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Single female traveler visiting Chicago need help on itinerary

Single female traveler visiting Chicago need help on itinerary

Nov 5th, 2014, 06:42 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 12
Single female traveler visiting Chicago need help on itinerary

Planning to visit Chicago for a 3 or 4 days trip in April alone. Is 3 days too short? What would be the best place to stay for a single girl with limited budget and no car? What would be the must visit if this is my first visit? Just want to plan a relax and safe trip with low budget. Thanks in advance.
MsGor is offline  
Nov 5th, 2014, 07:16 PM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 4,039
Chicago has a great public transportation system, so there's no need to have a car there.

We found purchasing the City Pass was a good deal for us as it included admission to all the museums we wanted to visit--the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry and the Art Institute--and you get to bypass any admission lines. If you plan to visit these (or other) museums in Chicago, check out the City Pass.

If you can possibly extend your stay to 4 days, you won't run out of things to see and do in Chicago.
longhorn55 is offline  
Nov 5th, 2014, 09:48 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 20,707
I agree -- if you can add a day, or even two, you are likely to find more than enough to keep you busy. What is a "must-see" really depends on YOUR interests, although longhorn55 has mentioned some of Chicago's most noted (and quite wonderful) museums. A good guidebook should help you decide what to see and how to organize your time. I'd recommend buying one, so you can mark it up in advance, but you can also consult guidebooks at your local library.

I also agree that there's no need for a car -- just stay somewhere near public transportation and, if possible, near some places that are nice/fun/safe to walk around in the evening, e.g., near the Miracle Mile.

It's been a while since I visited Chicago, but I remember the Red Roof Inn on Ontario as being surprising affordable for the location. It's definitely a budget accommodation, and doesn't get the best of reviews, but it might be worth considering, or at least using as a comparison point.

kja is offline  
Nov 5th, 2014, 11:57 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 27,868
You will get more input on hotel if you give your per night (tax included) amount that you can spend.
DebitNM is offline  
Nov 6th, 2014, 08:06 AM
Join Date: Jul 2005
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The greatest concentration of hotels and tourist sights is in the Magnificent Mile/Streeterville/River North area. You'll find hotels from the Red Roof and Hampton to the Four Seasons and Peninsula, shopping and restaurants.

For transit, check www.transitchicago.com. It has maps, a trip planner, how and where to buy farecards and how to track buses and trains with a smart phone.

For more on hotels and sights check www.choosechicago.com. For events and restaurant listings searchable by neighborhood, price or cuisine, go to www.chicagomag.com or www.chicagoreader.com.

Keep in mind that Chicago is a major convention destination and hotel rates sensitive to supply and demand. April 12-16 will bring 37,000 health care IT folks to the city followed by 13,000 educators April 16-20 and 60,000 for the Comic and Entertainment Expo April 24-26. If you can work around those dates, you'll find better options. If not, book something you can cancel ASAP and keep looking for a better deal if it's not ideal. Most hotels release blocked rooms about 30-days before a conference, so you may find some better rates in early to mid-March.
Citylghts is offline  
Nov 6th, 2014, 09:50 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
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I have traveled to Chicago many times by myself. As others have said, public transportation is the way to go. For your first time I would extend your stay to 4 days if at all possible.

The last two visits I stayed at The River Hotel. It is located on Wacker just a block off of Michigan Ave and right on the river. I found it to be centrally located and I got really good rates. The hotel is mainly a business hotel so they have all that you need without all the extras. I reserved a single room which was a bit small but how much room do you need to sleep. The staff was very helpful with anything that I asked.

I suggest making a list of things that you would like to see before purchasing any passes. I have never found the City Pass to be beneficial because I could not see enough in one visit.
gardendiva is offline  
Nov 6th, 2014, 10:03 AM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,105
For cheap housing within walking distance of most things you want to see, check the HI Hostel. http://www.hiusa.org/illinois/chicago/chicago
For a solo traveler (male or female) it's the best deal in Chicago IMO.
It's right next to the El not far from LaSalle Park.
The upper floors are used as dorms by local colleges.
tomfuller is offline  
Nov 6th, 2014, 06:30 PM
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 1
You have to do the sky deck at the sears tower, pizza (lou malnati's), chicago river architectural tour (trust me), Field Museum/Shedd Aquarium (right next to each other), do the Adler Planetarium (if you have time), ride the el (train), Art Institute, Cubs game at Wrigley Field (april 6th is the home opener), Magnificent Mile (if you like to shop), Buckingham Fountain, Grant Park, and Kumas (burgers), Play at the Steppenwolf Theatre

Things you shouldn't waste your time on: Navy Pier, Sox game, Hancock Building and either of the zoos
thereezakeegs is offline  
Nov 7th, 2014, 11:46 AM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,568
There is no such place as LaSalle Park. You can take the "L" (not "el") from either airport to the central city in 45-60 minutes.

