Visiting Chicago....

Apr 30th, 2010, 06:26 AM
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Visiting Chicago....

I will be accompanying DH to Chicago for a couple of days and will be staying at the Marriott Magnificent Mile. I will be on my own while he works. I have never been to Chicago and am VERY excited about going but fear I will just be overwhelmed and will wander the streets aimlessly.

I definitely want to do some shopping and would like to spend the better part of one day at the Art Museum. I really don't plan to use public transportation. I hope not to wander too far from our hotel. I would also appreciate recommendations for a semi-nice restaurant, where DH and I could have dinner for around $80. I am 57, and in fairly good shape but can't spend the whole day on my feet. If I do, I'll pay for it the next day.

Thanks so much.
vickib2 is online now  
Apr 30th, 2010, 06:57 AM
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My very first trip to Chicago was with my husband who was also on a business trip. We also stayed at the Marriott. I loved exploring the city by myself during the day! Such a great city! Highly recommend the aquarium: and an architecture tour Have an early dinner drink with your husband at the Signature Lounge: The views are to die for. Or you could have lunch there one day. The recommendations for dinner are endless I would use the search and gather info, so much to choose from.
cd is offline  
Apr 30th, 2010, 06:57 AM
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The Art Institute is really great. Are you interested in other museums? I really enjoyed the Field, more than I thought I would, actually. Definitely see Grant and Millennium Parks.

For shopping, the Magnificent Mile has a lot of high-end stores (Tiffany, Neiman-Marcus, etc) and some "regular" stores as well (Crate & Barrel, H&M). State Street has lots of "regular" stores; if I'm looking to actually buy a lot, I'd head there first.

Personally, I like taking tours as a way to not just wander aimlessly. You don't say when you're going. If it's in the late spring or summer, I would definitely recommend the Chicago Architecture Foundation's architecture cruise ( I did this a few years ago and really enjoyed it. It's a great way to see and learn a lot while lounging! A more active option would be Bobby's Bike Hike ( I did one of their tours on my last trip and it was really fun - a great way to learn about the city. The ride is pretty much flat, and the only time I felt winded was on the last bit along the lake.
jent103 is offline  
Apr 30th, 2010, 08:26 AM
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One of my favorite shopping related sites is the Macy's in the loop. I'm still depressed that it's no longer Marshall Fields, but the building is just beautiful...and a great place to have lunch. There's also a Nordstroms Rack sort of across the street....
MP07950 is offline  
Apr 30th, 2010, 08:29 AM
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I heart Chicago and just returned from a long weekend there, including most of one day at the Art Institute.

If you're a fan, the current Matisse exhibit is amazing. The William Eggleston exhibit (modern wing) combined with the In The Vernacular photography show are also fabulous. And that doesn't begin to cover their "everyday" collections. I always this place when I'm in Chicago.

Have a great trip!
obxgirl is online now  
Apr 30th, 2010, 08:45 AM
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Will I be able to walk to the Art Institute from the Marriott downtown?
vickib2 is online now  
Apr 30th, 2010, 08:56 AM
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If the location is correct on Google Maps, yes. If you decide it's too long once you get there, there's a bus (147? 151? I'm not sure) which runs up and down Michigan. That's another tip - get a CTA pass for your stay. It's good on the El and on the buses.
jent103 is offline  
Apr 30th, 2010, 09:51 AM
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The Art Institute is about 3/4 mile south of the Marriott on Michigan Avenue. Head out the main entrance of the hotel and turn right. You'll cross over the river, then it will be on your left just beyond Millennium Park.

A transit pass may be a wise investment because if you get tired and don't want to walk at the end of the day, you can hop on a bus or the L to return to your hotel.

Passes are available at the Walgreens next to the Marriott or several other locations around town and there are vending machines that sell them in many of the rail stations. Day passes allow unlimited rides on all CTA trains and buses for a 24-hour period. A 1-day pass is $5.75 and a 3-day pass is $14 (a single trip is $2.25). You can get complete transit info, maps and a trip planner at

As for restaurants, there are literally dozens within a few blocks of your hotel. Check or for listings. You can search by neighborhood, price or cuisine. For seafood, there's Catch 35, for steaks - Chicago Chop House or Gibson's, for Italian - Italian Village or Rosebud on Rush. You'll also find deep dish pizza, Arabic, Mexican, sushi and just about anything else within a few blocks of your hotel. As cd said, stop at the Hancock before dinner for a cocktail. It's about the same price as going to the observatory and if you get there just before sunset, you can watch the city light-up for the evening.

