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Chicago - lodging, getting around and what to do.

Chicago - lodging, getting around and what to do.

Old Jun 15th, 2021, 12:40 PM
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Chicago - lodging, getting around and what to do.

Hello,

Planning to stay 9 days in Chicago in late July and trying to weigh the pros and cons of staying in a hotel downtown or near the airport. So far, I found a hotel near the airport that has a 24/7 shuttle to Midway station. I am also planning on getting the CTA 7-day pass, so I was wondering whether I could use this pass to travel from Midway Station to downtown.

So far, despite the less convenient location, the airport hotel has free parking which is a great advantage. Any other suggestions?
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Old Jun 15th, 2021, 02:17 PM
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Please don't.

I have lived in Chicago many years. It will be a long trek to sightseeing from Midway airport. If you did it you would also want to understand exactly how your hotel shuttle works. It was some time ago but I have used it before at Midway and at least then it ran an entire route to various hotels and back to the airport so not at your demand and not directly there.

If you are driving to Chicago depending on from which direction you could find parking for the entire time near one of the airports or in the city. Hunt around for a reservation on SpotHero or another parking app. On a quick search for the last week of July I found near Michigan Avenue as low as $118 for the entire week. You won't need a car within the city. Public transportation or Uber will be your friend.

Summer in Chicago is wonderful. Don't spoil it by having to spend two hours of each day back and forth to your hotel.
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Old Jun 16th, 2021, 04:27 AM
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Do NOT stay out near the airport, any of the airports! What a hassle.
Stay downtown and enjoy Chicago, such a wonderful city to explore on foot. We loved every minute that we lived there.
Stay in River North or Streeterville, to the west or east of Michigan Avenue.
Use the excellent public transit as mentioned above or Uber. But a transit card as poster above explained.

Last edited by HappyTrvlr; Jun 16th, 2021 at 04:43 AM.
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Old Jun 16th, 2021, 06:55 AM
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"Free parking?" Are you driving to Chicago or flying in or taking a train? The US's largest HI hostel is on Congress near downtown. You don't need or want a car in all of Chicagoland. The upper floors of the HI hostel are dorms for a nearby college. There are a couple of other hostels in Chicago but they are not as nice as the HI hostel. Chicago Union station is 3 blocks from the Willis (former Sears) tower. There is (or was) a free self guided tour at the Federal Reserve Bank near the Chicago Board of Trade.
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Old Jun 16th, 2021, 11:59 AM
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I agree with the wise advice above. Staying in downtown Chicago will give you a much more pleasant experience.
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Old Jun 18th, 2021, 05:20 AM
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The Chicago Architecture Center offers a variety of tours of Chicagoís vast trove of architectural treasures: walking tours some of which take participants into memorable interior spaces; boat tours on the river; bus tours within the city and, some, beyond.

https://www.architecture.org

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Old Jun 18th, 2021, 06:43 AM
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Hi, cchean.

Have you looked at rates at the Best Western River North? This is a nice location, and I saw a multi-night, parking included rate that might work in your budget.
https://www.rivernorthhotel.com/
Freehand is also well located. The Hostel on Congress is a nice-enough location.
https://freehandhotels.com/chicago/?...=hotel-chicago

SpotHero will help with cheaper parking b/c the parking buildings around there are really expensive. Don't be afraid to look at some Lincoln Park covered parking offers that are near Clark Street/Broadway/Sheridan. This would be an easy bus ride downtown to a hotel. I'd not park on the street, as your car might be vandalized.

But 9 days in Chicago is a long time, and the parking will be expensive if you use hotel/downtown parking buildings. Though hotel rates are really low for July, which makes sense, as things aren't really back to normal. I imagine the airport hotels are much cheaper, but as a local, I don't feel always safe on the blue or orange lines (blue to o'hare, orange to midway), though the orange line feels slightly better. During the day, there's really not many problems. But during slower travel times, or very late at night, you have to be even more vigilant against crime. (You have to be vigilant all the time. No open purses, crossbody bags, no wandering with your nose stuck in your phone, etc.)

Good luck with your lodging/parking!
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Old Jun 20th, 2021, 01:51 PM
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Your question asks what to do in the title, so I will address that point. My experience has been staying in the Loop or having multiple hours between Amtrak trains (so therefore exploring from Union Station). I canít really comment on what itís like staying on the outskirts as I always base myself centrally.

The highlights of my numerous forays into Chicago have unquestionably been the following. 1) The Art Institute of Chicago: I still canít believe how many original works by the Masters are housed there (Renoirs, Manets, Toulouse-Lautrec). 2) I second the river boat architecture tour. What an amazing way to see Chicagoís architectural masterpieces! This may sound weird to you, but to me, the Chicago building scene looks like a futuristic movie set that was created in the 1930s. 3) Biking along Lake Michigan...every time I see it, I fall in love again with the turquoise water and the boats. 4). Going up the Willis Tower (which I still think of as the Sears Tower); love the views of Lake Michigan from up high. 5) Millennium Park and the reflecting bean and the spouts of water coming out of walls.

