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Chicago holiday trip: stay in Loop or Mag Mile?

Chicago holiday trip: stay in Loop or Mag Mile?

Jul 25th, 2004, 08:50 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 931
Chicago holiday trip: stay in Loop or Mag Mile?

I am starting to plan a 4 or 5 day trip to Chicago this winter, for myself and partner (50-something couple). We plan to get there on Amtrak and walk or use taxis, bus, el to get around. Our main goal is to see the Christmas lights and store windows--more window-shopping than actual shopping. We will want to go to the Marshall Field store in the Loop, see the Magnificient Mile, the Kristkindlmarket (I think that is in the north part of the Loop), go to the Art Institute and maybe the aquarium. We might go to hear blues at Kingston Mines or Buddy Guy's, if it is easy to get a taxi back to our hotel late at night.

I am having a hard time deciding whether we should stay in the Loop or near the Mag Mile. I'd like to be able to walk to the Art Institute, Marshall Field, Carson Pirie Scott, as we would if we stay in the Loop. But I don't know how deserted the Loop will be in the evening, when we will want to eat dinner, maybe walk around to see the holiday lights.

For meals, we'd like to have options for around $10-15 per person for dinner, and less than that for breakfast and lunch. I'd like to spend $100-129 per night for a hotel, if possible.

What do you all suggest? Thank you!
aloha is offline  
Jul 25th, 2004, 09:00 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 710
All the places you mention walking to are closer to the loop than north Michigan Avenue, so you might prefer the loop. I think you could easily obtain a hotel room in your price range, or even lower using priceline. Your meal budget may not be very realistic, unless you are planning to eat fast food. The loop is a very safe area to walk in, and will not be deserted given the new theaters etc. there. I would think a cab from Kingston Mines or Buddy Guys would not be a problem. On the other hand, though Fields and Carsons are the traditional choices for Christmas windows, the lights on Michigan Avenue are really special. What will more likely limit how much you feel like walking will be the weather!
marilynl is offline  
Jul 26th, 2004, 08:02 AM
Join Date: Jul 2004
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I also think you might prefer staying in the Loop area. It's so easy to get up to the Magnificent Mile area anyway.

Here are some of my favorite restaurants in Chicago. (My husband and I ate at these for years, often weekly for years!)

Albert's Cafe at 52 W. Elm between Clark and Dearborn. Very intimate and reasonably priced. I believe they are not open on Mondays, but not sure. I especially liked breakfast/brunch there. Food is tasty and elegantly presented... and fairly cheap! It's a great place to sit and linger over coffee.

For a lunchtime sandwich... L'Appetito in the basement of the John Hancock. They make a tasty tostino (grilled sandwich) which sells for about $5 each and are a generous portion. Tony, the owner, recently expanded the seating area. Because lunch hour is so busy, I'd recommend getting there before 11:30 or after 1:15 or so. BTW, the Hancock will also have a nicely decorated tree and elaborate electric train set next to the Cheesecake Factory (also good) in the basement.

If you'd like to try Spanish tapas, Iberico Cafe at 737 N. LaSalle (corner of Chicago and LaSalle, one building down on the southeast side) is fun. The place is not chic, but the food is cheap and delicious and the place is often packed and hopping. If you go around 6:00 or so, you shouldn't have too long of a wait.

There is also Blue Chicago at 736 N. Clark, one street east of Iberico, which I went to several years ago. The place was small but the music was quite good. Blue Chicago at Clark is south at 536 N. Clark and they might be good. Not sure...

Food Place is a fun place to visit in Water Tower Place (mall). You can visit various food stations and choose whatever looks good. The server marks on your ticket what you chose and when you exit, you pay.

The Saks 5th Avenue building on Michigan has a decent food court area on the top floor if you're looking for a quick bite. In the basement is a grocery store called Bockwinkel's.

The Bloomingdale's building has Tucci Benucch which is a pretty good Italian place. I like the salads which you can also order as takeout.

There are so many good restaurants all over Chicago. It really depends upon what you like and what type of atmosphere you want. Definitely ask the front desk or concierge for recommendations, too.

Have a great time!

MarthaB is offline  
Jul 26th, 2004, 04:57 PM
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I REALLY appreciate your replies, with such detailed information. I will digest this information and be back soon. Thank you!
aloha is offline  
Jul 26th, 2004, 05:52 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
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Why not try the Swissotel which is on the river between the Mag Mile and the Loop? It's a really nice hotel and you can generally get some great deals there.
rosebud is offline  
Aug 1st, 2004, 12:51 PM
Join Date: Jul 2004
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I too was going to the suggest the Swissotel as well. It is right between all the things you wanted to see. The Fairmont and Hyatt are right next door.

I've stayed the Swissotel and agree it is very nice and with good rates.

Can anyone else comment on the Hyatt?

The Fairmont has access to the Lakeshore Athletic Club which is one of the nicest gyms I've been in.
universitylad is offline  
Aug 7th, 2004, 06:23 PM
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Thanks again to everyone who replied. Chicgal, your enthusiasm is contagious! The Berghoff and Heaven on Seven were 2 restaurants I'd read about and definitely wanted to try. I may see about getting tickets to Christmas Carol--thanks for the suggestions about the $20 tickets. Good seats for Nutcracker seem pretty expensive....also at this point, not sure we'll be there during its run.

Martha B, thanks so much for the details on places to eat, those sound like some good possibilities. we'll bring your list with us.

The Palmer House seems to have the best rates, and I also am considering the Silversmith. The Burnham is really too high, about 179, and the Swissotel is over 200. So far I have gone to the hotels' websites and haven't yet spent much time looking for discount sites to book a hotel. I don't want to bid as I like having complete control of where I stay.

aloha is offline  
Aug 7th, 2004, 06:42 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
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I recently ate at Heaven on Seven and thought the food was terrible, while the service and ambience were fantastic. There are much better places to eat downtown. If you want to splurge on one good dinner, try Spiaggia across from Water Tower.
briehon is offline  
Aug 7th, 2004, 06:57 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Aloha, if you want to stay midway between the Loop and Michigan Avenue, look at Hotel 71 or Hotel Monaco. You can walk to both shopping districts from there (where Wabash meets the Chicago River). I wouldn't book anything yet except a backup reservation. Wait until about three weeks away from you trip. The hotel market is pretty soft in the winter. 877chicago and hotrooms.com may have the type of discounts you're looking for.

Truthfully, your budget is low for the downtown/Michigan Avenue area. $10 at Spiaggia will get you a drink, not dinner. There are reasonably priced places around, but they can't afford the rents in the Mag Mile area. Good luck with your plans.
patg is offline  
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