Chicago trip help/advice

May 27th, 2009, 09:59 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 6
Chicago trip help/advice

We (myself, wife, 2 boys - 8,5) are headed to Chicago in 2 weeks. Have researched all the touristy things to do and places to go. The wife pricelined our hotel, got a great deal, but she didn't pay attention to location and we ended up at Hyatt McCormick Place. So I have a few questions regarding that....

1. What's the best way to the hotel from O'hare? Shuttle, cab, EL?
2. Are we totally screwed as far as hotel proximity to all the sites?
3. We will probably be out on all day excursions most of the time and not needing to come back and forth to the hotel. This should make the situation a little better, but what are we looking at for transportation options and at what cost?
4. Any good places to eat near the hotel?

Have a couple of other questions. We are trying to catch a Cubs game. The game is sold out for 6/12 (Twins). Not sure if I will pull the trigger on pricey stub hub tix. My thinking is if we don't score tix, then we'll do the Wrigley least we'll have the experience of being at Wrigley. Any comments on the tour? Worth it? Does it somewhat make up for not being able to actually attend a game?

Finally, I need some restaurant advice. I love to eat! Not into the fancy stuff. I am a comfort food person and love the places you see on Diners, Drive-ins and dives.
TBAT is offline  
May 27th, 2009, 10:13 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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I assume you have checked out their own website which reveals they have complimentary shuttle to downtown. This hotel is virtuaLly between two highways, as you can see in the photos. You cannot waLk to anything, if I recall, right out the door, but there must be an underground passage to get you to the lakeside and other side. BUT IT SHOULD BE VERY COMFORTABLE ONCE INSIDE.

The location is a bit of a drag, but, you probably got a bargain, so.. enjoy it and look at the brighter side.

You will enjoy the museums in that area, and I assume the shuttle takes you there. The Natural History is great, as is the Science and Industry.

You may want to bring the kids' roller blades or skateboards as the asphalted paths along the lake EVERYWHERE are wonderful. Renting bicycles is also popular.

Sorry I know nothing of getting to and from O'Hare.
lincasanova is offline  
May 27th, 2009, 10:20 AM
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Are you sure they give tours on home-game days (they don't at AT&T Park in San Francisco)?
sf7307 is offline  
May 27th, 2009, 10:26 AM
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No tours on gamedays. checking the Cubs site shows tours for 6/11 if you are in town that day. better than nothibng but I would go for the Stubhub tickets.

I would recommend the Hancock Tower as it gives a great viewpoint of the city.

Have you looked at the Chicago Architecture Foundation river cruise?
tchoiniere is offline  
May 27th, 2009, 11:38 AM
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To get to and from ORD, you can take the Blue Line subway/L (not "el). It will take about 45-60 minutes to The Loop. Follow the signs on the baggage claim level that say "CTA Trains to city." A cab from O'Hare into the city will be in the $50-60 range.

If you'll be using public transit in the city, check into day passes. There's a vending machine at the rail station that sells 3-day passes for $14. The machine accepts cash and plastic. Passes allow unlimited rides on all CTA trains and buses. One day passes are available on the lower level of the Hilton for $5.75. A single fare is $2.25.

Exit at Clark/Lake and catch a cab to your hotel for only a few dollars. The station has elevators & escalators.

As a previous poster said, the Hyatt is pretty isolated but on the plus side, the rooms have great views of the city. Get a room looking north if you can and you'll see the entire skyline and lake.

You can catch the Number 3 bus on King Drive in front of the hotel northbound to the Museum Campus, Mag Mile and other downtown sights. You can exit anywhere along Michigan Ave, walk two blocks west to State and catch the Red Line (toward Howard) to Wrigley Field. Check the CTA site at for maps, schedules and a trip planner.

As for restaurants, you can catch the Number 21 bus outside your hotel for a short jaunt to Chinatown. Most of the restaurants are a bit farther north or south. For Chicago-style pizza, you can try Giordano's, Gino's East or Uno. There are several opinions on which is best and why, but a lot depends on personal tastes. Each has several outlets around the city.
Citylghts is offline  
May 27th, 2009, 12:33 PM
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Once you find out the extent and hours of that free shuttle, you may not need many passes. It sounds like they are trying to keep customers happy once they see where they are.

Great view frm the Plnetaruium. You will want to take a boat ride of some sort .. here are some discounts you may be interested in.

lincasanova is offline  
May 27th, 2009, 12:34 PM
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Sorry, seems they have expired. Maybe you can find others through the Tourism office.
lincasanova is offline  
May 27th, 2009, 06:50 PM
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Thanks for all the advice. We called the hotel and the shuttle takes you into downtown, but you are on your own for the trip back. At least that's half the battle. They also suggested the #3 bus to get back.