The Harris Hostel is in The Loop, the area just south of the Chicago River which has a larger concentration of offices and banks than River North, so tends to be a bit quieter. If the prices are more in line with your budget, you'd only be about a 10-15 minute walk away.

As for the Willis Tower versus the Hancock Center, Willis is pretty isolated from most of the other sights. For the price of admission to either observation deck, you can head to the lounge on the 96th floor of the Hancock and get a drink and view.

There are several architectural river tours, if you opt for this, check those operated by the Chicago Architectural Foundation (www.architecture.org) or the Chicago Historical Museum. Both groups also sponsor a number of walking and other tours that focus on one building (like the Chicago Board of Trade) or a neighborhood and last 1-3 hours.

As for Chicago-style pizza, there are several places to find it including Giordano's, Lou Malnatis, Gino's and others. The best is more a matter of personal preference than anything else.

The Magnificent Mile is the primary shopping district and has everything from The Gap, Marshall's and H&M to Saks, Cartier and Chanel. You can find a listing of stores at www.themagnificentmile.com. However, don't overlook the State Street shopping district and if you're looking for small boutiques, take the Brown Line to Armitage Avenue and wander around Armitage and Halsted.

If you're interested in theatre, there are many good choices. Check www.chicagoplays.com for complete listings of all the local and touring companies as well as discount info through Hot tix.

The Lincoln Park Zoo is easily accessible via several CTA bus routes (Number 22, 151 or 156) and free. The Brookfield Zoo is a good distance west of downtown and not a good choice if you only have a limited time to visit.
Citylghts is offline  
Nov 7th, 2014, 08:51 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 3,507
Besides the HI hostel, there are others to consider in other parts of the city. For example, my daughter stayed at this one in Wicker Park, a walkable "hipster" neighborhood not too far from downtown, and not far from the Blue Line. http://www.ihspusa.com/
You may find others with a little Googling.
Have a good trip!
Dave_Ohio is offline  
Nov 8th, 2014, 02:56 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 23,974
We enjoyed our FREE City Greeter Tour. You will have to contact them and choose a neighborhood you'd like to visit ahead of time. We had a delightful volunteer. He included a visit upstairs in the historic building where the tours originate. Good idea to have a bus pass ahead of time. The public transportation is great. We stayed at Best Western River North but needed free parking. It was an ok place a few blocks from the bus stop.

What I have done sometimes when traveling alone is get take-out for evening meal. It makes the end of day more relaxing but it might depend on how tired you are.
dfrostnh is offline  
Nov 8th, 2014, 03:40 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
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For things to do, I would really recommend going out to see the Frank Lloyd Wright home and studio in Oak Park and other Prarie school buildings in the surrounding area--reachable with public transportation with a 10 minute walk at the end.
We also enjoyed the chicago History Museum

I would say plan for longer than 3 days if you can.
Vttraveler is offline  
Nov 8th, 2014, 06:52 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,499
No use making recommendations until the OP clarifies a couple of points:

1. What range does "low budget" exactly mean to you?

2. How are you arriving in the Chicago area? Flying? Train? Driving?

The second is quite important because you will have to pay for parking in Chicago. So if you stay in a hostel downtown, but have to pay for parking, it might actually turn out to be more expensive than staying out at a hotel by O'Hare, for example, and commuting into the "downtown" area on the Blue Line ('L).

I do not recommend this for someone with such a short stay because the commute is almost an hour into the "downtown" area of Chicago each way. However, if your stay is only for two days and you are flying into O'Hare anyway, that's only two extra trips of wasted vacation time.
exiledprincess is offline  
Nov 8th, 2014, 07:15 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,499
Sorry, I meant to include these suggestions for your consideration:

1. If you only go to one museum, consider the Art Institute. Considering that you could spend around 3-4 hours just looking at the priceless art **highlights** would make this option a "budget-friendly" choice.

2. April weather can be notoriously "iffy". Make alternate plans for both outdoor and indoor activities. If the weather cooperates, I highly recommend the Chicago Architecture Foundation's River Cruise, IF it is the later part of April and they are running them at that time.

3. Agree with the free Chicago Greeter service suggestion.

4. The Chicago Cultural Center has many free events, concerts and exhibits. They have building tours. The InstaGreeter walking tours originate from there. And there is a visitor's center there.

