Long weekend in Chicago

Jun 2nd, 2006, 11:01 AM
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Long weekend in Chicago

Three girlfriends and I are headed to Chicago this month for a Friday-Sunday trip. None of us have spent a lot of time there before, and we're on somewhat of a budget. Any suggestions for must-do activities, good restaurants, etc. would be greatly appreciated!
jent103 is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2006, 11:18 AM
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Definitely go to Millennium Park downtown next to the Art Institutue. Check their web page and see what is going on there. There are a zillion inexpensive places to eat along that area.
rubytwo is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2006, 03:03 PM
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Pack a picnic supper (with a couple of bottles of wine) and head to Millennium Park for an evening concert! Check out their website


I also highly suggest going on the CAF (Chicago Architectural Foundation) river cruise.


You could also get tickets for Second City -- a fun way to spend the evening.

Have a great time in Chicago!
seetheworld is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2006, 06:09 PM
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Click on my name and you'll bring up all of my past posts. I did this trip with girlfriends last September and got alot of good information. Read my posts relating to Chicago for lots of recommendations.
KathyK is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2006, 11:42 PM
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When ever I have out of town guests I always take them to the Impressionist galley at The Art Institute.

Chicago has one of the finest collections of Impressionist art in the world. Some of the pieces in the Art Institue include "Sunday on La Grande Jette" by George Seurat, "Paris Street; Rainy Day" by Gustave Caillebotte numerous Monets, Kandinski, Picasso, Casset, Edward Hooper's "Night Hawks" and Grant Wood's "American Gothic" just to name a few of the more famous pieces.

Then I take them to the Courtyard restaurant inside the Art Institute. That is a very unique experience, a sheltered outdoor restaurant with tables arranged around the fountain. The prices are the same you would pay anywhere Downtown for lunch.

If the weather is nice take a walking tour of the Loop. See some of the outdoor sculpture. Start with the Calder Mobile in the lobby of the Sear's Tower, then walk to the Federal Center Plaza and see The Calder Stabile "Flamingo", the Chagall mosiac "Four Seasons" at Bank One Plaza, the Picasso in the Daley Center, the Miro across the street from the Picasso, and the Dubuffet at the James R. Thompson Center (formerly the State of Illinois Center). Walk down the "Canyon" of LaSalle street. Go to the Chicago Board of Trade (Mon-Fri)and look out over the trading floor. Note the statue of Ceres on top of the CBOT.

Go to Grant Park at night for a free outdoor concert. Pack a picnic dinner. Afterward walk over to Buckingham fountain (or the Married w/Children Fountain to the rest of the world!)Watch the light show at the fountain then walk across Lake Shore Drive & go on a boat ride.

Go out to the Planetarium at any time to see a beautiful view of the Chicago sky line.

At night go have a drink up at the top of the John Hancock Center. The drinks are on the expensive side but you only have to have one and the view from the Ladies' room is not to be missed!
cheribob is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2006, 05:09 AM
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I did this trip recently with 3 other girlfriends as well. Just click on my screen name to find my trip report on it. Chicago is great - in fact we're taking our granddaughter there in August for her 10th birthday.
Have fun! Pam
PamT is offline  
Jun 4th, 2006, 06:59 PM
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For touristy stuff, the Architectural Society has a wonderful boat tour. Also check out the museums - the Art Institute, Aquarium, Museum of Natural History - all fantastic. If you are on a budget, skip the Michigan Ave, River North and Gold Coast restaurants and head to Lincoln Park, Southport or Bucktown areas - there are great trendy places that are more resonably priced, plus this is where the local 20s/30s crowd hangs out. Also, check out metromix for what is going on in town during your visit: http://metromix.chicagotribune.com/
bakpakr is offline  
Jun 5th, 2006, 08:36 AM
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Thanks so much, everyone! Those are great ideas.
jent103 is offline  
Jun 5th, 2006, 09:03 AM
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This is the best weekend of all to be in Chicago as the number one art fair/street fair of them all is on. It's the Old Town Art Fair (which is connected to the Wells Street Art Fair). This is a MUST DO!!! Follow this link and have fun!

Jun 5th, 2006, 09:15 AM
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If you decide to have a drink at the Signatur Lounge at the Hancock building, DO NOT take the elevators to the observatory. They charge for the privilage and that's not where you want to go.