I am really looking hard at Cubs tickets as opposed to the tour as I think that's the real experience. I have found them for around $50 for upper deck seats. The tour would be on a non game day. My boys love baseball so it's hard to determine if they would enjoy a game or the tour more. According to the website, you get to go in the clubhouse and dugouts...they would flip over that. Plus the tour is half the price of tickets. Decisions, decisions.

I hit the transit site, Citylghts, thanks for the heads up. Being away from most attractions, it looks like we just need to plan our days out carefully to make the most of travel times. Public transportation isn't the quickest and we sure aren't walking anywhere.
TBAT is offline  
May 27th, 2009, 11:39 PM
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four in a taxi for short runs will not be too expensive.
Kids will love Science and Industry.

more info.
lincasanova is offline  
May 28th, 2009, 07:09 AM
Join Date: May 2009
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Re: transportation--Check into renting a car. I know, I know. We usually use cabs to get to and from Evanston (where we visit our daughter).

Two weeks ago I decided to rent a car for our trip because I couldn't figure out an easy way to get from ORD to the Harry Potter exhibit. A car rental for about 24 hours was only $35.00, much cheaper than cabs. Plus we were on our on time schedule.

Get a GPS and you'll be fine. Do ask about parking. Parking in the city can get pricey.
OurGreatEscape is offline  
May 28th, 2009, 07:23 AM
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I enjoyed Bistro 110 with my daughter and parents when we went to Chicago. I guess since you have boys the America Girl store is out
MomDDTravel is offline  
May 28th, 2009, 07:31 AM
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The hotel is not ideal, but it's definitely doable. Bring comfy walking shoes

I would not rent a car. Though it would possibly be cheap to rent, parking is not cheap, and if I had to wager a guess, I would say that the Hyatt's parking is at least $30/day (which may or may not include in/out privileges.) Plus, if you take the car into downtown, parking is very expensive. Plus, downtown driving is confusing, even if you know where you're going. I know the city, and know the cheapest places to park, and I still usually don't take my car downtown.

The Cermak/Chinatown red line el stop is not that far away from the hotel - you could take that lots of places (including to and from Wrigleyville) and then either walk or catch a cab to/from the hotel.

Food - I love Gold Coast Dogs and Al's for cheap hot dogs and such. I also like both the basement at Macy's and Foodlife at Watertower Place for upscale but reasonably priced cafeteria type food. I like Big Bowl (chain) for Asian, and Cafe Iberico for tapas.

The neighborhood around Wrigley and to the south (Lakeview/Boystown) has a ton of bars/restaurants/diners.

Enjoy your trip!
bethke14 is offline  
May 28th, 2009, 04:11 PM
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Another vote for no car. You can get to the Museum of S&I a few different ways via public transit. Heck, it would even be cheaper to cab all the way down there than to rent a car and pay for parking at the hotel and museum.
You will also not want to drive to Wrigley. Lots of traffic and parking is a good $25.
I'd definitely vote for the game over a tour. Be sure to get there early and experience the neighborhood around the game. You can eat at one of the restaurants right there.
Gina817 is offline  
Jun 1st, 2009, 09:10 PM
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Thank you all for your help. I will take all this info with us on the trip. Looks like I have a good shot at Cubs tickets for about $50, so going that route. Also looks like we will grab a City Pass as we are interested in all the places included with that.

8 days and counting!
TBAT is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2009, 08:21 AM
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TBAT, there are a couple of things of which you should have been made aware before this post in planning your transportation:

You are coming the weekend of the Chicago Blues Fest, which is the largest free blues festival in the world. So you have that wonderful free entertainment available to your family. But that large attendance also means that traffic gets very heavy at times on Lake Shore Drive near Grant Park (and several streets around it are closed to traffic because of the festival). Result: You could be stuck in stop-and-go traffic in a bus (or heaven forbid! in a taxi with the meter running) if you don't choose your travel times very carefully.

Here is some information on the Blues Festival, including the line-up and festival times:

With all due respect to a previous poster, I would not walk from the Cermak/Chinatown Red Line station to your hotel. There are sections of that area which simply aren't the greatest.

I hope you have a fun time at the Cubs game.
exiledprincess is offline  
Jun 4th, 2009, 10:14 AM
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Thanks for the heads up princess. Luckily (as far as traffic goes), we will be leaving on Saturday. But good to know in planning our trip back to the airport.
TBAT is offline  
Jun 4th, 2009, 10:03 PM
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TBAT, I don't think you understand why I mentioned this. The Chicago Blues Fest doesn't only run on the weekend. It runs all day Friday (12:00 noon - 9:30 p.m.), Saturday and Sunday.

You might want to take a look where this will be held in relation to your hotel. (HINT: It is right smack dab in the middle between your hotel and the downtown area.)
exiledprincess is offline  
Jun 7th, 2009, 09:31 AM
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Thanks again for all the responses. I think I only have 1 last question. Is it possible to take the train or subway all the way from ORD to McCormick? Looks like maybe the last stop is fairly close to the hotel? Too far to walk with luggage? Good neighborhood?
TBAT is offline  

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