Help planning Chicago trip

Jul 16th, 2009, 12:26 PM
  #1  
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Help planning Chicago trip

Would appreciate advice/comments on our Labor Day weekend trip to Chicago. DH has never been, and I was so young when I visited that I don't recall much. Our plane will land around 11 am on Friday, and we will depart around 11am on Monday. We have reservations at the Embassy Suites near the Navy Pier. We want to take a city tour, including a river tour, see a play or two, watch a baseball game, and possibly go to the Jazz festival. The plays we are interested in are Wicked and Jersey Boys. Do yo have any suggestions as to what we should do when? The plays both have Saturday matinees, and the White Sox play Friday night, and during the day on Sat and Sun.
gracie is offline  
Jul 16th, 2009, 12:31 PM
  #2  
 
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Go up the Hancock Tower for the view. I would do the night game at US Cellular Field.

I would recommend the Chicago Arch. Foundation River Cruise. I would also go to the Field Museum or Shedd Aquarium. It will be a very busy weekend.
tchoiniere is offline  
Jul 16th, 2009, 12:37 PM
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Thank you. I have never been to a professional ball game and one of my many issues is whether to go at day or night. DH and I are not sophisticated tourists and we were concerned that we might be putting ourselves in danger going to a game at night. I mean no disrepect to the fine city of Chicago. We have plenty of crime in our area but we know where to avoid. We are uneducated to the areas in Chicago to avoid.
gracie is offline  
Jul 16th, 2009, 12:44 PM
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Plenty of people at night. I wouldnt hang around much later than the game. After the game, head on the El back towards your hotel. I said the night game as it will be cooler and easier to see (no sun glare).

Here is a link to my trip report from last year. There is a link in it to my original discussion on this board that should help you quite a bit, including the safety part after the game.

http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...rip-report.cfm
tchoiniere is offline  
Jul 16th, 2009, 01:30 PM
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I agree that you're perfectly fine attending an evening game. You'll also be fine at pretty much any of the tourist sights and would have to wander pretty far afield to get into the bad areas of the city. It's very easy to take the Red Line to Cellular Field and back to your hotel.

Wicked closed in January. You can check for info on Jeresy Boys at www.broadwayinchicago.com. I'm sure that will be a busy weekend, so if you want to see Jersey Boys, you should purchase tickets asap for the best selection. In addition to the Broadway houses in the Loop, there are many other fine venues in the city that present everything from Shakespeare to experimental shows. Check www.chicagoplays.com for schedules and info. You could see Blue Man Group at the Briar Street Theatre or Second City.

Visitor passes would probably be a good investment. You can purchast them at either airport rail station. A 3-day pass is $14 and is good for unlimited rides on all CTA trains and buses for 72 hours. You can purchase them online at the CTA site: www.transitchicago.com. You'll also find complete transit info, maps and a trip planner. You can reach your hotel via the L from either airport. Just follow the signs from the baggage level that say "CTA Trains to City."

From Midway, the Orange Line will get you to the central city in about 45 minutes. From O'Hare, the Blue Line takes about an hour. If you're arriving at O'Hare, check the CTA site the prior Thursday. There has been construction on the Blue Line many weekends and service is suspended in some areas. There are shuttle buses to take you around the work zones, you just need to plan extra travel time.
Citylghts is offline  
Jul 16th, 2009, 03:30 PM
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Wow, I can't believe your itinerary doesn't include a visit to the Art Institute. It is a must-see on any Chicago visit. And you gotta visit The Bean and Millennium Park! Your trip is only about 6 weeks out, so getting tickets for whatever you plan to see and do should happen quickly or you might be out of luck!

You'll love this vibrant city, but it will be PACKED on Labor Day weekend, so be prepared for crowds at all venues and restaurants,etc.
AJMelheim is offline  
Jul 16th, 2009, 06:04 PM
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IMHO, you set your schedule around the things which have to be at a certain time first and then fill in with the others.

For example, have you taken a look at the *free* Jazz Fest's line-up? The main headliners are usually scheduled for the evenings at Petrillo Bandshell - however, that doesn't mean that you won't find wonderful offerings at other times and stages. I suggest that you use the Jazz Institute of Chicago's website for information: www.jazzinchicago.org for details.

