Chicago Question-Dance or FIreworks

Old Jan 5th, 2009, 01:27 PM
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Chicago Question-Dance or FIreworks

OK gang, no limitations or qualifications-just a request for your opinion.

If you were going to spend a week in Chicago in June or July, would you try to include July 4? If so, what would be a great hotel to watch fireworks from???

As always, many thanks.
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Old Jan 5th, 2009, 04:18 PM
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The City of Chicago's fireworks occur on July 3, not the 4th, although Navy Pier usually has a much more modest display on the 4th.

Are you saying there are no limitations on the cost of the hotel room? You are willing to pay $500+ a night (not including taxes)?
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Old Jan 6th, 2009, 04:09 PM
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Be there for the 4th?

What hotel for a good view?
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Old Jan 6th, 2009, 06:11 PM
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TDudette, my previous reply was not meant to be a snide remark. It was a serious inquiry.

There are only a few hotels in Chicago which have rooms with unobstructed lake views in the direction of Monroe Harbor, from where the fireworks are launched. It is my understanding from personally speaking with others that hotels with lower-priced accommodations, in the past, have not guaranteed lake view rooms during special events, such as these fireworks; the lake views might be partially or mostly obstructed; or they will guarantee a lake view room but it won't necessarily be in the correct direction. You may not have the same situation with higher-priced accommodations.

These comments have been confirmed by many posts I have read on travel forums.

I might add, it's not just for the Independence Day fireworks - but *any* fireworks or special events, such as Navy Pier's weekly ones and the city's Air and Water Show, which are far less spectacular.

It will definitely help knowing your budget on how much you want to spend. There would be no reason mentioning expensive accommodations when they would be out of your range.
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Old Jan 7th, 2009, 12:19 AM
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Princess, I know you didn't mean to be snide but you didn't answer my very specific question about the hotels. Can you provide some names please?
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Old Jan 7th, 2009, 06:01 AM
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As soon as you answer mine.
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Old Jan 7th, 2009, 06:28 AM
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If you don't want to post your lodging budget range, I might suggest this:

There is a map on the TripAdvisor website of the hotels in the most popular areas of Chicago. To the right of it, there is a listing which shows the *average* price for the hotel's rooms - which, of course, can fluctuate due to availability for conventions, large special events and so forth. That should give you some good points from where to start.

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Old Jan 7th, 2009, 06:32 AM
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I've booked the Hyatt McCormick Place for the fireworks on the 3rd, though we plan on viewing them from Grant Park. We live in the 'burbs and have been saying "we should go downtown for the 3rd" for a few years now. With the 3rd being a Friday this year, I decided it was time.

At this hotel, you'd need to get a room with a "city view" to see the fireworks; other wise you'll be facing the South, with the rooms with the view across the hall facing North.

Our room with 2 double beds was $139 -- city view rooms are a little more.
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Old Jan 7th, 2009, 07:04 AM
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With all due respect to the previous poster, please keep in mind the Hyatt McCormick Place will not be within walking distance to other attractions, if that is one of your preferences, as it is located quite a distance south of the downtown area.

I'm not certain if there are regular CTA busses which service that area. (Maybe the #3, though?) I do see on their website that they have complimentary shuttle services downtown, but you'd have to check on the schedules, how often, etc. You might need to cab there and back if this doesn't fit in with your schedule during the week.

You can see where it is in relation to the other hotels and attractions on the TripAdvisor website I mentioned. Just go into the reviews for the hotel itself and you can click on the map hyperlink.
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Old Jan 7th, 2009, 07:20 AM
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Sorry for the extra post. I meant to ask you, Susan, how were you getting back from Grant Park to your hotel that night?
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Old Jan 7th, 2009, 10:02 AM
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We'll either walk it or take a cab, if we get lazy. It's only 2 miles.

Of course, this room is just reserved until I find a SPECTACULAR deal somewhere else
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Old Jan 7th, 2009, 11:02 AM
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We had a great view of the fireworks from the Marriott Michigan Ave.
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Old Jan 7th, 2009, 01:25 PM
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Thanks SusanM and LindainOhio, I'll check those out.

Exiledprincess, at the risk of being bratty, I only wanted to know which hotels have a good view of the fireworks and if the fireworks are worth seeing. I can check the $ and area appropriate stuff myself. What I didn't know was that the city fireworks are on the 3rd. Are they really as spectacular as Lonely Planet says?


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Old Jan 7th, 2009, 02:14 PM
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I'll throw my 2 in on their spectacularity (spectacularness?), TDudette.

They're the best Independence Day fireworks I've ever seen, but I thought the display on Chicago's Venetian Night at the end of July was even better.

My favorite experience viewing them on the 3rd was the year I worked on the 18th floor of a building at Michigan Ave. and Jackson Blvd. The fireworks exploded at eye-level, and we felt like we were getting our own private display.

Even better was sitting in the air-conditioned office afterward, watching the hoardes stream out of Grant Park. We waited 45 minutes or so, then left to almost deserted streets.
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Old Jan 7th, 2009, 03:00 PM
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As was previously noted, the Hyatt at McCormick Place is pretty isolated from the other sights so I'd put it pretty far down on the list.

I also doubt seriously that you'd be able to see the July 3 fireworks from the Marriott on Michigan as you'd have to look through the Intercontinental Hotel, Tribune Building, Hyatt Regency, Illinois Center, AON Center and a couple others. However, I'm sure you'd have few problems seeing the Navy Pier fireworks from there.