As a prior post says, Michigan Avenue is a mix of high-end and less-expensive stores. I also agree that you should check out Macy's and the other shops on State Street.

If you want to at least window shop in the ultra-expensive stores, head to the north end of Michigan Avenue and turn left onto Oak. There, you'll find Channel, Barney's, Vera Wang, Hermes, Prada and lots of other designer boutiques. Hope you enjoy your trip.
Citylghts is offline  
Apr 30th, 2010, 10:07 AM
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Coco Pazzo Cafe is near the Marriott. Cross Michigan Ave( heading east) to St. Clair. Excellent Italian, owned by the larger restaurant Coco Pazzo. Good value.We've eaten there many times and always enjoy it.
HappyTrvlr is online now  
Apr 30th, 2010, 11:09 AM
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Are you familiar with Trader Joe's grocery store? They are great and there is one close to your hotel. I suggest stopping in and buying wine, fruit and cheese for your room!
Here is a map: Joe's Chicago - River North (696)&mlat=41.893302&mlon=-87.626597&SrchId=5183130&LocId=300
cd is offline  
Apr 30th, 2010, 06:44 PM
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oh wow, thanks so much for the specific directions and suggestions. The Signature Lounge looks awesome. Not sure if my husband and I will be able to eat together every night. (I could join him and his colleagues but prefer not to for various reasons)
Thanks for the heads-up about going to State Street to .shop. I will definitely get a transit pass, and thanks, citylghts, for telling me that I can purchase one at the Walgreen's next to the Marriott. As I said, I appreciate specifics! Thanks, cd, for the Trader Joe's idea! Happyrvlr, Coco Pazzo Cafe sounds like a winner.
vickib2 is online now  
Apr 30th, 2010, 10:00 PM
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If you're flying into town, you can also get a CTA pass at the airport (either one). That's what I've always done, since I take the train into town. Easy as pie.
jent103 is offline  
Apr 30th, 2010, 10:05 PM
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You'll love Chicago, Vicki. While completing my internship, I worked at that Marriott. Great fun. You might try Bandera's on Michigan Ave, across the street from the hotel. It's a "semi-nice" restaurant that would fit the budget you mentioned. Enjoy!
ChicagoDallasGirl is offline  
May 1st, 2010, 05:29 AM
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Hi Vickie, I think you will like Chicago. Check out the Art Institute's website. I believe Thursday is free admission day (you still pay for the special exhibits). It is a spectacular place...there is a very good restaurant in there too. Michigan Avenue is also great...if it's a hot day the lake effect thing actually makes it feel cooler. There's a great little caramel corn place off Michigan if you need a pick me up, called Garrett' it (it's pretty famous). Also if you turn east off Michigan on Illinois St. heading toward the lake, you go about 4 blocks or so and see a nice little gourmet grocery store called Fox and Obel. They have a cafe in the back that is nice for lunch. I've wandered Michigan Avenue many a time by myself and have felt very's fun. And I cannot recommend the Chicago Architectural Tour on the Chicago River enough....worth the extra pennies.
barbrn is offline  
May 2nd, 2010, 07:07 PM
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Vickie, I think you will really enjoy Chicago. So much so that you'll want to come visit us again - at a time when your DH doesn't have to be concerned about that pesky work!

As others have mentioned, getting a CTA visitor's pass is definitely to your advantage. I don't know if you are hesitant to do so because you feel the public transportation is too intimidating (which it's not) or too difficult (which it's not).

I'll mention a few of the bus routes which will be of benefit to you. All of these can be accessed right outside your hotel on N. Michigan Avenue:

#146 SB (Museum Campus): This travels SB on Michigan Avenue, then westerly for a short distance on Wacker; then SB on State Street for many blocks. It then goes out to the Museum Campus (where the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium are located), past Soldier Field, where the Chicago Bears play football. BTW, here's a little bit of trivia: East of Soldier Field, there is an ancient Roman column, which was presented to the City of Chicago by Benito Mussolini in 1934.

The view of the city's skyline from the north terrace at the Shedd Aquarium is one of the most beautiful.

Depending on when you are coming, you could even pick up the Shoreline Harbor Taxi, which travels on Lake Michigan from that area over to Navy Pier, for a nominal amount. They operate mainly between Memorial Day to Labor Day weekends, but if the weather is cooperative, they might operate a little outside that time.

The #151: SB it goes south on Michigan Avenue, past the Chicago River, past the Chicago Cultural Center, Millennium Park and the Art Institute. If you pick up one of the #151's which says that the SB terminus is Union Station on the exterior marquee (NOTE: there are a couple of different terminus but only the Union Station one goes this way), you can take it to the Wacker stop, which is only a couple of blocks away from the Willis Tower (fka Sears Tower).

