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Barblab May 7th, 2014 09:34 AM

Another vote for the Science and Industry Museum, my daughter and I loved it and could have spent a lot more time than the half day we gave it. It was easy to reach on public transportation.

I too prefer thin crust pizza but do try Chicago style traditional thick crust - it may convert you to the other side!

exiledprincess May 7th, 2014 10:56 PM

When are you visiting Chicago in August? Will make a big difference to you both moneywise and, mostly likely, adventure-wise. I would give you some tips on your itinerary but without knowing when you are visiting, cannot do so. You'll see why next.

The first weekend in August (1st-3rd) will be when Lollapalooza is held in Grant Park. The pricing for even more modest hotels will be (already happening) driven up tremendously. The attendance for last year's Lolla was 300,000. Overflow from this festival will affect several of your planned activities.

Likewise, the weekend of the Air and Water Show (August 16-17) would affect any of your activities in the Lincoln Park area.

The worst congestion on the Lakefront Trail is between North Avenue and Navy Pier - and then Navy Pier and the Museum Campus. Since the Trail is utilized by walkers, runners, bicyclists, and other modes of transportation, it is a very challenging atmosphere at the busiest of times (weekends, earlier in the a.m. and after work on workdays) and accidents - some serious - regularly do occur. If your family is not quite experienced with bicycling under those conditions, please rethink your timing. Helmets are a requirement.

You could avoid the worst of the congestion by renting your bikes at North Avenue Beach and bicycling northwards to Montrose Point. But do not try this on the weekend of the Air and Water Show.

I also think that you should really look into utilizing the free Chicago Greeter Service.

You do NOT want to take a cab to Wrigley Field for the Cubs game, unless you are going **hours** ahead of time. Sluggers is a sports bar and I don't think anyone under 21 is allowed.

jamierin May 8th, 2014 08:06 AM

We will be there over the weekend of August 22-24th so will miss both events that have been mentioned.

Thanks for the heads up on the Lakefront Trail. I will look into a rental place at North Avenue Beach. Also I will look into Sluggers - my son would love the batting cages as a pre-game activity so I will be sure to check on any age restrictions. Do you know of any other fun place near Wrigley where they could go pre-game in the event that Sluggers doesn;t work out?

Thanks for the great tips.

jamierin May 8th, 2014 08:32 AM

Looks like Sluggers is okay for kids - at least upstairs where the batting cages are located:

exiledprincess May 8th, 2014 12:19 PM

Bicycles: Lakeshore Bike Rental has a location at North Avenue Beach, as well as their main location on Recreation Drive (at Belmont Harbor).

You'll have to check the temps/humidity on the days that you are biking. In the hot summer months, it's best to bike earlier in the morning or later in the evening. Please note that all CTA busses are equipped with bike racks.

To see what I am going to tell you next, you need to go to the CTA's website,, and look at the "Maps" section. Online Maps - North Side Map. About a quarter of the page from the bottom, right side, you will see the icon for Wrigley Field. You can locate it by following the Red Line ('L) up to Addison.

Just to the north of that, you will see how the lakefront curls into almost a "C" shape on its side. That is Montrose Point and where Montrose Beach and Montrose Harbor are located. You will also see the bus routes which service this area ('L lines are situated about 1 mile inland).

If you go to the Chicago Park District's website, you can get the information about the beach's amenities and so forth.

Along this ride, among other things, you'll go past Diversey Harbor (motorboats), Belmont Harbor (mostly sailboats); Recreation Drive; the Totem Pole (at Addison) - Wrigley Field is directly west of it; the Waveland Clocktower; the Sydney R. Marovitz Golf Course (Chicago's lakefront golf course); a doggy beach; and bird sanctuary. And, of course, at the end of the ride is Montrose Beach.

So, here is what I suggest: Based on your indications, it appears that you will be flying into Chicago on a Tuesday (Day 5 being a Saturday). If that is correct and depending on the weather:

On Day 2 (a Wednesday): Chicago's premier farmer market, the Green City Market is open from 7 a.m.-1 p.m. It is located just south of the Lincoln Park Zoo, the southernmost part of the east side of the Lincoln Park neighborhood, just to the northeast of the Chicago History Museum. Look at the calendar for August 20 for the information on the Tomato Festival (@ 9 a.m.) and the chef demonstration of the day.

Get your breakfast at the Green City Market. Maybe stay a little for the festival and/or demonstration. Pick up the rental bikes at Lake Shore Bike Rental. Bike up to Montrose Point and enjoy the beach. You don't necessarily have to get a hotel with a pool, if you don't wish to do so.