As for the fireworks themselves, having seen fireworks displays in other major cities, I'd say that Chicago's fall somewhere in the middle of the pack.
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Old Jan 7th, 2009, 06:25 PM
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TDudette, don't think you are being bratty at all - and I hope you don't think I am, either.

I gave you that information on hotels because you'll be able to see where they are in relation to the Monroe Harbor area.

I'll give you specific instances so you can see what I'm talking about and why I am asking you this question.

A friend of mine stayed at the Swissotel (near the junction of the Chicago River and the Lake) not this past year but the one before during the fireworks. He was so excited when he got the reservation because he had received a lake view room to the southeast. He wanted to see them from the room, of course, instead of being among the teeming million +. I told him not to get too excited until he saw the room's view. Unfortunately, due to new construction just to the south of the hotel, his view - on the right side, where you would look for the fireworks - was totally blocked. He could see the lake immediately to the east on the left, but that didn't help him at all, of course. He was on the 16th or 18th floor (cannot remember which) but it really didn't matter from this angle, though, because the construction under development was also a highrise. There may have been other rooms with the proper lakeview to view them, but it's kind of hard to tell though because this is a triangular-shaped building. I doubt there could be many, though, because there was a tremendous lot of people returning to the hotel from Grant Park after the fireworks. (There was a huge waiting line for the elevators that you had to literally wait 15-20 minutes to board one.)

Some other folks I know got a VRBO on the 36th (37th?) floor of a highrise in the River North/Gold Coast area and also planned to see them from their place. Unfortunately for them, the John Hancock was smack dab between them and the fireworks area. They ended up at Grant Park to see them.

So, you see, I could name the hotels all day long but unless you are specifically *guaranteed* a room with full lake view towards the fireworks - or in a hotel on an extremely high floor or with no other buildings blocking the view of that particular room, it won't help. Of course, there are only a limited supply of these rooms.

The one that I think you might have the best possibility (for a premium price) would be the Blackstone Hotel, as it overlooks Grant Park.

At the other hotels where it is possible, say the Trump, Park Hyatt, etc., it would truly depend on the room and angle because there are highrises all around them.

If you want to see the fireworks without the humongous crowds, did you ever consider going on one of the lake tour boats? It usually runs $150+ pp, as I recall.
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Old Jan 7th, 2009, 06:58 PM
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SusanM, to be honest, I'm a little concerned that you would be walking in that direction for 2 miles after the fireworks. You know that there have been some problems with crime several times in the past 4 or 5 years after the fireworks ended.

I don't think that going as far south as McFetridge (Soldier Field)would be so much of a problem, because a number of people set up over by the Shedd Aquarium area to view the fireworks. But that additional mile or so south that late at night... I don't even recall what type of overpass is there at the hotel because I'm usually zipping by with the traffic on LSD when I'm in that area.

Since the traffic will be an utter mess for at least 1.5-2 hours afterwards, why not consider going to a late movie over at AMC River East 21, stop somewhere for a cocktail or whatever for some time and then cab it back once the traffic is again running fairly smoothly.
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Old Jan 8th, 2009, 06:21 AM
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I appreciate your concern, EP. You always have spot-on advice for visitors to Chicago.

We've lived here for over 20 years now, and honestly I'm really not concerned about how we'll get back to the hotel. In all honesty, we'll probably take a cab, because my husband is not much for walking. I know the hotel has a shuttle, but it's a toss-up which would require a longer wait; for a cab or for the shuttle.

Since we'll be visiting the Taste earlier in the day, I may ask the hotel for a recommended place to view the fireworks that's somewhere between Grant Park and the hotel.

In all likelihood, we may not even end up going down at all. I can cancel up 'til 3 pm that day. If it's rainy, if we're not in the mood, if a better invitation comes up, we just won't go. I haven't told my family yet that I made the res.; I'm planning on surprising them with it if all the planets are in alignment and we do end up going.

I'm also a big fan of Priceline, so I may try for a less expensive but closer hotel, but since I'd have to pay in advance, I won't be doing that for a few months yet if at all.

In years past we've just taken the train in and returned home afterward. That's obviously one solution, but it's also why we haven't done it in a few years, because we always bring it up as a suggestion and then go "Nah - too much effort."

TDudette, the boat suggestion is a good one. I'd like to do that some day, but with 4 people in our party it's a little too expensive.
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Old Jan 8th, 2009, 01:07 PM
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The boat is a good idea. Thanks all for great advice.
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Old Jan 8th, 2009, 04:19 PM
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You're very welcome, both of you.

I might suggest that if the two of you didn't absolutely, positively had to have the lake view of the fireworks, the Swissotel is really convenient. And I've had two different friends get rooms there for the past two years - at just that time of year - for only $109 plus tax. (On Travelzoo which I brought to their attention. But, of course, you are dealing with the hotel itself and its cancellation policies, not like Priceline or Hotwire.)

In fact, this year's room had an absolutely stunning river view - of the Wrigley Building with the Trump in the background. You can't beat that with a stick.

Another friend of mine got another deal (shown on Travelzoo) for the Seneca this year too, but I thought the room - while perfectly servicable and clean - looked a little tired.

There are usually bargains for that time of the year to be found - but you need to keep an eye on the conventions for those blackout dates.

Oh, and you know the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise so highly recommended here (and elsewhere)? Well, to get there all (if you are at the Swissotel), you only have to cross Randolph at the next corner to the west, go down the flight of stairs - walk west on the River Walk a couple of blocks and you are at their boarding area. If you walked the east on the River Walk, it takes you right out to the Lakefront Path to the south - and you can walk to the Taste from there.
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