Have a great time! I always do when in Chicago!
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Old Jun 20th, 2021, 04:15 PM
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Staying at the airport is rarely (never?) a good idea. Unless it's the last night of a trip and your have an early morning flight out.
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Old Jun 21st, 2021, 05:33 AM
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Originally Posted by cchean View Post
Hello,

Planning to stay 9 days in Chicago in late July and trying to weigh the pros and cons of staying in a hotel downtown or near the airport. So far, I found a hotel near the airport that has a 24/7 shuttle to Midway station. I am also planning on getting the CTA 7-day pass, so I was wondering whether I could use this pass to travel from Midway Station to downtown.

So far, despite the less convenient location, the airport hotel has free parking which is a great advantage. Any other suggestions?
I live in the suburbs but I was raised in Chicago so I agree with much of what has been said. If you can find a reasonable hotel downtown with reasonable parking rates or not too far from downtown that would be the way to go.

do not stay near Midway. Itís just too far.

A few years ago a friend of mine came from Malaysia. They stayed at a Hyatt near where I live in Schaumburg. The price was reasonable and if you have a car which I think you do what you could do is take your car to the metro station in Schaumburg and take the train in. I did this with them several times and it really worked out very well. Once youíre downtown you have to plan well but going from one place to another using Uber is quite reasonable and quite fair in price. Let me say if you do decide to stay further away from Chicago and one of the suburbs do not drive in. Chicago is open and the traffic will be a nightmare.

nine days is a lot of time so Iím not sure why you want to stay here that long but thatís up to you. To give you an example one day we took the train downtown and went to see the Museum of science and industry from Union station which I believe is one of the most places to see. We took Uber and it was not that expensive. From there we went to the Art Institute of Chicago and I agree that is utterly amazing. There is a restaurant in the Art Institute called Terzo Piano. Now donít think this is some sort of cafeteria. The chef is Michelin starred so I think you will like it. We had lunch there and it was very good. In fact Iíve gone for lunch there a couple of other times because itís so good.

across the street from the Art Institute is another restaurant called Russian tea time. Itís an iconic restaurant thatís been there quite some time.

you can do a Chicago River architectural tour which I highly recommend. A trip to the Field Museum is also highly recommended.

if you like and if the Chicago Cubs are away you can arrange a tour of historic Wrigley field as well.

if you like baseball usually the Cubs or the White Sox are in town so that is worth going to. I would recommend Wrigley Field because itís the second oldest field in the United States for baseball.

and then there is the dining scene. Chicago has one of the best dining scenes in the United States. If you want recommendations for restaurants I can give you some. However there are two things that you simply must try. One is Chicago style deep dish pizza and the places to go be Unoís, Dueís, Giordanos or Lou Malnatis.

you must try Chicago style Italian beef sandwiches. Itís an experience. This is basic, and expensive and filling food. Als beef has several locations. This is the place I would recommend to try it.

obviously for everybody cost is a factor. If you can find something close to downtown that is reasonable for lodging and parking then I would say go for it. However if that proves to be too costly you can find something in a suburb that would be less money but be sure you are close to a metro station. iím quite sure that if you pick a hotel and say whatever suffer they can tell you how close the metro station is.

so good luck searching. You can probably go to any online hotel website like say Expedia or hotels.com and plug in your dates and a budget and distance from downtown and come up with some thing that way.

any questions please ask.

Larry
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Old Jun 21st, 2021, 12:00 PM
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I was there last weekend just for a quick overnight. We stayed in the Loop near the Art Institute of Chicago. We did take the train in from O'Hare. It was 16 stops and took about 50 minutes. Not bad doing it once, but I wouldn't want to do it in and out every day. Your patience for that may be better than mine. For me, a little more money at a hotel in the heart of things is worth not having to start and end my day on the train. We stayed at the Silversmith and really liked it. We had hoped to stay at the Palmer down the street but it hadn't reopened post-pandemic yet.

Everything we wanted to do we walked to: Riverwalk, AIC, architecture boat tour, some street art. I'd been nervous about not being able to get a ride share (I read taxis and Uber were scarce in the pandemic) so we did hire a private car to take us to Glen Ellyn for a museum exhibition we had tickets for, but I think we probably could have gotten Uber if we wanted to.