You have to take the FREE elevator to the Signature Lounge on 96th floor. The cost of 1 drink is less than the elevator ride to the observatory and you get the same exact view.

AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Jun 6th, 2006, 02:28 AM
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With all due respect to a previous poster, IMHO, neither the Old Town Art Fair nor Wells Street Art Fair are "must dos", especially for those on a budget. To be honest, the last couple of times I've gone, I've seen lots of browsers but not many buyers due to the price-tags of the items--and that includes myself.

For those on a budget, I'd recommend these items:

Agree with the free concerts at Millennium Park.

Agree with getting a drink in the Signature Lounge on the 96th of the John Hancock Building.

Summer Dance on S. Michigan Avenue (free).

The Art Institute is now free to the public 5-9pm on Thursday and Friday evenings.

Buckingham Fountain (free). Bobtail Ice Cream & Coffee is in a building to the south of the fountain. They have very good ice cream and serve Intelligentsia coffee and tea. (Soon will have hot dogs sandwiches as well.)

Lincoln Park Zoo and Lincoln Park Conservatory (free). If you go, get something to eat or drink at the sandwich/ice cream/grill area behind Cafe Brauer - one of the loveliest views of the skyline is back there, especially when the swan paddle boats are on the lagoon.

The beer garden at the far east end of Navy Pier has free entertainment.

The Hothouse on Balbo has great international acts at reasonable covers

The Old Town School of Folk Music in Lincoln Square has wonderful offerings.

For must dos: go to the Green Mill for jazz (take the Red Line El to the Lawrence stop - 1 block away).

Also absolutely agree with the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise. Pricier than others, but it's the best, IMHO.

For a less expensive option to see the city skyline from the lake, take the harbor water taxi from Navy Pier to Museum Campus ($6/pp one way - $12 all day). There's also a river taxi which runs from Sears Tower to Navy Pier.

If the Cubs are away when you are here, there are tours of Wrigley Field on Saturdays. Have to reserve in advance. Go to the Cubs website for details.

The Chicago Cultural Center (Randolph/Michigan) has many free events, exhibits and entertainment. Check their website for details. They also have a Tiffany dome and mosaics - Marshall Field's (1 block west) also has a Tiffany dome.

Theatre on the Lake have reprises of many of the city's best troupes performances at (usually) $15/pp. Tickets sell out fast. Otherwise, check out the Hot Tix kiosks to see what's available discounted day of performance. There are also drawings for tickets to Wicked and the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

Heaven on Seven, 111 N. Wabash (Cajun/Creole)-have the gumbo

Golden Budha (Chinese Steakhouse) - Randolph, just west of Franklin - great ambiance, luncheon specials.

Andy's Jazz Club has their "Jazz at Noon" series - no cover for the jazz - they have burgers, salads and the like

Italian Beef: Mr. Beef on N. Orleans
Portillo's on Ontario also has a good Italian Beef and Chicago-style dog, but Mr. Beef is better, IMHO

Hot Doug's at California and Roscoe have the greatest sausages in the city -Friday and Saturdays are the days for the Duck Fat Fries

Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder on N. Clark (right across the street from where the St. Valentine's Day Massacre occurred)

You can go to any Corner Bakery for an inexpensive breakfast, but do go to Orange at least once (original location is on Clark just north of Belmont or their second location in the Loop on Harrison). Go EARLY on weekends to avoid the long lines. This is a pricier option for breakfast, but well worth it - and breakfast IS the most important meal of the day!

Ann Sathers cinnamon rolls and Garrett's Popcorn to satisfy that sweet tooth - or stop in the Walnut Room at Marshall Fields (State and Randolph) for some Frango Mint Pie.

Hope these suggestions help you in your explorations of our little community!
exiledprincess is offline  
Jun 6th, 2006, 03:13 AM
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For some reason, I couldn't amend that last post the last couple of attempts. Maybe I'd exceeded my "limit"? But then again, I ALWAYS try to exceed the limit...

For a great farmer's market, go to the Chicago Green City Market on Saturday morning, just south of the Lincoln Park Zoo. Great organic produce, cheeses, meats, etc. available and cooking demonstrations by some of the city's best chefs.

Walking Tours: the Chicago Architecture Foundation has many of all types (usually about $10/pp); the Chicago Cultural Center has them; and the Chicago History Museum (fka Chicago Historical Society) have them. Check their websites for what's available when you are here.

Navy Pier has free fireworks on Saturdays.

