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First time to Chicago for the marathon and sights

First time to Chicago for the marathon and sights

Sep 29th, 2009, 08:13 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2008
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First time to Chicago for the marathon and sights

I'm headed to Chicago from October 9-13 so I can run the marathon on Sunday and see the city for my first time. I would love recommendations from anyone on pretty much anything. I'm going with a few girl friends who are also running the race. I think we will do some sight seeing on Friday and Saturday (though not too much walking before the race) as well as on Monday and Tuesday. I was thinking about a boat trip/tour on Sat to stay off my feet. Also, I could use a recommendation for an Italian restaurant to carb-load for lunch on Saturday (and a light dinner on Sat night). We will be staying at the Hyatt downtown on Wacker. All advice is appreciated (though keep in mind a bit of a budget). Thanks!!!
jessicajls is offline  
Sep 29th, 2009, 08:17 AM
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"I would love recommendations from anyone on pretty much anything."

Look through a guidebook
vjpblovesitaly is offline  
Sep 29th, 2009, 08:24 AM
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For the boat tour, I would recommend the Chicago Arch. Foundation River Cruise.

Could also do 1 of the towers to get the view. I would recommend the Hancock.

What kinds of museums do you like?
tchoiniere is offline  
Sep 29th, 2009, 01:01 PM
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Will second the CAF River Cruise -- excellent.

Will also second the idea of doing some guidebook searching, and also add that Chicago is pretty well covered on this website lately -- would recommend a forum search, as there's plenty of good info here.
bachslunch is offline  
Sep 30th, 2009, 11:59 AM
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You will be close to Maggianos on N Clark St. Large portions that should help you load up on carbs on a budget.

You are also staying close to Magnificent Mile, and Millennium Park. So you can do some sight seeing, towards the end of Mag Mile is the Hancock bldg, you can check out the bar for a nice view and also make a visit to the ladies room too.

For other restaurants near your hotel check out the Lettuce Entertain You group, their restaurants should fit into your budget: http://www.leye.com/

There are other restaurants on N State St starting at Grand like the Weber Grill restaurant

There is also a restaurant called Grand Lux that is budget friendly and very popular in that area.

You are also close to Navy Pier, the Streeterville neighborhood with movie theaters, Lucky Strike bowling lounge.

It really depends on what you and your friends want to do.
K_brklyn is offline  
Oct 1st, 2009, 01:00 PM
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Thanks for the advice so far. We are definitely going to hit the Navy Pier and the CAF river cruise. I have some guide books but love when people give personal recommendations. Last year we ran the Portland marathon and got some great recommendations on little but tasty restaurants. I'd like to stay away from any chain restaurants that I can eat at when home in Dallas. I heard about the view from the ladies room in the Hancock Center and am curious to see what that is all about.
jessicajls is offline  
Oct 1st, 2009, 03:58 PM
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What for? IMHO, it's a waste of valuable time.
sf7307 is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2009, 09:02 AM
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If you don't like chain restaurants forget Maggianos. It's a chain and since Chicago is a 5 star restaurant city, there are tons of non-chain restaurants to choose from. Do a Fodors search. Also agree, Navy Pier is a rip off. Don't bother.

Curious is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2009, 10:47 AM
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jessicajls, I'm going to give you a tip that not only helps you with getting your carbs on Saturday, but seeing a little more of the city as well (although you'll be doing a lot of that on Sunday).

There are (at most) 45,000 running in the marathon and where do you think most of them will be trying to eat the day before?

You want to get out of the downtown ("Loop"), Magnificent Mile and River North areas and into one of the outlying neighborhoods. There are a lot of neighborhoods in Chicago (77, to be exact); however, there are really only a handful which you might wish to consider for security reasons - most being on the north side. So, you just have to pick which neighborhood you would be interested in and let us know.

I'll give you a little list of some of the neigborhoods where you might consider dining out as well as spending some time visiting: the Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lakeview (and there are several areas, such as Boystown, Wrigleyville, N. Southport Corridor and Roscoe Village - starting eastward and going westerly), Wicker Park/Bucktown, Andersonville, and Lincoln Square. You might also consider the South Loop area, West Loop, Warehouse District areas.

With respect to Navy Pier: There are good things about the Pier to be mentioned. The stellar Chicago Shakespeare Theatre is located there. Has some very nice family entertainment (such as the recent Cirque Shanghai performances). All of the lake tour boats dock there. It has some really nice special events from time to time. Smiths' Stained Glass Museum (free) is located there. And in the summer, it's fun to go to the Beer Garden down on the far end of the Pier for some free music and to enjoy the great views.

P.S. One great thing to consider is the *FREE* Chicago Greeter service. Utilize the service for touring one of the neighborhoods above with your friends. You won't regret it. See www.chicagogreeter.com for details and some brief descriptions of the neighborhoods as well.
exiledprincess is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2009, 11:28 AM
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I have a couple suggestions:

Go to the Expo on Friday. Saturday its a zoo. You can catch the shuttle bus at the Fairmont hotel (Columbus & Wacker) which is right by your hotel.

The expo is probably the best in the country.

For Saturday, I would recommend hopping in a cab and coming to Old Town. The cabbie can get on Lake Shore drive and you will be in Old Town neighborhood in 10 minutes; fare won't be more than $10.

There is a pretty good Italian restaurant at Wells & North Ave:


I believe its open for lunch too if you'd rather carbo load then.
The neighborhood is safe, and lively. This is where Second City is. Next to Second City is Fleet Feet which is our biggest running store (but after the expo this will pale).

After your meal, stroll up and down Wells and enjoy the small shops and restaurants. Cabs are plentiful for getting back to your hotel.

