Chicago neighborhoods

Old Nov 6th, 2004, 09:08 PM
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Chicago neighborhoods

We live in the Western suburbs. On Sunday afternoons my husband and I like to go in to the city and check out a neighborhood. We walk around trying to get a "feel" for the area, checking out any interesting little stores, particularly book stores. Eventually we look for an interesting, casual place to have drinks and appetizers. I'm wondering whether Chicgal (Chicgirl?) or anyone else can recommend some good areas to explore--ethnic, trendy, good architecture--really anything that makes it an interesting or unique area. Actually, it doesn't have to be in the city. Suburbs would be fine too. Would be very grateful for any suggestions for our weekly "micro-mini vacations"!
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Old Nov 6th, 2004, 10:44 PM
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This Sunday afternoon exploring is something we started years ago before we had kids and then continued with the kids when they were young. As they got older and involved in other things, there was a period of several years when we weren't able to do it. It's really just been in the past couple of months, after our oldest went to college out East and our youngest got wrapped up in football on Sundays that we've revived our old habit. We did check out Millenium Park in the summer with the kids (loved it!). As for the other places we've checked out recently...We haven't really been to Lakeview so would be interested in hearing about it. We've gone to a festival or two in Grant Park. Also to a small neighborhood Oktoberfest on Lincoln which we really enjoyed. Wound up having drinks and appetizers at Grizzly's Lodge that day. Two weeks ago we went to Lincoln Square. We checked out the Old Town School of Folk Music, a deli and a couple of book stores (found some great cookbooks at a used book store!). Had a beer at a neat little neighborhood German tavern. But for appetizers we wound up at an Irish Pub (Graftons?)where they were having a "session". Fantastic! One Sunday we set out to explore West Town. But we did't really find anywhere to "land". We wound up in Lincoln Park where we walked around enjoying the residential streets. Ended up having drinks and appetizers at a restaurant that described itself as "Celtic fusion". Years ago Chicago Magazine put out a couple of guide books that had great, detailed "tours" of neighborhoods. But, as nearly as I can tell, they haven't put out a new one in over 15 years. A few days ago I bought an Access guide book which seems to have really good, detailed information listed by neighborhood. But it covers a fairly limited area of the city. We try to check out the Friday guide in the Tribune looking for neighborhood festivals, etc. And we check Metromix, etc. But I'd really like an insiders view of some interesting neighborhoods, suburbs, whatever! Also, as I mentioned earlier, our daughter is at college out East. She's in a fairly rural area of Massachusetts. And, as much as she enjoys it, has mentioned several times that it's made her realize how much she misses being in an urban area. While she's home from mid-Dec to mid-Jan she really wants to take advantage of what our area has to offer. Any suggestions for excursions with her? Sorry to make this so long. But can't resist the chance to pick your brain!
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Old Nov 7th, 2004, 08:12 AM
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We were just up on Devon Avenue yesterday, an interesting area to explore with lots of Indian restaurants and funky shops selling sweets, jewelry and saris, we parked around the 2600W block. Devon also has some Russian and Jewish bakeries and some middle eastern restaurants.

We also stopped at Robie House yesterday down in Hyde Park, a neighborhood that is interesting to explore. Check out the University of Chicago's campus, Lorado Taft's Fountain of Time sculpture, Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House, the Oriental Institute and if you have lots of time the Museum of Science and Industry. There are several interesting used/new bookstores in the area including Powell's and the Co-op. Cap off the day with a trip to Dixie Kitchen, a Hyde Park institution, Edwardo's for a pizza or Medici.

A couple of weeks ago, we went for a return visit to Pullman, an architecturally interesting section of Chicago. Try to go on a day when they are doing a tour, the home tour in October is always a lot of fun and the neighborhood walking tours are as well. The visitor's center also has self guided tour booklets.

Prairie Avenue where the industrialists lived around the turn of the century still has a few of the mansions left as well as the oldest house in Chicago (Clarke House) and the Glessner House which you can tour. After touring you can try one of the restaurants on S. Wabash such as Gioco or Opera or The Chicago Firehouse on Michigan

Great architecture-I love the terra cotta buildings in Uptown, the Aragon Ballroom, the Uptown Theater, the wonderful WPA murals in the post office on Broadway.