Walk along the lakefront - visit a beach - play some volleyball. Rent a bike from Millennium Park or Navy Pier and explore.

Have fun!
exiledprincess is offline  
Jun 6th, 2006, 08:39 AM
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The Old Town Art Fair is not (as I'm sure EP knows) just for buying or even looking at art. It is to experience a wonderful street fair atmosphere with people watching, beverages, food and yes arts and crafts, all in the most beautiful neighborhood in Chicago. It is a great bargain and a lovely day out. Perfect for a visitor rather than someone who has been one too many times (that refers to me.) To recommend against it because you didn't see many people buyuing art is absurd and misses the point.

However jent, if you aren't going to go to Old Town, disregard the recommendations for the Green Street Market and the Lincoln Park Zoo because those are both across the street from the fair and you wouldn't want to fight the crowds just for a farmer's market or a mad house zoo.

Have a great visit!
Jun 6th, 2006, 10:38 AM
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We're actually going next weekend, not this weekend, so we'll miss the art fair anyway. EP - thanks for the big list! Definitely things to check out.
jent103 is offline  
Jun 7th, 2006, 06:53 AM
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Jent103, glad to be of service to you. Since I didn't know what your group's preferences were, I listed a number of items.

Inasfar as the Old Town Art Fair and Wells Street Art Fair, my comments were with respect to it not being a "must do" to those on a budget. Let's talk about "suggested donations" - or what I think should be more properly tagged "gate fees". *Each* one of these has a $5-7 suggested donation/pp. For this group, if they went to both, that would be around $40-50. You can still visit the Old Town area and watch people, you just don't have to pay $40-50 to do so. And, frankly, IMHO, there are many areas just as lovely - or even more so - in Chicago. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Secondly, the Chicago Green City Market. This is not just a farmer's market - but the PREMIER farmer's market where the chefs of some of the very best restaurants in this city buy their produce. And, if you would refer to the website of the Chicago Green City Market, you will see the pulldown list of the chefs that give demonstrations at the market. I happen to think seeing a live demonstration by Rick Bayless or Gail Gand of Tru at no cost might be interesting to others. Oh, by the way, did I mention it is free?

Lastly, Lincoln Park Zoo. To call it a madhouse is a disservice. It is extremely busy at times because it is a very good zoo - and, oh, did I mention it is free? Just go earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon on weekends to avoid the worst of the crowds.
exiledprincess is offline  
Jun 12th, 2006, 05:36 AM
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I'm going to Chicago for a long weekend in July and staying in Hyde Park. I'm from a small town so I'm a bit nervous about using public transportation at night. Any comments would be greatly appreciated.
MomKat is offline  
Jun 12th, 2006, 06:16 AM
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Momkat - Why are you staying in Hyde Park area? Away from the Museum of Science and Industry and the UC campus, it can be a bit dicey...esp for someone not familiar with cities, specifically Chicago
tuckerdc is offline  
Jun 12th, 2006, 06:34 AM
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For the OP: I first learned about the Journeywoman site from Fodors - this is a good time to give it another mention, I think. Especially as you'll find some unusual suggestions (a horse theater??)for Chicago right here:

tuckerdc is offline  
Jun 12th, 2006, 06:42 AM
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Honestly, I really would rethink staying in Hyde Park unless you are staying with someone who knows the area immensely and will be able to accompany you and be your "n sinc"eyes and ears.

If you are going to spent any amount of time in the LOOP or North side neighborhoods you are going to have a daily commute that may waste amounts of your long weekend, regardless of what you are planning to do. Plus the safety issues are prohibitive. I myself would never use the Red line that far South and/or never would make that trip by bus at night re Hyde Park / dowtown.

If you intend on staying within Hyde Park during the entire visit, well that would be an exception. But still you would be right to be "nervous" even then, IMHO- without strong neighborhood knowledge about boundaries with high crime areas.

I'm not an alarmist, and I know from experience the down sides to doing this.
JJ5 is offline  
Jun 12th, 2006, 07:20 AM
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JJ5 gets is right again. I have lived in Chicago a long time and I couldn't begin to find my way around in Hyde Park. Parts are lovely (the gargoyles at the U of C, the Frank Lloyd Wright House) but if you plan to go "up" to Michigan Avenue or the Loop and don't like public transport I'm afraid you will spend a lot of money and not have a very good time. You would be better off staying out near O'Hare and taking the blue line in each day.

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