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feleciac Nov 10th, 2006 12:31 PM

venturing into chicago neighborhoods
I've posted earlier (chicago with two teens) for an early xmas shopping trip and have gotten some good info. I think my trip is shaping up:
Sat - shopping on Michigan, state, etc
Sears Tower / Art institute / maybe field museum...
Second City / dinner

Sunday - shopping in various neighborhoods (here's where I need help!)
Blue Man Group
Dinner out

Monday - Chicago Historical Museum, Lincoln park zoo, ??? lincoln park and lincoln square

I would like to know which neighborhoods are worth venturing into...I don't need to do a lot of boutique shopping but I could go into a funky shop or two...but we'll have husband and teen son with us so don't want to shop till we drop. Would like to go to a nice brew house or local joint to eat / grab a beer. But what else is worth stopping into the neighborhoods for???

I'd like to have a "plan" or should we just go to wander around and experience the "flavor" of the neighborhoods.

JJ5 Nov 10th, 2006 12:49 PM

You'll get a lot of different viewpoints depending upon which neighborhoods different people like, IMHO. Chicago has something like 80 of them, depending upon who is measuring.

Art Institute and John Hancock and/or Sears Tower (but everybody here like J. H. better because of location, I don't- just went to Sears and it is worth it)is enough for one day. If you did Art Institue / Field in one day- you would see merely a fraction of either, IMHO. Of those two the Art Institute is a must.

For the time you are in Chicago, you will definitely be so busy that I doubt you will get really into any neighborhoods, except maybe around Blue Man Group theatre. Especially because you are going into Lincoln Park on Monday.

IMHO, flavor in the neighborhoods takes time, especially in winter. And you want to have fun, not be on the way to somewhere else all the time.

See the search function and put in Chicago neighborhoods, and you will see what I mean.

Believe me, there are about 50 venues downtown too that you have not mentioned and might like. Read some of those threads.

Maybe someone can give you a dinner location for your dinner out near Blue Man Group- Briar St. Theatre, I think.

droolpatrol Nov 10th, 2006 02:32 PM

When you go to Second City, you'll be in a neighborhood called Old Town (the epicenter of which is roughly North Ave. and Wells St.)

Other fun neighborhoods are Lincoln Park (north of Old Town), Wrigleyville (near Wrigley Field), Bucktown and Wicker Park (near northwest side, North Ave and Damen).

I would also suggest stopping for drinks at the Signature Room, on the 96th floor of the Hancock Building. Much more fun than the top of the Sears Tower, and closer to the lake. Go up for the sunset. It's right on Michigan Avenue so that would work after the shopping.

Had a great dinner with friends last month at Carnivale (near west side, perhaps Fulton St) specializing in all sorts of Latin American food. Lots of music and fun.

exiledprincess Nov 11th, 2006 06:16 AM

feleciac, re: your question on the neighborhoods.

The Blue Man Group has an open run at the Briar Street Theatre, which is located in Lakeview, just north of Lincoln Park (the neighborhood) - and more specificially, in the southern section of "Boystown" (which is a portion of Lakeview, as is Wrigleyville).

On Sundays, the most of the stores in this area open at 11 am. However, it is the holiday season, so some might open earlier - and the Borders at the intersection of Clark/Diversey/Broadway (about 3-4 blocks south of Belmont) always opens earlier.

So, I'd suggest that you go for breakfast sometime before that. NOTE: the good places always get lines after 10-10:30 a.m. so try to get wherever you are going before that time.

My suggestions for breakfast/brunch - Near the Belmont Red Line station:

Orange on N. Clark, just north of Belmont (pricier option but very interesting menu items)

Ann Sathers on Belmont or N. Broadway (have the cinnamon rolls)

Stella's Diner on N. Broadway (just south of Briar Street - and 1 block east of the theatre - this would be about 2.5 blocks southeast of the Belmont Red Line station) - this would be a good late lunch/dinner place too, if you didn't want anything fancy. As the name says, it's a diner - but it has more than diner food.

Intelligentsia on N. Broadway (just south of Belmont) is the premier coffeehouse in the city (IMHO and others) - NOTE: there are two other locations in the Loop now - one in the Monadnock Building on Jackson and one between the Chicago Cultural Center and Macy's on Randolph - just in case you want to pop in when you're in this area.

You'll see that this area around the Belmont Red Line station is funkier than others in Chicago, although I'm not so certain that there are any shops in the immediate area where you might want to do any shopping (but Uncle Fun is fun to explore).

However, the shopping areas where I would mention are these:

For sports items: Up around Wrigley Field, there are several shops which specialize in this type of gear - take the Red Line to the Addison stop (1 stop north of Belmont). Good photo op for the ballpark, too!

On N. Broadway, between Hawthorne Place to the north and Belmont to the south, there are at least four home decor places dressed for the holidays, plus a music store, bookshop, coffee/tea market, candy/fudge/ice cream shop, t-shirt & etc. (also has limited amount of sports items) place.

MENTION: if you go north on N. Halsted, you will be getting into the area of town where the majority of the gay bars are located.

For your dinner options, Stella's (mentioned above) is a good neighborhood choice. You could look at the Casbah Cafe or Joy's Noodles and Rice on N. Broadway as well.