Last thing, I would recommend you run with water. Last year the race was run very well, however the first few stations are mobbed and you will lose a lot of time. Two years ago they ran out of water (you probably heard about this fiasco).

Also, at mile 10 you will run right past the restaurant I referenced above, and then continue along Wells.

Have fun! Its a great race, with tons of crowd support, but don't expect a PR.
Queenie is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2009, 07:22 PM
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"If you don't like chain restaurants forget Maggianos. It's a chain and since Chicago is a 5 star restaurant city, there are tons of non-chain restaurants to choose from."

For what it's worth, Maggiano's started in Chicago. I would also recommend Mia Francesa's on Clark, just north of Belmont, for Italian.
andrews98682 is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2009, 11:37 PM
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I have to ask: Why would you take Lake Shore Drive from the Hyatt Regency to get to Old Town? Only if you have a cabbie who tries to take advantage. If you were taking a cab, you would want to go west on Wacker to either Clark or LaSalle and then north.

If you want to take a bus to get to Old Town, you just need to pick up the #22 (Clark St.) or the #36 (Broadway) NB CTA bus at the intersection of Wacker/Dearborn* and disembark at the intersection just before North/LaSalle - where the Chicago History Museum is located. Personally, I'd choose the #22 as #36's can get a little funky at times.

At that location, you are in the Gold Coast neighborhood. Old Town is to your left (west). And Lincoln Park is to your north and northeast.

jessicajls, as you can see, I did include Old Town in the list of neighborhoods in which you might consider. But, honestly, I really think that there are other neighborhoods which might be much more interesting to all of you.

*Clark St. is one-way southbound south of the Chicago River. Dearborn is one-way northbound south of the River.
exiledprincess is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2009, 11:39 PM
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Oops! What I meant to say above is that you disembark at the *bus stop* at the Chicago History Museum. Sorry.
exiledprincess is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2009, 04:02 AM
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Jeeze Exiled Princess, I'm sorry . Yes, taking Lake Shore would be aoubt 1/2 mile longer but there are far far fewer lights and it is much faster.

And why not suggest the 151 bus to Stockton? That would be as direct.
But really with 3+ more people a cab is as economical and easier than the bus.

Bottom line is on Saturday they should not be walking much at all.
Queenie is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2009, 01:36 PM
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Queenie, I think you are being too optimistic in both your travel distances and the cab fare cost. I also think you haven't considered the cost of the surcharges for the extra passengers and the tip.

As we don't know how many are in that group, it would be difficult to calculate the cab fare, but I'd say it would be at least $15 one way to Old Town, depending on where they end the trip. Or $30 for the RT if they cab it each way.

CTA Visitor Passes run $5.75 per day (pp) and they are for *unlimited* rides during a 24-hour period.

I didn't mention the #151 because it will be extremely busy on N. Michigan Avenue whatever day they choose that weekend. It will be extremely s-l-o-w going taking the #151. You want to get away from that area.

Although it's hard to say since the OP hasn't given much information about the party (no ages or interests mentioned), but I just have a feeling that they'd prefer the Wicker Park/Bucktown area, Lincoln Park or Lakeview (N. Broadway in Boystown, especially) areas better. Not only do these areas have many more options and/or better restaurants and unique shops - as well as more entertainment options - than Old Town does, but they are all in very compact areas where they don't have to do a lot of walking. Lincoln Square and Andersonville would entail more of a travel time but each are interesting in their own rights.

I'm not saying that Old Town is not a nice area or anything of that nature - and I do wish that more people did visit. It just doesn't have quite as much as some other neighborhoods, based on some people's interests.

To the OP: If you do decide on taking a cab anywhere, there is one thing to be particularly aware of this time of year. As you may be aware, Chicago sits both on Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. Chicago has many drawbridges over the Chicago River. Chicago also has many harbors. In the spring and fall, watercraft that are moored in the harbors make their way inland via the Chicago River, which means that the drawbridges over the Chicago River have to be raised. All the bridges on streets crossing the Chicago River are raised consecutively going westward.

This is a pretty spectacular sight - as long as you aren't sitting in a cab in traffic on one of those streets with a raised bridge - with a meter running.
exiledprincess is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2009, 01:52 PM
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Oh! I forgot to mention this to the OP...

The Chicago Architecture Foundation has a 3.5 hour "Highlights by Bus" tour. Although this is a very comprehensive tour, some people might find 3.5 hours on a bus a little much. However, since the OP wants to stay off her feet that Saturday yet see the city...

Here's the URL for information on it, in case you have any interest: www.architecture.org/tour_view.aspx?TourID=72
exiledprincess is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2009, 01:56 PM
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My mistake...The CAF only gives this tour on Wednesdays and Sundays (except October 11) at this time of year. They don't start having it on Saturdays until November 1.

I do apologize.
exiledprincess is offline  
Oct 4th, 2009, 07:53 AM
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Here's another vote in favor of the Navy Pier, at least in principle. The Stained Glass Museum alone makes it worth a visit. There's also a pleasant view of the skyline from there. And it's a fun place to wander and people watch.

Whether you want to spend time on your feet wandering around anywhere either before or after a marathon may be another question, of course.
bachslunch is offline  
Oct 6th, 2009, 02:09 PM
Join Date: Aug 2009
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I suggested Magianos because you said you wanted to "carb-load" I didn't take that to mean you were looking for a fine dining Italian experience in Chicago.

Try Coco Pazzo, Gabriels, Spiaggia, Pane Caldo, Il Mulino. Lots to choose from. Most of them are close to your hotel.

Good luck with the Marathon!
K_brklyn is offline  

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