College girls trip!! help!!

Old Nov 3rd, 2006, 09:32 PM
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College girls trip!! help!!

So a few girls and I are planning a trip to Chicago for our spring break next year...everyone usually goes to the beach but we want something different. We are from Mississippi so we are considering driving or riding the train. Any advice on how the driving is? weather to consider? (we never have snow!!) we are pretty sure we are going to stay at the westin on michigan av. Also, we like the nightlife so where is the best/safest spots for 5 sophomores to go...but because we are broke college students we will only have 4 days in chicago! what are the places we MUST see and what restaurants are the BEST! we need help from people who are from chicago!!
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Old Nov 4th, 2006, 04:47 AM
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Hi there. I'll take a stab at giving you some (possibly/hopefully) helpful feedback.

The area in which you are planning to stay is great. Safe and upscale. I don't think you will see any snow in April, but it can be pretty chilly, so layer-up. Driving might be more comfortable and faster than the train, but once you get there you'll likely valet and never drive again. You really don't want to in Chicago as buses, the L, and cabs are so accessible. It can be an intimidating grid, so definitely get a good map and become familiar with the major streets and communities, e.g. Loop, Near North, Near West, and South sides, etc.

There are plenty of cheap eats to be had as long as you're not going for the slick, trendy spots. I've been in Dallas for almost three years and A LOT has changed since I left Chicago, but little spots/eateries will never die, so ask around. Not sure about the nightlife as my college days are long gone, but I'll ask my sister who recently graduated and repost then. Chicago has so many pockets of activity; it's hard to tell you one area in which to hang out.

As for must-see/must-do stuff, it really depends on your interests. Hard to answer that one. But, do go to the observation deck of the John Hancock, not the Sears Tower. You can see nothing from ST, but Hancock's views are beautiful. Also, visit Navy Pier and take one of the boat rides/tours to get a real view of the skyline. Their schedules may not start up until May though. Check out navypierdotcom. The Museum of Science and Industry is a maybe must-do. I think it's awesome, but requires a car/taxi. It may not be worth the trouble for you unless you're interested in museums. The Shedd Aquarium is also nice and the Art Institute. They are much easier to get to from the Westin. Peruse the shops along Michigan, and visit the Water Tower mall.

You MUST have Garrett's Popcorn. The one closest to your hotel is in 600 block of Michigan Ave. Also, Banderas is a nice spot for dinner. Iím not sure if it'll be a young enough scene, but a window-seat dinner there overlooking Michigan Ave. is kind of a cool little treat. If you're adventurous, don't miss out on a Maxwell Street polish. Back in the day there was an entire neighborhood of shops and the sausage stands were (and still are) so good. Now though they're limited to two shacks along the Dan Ryan, but still good and worth the trip IMHO. I grew up in the west suburbs so my favorite pizzeria is a small, family-owned place out there. As for city pizza though, Giordano's is my choice. Some people like Gino's East. There's also Connie's.

Ok. This is all based on my own personal experience growing up there and spending my single-life there.

But, what ideas do you girls already have in mind? What are your majors/interests? Maybe I can give more/specific suggestions...

I'm sure someone else will have more to add/share.
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Old Nov 4th, 2006, 08:10 AM
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Hello, eec48. Glad you will be visiting Chicago!

From past experience, I know all about being just this side of the "broke mark", so I'll give you some tips.

First, when it gets a little closer to the time you are here, you'll want to do a search on Metromix online (which is the Chicago Tribune's entertainment website) or the Chicago Reader for all the dining specials around town then. Also for the free performances, etc., happening then.

Secondly, parking is very expensive in downtown Chicago, so if the train is something you want to do, seriously consider it. When you get here, invest in CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) visitor passes, which are good for unlimited usage for a specified number of days. You'll more than get your money's worth out of them.

Cheaper places to eat downtown would be: Get an Italian beef sandwich (Mr. Beef on Orleans is my personal favorite, but Portillo's on Ontario also has them); a Chicago-style hot-dog (again Portillo's has these); Chicago pizza (if you do a search here, you'll see many posts about that issue); burgers (I always recommend Boston Blackie's - but now there is Patty Burger down in the Loop); Golden Budha on Randolph just west of the Cadillac Theatre has great luncheon prices; the gumbo at Heaven on Seven (111 N. Wabash); the onion soup at Bistro 110 (just west of the Borders on N. Michigan Avenue); soup at Soupbox on Chicago, just west of the Water Tower; agree with Garrett's popcorn; cinnamon rolls from Ann Sather's (several locations around town but the original is on Belmont, just east of the Red Line station).

The best place for coffee in town, IMHO, is Intelligentsia (three locations: original on N. Broadway, one in the Monadnock Building on Jackson and one just west of the Chicago Cultural Center on Randolph.

However, you'll want to discover the neighborhoods when you are here...Chinatown is a good place to spend 1/2 day and have some dim sum, etc. Lincoln Park (this is a BIG neighborhood, so depends where you want to go how to get there) and the Duke of Perth has an all-you-can-eat fish n'chips dinner for under $10 on Wednesdays and Fridays. Try Wicker Park/Bucktown (take the Blue Line); Lakeview, including Wrigleyville, Boystown and the N. Southport areas (again, this is a big neighborhood but you could take the Red Line and then branch out by bus, depending on the area you want to go) and for a very nice inexpensive steak dinner, try Tango Sur (Argentinean steakhouse) on N. Southport, just north of the Music Box Theatre - have the flan as well; or Lincoln Square (take the Brown Line).

