI, Navy Pier (never been to) and need to eat deep dish Pizza. We have been to Chicago before and I don't remember where we stayed the kids were much smaller and we just squeezed together. Not anymore! My daughter can't decide on the AMerican Girl Place or not.

Thanks,

I'll be concidering all of this!

Lisa
lselmek2 is offline  
Jul 1st, 2009, 11:57 AM
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I will just add to the discussion that the reason I prefer to stay "downtown" during any city-based vacation is so it's obvious I am not at home...I live in the suburbs outside a large (not huge) metropolitan area...there are hotels/motels all over out here, and they look (as do the shopping and other accompanying amenities)just like similar areas outside St. Louis, Omaha, Cleveland, Minneapolis...you name it. Just my 2 cents.

P.S. I love Chicago too and wish you a great visit!
musicfan is offline  
Jul 1st, 2009, 12:41 PM
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I would strongly second the downtown stay for your trip. You can likely get 2 rooms at the 4* Hyatt Regency on priceline, including parking for $200 or so (total) each night. It is a huge hotel and adjoining rooms are almost a certainty. Try to add the Lincoln Park Zoo and the beaches to your itinerary.

Have fun,

Kevin
ChiDad is offline  
Jul 1st, 2009, 01:53 PM
  #14  
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And I totally disagree with exiledprincess. I do with other things as well.

Chicago tourists often, IMHO, do not want to see or attend the same events and places as exiledprincess does.

Yes, she knows Chicago. IMHO, the average tourist givens and want to see, she doesn't.

And on top of that, I absolutely prefer Midway over O'Hare unless you are international. Totally prefer it. I won't go O'Hare unless there is no other option.

missypie's Hampton Suites would be exactly the ticket if you didn't want to try a quikbook or a hotwire choice near the river or on Michigan Ave.

I bid on Priceline rooms, or have done a quikbook or a hotwire known choice for much less than rack rates.

What Kevin, musicfan, AA and sf all said- ditto!
JJ5 is offline  
Jul 1st, 2009, 11:54 PM
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Here is what I said: "With all due respect to previous posters, you *don't* have to stay downtown (the Loop), on the Mag. Mile or River North to experience what Chicago is really like."

People please READ what is written. I did not tell the OP to definitely and absolutely stay out at the airports. The OP can stay in those three areas - or stay in the outlying neighborhoods - or at the airports. All of them are viable options.

I think it is a real shame to not mention different options for visitors, especially those on limited (or very limited) budgets. A REAL shame. It's up to the visitors to decide what is best for them, after knowing all of the information.

JJ5, are you saying that you would prefer to stay in a hotel in the Midway area instead of O'Hare???? You are the only one I have known to say that - ever. Honestly.

To be clear on a few things:

What I think that tourists (especially first-time) want to see are the main attractions, such as Millennium Park, the Art Institute, Lake Michigan, the Sears Tower, Wrigley Field, etc. I do *not* expect them to want to see destinations such as Printer's Row (unless it's for the annual Book Fair or they express a particular interest) or spend a week in the Loop - which is overkill by about four days, IMHO.

I happen to think that people, when visiting a destination, want to really experience what the place is - not go to a "touristville" nor see a facade.

I expect that people want to go to restaurants with delicious food for which Chicago is famous. That doesn't necessarily mean merely for deep-dish pizza, Chicago-style hotdogs or a steakhouse. Chicago has progressed far beyond that, folks, into a world-class dining destination. Haven't you noticed?

I anticipate that visitors want to enjoy a great evening of entertainment, whether it be music, theatre, comedy, or any of the lively arts. Chicago has a great many world-class entertainment choices - and far too few of them are in the Loop, Mag. Mile or River North areas.

P.S. I have visited several metropolitan areas and not stayed in the city proper, for one reason or another. (For just one example, D.C.) I never felt for one instant that I was being short-changed.
exiledprincess is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2009, 06:35 AM
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Tourists come to Chicago to visit the touristy downtown (inner loop, outer loop, mag mile) attractions not to experience an hour long commute like a local.

With five people, the hassle and cost of the commute would eat up any good savings.
GoTravel is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2009, 08:18 AM
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I happen to think that people, when visiting a destination, want to really experience what the place is - not go to a "touristville" nor see a facade.

Well, most of us who have posted disagree with this, in that we don't think most people want to "experience" multiple trips to and from the airport, or like GT said, commuting like a local. You're entitled to your opinion, ours just differs.
sf7307 is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2009, 08:42 AM
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I'm all for any tourist to venture out to some of the ethnic neighborhoods, to go beyond downtown and I wish more did it, but how does being stationed at O'Hare for group of 5 people help them achieve that?

Don't you think that being in "center" of the city gives you more opportunity to actually experience some other venues?

Again, I only agree with you IF, it's a 1 day layover and the poster just wanted a quick look around downtown. If the family wants to actually see what Chicago has to offer, stay somewhere in or near the center of the city and branch out from there. Much easier, especially true if there are kids involved.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2009, 08:56 AM
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As I have stated before, that's really up to the visitor to decide what is best for them - isn't it? What we do is give them information of their options. Their choice. Not ours.

If you read my past posts, you will see that I happen to think that visitors bring a whole lot more back from their Chicago travels if they stay in neighborhoods away from the downtown, Mag. Mile, or River North. Some of these neighborhoods may only be a block or two away from the others, as a matter of fact - but they are definitely not the same feel. But you will also see that in each of those past posts (despite my personal feelings in the matter), I also mention that it is more likely that the visitor will get "deals" in those three aforementioned areas because of the huge glut of hotel rooms. Their choice. Not ours.

GT, I frankly don't know how you figure that any savings will be quickly eaten up by travel expenses.

- If they get CTA visitor's passes, you *know* that is for *unlimited* travel for a specified amount of time - that means to and from the airport vicinities as well. Even without taking those into account, depending on the age of the children, some children can ride absolutely free - or for only $1/ride.

- If they are using Metra, they have special family and weekend fares.

- If they are using the South Shore, there is their family program.

- And you need to consider that there are indeed instances where the travel to the attraction is actually less if they don't stay downtown, the Mag. Mile or River North.

There would have to be a *lot* of rides to use up those savings from the hotel cost. I just think that is a moot point.

BTW, I notice not one of you mention the cost of parking a car in these areas. Lots and lots of people drive into the Chicago area. Do you think that it's better for the OP to pony up that $25-50/nt. for several nights just to park their car?
exiledprincess is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2009, 08:58 AM
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Oops! In that last paragraph, I meant to say "Do you think that it's better for the visitors...". Sorry
exiledprincess is offline  

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