NB it goes north on Michigan Avenue until the avenue ends at Oak. Then the bus travels NB on the inner Lake Shore Drive through the Gold Coast neighborhood (Lake Michigan is immediately to your right with the outer LSD inbetween); then westerly on LaSalle/North for a couple of blocks; and then NB on Stockton to the Lincoln Park Zoo and beyond. The Lincoln Park Zoo and the Lincoln Park Conservatory are located in Lincoln Park (the park) and Lincoln Park (the neighborhood). Lovely, lovely, lovely to visit this time of the year.

The #145 also goes SB on Michigan Avenue and you use this route in the same manner SB as the #151, except it doesn't go to the west towards Willis Tower.

So much for the busses now for the 'L' line: You only have limited time here (i.e., couple of days) so I'll just mention one: Red Line. You can take it north to Wrigley Field (Addison station) - where it's right across Sheffield (a street) from the ballpark - or south to Chinatown.

Now for some walks which aren't so lengthy but pack a lot of punch to them.

Walk #1:

Take the #151 to the Lincoln Park Zoo. This is a very compact zoo, which you can see in a couple of hours, if you wish. Visit the Lincoln Park Conservatory which is immediately to the NW of the Zoo. You might even want to visit the "hidden" Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool (entrance is on Fullerton, just east of Stockton). All of these are free everyday of the year.

When you are finished, just start walking south on Stockton or one of the walking paths in Lincoln Park. On the way from the main entrance of the LPZ, you will pass the lovely Cafe Brauer (Prairie School of architecture) as well as the Farm in the Zoo.

Continue walking south on Stockton. If you happen to be here on a Wednesday or Saturday after May 12th (note the times on the website below), you will be just in time for the outdoor Green City Market (Chicago's premier farmer market), which is held just to the south of the Lincoln Park Zoo. In addition to the goods, it has many cooking demonstrations by some of the city's best chefs. NOTE: The indoor market held at the other time of the year is located in the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, just north of Fullerton.

All along this way, you will see some outstanding examples of our outdoor public art - statues of Hans Christian Andersen, Shakespeare, Sir Georg Solti, etc.

Now you will be approaching LaSalle/North Ave. You will see an underpass under the street. If you don't feel like walking any more, you can pick up the #151 SB at the stop just before and go on your merry way.

However, since the walk from the Lincoln Park Zoo to LaSalle/ North Ave. is only about a mile, and there are benches all along this stretch to sit for a minute or two, I hope you won't be overly tired because there are some really lovely things beyond.

Take the underpass under LaSalle/North Ave. You have now left the Lincoln Park neighborhood and are in the Gold Coast neighborhood. Immediately ahead of you, you will see a grassy area. To your left, you will see the Chicago History Museum (corner of Clark & LaSalle/North Ave.). Between where you are standing and the museum is the statue of Lincoln standing with flower gardens to the south.

You want to walk towards SB towards the large red brick building with numerous chimneys. That is the Cardinal's mansion, which is situated between N. State and Astor Street. You want to walk south on Astor Street. This is widely considered one of (if not THE) loveliest street in Chicago. If you take a look at this website (, you'll see much information about the neighborhood, including architectural tours available for not only the area but also interior tours of two of the mansions on Astor Street.

Astor Street is only 4 blocks long and ends at Division. At any time you feel tired, you need only walk EB to the inner LSD and pick up the #151 bus SB at one of the bus stops along the inner drive.

Walk #2:

Take the #146 SB to the Museum Campus. At the north terrace of the Art Institute, start walking NB along the Lakefront Trail past Monroe Harbor (a sailboat harbor). You can see Navy Pier to your right. After about 7 blocks (a little less than a mile), you will see Buckingham Fountain, one of the largest in the world to your left (at Congress). You cannot cross Lake Shore Drive right at the fountain, though. You have to either cross at the intersection before (Balbo) or the one after (Jackson) with the proper light, for your safety.

After visiting Buckingham Fountain: You said you wanted to go to the Art Institute. Just walk west on Congress to S. Michigan Avenue, then north. The Art Institute is situated between Monroe (to the north) and Jackson (to the south) with the main location on Adams.

Millennium Park is immediately to the north of the Art Institute. You can, in fact, access the Great Lawn - at the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion - by the bridge designed by Renzo Piano, who also designed the Modern Wing of the Art Institute.

