Chicago Jan. 1 & 2

Dec 29th, 2008, 05:33 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2008
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Chicago Jan. 1 & 2

We're first time visitors to Chicago...we'll be there this week on New Year's Day and also the day after. Just two 29 yr. olds, no kids. Tips, Thoughts, Suggestions?

New Year's Day - Aquarium, Sears Tower, shopping on Mag Mile

Fri. - Lunch at the Signature Room at 95th, Museum of Science

rosieposietravels is offline  
Dec 29th, 2008, 05:41 PM
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I will pray that you have good weather although the past several days have been wonderful!
dutyfree is offline  
Dec 29th, 2008, 05:50 PM
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If it were me, I'd be trying to get tickets for the outdoor hockey game at Wrigley Field (but I know that's not for everyone!).

The Art Institute is a world class museum. A walk along the lake is always a treat (as long as the weather cooperates). There's ice skating in Grant Park.
sf7307 is online now  
Dec 29th, 2008, 07:07 PM
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At your age try to get to Lincoln Park. Take the red train to Armitage and walk around Armitage, Halsted, Lincoln area. Lots of shops, boutiques, and fun bars. It's a very livable area of the city for people your age range and super fun. I lived in LP for 5 years and miss it every day! Definitely also see Michigan Avenue, Sears Tower, Lake Michigan, Shedd Aquarium (if you like that kind of thing-same with Art Institute). Just walk around-it's an amazing city. Just in case bring hat, gloves, good jacket, and walking shoes. I survived 8 winters in chicago and it made me stronger!
Skiergirl is offline  
Dec 29th, 2008, 07:12 PM
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Since the Hancock Building is on the Mag Mile, I would do lunch at the Sig Room and shopping on the same day (assuming it's not too cold to shop). In fact, you might consider going to the aquarium on the same day. I would also suggest going to the Signature Room in the late afternoon or evening for drinks instead of lunch, so you would have the day to sightsee. And if you go to the Hancock Building, you could skip the Sears Tower.

The Science Museum is great, but it's not near the other museums or mag mile.

andrews98682 is offline  
Dec 29th, 2008, 07:37 PM
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What about a play? or some music...
lucci is offline  
Dec 29th, 2008, 07:40 PM
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I agree that you can skip Sears Tower. The Signature Room is just ok, there are much better places in the area. You could do drinks up there, then have lunch or dinner elsewhere. You can search for restaurants by cuisine, neighborhood or budget at

If you're going to the MSI, you can catch the Number 10 bus southbound on Michigan Avenue (north of the river) or on State Street (south of the river). After it leaves the loop, it runs express to the museum. Check the CTA site for the schedule.
Citylghts is offline  
Dec 29th, 2008, 09:11 PM
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When I was in Chicago a couple of months ago I really enjoyed walking around Millennium Park and seeing the cool sculptures (especially the Cloud Gate sculpture, also known as the giant bean or similar names) and the Pritzker Pavilion. I downloaded an audio tour from the Millennium Park website onto my Ipod, which gave me good information about various sights in the park - you can find it on their web site here, click on the link for the audio tour:

The Art Institute is on the next block from the south side of Millennium Park, and as sf7307 said, it is a world class museum, really wonderful. I had a short time to spend there, did a whirlwind trip through, and wished I'd had hours more to spend there.

Just walking around the city is great, so much wonderful architecture - and the big public sculptures by Picasso (Daly Plaza), Miro, Chagall, Dubuffet, and other well known artists are worth seeking out. You'll have a great time, Chicago is a really neat city.
Sara is offline  
Dec 31st, 2008, 01:43 AM
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rosieposietravels, you are going to think me a Negative Nellie, but I forsee some possible problems with your itinerary.

The Museum of Science and Industry opens at 9:30 a.m. and closes at 4 p.m. on Fridays. It is literally miles south of the JH, so figure in a substantial amount of time for travel.

If you were to take the #10 SB MSI bus from N. Michigan Avenue, it would take at least 30 minutes - and probably closer to 40 minutes - to even get to the MSI. That figure does not include on any wait time for the bus, which could be up to 40 minutes. (The CTA *says* 30 minutes between busses, but I wouldn't be so optimistic to anticipate that, based on past experience.)

Of course, everything could be running your way that day: The bus pulls up just as you get to the bus stop. There would be no delays due to boarding passengers. You could have no traffic. But I wouldn't bet on it.

If you have lunch, say noon-1 p.m., then you wouldn't even get to the MSI until after 1:40-1:45 p.m. at the very earliest, depending if you travel there via cab, bus or train.

This is a HUGE museum to explore, for which you should plan to spend at least 1/2 day. Although many of the exhibits are geared towards youngsters, it doesn't necessarily mean that some adults don't enjoy them as well. If you were planning on boarding the U505 (or taking in some of the special exhibits or Omnimax movies), there is a good chance that you will not be able to do so. Boarding passes for the U505 are on a first-come, first-served basis and often sell out early in the day, especially on Friday-Sundays. The special exhibits and the Omnimax movies are timed entry basis only.

So if you are willing to travel all that way for basically 2 hours, with the possibility of not getting to see the best exhibits (IMHO)...

The alternative is to go to the MSI in the morning as early as possible. Hopefully, the first scheduled #10 bus won't be late. Still it's a considerable ride down there. The downside to that plan, though, is that you might/will probably miss luncheon hours at the Signature Room (11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.).
exiledprincess is offline  
Dec 31st, 2008, 02:42 AM
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Sorry, I posted too soon and then lost my connection!

IMHO, on Friday consider instead to take in the Art Institute, with Millennium Park afterwards, since it's immediately to the south of the AI.