If you wanted to performances there on Friday evening, then you wouldn't go to the Sox night game. Doesn't really matter at the Cell whether it's a night or day game, IMHO. On the other hand, if you were going to see the Cubs at Wrigley Field, would recommend that you go for a day game.

I would also recommend that you consider going on the River Cruise (assume you mean Chicago Architecture Foundations?) on Friday as early as possible after you get settled. Why? Most impact, IMHO.

The Art Institute also has free admission on (Thursday and) Friday evenings 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Think about this.

So a possibility is this:

Friday:

1) CAF River Cruise
2) Walk south on Michigan Avenue to Millennium Park.
3) Visit Millennium Park.
4) Pop in at the Art Institute for some time.
5) Visit the Jazz Fest (depends on performances you want to see) or Go to the theatre.

Saturday:
1) Walking tour by CAF? (If you go on the CAF River Cruise, there are discounts for walking tours included on their pamphlet.)
2) Sox Game.
3) Jazz Fest in evening (depends on performances you want to see) or Go to the theatre

Sunday:
You have the whole day free to do whatever you wish.
*Take a guided bike tour?
*Visit the beach?
*Go to the zoo?
*Revisit Art Institute, if you didn't have much time before? *Go back to the Jazz Fest?
*Celebrate Exiledprincess's birthday? I will be!
*Etc., Etc., Etc.

Hope this gives you something to consider. Happy travels!
exiledprincess is offline  
Jul 17th, 2009, 07:39 AM
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The advantage to seeing an evening White Sox game is that many attractions aren't open in the evenings. As you noted over that weekend, Friday night's your only option for this, though there are Saturday and Sunday afternoon games as well. As long as you're sticking with the crowd going and coming back to the Sox game, you shouldn't have any safety issues with public transportation or the immediately surrounding area.

Will strongly reinforce the idea of the CAF river cruise, which is terrific. Depending on your interests, there are world class museums in Chicago to suit your tastes, such as the Art Institute, Field Museum of Natural History, and Museum of Science and Industry. What interests you along these lines? Looking at the attractions options in a guide book is a good start. Am thinking that exiledprincess offered up an excellent possible itinerary for you.
bachslunch is offline  
Jul 17th, 2009, 07:50 AM
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Thanks for all the great advice. I am just a little overwhelmed at all the possibilities! I purchased our airline tickets earlier today. We fly from Panama City, FL (our home) through Memphis on NWA. We leave home at 6:05 am and are set to arrive at O'Hare at 10:36 a.m. I am thinking about taking a city tour of some sort as soon as we arrive in Chicago. Can you recommend a good tour? We couldn't check in our hotel, but I would think we could check our luggage. I always like to get the lay of the land, so to speak, as soon as I arrive in a new city. Sounds like we should go to the Art Institute on Friday night.
But, wondering whether we need to do the ballgame on Friday night, instead. Living in Florida, I am used to the heat, but I just don't know if I want to go to a day game on Saturday or Sunday. Plus, I have never been to a professional baseball game.
DH and I aren't really jazz fans, so we probably would not even recognize most of the headliners by name. We would be happy just going to see some Jazz, because is just something different from what we are used to.
And of course, being from Florida, we would love to see your beaches.
gracie is offline  
Jul 17th, 2009, 07:52 AM
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Exiledprincess' itinerary looks outstanding. I would just like to impress upon you that you cannot visit Chicago without at least taking a walk or bike ride along the lake. Early Sunday morning is an excellent time for this -- before breakfast, walk along the lake, and end up at one of the recommended breakfast stops -- I know exiledprincess recommends "Yolk", but I'm not sure where it is.
sf7307 is offline  
Jul 17th, 2009, 09:01 AM
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Another possibility is the fireworks at Navy Pier. The show is every Saturday at 10:15 throughout the summer with an additional show September 6 at 9:30.
Citylghts is offline  
Jul 17th, 2009, 09:16 AM
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Well, the CAF River Cruise is a tour where you learn about the city's history and architecture around the main, north and south branches of the Chicago River. And Chicago started around the Chicago River. IMHO, do that first. It might be the highlight of your trip here.