5. The Hottix location is right across Randolph Street from the Chicago Cultural Center for discounted day-of-performance tickets. Wide variety - and a very, very good chance to visit one of the outlying neighborhoods - for dinner and a show that is much less than the Loop Theatre District areas.

6. Of course, this depends on what days you are here, but some of the blues and jazz clubs have free and/or lower cover charges for earlier sets.

7. Getting a CTA visitor's pass on Ventra would be to your benefit. As a rule, dining in the outlying neighborhoods is usually somewhat less than "downtown", where the less expensive choices normally lean towards only chain restaurants, fast food and tavern (bar) fare. Please note that this isn't always true because some of the very best restaurants are located in the outlying neighborhoods

8. On this same subject, if you go into an outlying neighborhood as an option, don't think that you'll be spending only a couple of hours there. Commuting to/from them can sometimes be 1/2-3/4 of that entire time. So plan on seeing the neighborhood, maybe a little shopping, dinner and then a live theatre performance, comedy show, maybe a musical concert. I know that this doesn't sound like an viable option for someone on a "low budget", but I'll give you an example: Take the Brown Line 'L to Lincoln Square (using your CTA visitor's pass option) - so that is free; nice area to look around, go for dinner (many inexpensive choices) and then go to a performance at the Old Town School of Folk Music (some performances have tickets as low as $10 pp). Or take that same Brown Line to the Southport station (in the Lakeview neighborhood) - you have live and movie theatre and music venues (i.e., Mercury Theatre, the historic Music Box Theatre and Schubas), boutique shops, and nice restaurants.

9. Do a walking tour on your own. Of course, you wouldn't know what you are looking at without a little direction. Go to the Chicago Architecture Foundation's main location in the Santa Fe Building (across from the south end of the Art Institute) and choose one. While you are there, you can also view the free exhibit, Chicago Model City.

10. A walk along the River Walk or beaches (although they aren't open until Memorial Day weekend) or through the many beautiful parks is absolutely free - and in the spring can be just delightful, if the weather cooperates.
exiledprincess is offline  
Nov 8th, 2014, 08:56 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,652
Totally disagree with above poster about the Hancock building. Like it much better than Willis (formerly Sears) tower. Skip the deck, go for a drink in the Signature Lounge.
charsuzan is offline  
Nov 10th, 2014, 08:16 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 12
Thank you so much for all the great information and the low budget tips. It is very helpful and seems like I have a lot to study and won't be bored. Also glad to know the event date in April, so I could avoid those period.

Answer to exiledprincess, I was hoping I could find something that's below $60 and close to public transportation. I did thought of staying at the hostel or rooms from Airbnb, but just not sure how safe it would be for single female. Or do you think I should just paid more and stay at a motel instead?

I will be flying into O'Hare, so won't need to worry about parking.

Thanks again for all the wonderful suggestions.
MsGor is offline  
Nov 10th, 2014, 08:33 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 20,707
"I did thought of staying at the hostel or rooms from Airbnb, but just not sure how safe it would be for single female. Or do you think I should just paid more and stay at a motel instead?"

That really depends on your budget for both time and money, with your interests as another consideration. If you stay somewhere that is more affordable, but less convenient, how much extra will you spend -- in money and in time -- on transportation to / from your lodging? Will you forego certain options because of the extra distance and/or cost to get there? Conversely, if you stay somewhere that is better located, but more costly, will you end up staying in your room rather than going out, or shortening your trip, just to save money? We can all tell you what we have done, but ONLY YOU can decide what works for you at this time.

Whatever you do, be sure to consider safety for ANY location! Hostels and airbnb options are not necessarily either less or more safe than any other option, and safety also depends on what you plan to do and when you plan to do it.

Chicago is one of my favorite cities anywhere -- enjoy!
kja is offline  
Nov 10th, 2014, 09:03 PM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,568
The hotels under $60 per night are going to be 60-90 minutes out of the city or places in the city where you wouldn't want to stay.

There are several hostels in the city with the one mentioned on Wabash in the best location, by far. All have experience with female guests and I have never heard of any problems. In addition, just around the corner from the Chicago Hostel is a large dorm that is shared by several of the downtown universities, so the neighborhood has lots of activities geared toward the college-age crowd.

You can try one of the bidding sites like Priceline or Hotwire and may get a very good deal. Before you try them, visit www.betterbidding.com, www.biddingfortravel.yuku.com or www.betterbidding.com for tips on how to do it and interpret what hotel they're offering.

One place that tends to pop-up when people are looking for economical hotels is the South Loop Hotel on W 26th Street. DO NOT stay there. It will likely be a nice neighborhood in about 10-15 years, but is in transition now and has excesses of vacant land and sketchy characters around.
Citylghts is offline  

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