Perhaps you could even pop across the street to the historic Santa Fe (Transportation) building beforehand, where the Chicago Architecture Foundation has their ArchiCenter location. They post their walks on a blackboard so you can see all of their daily offerings and have many interesting options for souvenirs. One which I often suggest to first-time visitors is a DVD of their River Cruise. This will give you great incentive to return to visit us at a warmer time.

You are also *that* close to the Auditorium Theatre, one of Chicago's greatest architectural treasures. They also conduct architectural tours.

But let's say you are not interested in a fine architectural walking tour (whether it be indoors or exterior).

You could go to the Chicago Cultural Center (located at the corner of Michigan and Randolph), just at the north end of Millennium Park, and take in the exhibits, maybe a tour of the building, including the Tiffany domes.

But let's say you are not interested in that, though.

If you need a little warming up after your little walk from the AI - although it won't be too terribly cold these upcoming days, you could stop in at Intelligentsia (coffee house), which is located between the Chicago Cultural Center and Macy's on the south side of Randolph Street.

Then you could just hop across Randolph and see what League of Chicago Theatre offerings are at Hottix (reduced-price, same day entertainment offerings) has.

But let's say you don't have any interest in attending getting a taste of the live theatre while here.

You could walk to the corner of State and Randolph (next block) and view the Macy's holiday windows, maybe go inside and see the tree. Macy's, too, has a Tiffany dome.

Lunchtime, kiddies!

So, see you could do all of this and still be able to have your lunch at the Signature Room. Or have your lunch first then continue onto these activities, although I'd really suggest the first.

P.S. If you are of sturdy stock and desire a refreshing dip, the Chicago Polar Bear Club's annual swim party will be held at North Avenue Beach New Year's Day at noon.

For those poor unfortunates whose busy social calendar prohibits attendance for the above event, the Lakeview Polar Bear Club's annual Celebration of Shrinkage will be held February 7, 2009 at the Oak Street Beach - again at noon.
exiledprincess is offline  
Dec 31st, 2008, 02:49 AM
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Oh, man! This is the second time I went to edit my post, only to have it post!

Anyway, I just wanted to say in the above P.S. about the Polar Bear Clubs: They're OK for the "wimpys" among us, as well. Spectators are welcome, too.

There. I'm done!
exiledprincess is offline  
Dec 31st, 2008, 03:57 AM
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You know what...I'm *not* done! Pardon the extra post, and I hope it will be most worthwhile to you.

After I posted that last correction, I started thinking that maybe you'd like a nice, hearty, hot breakfast before starting out for your explorations on this Friday.

If you have decided to go to the Art Institute in lieu of the MSI, I suggest Yolk. It is located at the intersection of 11th and S. Michigan Avenue in the South Loop area of Chicago. You are only a few blocks south on Michigan Avenue from the ArchiCenter (if you take my suggestions), Art Institute and Millennium Park. Yolk isn't as inexpensive as places such as a Corner Bakery, but isn't as expensive as at most hotels, either.

If you decide on Yolk, go as early as possible, as it is a very popular spot.

If you go to Yolk first and stroll north from there to the AI, here's what you would see on the historic Michigan Boulevard (11th Street all the way northward to Randolph):

1) Public architecture, such as the sculpture of Agora (at Roosevelt Road - 12th Street to you), the Art Noveau Metra station entryway (at Van Buren) or the bronze "The Bowman" and "The Spearman" (at Congress). When you go to the Shedd Aquarium, you might even be able to see the Roman column given to Chicago in 1934 by Benito Mussolini. One of our major streets is named after his air marshal who flew here in 1933, Italo Balbo.

NOTE: If you are interested in seeing other exterior art treasures of the Loop mentioned by a previous poster, go to the Chicago Loop Alliance's website and there are three free downloadable (to a computer or MP3 device) "Loop the Loop" tours for A) public artwork, B) theatres and C) landmarks. There is also a free downloadable tour for Millennium Park from their website. I would recommend that you at least check out the Chicago Loop Alliance's website because you'll find much information - including getting the lay of the land for the downtown.

Let's say that you don't have access to a MP3 player. Not to worry, as the Chicago Loop Alliance has partnered with the Chicago Architecture Foundation to have some available at the ArchiCenter, pre-loaded with these tours.

Suggestion: If you go to the City of Chicago's website, you can also download and print a 48-page brochure of all of Chicago's public artworks, with full-color photos and details of each.

2) The historic and recently-renovated Blackstone Hotel (events which occurred there in 1920 coined the political term "smoked-filled room")

3) The very impressive Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies at 610 S. Michigan

4) The Auditorium Theatre (Congress and S. Michigan)

5) Symphony Center

And, to nudge you a little bit more towards considering the Art Institute, the Impressionists have returned (as of Dec. 19) and I believe they still have the
exiledprincess is offline  
Dec 31st, 2008, 04:08 AM
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OK, I am having real problems with this website today. I *KNOW* I did not hit "post" but edit.

To finish...

"The Divine Art: Four Centuries of European Tapestries" exhibit available for viewing.

Have fun in Chicago.
exiledprincess is offline  
Jan 4th, 2009, 10:45 AM
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Hi exiledprincess, I just want to say that it was really nice of you to provide so much great, detailed information on things to do in Chicago. I wish I'd had some of this info when I was there in October and had one day on my own to go sightseeing. I hope rosieposietravels saw your posts in time to help with their trip, but, if not, I know that it will be very useful to Fodor's visitors researching trips to Chicago in the future.
Sara is offline  
Jan 4th, 2009, 02:55 PM
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Thank you, Sara.

I hope that rosieposietravels enjoyed their first stay here in Chicago, whatever they decided to do.
exiledprincess is offline  

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