Maybe it will change before you get there, but a lot of businesses (hotels, shops, restaurants, bars) were not open yet. I would get reservations for what you really want to make sure you get into so you have something. What little that was open around us was fully booked. A few things we wanted to do (like rooftop bars with a view) were already fully booked about 10 days before we went, so did not have reservations or get in to those.

One excellent restaurant, if you like Mediterranean was Ema (W. Illinois Street). This was about a 15 minute walk from where our boat tour ended. It was one of the best meals I have had in a long time. We also ate at Chicago Brewhouse which was sort of mediocre food at best, but a good seat along the river.
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Old Jun 21st, 2021, 04:47 PM
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Sonesta Suites up near Northwestern University is under $150 per night including breakfast.
Vis spothero you can park 6 blocks away at Gold Coast Galleria Residences for about $18 per day. But I don't think they allow drive-in-and-out, you must keep the car parked.
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Old Jun 21st, 2021, 05:13 PM
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I haven't been back to Chicago since the pandemic, but from previous trips I've learned to make dinner reservations in advance. If you don't you might spend quite a while looking for a restaurant that doesn't have an hour's wait. Strangely, this applies to the sorts of places you might not expect, pubs and such. However, it's a wonderful town to visit -- people have outlined the major sites above -- and I'm sure you will enjoy it. One stop that hasn't been mentioned is Oak Park, which you can reach by metro. This is the hometown of two American geniuses, Frank LLoyd Wright and Ernest Hemingway. There are a few sites associated with Hemingway, but quite a few more pertaining to Wright -- his studio and a public "temple" he designed. There are many Wright houses in the town, but they are privately owned and not generally open to the public. The above mentioned Architecture Center runs tours to Oak Park.
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Old Jun 21st, 2021, 08:28 PM
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Thanks for all replies above.

Just to clarify, I will be driving to Chicago, but I plan to leave the car parked during the whole stay (no ins and outs). I am traveling with my family (me, wife and three young adults). We plan to take the "L" and visit most of the museums and other attractions.

I've seen parking rates as high as $70/day in downtown, that's why I considered a hotel with free parking.



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Old Jun 22nd, 2021, 06:02 AM
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Originally Posted by cchean View Post
Thanks for all replies above.

Just to clarify, I will be driving to Chicago, but I plan to leave the car parked during the whole stay (no ins and outs). I am traveling with my family (me, wife and three young adults). We plan to take the "L" and visit most of the museums and other attractions.

I've seen parking rates as high as $70/day in downtown, that's why I considered a hotel with free parking.
With 5 people to a room you may want to look into an Air B and B or VRBO.

Good luck!
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Old Jun 23rd, 2021, 06:49 AM
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Consider finding a free or cheap parking spot in Naperville and taking a train (Amtrak or commuter) into Chicago.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2021, 07:30 AM
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Welcome, ccchean. Just getting to this. I agree about staying downtown. Here's my 2017 TR for ideas for you:

Chicago 2017

Please report back about your trip.
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Old Jul 5th, 2021, 10:13 AM
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I narrowed down a few things that I want to do. Suggestions are welcomed:

ē River Boat Tour
ē Lincoln Park Zoo
ē Field Museum
ē The Art Institute of Chicago
ē Millennium Park
ē Museum of Science and Industry
ē Skydeck
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Old Jul 6th, 2021, 05:59 AM
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Originally Posted by cchean View Post
I narrowed down a few things that I want to do. Suggestions are welcomed:

ē River Boat Tour
ē Lincoln Park Zoo
ē Field Museum
ē The Art Institute of Chicago
ē Millennium Park
ē Museum of Science and Industry
ē Skydeck
very good. As you have some time consider:
Going to the Bahaíi temple in Wilmette.
Check out China Town.
Navy pier
Do a Lake Michigan dinner cruise.
Reserve the terrace at the London House for a drink and great views or the Z bar at the Penninsula Hotel
Have dinner at one of the fine steakhouses. I recommend Mastros but there are many.
A burger at Roister which is a restaurant run by Grant Achatz of Alinea fame.
Eat at Frontera grill which is operated by nationally famous chef Rick Bayless.
See Buckingham Fountain.
Must try Als Beef. 😋

E
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Old Jul 6th, 2021, 12:38 PM
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You certainly have identified the highlights! I would look into whether any or all of your must-dos require or recommended purchase ahead timed tickets. That is a newer development at many sites in many cities because of covid. You don't necessarily want to overschedule but you also don't want to be disappointed if something is completely sold out.

And don't overlook how wonderful Chicago can be in summer outdoors. Just walking along lakefront or finding a neighborhood festival. We are just getting back to more like normal after the pandemic. But there is usually much to enjoy in the city in this season.

Some good sources of information of what might be on while you are here are websites like https://www.chicagoreader.com/ or https://www.timeout.com/chicago
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