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dlpiano Nov 23rd, 2009 05:12 AM

Driving from the Outer Banks to Chicago
I realize this is a huge generalized question but all trips have to start somewhere, right?My husband and I are driving for the first time to visit our daughter in Chicago during the Christmas / New Years Holidays. Probably crazy but the only way we can afford it with a pet (our dog is joining us instaed of paying for boarding) and avoiding costly airfare. Any advice on places to stop for the sights, restaurants, scenic routes, stay-over bargains, etc would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you!

exiledprincess Nov 23rd, 2009 09:32 AM

dlpiano, this isn't about the route but issues you really need to consider when you arrive - and stay - in Chicago. I'm sorry that the below comments may sound negative but I'm trying to alert you to situations which you may not have considered.

You'll see many, many comments on the threads on this forum about not having a car when visiting Chicago. It's all about parking.

Assuming that your daughter has not arranged parking for you once you get here, you need to be made aware that parking is *very* expensive in Chicago. $25-50+ per night, in the downtown area. The lower end of that range is if you don't park the vehicle at one of the hotels but at one of the few cheaper parking garages/facilities away from your hotel. The higher end is if you park it at the hotel itself. Do not figure on any in/out privileges, so you will be needing alternate transportation once you get here. That being said, because of the economy, I have seen some hotels offering free parking as an incentive. But it's only some - and I have no idea if there would be any available when you are here - and you have to then think about the issue I'm bringing up in the next to last paragraph below.

This is assuming you have a car. If you are driving anything else, you'll need to check the height/length restrictions at the particular garage/lot to see if they'll even allow the vehicle.

If you are staying at your daughter's residence, does she live in an area which has parking restricted to residents only? If so, she'll need to arrange to get a permit for you to park there.

If not, then you need to be aware of the overnight parking bans and parking restrictions (other than just the residents only parking) that apply in Chicago. The overnight ban on critical routes (3 a.m.-7 a.m.) begins Dec. 1 and applies through April 1, 2010. This is even when there is no snow present.

In addition, we have the parking restrictions on snow routes when snow over 2", regardless of the time of day. No idea where your daughter lives, but here is the website for the City of Chicago which shows the routes. You'll see in the "Headlines" section where there is a hyperlink to the information.

Lastly, about your dog: If you are staying at a hotel, does it allow pets? I believe that most of the few hotels which are pet-friendly have weight restrictions and might require caging and/or not leaving the pet alone in the room. And, if you are staying at your daughter's residence, does her condo/apartment even allow pets? Many do not and, if they do, almost always it depends on size and weight requirements.

I want to bring these issues to your attention so you do not get a nasty surprise at the end of a long journey through what could be bad weather. Hopefully, you've already discussed these issues with your daughter and/or resolved them yourselves.

Citylghts Nov 23rd, 2009 11:27 AM

How long do you plan to take to drive between NC and Chicago?

What are your interests? What you want to see can determine the route you take. Stops could include the Indanapolis Motor Speedway Museum; the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland; the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory; US Air Force Museum in Dayton, OH or the world-famous architecture of Columbus, Indiana.

As for restaurants and "bargains" it's difficult to make any recommendations without knowing what your budget and preferences are. "Bargain" can mean different things to different people. What amenities do you want in a hotel and what are your food preferences? If you give a general idea of these things, posters can give you better info.

To add to the above post, Chicago also has restrictions on parking pick-ups or motor homes on residential streets. Other parking bans include the "inbound" side of major streets during the morning rush and the "outbound" side during the evening rush. Of course, all the on-street parking rules can change if your daughter lives in one of the adjacent suburbs.

dlpiano Nov 24th, 2009 03:28 AM

Thank you for such concern regarding our car, the parking, our dog, etc. We have all that covered. My questions were ON THE WAY to Chicago. Traveling through the states. I pulled out a map and became overwhelmed. There was a national park with caves-which could be cool. I just thought throwing a question out there may give me some responses from road warriors familiar with the route.

cd Nov 24th, 2009 06:20 AM

I don't know your route but Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home in Charlottesville Va is a great place to visit: We stayed at Boar's Head Inn

Also Shaker Village is a wonderful hotel and way of life to visit for a day and a night. 30 miles outside of Lexington, KY Very good restaurant.

And depending on the weather,(a little out in the country :-) French Lick in southern Indiana is a terrific day and evening stay. Both hotels are beautiful and we've stayed at both with good restaurants in each.

Citylghts Nov 24th, 2009 06:24 AM

dlpiano, I mentioned five possibilities of what you could see depending on the route you took. As you gave no indication of the amount of time you wanted to spend exploring or where your interests lie, it was impossible to know if you'd think any of them was worth the time.

Are you referring to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky? If so, it's not really along the direct route and will add a couple hours to your drive plus time to visit.

cd Nov 24th, 2009 07:00 AM

The Air Force Museum in Dayton mentioned by Citylghts is absolutely amazing! We spent most of the day there and did not see it all. If you go a wonderful place to eat is: Not cheap but well known with a good reputation.

If you head toward the Cleveland area I can give restaurant recommendations there also.

dlpiano Nov 24th, 2009 08:58 AM

Citylghts-I apologize for not thanking you on the recommendations. They sound great although we are more history, state/national park type of people. My fault for being too generalized. Thank you cd as well-I like the thought of visiting a Shaker Museum:)I do not know a route so may contact AAA for a trip tic and see how far we want to meander off the beaten path! I always can count on Fodors to set me in the right direction and get me thinking more about details regarding a trip:)

cd Nov 24th, 2009 11:01 AM

We enjoyed our stay at the Shaker Village. This is from the link I sent you regarding the hotel: The Inn encompasses more than 70 guest rooms, suites and private cottages spread throughout 13 restored 19th century buildings. Inn accommodations feature Shaker reproduction furniture, hardwood flooring and private baths.

There are some who do not like this facility because there are no elevators, the chairs are not lounge chairs but straight back. The beds were comfortable, but no kings, with white spreads and the windows had white curtains. No closets, just pegs around all the walls. We found this all to be part of the charm of staying in an original restored Shaker village. We were on the second floor of a meeting house and found it not to be a problem. Exceptionaly clean. The link I sent you does have directions. If you go, I hope it's not too cold for you.

exiledprincess Nov 25th, 2009 04:04 PM

dlpiano, I'm happy that you have all the issues covered once you get here. From your OP, it appeared that you were watching the pennies. Receiving a $200 bill for parking your car or a $150 towing fine - or not even being able to stay at a reserved hotel's room because of your dog (or paying the large extra charge for it) - definitely would have not been a good thing.

In any case, this was an opportunity to mention the above issues about parking for other visitors to Chicago who are planning on driving in. I guess a lot of people are totally unaware of these issues until they get here and then it's too late for them.

I think wherever you stay along the way might be dictated by hotels which are pet-friendly. I know that there have been a couple of threads about traveling with pets. Even if they are pertaining to different destinations, perhaps there is some information with respect to websites on them which might help you a bit.

I agree with many of the above suggestions.

I guess when you settle on your agenda, you'll also need to see what attractions allow animals (other than service animals) as well.

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