But it appears that you are thinking about one of those hop-on/hop-off types of bus tours? You could always pick one up over by the Chicago Water Tower or by the Tribune Tower or at Michigan/Wacker, but (frankly) I'm not sure you'll see much more than by doing Items #1-5 on my first proposed day - *with the exception of Museum Campus* (unless you walk over that way, past Buckingham Fountain and Monroe Harbor, if you are visiting the Jazz Fest in Grant Park) and the northern most part of the Magnificent Mile, including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Streeterville.

There is the one route that goes through some of the north side neighborhoods, up to Wrigley Field, though, if you have any interest - but you could to the same ultimate destination by jumping on the Red Line up to the Addison station. And another that travels all the way down to Hyde Park for the Museum of Science and Industry but I don't think that last one makes more than a couple of stops.

However, you might be interested in the *free* Instagreeter tours. They start at the Chicago Cultural Center, which is immediately across Michigan Avenue from the north end of Millennium Park and only 3 blocks south of the Michigan Avenue Bridge (lower level is where you board the CAF River Cruise). See http://www.explorechicago.org/city/e...tagreeter.html for details.

The *free* Chicago Greeter service is much more expanded, offering *many* options based by neighborhood or interest, but you have to make reservations in advance. See http://www.explorechicago.org/city/e...ter_tours.html for information.
exiledprincess is offline  
Jul 17th, 2009, 09:31 AM
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Oh, I just wanted to say something about the Jazz Fest. I gave you that URL for a specific reason.

I know that many people just "lurk" here - they don't post inquiries nor respond to them. So I try to give information that will give *more* than just some dry facts about dates and times.

The Jazz Institute of Chicago's (a non-profit organization) website is an excellent source for those who maybe don't know a lot about the different types of jazz and its history, but might want to learn and experience more. For example, if you go to the line-up for the Jazz Fest, you will see that a very large percentage of the scheduled performers are listed in blue hyperlinks which take you to their own websites - where you can view their histories, read their reviews, perhaps listen to some of their music.

Hope that this is of assistance - and entertainment value!
exiledprincess is offline  
Jul 17th, 2009, 10:49 AM
  #14  
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Exiledprincess, I think you are right -- we want the CAF River Cruise FIRST. We might do a hop on/hop off on another day.
gracie is offline  
Jul 17th, 2009, 11:37 AM
  #15  
cd
 
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You must have a luncheon buffet on the 95th floor of the John Hancock building at the Signature! The views of Chicago and the Lake are awesome. Not far from your hotel. See: http://www.signatureroom.com/Cuisine/default.cfm?PID=2
cd is offline  
Jul 17th, 2009, 11:38 AM
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cd
 
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PS Fri and Sat are $18.00 Sunday's is expensive.
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Jul 19th, 2009, 09:08 AM
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White Sox versus Red Sox...that will be a fun time! I'd go to the Friday night game b/c as another poster said, you can focus your days on the attractions listed above. It is a fireworks night at the stadium too. I am sure you have seen fireworks before, but I always like going to fireworks nights. The show happens almost immediately after the game.
Gina817 is offline  
Jul 19th, 2009, 09:45 AM
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It just depends on what the OP wants to see on Friday evening.

If they want to go to the Art Institute on its free evening (Friday), that's the only time they can do it when they are here.

I know that the OP mentions going to a matinee performance at the theatre, but then they need to realize that they may not be seeing the main cast perform. So they would need to attend the theatre in the evening on Friday or Saturday.
exiledprincess is offline  
Jul 21st, 2009, 12:51 PM
  #19  
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Thanks so much for all the advice given. DH and I have a lot of planning to do. I had not even considered the main cast/matinee issue.
We do love fireworks, too. So much to do and so little time. I am just thrilled that DH and I will be visiting Chicago. We haven't traveled much in the last five years so this is a real treat.
gracie is offline  
Jul 21st, 2009, 02:23 PM
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gracie, Navy Pier has fireworks each weekend. Labor Day weekend it will have them on two separate days: Saturday and Sunday.

BTW, there is a Beer Garden clear down on the east end of Navy Pier that offers free live entertainment on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
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