Places to go and things to see that don't cost a lot (or anything): The Lincoln Park Zoo and the Lincoln Park Conservatory are free every day. Millennium Park is free to explore and often has free concerts and performances. The Chicago Cultural Center has free performances on some days, inexpensive ones on others. The Art Institute (a true must-see in Chicago) has free Thursday evenings from 5 pm - 8 pm and most of the other museums (Field, Shedd Aquarium, Museum of Science and Industry) have free or reduced general admission - special exhibits still generate charges but they are worth it! The Chicago Architecture Foundation has many inexpensive walking tours. Get a free Chicago Greeter to introduce you to a neighborhood or by a specific interest.

Hottix kiosks around town sell reduced price (cash only) day of performance tickets. And there are free drawings for Wicked, the Musical every day. If the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is still running then, they also have drawings for free tickets.

If the weather is decent, you can walk by the lake along the walking/jogging/biking path that travels for miles along the lakefront.

And for those little splurges that mean a lot: Try breakfast/brunch at Orange (the original location is on N. Clark close to the Belmont Red Line station and the downtown location is on Harrison); the 5-course $25 dessert menu at Tru (one of our ultra-premier restaurants)-reservations necessary, dress appropriately; don't know if you are all 21 yet, if not try the Jazz Showcase Sunday 4 pm matinee; and, although the Chicago Architecture Foundation's River Cruise is not running when you are here, pick up a DVD of it at the CAF's location in the historic Sante Fe Building on S. Michigan (right across from the Art Institute). It will be a beautiful reminder that you'll want to come back when it's warmer.

So, you'll find more than enough to fill those four days. Just choosing what to do will be the difficult part!

Have fun when you are here!
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Old Nov 4th, 2006, 08:25 AM
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I have to apologize but I was incorrect about the DVD about the CAF River Cruise. It's not available from at the CAF but the one for Chicago by L and the Chicago Lakefront are - as is the book about the views from the River.

Sorry for the misinformation!
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Old Nov 4th, 2006, 11:40 AM
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wow!! both messages helped alot!! my boyfriend's sister just moved back to MS from Chicago so she could probably tell us about the nightlife and where to go. another question is what about going to an oprah show?? and how would we get from the train station to our hotel? cab?? we were lost about where to go and what to do so you both helped a ton!! thanks!!
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Old Nov 4th, 2006, 11:42 AM
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and we will be visiting in will it be snowing or not then??
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Old Nov 4th, 2006, 11:56 AM
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If you are visiting in March you will be guaranteed to be cold but the snow will be hit or miss. We could get a foot or more likely flurries or nothing.

Take a cab to the hotel (good choice on the Westin) from the train station; it will be less than $10. Check airfares from Jackson, Memphis or Baton Rouge - you never know.

Oprah tickets can only be had by going through the normal channels which I think are explained on the show and on the website.

I agree with everything posted here and am hard pressed to add to it but here are some of my favs:

Party around Wrigley Field and get wings at Yakzees on Clark.

For a hip hotel bar scene try the Sofitel not far from where you are staying.

Wiener Circle in Lincoln Park late night is cheap and legendary for hotdogs.

For unique youthful shopping try Division St. in Wicker Park and Damen and North (walk north on Damen.)

If you walk north on Michigan Ave from your hotel for about 3 blocks you will be at the beach (it's amazing!) but remember it will only be about 35 degrees.
Old Nov 19th, 2006, 05:29 PM
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You must try and make it to Chicago for St. Patricks day which lands on a Saturday in 2007, March 17th. The city will go nuts for the whole weekend.
Either way you need to go north of downtown Fri or Sat night to party and eat. 1:Wrigleyville area-Clark St. and Addison 2: Lincoln Park-corner of Halsted and Diversey. 3: Southport corridor-Roscoe north to Waveland Ave. These areas are filled with bars, restaurants and young LOCALS. Many have good drink specials and are a lot cheaper then downtown prices. Some of the best restaurants in the city are also in these areas. The red line goes north and is cheap and easy. Once in the area walk around and take cabs, which are cheap when you split them. Great for doing a pub crawl and meeting locals. Try also Bucktown area- North Ave, Damen and Milwaukee-need to take the Blue Line. Remember, these areas are where the young, mostly local people hang.
Check out you can enter the neighborhood to see what is available and also check out Mapquest to get your bearings. have 5 fun cheap bars. McGees is our favorite out of them and Durkins is fun. Many times they have free trolley service from bar to bar.
Jones_n is offline  
Old Nov 20th, 2006, 06:25 AM
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You need to check and make sure that you can stay in hotels because many have a minimum age of 21 or if the guests are under 21, one person must be over 25 years of age.

You said this is a cheap trip, have you thought of staying in hostels?
Old Nov 20th, 2006, 08:55 AM
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If you end up taking the train to Bucktown (about 20 minutes from downtown) eat the the Meritage Wine Bar and Restaurant.

We were there for our anniversary in September and it was the best meal in our 3 nights.

We do have warm spells (I'm north of Chicago) in April, but count on it being pretty cold. I'd guess 30's and 40's. It may get up into the 50's if you're lucky, but I wouldn't count on it.

So maybe some time inside would be good. The Shedd Aquarium, the Adler Planitarium, The Field Museum and the Art Instutute and all good for an afternoon. You'd need to cab from where you're staying, but with several of you it shouldn't be too much.
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Old Nov 21st, 2006, 08:16 AM
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I recommend taking the train. We take it from So. IL. I can't imagine driving from Mississippi! Check on the Student Advantage card. They offer discounts on Amtrak, so it might be cost-effective to get one. It is comfortable, since you can walk around, eat, etc. Back in college, a lot of my friends just hopped the City of New Orleans for Mardi Gras and other weekend trips. You can pack your own food and beverages, and save a ton of $.

We have taken a cab from the train station to Chicago hotels.
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