Chicago in February??

Old Jan 2nd, 2002, 04:36 AM
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Chicago in February??

We have a business trip to St Louis in February - been there and seen the sights before so we'd like to go somewhere new on the way back and would like a weekend in Chicago.

The idea is - fly (Southwest from BWI) into St Louis and do the business, take AMTRAK to Chicago (we fancy the train trip), spend 3 nights in Chicago and fly back from Midway airport.

Questions: most importantly, are we mad to do this in February? Will it be too cold there to enjoy it?

Does anyone know how far the AMTRAK station is from the tourist area? Can we manage without a car, and is it easy to get to Midway also without a car.

Where to stay? We like art and architecture, museums etc., a bit of shopping but not too much. About $100-130 a night.

Any help welcome!
Old Jan 2nd, 2002, 05:35 AM
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It is often (always?) too cold in Chicago but wonderful once you get there. Would only be concerned about weather for the traveling portion of trip. WE stay at Palmer House in the Loop and walk everywhere. Or, convenient hotels along N Michigan or on the river. Chicago is great in the winter. Always people walking around, sidewalk does not roll up at dark like some cities! WE have had some great winter vacationsd there.
Old Jan 2nd, 2002, 06:12 AM
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Amtrak trains come into Chicago's Union Station, which is between Adams and Jackson Streets, just west of the river. Midway Airport has a direct CTA train, so you could easily enjoy your weekend without the hassle of a car.

Whether you'll enjoy it in February is a personal question. Some people cannot handle the weather here. Daytime highs could be in the 40's, but the 30's would be closer to average. It sometimes stays in the teens for a long stretch. There is plenty to do indoors, but some of the pleasure of walking about is necessarily curtailed.
If you decide to explore further, check for Chicago hotel specials. February is a great month for those.
Old Jan 2nd, 2002, 06:57 AM
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Rosemary, don't worry - Chicago is a great experience any time of year. The cold weather is a main reason why I no longer choose to live there, but it's not Siberia - you can handle it for a weekend. It's not like you're going to sleep in the park.
Union Station's right in the middle of downtown, so very convenient, & as the other guy said, you can also take the train back to Midway, so you definitely don't want a car. Not needed, too much hassle.
I'd try to figure out what sites you're most interested in & find a hotel centrally located, to minimize walking & cabbing. There are tons of great choices, & numerous guides to help you through them.
Have a great time!
Old Jan 2nd, 2002, 09:18 AM
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The train station to terminals walk at Midway has all changed in the last few months. My little airport is gone forever. It is a monster like O'Hare now. The walk from the train station into any of the terminals is about 7 long blocks. Sometimes it's much longer, depending on where you are heading. The trek can be "mostly" inside and sometimes the people movers are going and sometimes they are not.

Make sure you have luggage that you can easily pull. There are different levels also so you will have escalators and stairs/elevators to manipulate. We have become all fancy with cutsy names for levels/ sections etc. now. I want my old ugly easy access airport back.
Old Jan 2nd, 2002, 12:18 PM
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Here's some advice from a Chicago native.
- It will be very cold outside and warm inside. Dress in layers - most places have coat checks or lockers.
- Don't get a car. Construction on Wacker Drive and expensive parking garages will drive you nuts. Take a taxi to Midway or take the airport transit van provided by the hotels.
-Stay in the downtown area. I'd try the Allegro or the Monaco just for something different.
- Take advantage of the tours! Especially the architecture ones! I take all my visiting friends on these, and they are pretty informative and they provide you with the transportation. You will definately not want to do a lot of walking.
- Look into the museum pass. One price get's you a variety of museums. A must is the Cleopatra exhibit.
- Navy Pier is ridiculous. Unless you have kids and want to go the Childrens Museum - stay away.

This is a great city and by coming in the winter it will defintately be less crowded! Have fun!
Old Jan 2nd, 2002, 12:46 PM
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February in Chicago is COLD but you are already aware of that! That being said, it is still a good time to visit as things are less crowded. Pick a hotel in the michigan ave area nd you will be close to most sigts except for museums and art institute. Amtrak arrives at Union Station which is the southwest side of the loop/downtown area. You will have to take a cab to your hotel (about 2 miles away to mag mile area) I personally don't care to walk outside when its this cold, but some people it doesn't bother. Walking up and down Mich. Ave though you will be going in and out of places and will not be outside for extended periods of time. Take cabs however when going to museums. Another hint from a resident, Chicago has a whole underground system of walkways and tunnels that you can get around by without going outside, it's a godsend in winter! I second the no getting a car idea, crazy and expensive to park ($30/day) in chicago. Use cabs or even the EL train. I alos agree, buy the discount card for something like $30 that gets you into all the museums so you don't have to stand in line and pay at each, I think it is called citypass? Anyway, I suggest eating dinner or least having a drink at the bar on top of the Hancock building at night, the view of city lights is fabulous! Unlike JAy, I enjoy Navy Pier and the arttractions inside, the Imax theater is great. I will admit it is much better in the summer though when you can stand out on the pier or take one of the boat tours!

As for getting to and from Midway, there is a direct el train, the orange line which ends at Midway and originates downtown, $1.50 each way. Easy to use, but if you have a lot of luggage or its rush, I would take a cab or hotel shuttle. Have a great time.
Old Jan 2nd, 2002, 03:40 PM
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We just returned from Chicago for a 6 day after Christmas vacation and have also been there in February. Chicago is wonderful any time of the year in our book! We shopped, went to the Cleopatra exhibit, the Art Institute, and Second City. Also took in all the lights on Michigan Avenue and Navy Pier. And who can forget the resturants! There is always something going on and as long as you are dressed accordingly you will have a wonderful time!
Old Jan 3rd, 2002, 06:02 AM
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Chicago has a wide variety of museums and restaurants and theater that are just as good to visit in February as they would be in the warmer months.

I'd have to disagree with Jay's suggestion to stay downtown. The Allegro isn't close to anything except the Cadillac Palace Theater so you'd have to take a cab if you wanted to go shopping on Michigan Avenue or to any of the museums. The Hotel Monoco isn't as bad but still not close enough to any museums to walk, February usually isn't a good month to be strolling around Chicago. The Palmer House is a good choice if you're more interested in museums, it's within walking distance of the Art Institute and closer to the museum campus (Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium and Field Museum)

Check out the Chicago Architecture Foundation's website at They do walks and bus tours and you can look at the schedule by month.

If you are interested in the Cleopatra exhibit at the Field Museum, you may want to reserve advance tickets. I'm not sure how popular this one is but sometimes they do sell out on the weekends for special exhibits. Go to for more info.

If you're interested in theater, you might check out Hot Tix for 1/2 price tickets. There are a couple of locations, one near to State St and one near Michigan Ave. I've been able to get tickets for a lot of weekend shows there. Their website is

And a great source of info on what's going on in Chicago is You can check out restaurants, theater reviews, shopping, etc.
Old Jan 3rd, 2002, 07:34 AM
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Just stayed at Hotel Monaco 12/31/01 to 1/3/02. It was cold but it is definitely in walking distance to Art institute since we just did it!!!

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