You might want to take a cab over to Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder on N. Clark (cash only). You're not too far away from A La Turka on N. Lincoln as well (good Turkish). Tango Sur (one of my favorite places for steak) is on N. Southport, just north of the Music Box Theatre - and Cullen's (just next door to it) is a good Irish bar, but family friendly and they have entertainment in the evenings as well.

Hope this information helps a bit!

feleciac Nov 13th, 2006 01:58 PM

is it redundant to go to Sears tower by day and Hancock (96th) by night?

We are going to be with a 15 yr old and 18 yr old so I don't expect to be spending an entire day at any one museum or venue because their attention span just won't allow it. We are all bundles of energy and we typically go from 8 am to 11 or 12 pm nonstop so we usually pack a lot in when we travel....dinners don't happen till 9 or 10 pm with us on a regular occassion!

JJ5 Nov 13th, 2006 02:41 PM

It depends on the weather, IMHO. From Sears you can see out Westward onto Chicago proper better, and get a better idea of the scope /size. Hancock you are looking at more lakefront/lake, basically downtown areas.

The Sears Tower is $12 addmission as well. But to me, it just isn't the same at all, because I like to see the train yards, churches etc. But if it is cloudy/foggy or overcast, do not bother. It's on the West side of the Loop, not very close to the other venues you are frequenting. But to me the Sears Tower IS the Sears Tower.

marilynl Nov 13th, 2006 02:56 PM

I don't know if it's redundant, but it may take time. I once tried to take out-of-town guests to the Sears Tower, but after an hour in line we gave up. There is also a line at the Hancock--I was at a wedding reception there once, and people going to events there get to jump the elevator line, so I don't know how long you have to wait on a busy day.

harry506 Nov 13th, 2006 08:49 PM

I'd suggest a stop at a local favorite, <a href="">Goose Island Brewery</a>, for an afternoon drink and/or dinner. It also has an excellent Sunday brunch, if you're willing to swtich your Monday activites to Sunday, since it's in the same Lincoln Park neighborhood. It's a good stop during a busy day of shopping, since the corner of North & Clybourn has about 50 shops, just north is a Best Buy (you can alway let the teenagers buy more music & electronics) and the Sam's liquors is a nationally know landmark with reasonably priced bottles that make great souvenirs or gifts.

Vittrad Nov 13th, 2006 09:16 PM

Exiledprincess gave you some great suggestions for her neighborhood (Orange is a wonderful resturant)

I live in Ukrainian Village/East Village, which is another fun neighborhood to explore (as is Wicker Park) and think it is a great place to check out with teenagers as well. There are loads of restaurants and places to go that I would imagine that a 15 and an 18 year old would love such as, in Wicker Park ... Reckless Records, Earwax Cafe (an eclectic coffee shop/ restaurant) plenty of boutiques and vintage shops. Further south by me (on Division street), there is plenty to see as well, but I'm not as sure that would appeal to teenagers as much as the Wicker Park neighborhood would. However, Division street is fast becoming a new area to eat, shop, etc. (I've eaten at Mas restaurant a couple of times and would highly recommend it for a nice dinner). Both areas are very easy to get to via public transportation (the Damen stop and the Division stop on the Blue Line respectively). In addition, youíll be able to see a bit of what is used to be left of Polish Broadway (the neighborhood of the Algren novels), the nytimes did a decent write up of the street Iíve lived off of for over four years now here

miamatusow Nov 13th, 2006 10:35 PM

What about Evanston? If you have two teenagers with you, they might enjoy hanging in a wonderful "college town" for a few hours. Plus, you'll enjoy a drive around some of the residential streets, which are just lovely.

BTW, I second the vote for Ann Sather's - wow, those cinnamon rolls are delicious!

Have a great time in Chicago!

JJ5 Nov 14th, 2006 06:45 AM

I went to the Sears Tower on Oct. 18, a Wednesday, and there was absolutely no line at all. Summer weekends are the busiest times, and I doubt winter will be busy at all. Weather might not cooperate and there are tons less walkers in the Loop in winter.

patg Nov 14th, 2006 09:37 AM

I'd suggest you spread out some of your Saturday schedule to the other days. You can't really do all that shopping and Art Institute and Field Museum in the same day; their hours aren't that long (the Field won't admit you after 4 P.M.) The stores on North Michigan Avenue are very crowded on the weekends. I'd save Michigan Avenue shopping for Monday.

The Belmont area around Clark is hopping on Saturday nights; maybe you could do Blue Man that night and let the kids stroll around on their own. Old Town and Second City will work on Sunday night. Check for other suggestions on theatre and for music.

I can't imagine kids that age will want to go to the zoo. Have you looked into a place like Dave and Buster's instead? Also, where is your pizza night? ;-)

feleciac Nov 14th, 2006 10:04 AM

Actually, i was the one that wanted to go to the zoo to see the lights! and then we'd be in the lincoln park area. I was just thinking a buzz thru since it was free.

as for pizza, since I am a native, I have my favorites...but I thought we might take them to lou malnotti's or another non-chain restaurant. NOT UNO, DUO, GINO's EAST and the like. I am not a fan of Lou malnotti's either but since everyone I know is, I thought I might take them there.

feleciac Nov 14th, 2006 10:05 AM

BTW, we would not do dave and busters because we have one here in atlanta. we wanted to try to do only chi-town stuff while we were there.

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