I would like to point out that Lincoln Park is a very large neighborhood with several distinct areas. The one that you would be passing through on this day is the one closest to Lincoln Park, the park. If you were to want to go shopping in Lincoln Park on another day, you would most likely be going to the DePaul University area (Halsted/Armitage/Racine) - or the North Clybourn corridor area - which are several miles further inland.

The Lakeview neighborhood is just to the north of the Lincoln Park neighborhood and it, too, is very large. Wrigleyville is only a section of it. Closer to the lakefront is the Boystown area - where I used to live - and further to the west of it is the N. Southport Corridor. These two mentioned are nice areas with many shops and restaurants. (The majority of the gay bars in Boystown are located on N. Halsted, primarily from Belmont north to Addison; although there are a couple elsewhere.)

Most game-goers take the Red Line ('L) to Addison to Wrigley. It's the quickest way but not the most scenic. If you take another look at that CTA map, you'll see that the #146 is an express bus that travels northwards parallel (more-or-less) along the lakefront. This is a very scenic route.

You can also take the Brown Line to the Southport station, walk north to Addison and then east to Wrigley Field (about 5-5.5 blocks). This would be the N. Southport Corridor area.

BTW, you can take water taxi service from different points instead of busses or walking. There are two companies, Shoreline and Wendella, which have different schedules, rates and boarding areas. For example, Wendella travels only on the Chicago River from N. Michigan Avenue (near the Wrigley Building) to Chinatown (Ping Tom Memorial Park); whereas, Shoreline has both a river water taxi (from the Willis Tower) to Navy Pier (with an intermediate stop at N. Michigan Avenue) and a harbor water taxi (from Navy Pier to the Museum Campus).

You might consider inserting your trip to Wicker Park to that Saturday afternoon, instead of Lincoln Park. And, if that doesn't fit in with your plans, IMHO, there are much better restaurants than the ones you've chosen for that area.

jamierin May 8th, 2014 01:09 PM

Exiled princess thank you very much for that detailed information about the biking day. I have copied it to my notes for my itinerary word-for-word!

I would love your input for dining in Lincoln Park of course! We will probably be in that general area 2 or 3 times during the trip - maybe on the Wed as you suggest, the Thurs eve my daughter and I are going to be in the area for dinner and probably Saturday in the park ( fav Chicago tune by the way)! Thinking of checking out Kingsbury Street Cafe for brunch. Any suggestions for dining in the area would be most welcome. (Summer House as mentioned by Chgogal looks lovely.)

coral22 May 9th, 2014 06:55 AM

Hi, I am so impressed with how well researched you are! I agree that the biking will be great but early and going north. Also just walking the beach, it is really a lot prettier than most people imagine. I just saw that the John Hancock has opened "Tilt" this week. If you have the stomach for it, it is a moveable portion of the window that literally tilts you downward.
Two places we enjoyed, Hotel Lincoln's rooftop bar/ restaurant where you could share heavy appetizers and rest your feet. It is across the street from the zoo.
Also this ceiling in the original Marshall Field's on State Street(now Macy's)
Have fun!

jamierin May 10th, 2014 05:44 AM

A few more questions, shopping related:
1. Are there any fantastic sporting goods stores that we should visit for my son who loves hockey stuff, football stuff and cool runners?
2. For my daughter, are there any Chicago designers that have their own shops that are interesting or fun boutiques for her (amd me)?
3. What are the best strips in the Gold Coast area and Lincoln Park area for affordable but nice shops?

lwjm May 10th, 2014 01:52 PM

Before you buy your pass for Chicago attractions, check out the card offered by Smart Destinations. I have used their cards for Chicago, NYC, and San Diego and they have saved me money every time. Most of the major things that tourists would like to see in Chicago are covered plus some discounts for food vendors and merchants, too. You can buy a pass geared to the number of days of your visit. I found it great, too, that with the card I was not always having to either dole out cash or use my credit card and dealing with keeping track of those receipts.

exiledprincess May 10th, 2014 03:03 PM

Okay, so I'm a gonna need a little help here before I can give you any suggestions on dining options, etc.

You indicated above that you might be staying at the Palomar - and you'd have to get a luxury suite for 4 (older teenagers = adults) individuals. Or at one of the 5* hotel properties in Chicago - again you'd have to get a suite (max. occupancy is usually 4). And speak of boutique and designer shops.

But then throw in the adjective "affordable" in two of the most upscale neighborhoods in Chicago (the Gold Coast and Lincoln Park)? What do you consider "affordable"?