Chinatown-start the day off with a trip to one of the many dim sum places on Wentworth or Archer(I like Won Kow, other people swear by Phoenix) and take a look through the many gift shops and grocery stores. I always end our trip with a stop at a bakery for their delicious egg (custard) tarts.

Have you been to the Garfield Conservatory? The area around it is a little rough so no dining tips but the
conservatory is fabulous.
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Old Nov 7th, 2004, 08:14 AM
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Thanks so much, Chicgal! You've given us some great ideas and lots of web sites to search!
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Old Nov 7th, 2004, 08:22 AM
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Thanks, Kristi. Some great ideas from you too! Pullman is one of the areas I've always wanted to check out. Thanks for the tip about the self-guided tours.
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Old Nov 7th, 2004, 08:27 AM
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How about little India on Devon Ave?. It runs from Western west to around California. There are plenty of cool shops including many restaurants, 22k gold shops (you don't get that elsewhere AFAIK), appliances, sari shops with fab fabrics, etc. Its like leaving the country in a way. .
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Old Nov 7th, 2004, 08:27 AM
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Suburbs-I love the Botanic Gardens up in Glencoe, if you really wanted to make a day of it you could combine that with a trip to Ravinia in the evening or you could pack up your bikes and take advantage of one of the nicest trails in Chicagoland (these are warmer weather acitivities of course). You can also combine a visit to Glencoe with a visit to Long Grove which has lots of gift shops.

Heading into Indiana, you could go shopping out at the Outlet Center in Michigan City and swing by the Indiana Dunes State Park for a hike.

Oak Park-I picked up a great guide at the Cultural center tourist info center on Oak Park and Forest Park, lots of FLW architecture, shops and restaurants. And if you don't find cemeteries too macabre, you can visit Woodlawn cemetery in Forest Park which has monuments to the circus train crash.

Speaking of cemeteries, Chicago has several interesting cemeteries that were designed more as parks than cemeteries. Graceland and Rosehill up on the northside and Oakwoods on the southside all are interesting to visit.

Evanston-lots of fine restaurants and an interesting downtown to walk through.

If you are in the western suburbs you probably are already familiar with Cantigny, Naper Settlement and the Morton Arboreteum.

If you like flea markets, Chicagoland has a rotating schedule of flea markets-1st Sunday is Kane, 2nd is Lake, 3rd is Sandwich, can't remember what the fourth is.

One final idea is Milwaukee, we went up there a couple of times this fall and had a blast, lots of old architecture including the Pabst Mansion and a cathedral that Joan of Arc prayed at which is on the Marquette campus.
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Old Nov 7th, 2004, 04:26 PM
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I live in the East Village/Ukrainian village area and I would definately suggest heading on over to my section of town. If you want trendy resturants walk down division (leo's lunchroom, Mas, Bob San's, etc). If you want to visit some of the older polish and ukrainian delis definately be sure to hit Andy's Europa Cafe, Cesear's Deli (on Damen) and then walk west on Chicago Ave. from Damen to Western and go past Kasia's deli and hit some of the ukrianian and polish stores that are still left. If you go east on Chicago ave. at Damen you'll hit some great tacqueria's (the one at Chicago and Paulina is really good) and Mexican bakeries (and if you have your car with you or it is a nice day, you can even hike on over to the Intuit Outsider Art Gallery/Museum on Milwaukee), and of course this is all within a few blocks of Wicker Park's shopping and music venues. Actually, in this month's Chicago magazine there is a nice little write-up on the east village.
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Old Nov 7th, 2004, 04:32 PM
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maybe you have alrady visited this website, but www.cityofchicago.org has an entire section on "neighborhood tours" here is a link to one of the pages - they even have a special november/december 2004 section. cut and paste the link below to find it - i know it looks long, but I checked to be sure it works - and it does!

http://www.ci.chi.il.us/city/webport...=0&programId=0
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