The Chicago Architecture Foundation's main location, the ArchiCenter, is to the SW of the Art Institute, immediately across S. Michigan Avenue.

The Chicago Cultural Center is to the west of the north corner of Millennium Park.

When you are at the north end of Millennium Park (Michigan and Randolph), you are merely 3 blocks south of the Michigan Avenue Bridge. The boarding area for the Chicago Architecture Foundation's River Cruise is just before the Bridge, lower level. You will see their blue awning indicating where and need to descend the flight of stairs to get to the boarding area on the River Walk.

NOTE: At Michigan and Randolph, if you need a cup of coffee, walk west. A location of Chicago's Intelligentsia (coffee) is located on the south side of the street.

If you continue west just a couple of blocks, you are on State Street and in the middle of the Loop Theatre District. You'll see all the famous Chicago theatres around you. The Chicago Theatre with the famous marquee to your right; the Ford Center for the Performing Arts - aka The Oriental - right ahead; to the west is the Goodman Theatre (on Dearborn); and further west you'll see the Cadillac Palace. There are some other theatres further away from this group, such as the Harris Theatre (at Millennium Park - in the opposite direction on Randolph); the Auditorium far to the south on Congress; and the LaSalle Bank Theatre.

Macy's is at the corner of State & Randolph. Just north of the Border's on the opposite side of the street, you'll see the location of Chicago's ABC local affiliate (WLS-TV) and just to the north of that is a simply wonderful place to take in a movie, the Gene Siskel Film Center. See for details.

Now that you've been so patient with me, explaining these, some suggestions for dining:

If you are here over a Thursday, and your husband isn't trapped in meetings, the Art Institute has free admission between 5-8p.m. 1/2 block west of the Art Institute on Adams is Russian Tea Time. The Gage is right across the street from Millennium Park and the Park Grill (eat inside) is right at Millennium Park.

IMHO, go to the Signature Lounge for the view and a pricier drink but go dining elsewhere. Don't get me wrong, the food's OK there but there are better places to dine.

Immediate to your hotel is the (somewhat) newly opened Purple Pig, which has small, sharable plates. You don't see this on many menus, but you might want to try the roasted bone marrow.

So, I hope that some of this information might be very interesting to you. And I do hope that you not only depend on your feet - staying in only a limited area - but do utilize the public transportation system - because you can see so many more fabulous sights!
exiledprincess is offline  
May 2nd, 2010, 07:15 PM
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Oops! A minor corretion. In Walk #1, when I say above: "To your left, you will see the Chicago History Museum (corner of Clark & LaSalle/North Ave.)" that should be "To your right".

Sorry. Missed that when I was proof-reading.
exiledprincess is offline  
May 2nd, 2010, 07:31 PM
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Ugh! Another correction - this time in my Walk #2 directions: When I say, "The Art Institute is situated between Monroe (to the north) and Jackson (to the south) with the main location on Adams." That should be "main entrance", not "main location".

Anyway, this gives me a chance to mention something I didn't above. If you get tired walking during Walk #2 and need a rest or want to stop: There are a limited number of benches around the Buckingham Fountain. And once you get to Michigan Avenue, there are several busses which travel northerly from different points: Some of them are the #3 NB (especially if you are further to the south); and the #151 NB, once you get north of Cloud Gate (aka "The Bean") at Millennium Park.
exiledprincess is offline  
May 3rd, 2010, 04:17 AM
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Wow, exiledprincess what great detail! As many times as I have been in Chicago, I have never been on the 'L' nor have I ever been t Wrigley Field. From downtown, where would I catch the 'L' to go to Wrigley?
cd is offline  
May 3rd, 2010, 06:21 AM
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The Red Line runs to Wrigley. It is the Addison Stop. You want to go toward Howard. The line to 95th is the southbound. You can pick it up several places along State Street (@ Grand, @ Chicago etc.) It is below ground through the loop. For just killing time, it is not a bad way to see the Northside. Just hop the Red, run it up to Wrigleyville. Look around a little, then ride it back south. The CTA is quite safe, easy to use, a lot cheaper than a taxi, and goes most places that most people want to go.

For a bit of a different view of the city, take the Red down to the Chinatown/Cermak stop and take a walk through Chinatown. Contrary to popular belief, you don't get mugged or shot as soon as you get south of Congress.
ctimb is offline  
May 3rd, 2010, 06:27 AM
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I also recommend the architecture tour. It will be an easy walk from your hotel. When you come back from the tour, your husband will be amazed with your new found knowledge of the city.

Crusing the Chicago River by boat is just an awesome experience and a very unique way to see the city.
ctimb is offline  

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