And what is your dining budget?

jamierin May 10th, 2014 03:17 PM

This is a birthday celebration and we really like nice accommodations, hence the 5 star properties that I mentioned. If I can get a good enough rate at one of them, I would jump at the opportunity. At the Palomar we would have a room with 2 queen beds, and it is the most affordable rate I can find so far.

When I said affordable i really mean not the upscale designer goods like Chanel,Lanvin, etc. That is not in our price range. I was hoping to find some stores that we cannot find in Toronto, with prices that we can afford. For example, my daughter loves Madewell stuff and we don't have that here so that is a store we will visit. Really I am just wondering what strips are NOT filled with upscale designer stores and have some homegrown boutiques, etc. Does this help?

jamierin May 10th, 2014 03:22 PM

Regarding the Smart Destinations, the prices are quite a bit higher than the Chicgao City Pass, and while they have many more attractions, the architectural cruise is with Shoreline and not the CAF which is the one we decided to do. Also it seems that the Chicago Pass has more "extras" included once we get to the Shedd and Field Museum than the Smart Destinations. And the Chicago Pass can be used over the course of a 9 day period which means that we can spread out the 5 attractions offered nicely during our stay.

jamierin May 10th, 2014 03:38 PM

Dining budget is probably around 250 a day. Some days we will have a more extravagant lunch and some days a pricier dinner with no single meal being a complete splurge. When we go out for dinner in Toronto, dinner usually costs us about 125 - 150.

exiledprincess May 15th, 2014 11:30 AM

$250 dining budget a day for 4 isn't undoable, but it is rather on the lean side. In order to make that, you'll probably have to consider fast-food or chains at some point.

Unless you are looking for merely a continental option, breakfast (with entrée) at a restaurant with sit-down service will be in the area of $15-20 pp, even at local chains. If you go to a better national chain, such as a Corner Bakery, you could probably shave a few $ off that price. For a better-option sit-down lunch figure plan around $20-25 pp.

I suggest that you take a look at the menus online for some of those restaurants you have mentioned above (Frontera Grill, Slurping Turtle, etc.). Add in another approx. 30-35% for the beverage, tax and tip. You'll see in some cases that only one meal for 4 will be close to (or perhaps exceed) your entire daily budget.

I should also mention it's pretty easy to drop quite a bit of $$ when going to a ballgame, and your guys have two in the schedule. I don't know if your dining budget was to include for items such as that, or if you have extra planned on top of the budget.

I see that you were planning on going to the French Market on the day you arrive. They have several choices that are rather inexpensively priced. I think it's a good option.

You might consider going to the Loop location of Pastoral as well, especially on those days when you are going to be nearer Millennium Park or the Chicago River (i.e., CAF River Cruise).

If you go during the week, instead of the weekend and/or Friday, XOCO (Frontera Grill's sibling, Mexican street food) is an option.

Farmhouse on Chicago (near Wells) can be gotten to by either the Red or Brown 'L lines. It's a very cozy spot and fills quickly so you have to keep that in mind.

Lincoln Park neighborhood, by the Park: Viaggio on the Park has a number of entrees in the high teens-low 20's
Café Vienna for breakfast or lunch; Deli Boutique.

Lincoln Park, DePaul University area: Range; Simply It!

Clybourn Corridor area: especially since Hot Doug's will be closing soon (Oct. 4) and the lines will be really really really long, might consider Frank 'n Dawgs

You could consider going to the Dining Room at Kendall College (local culinary school with quite a few famous alumni). 3-course luncheon under $20 and dinner under $30 (sans beverage, tax, tip). You'd need a taxi there and back but, despite that, I think it'd still might be easier on your budget.

No comments on the "homegrown" boutique shops but to say be prepared to pay. Wicker Park probably would be an area where your daughter might enjoy shopping.

Lastly, on that final day, think about taking a free Chicago Greeter tour of the Hyde Park neighborhood. There is much history there. The University of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Frank Lloyd Wright sites, the Wooded Island at Jackson Park, etc. Easily could fill an entire day by the tour in the morning, and whatever else you choose in the afternoon.

jamierin May 24th, 2014 08:45 AM

Thanks so much for the great ideas exiledprincess. I know that we will probably break the dining budget but would like to stick to some inexpensive options some days. Also we tend to like to share dishes and hubby doesn't drink...

I am going to look up all of the restos asap!

And I really like the Chicago Greeter idea. Must book those special tours in advance.

andrews98682 Jun 3rd, 2014 08:30 PM

Lots of good suggestions here. If you're set on going to Wicker Park, I would consider going in the evening and maybe grab a bite at Hot Chocolate.

For bike rentals, you might try the citibank rental racks. I haven't tried them, but they're scattered around the city.

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