Visiting Chicago from the UK

Old Jul 11th, 2004, 09:47 AM
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Visiting Chicago from the UK

We are having a vacation in September and we will be flying into Chicago from the UK for 12 days. What hotel would anyone recommend and how long should we stay in the city? Would you recommend staying for around 4 days and then hiring a car and driving around the lakes? Is there coach tours from Chicago if we did not want to drive?
Would appreciate any help that you can offer
Many thanks.
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Old Jul 11th, 2004, 10:34 AM
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As for the hotel, what is your price range? As you will be touring I would think a moderately priced hotel with a good location would suit you. I would say staying 4-5 days is good and yes there are coach tours available. Don't forget you will be driving on the "wrong" side so if this is not a concern then get a car. We grouse about the price of gas here but for you it will be a bargain. I am not sure about driving around the lakes. True it is the Great Lakes region but I am not sure if there is a road that runs lake side for much of that water front. I am not sure what you mean. From here you ca to to Michigan, Indiana and Ohio and be near one of the Great Lakes. What would you like to see and do?
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Old Jul 11th, 2004, 10:44 AM
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A circle tour of Lake Michigan is possible. Starting from Chicago, I would head north into Wisconsin, then go across the upper peninsula of Michigan, finishing with the lower peninsula of Michigan and back to Chicago. There are many interesting places to stay all along this route. It will also get you into some more wilderness areas after your Chicago stay.
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Old Jul 11th, 2004, 10:47 AM
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Here's a website with detailed information.
http://www.great-lakes.net/tourism/circletour/michigan/
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Old Jul 11th, 2004, 11:03 AM
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To really see and feel Chicago 2 weeks would not be enough. So much to do, see, taste. Beautiful lakefront, architecture, ethnic neighborhoods and that's just the free stuff. Muesums, galleries, outstanding shopping and restaurants, river and lake tours, nightlife and on and on and on......
At the same time we as tourists are usually limited in time, so plan well on what interests you and 4-5 days should be enough.
As the previous poster said, please give us some more info on how many in the party, luxury, mid-level or budget accomodations, and what your interests are?

If I were you I would rent a car and do the drive. I would spend more time on the western shores of Lake Michigan and only make 1 or 2 stops on the eastern shores in Wisconsin. The Michigan side is just gorgeous at that time of the year. The leaves will start to change so you should have some spectecular scenery. If you start from Chicago and go through Indiana, the first stop should be somewhere between New Buffalo and South Heaven. Find a nice place near the beach. The sand dunes and the beaches are just gorgeous. You will also be able to watch a sunset over the lake, weather permitting. Next stop should be around Frankfort or Charlevoix. Again very nice beach and water communities with that small town feeling. Obviosuly Mackinac Island should be considered as the next stop. You could only get their by a boat as no cars are allowed. There is a great hotel on the island. Transportation is done with horses and buggies. Worth a least couple of nights. Then it's on to Upper Michigan which may/may not be worth a stop and finally you will hit Wisconsin. Door County should be considered as the next serious stop. Finally do stop in Milwaukee as it's beautiful and fun city. It's kind of Chicago Jr. The drive from Milwaukee to Chicago is an easy 1-1.5 so if you are running out of time your last night could be in Milwaukee.
Here are some sites to help you with planning:
http://travel.michigan.org/locations/
http://www.travelwisconsin.com/


I should note that most of the driving is not right along th lake, but the expressways are only few miles away from the lake for the most part, so you are never more than 25 miles away from the shores. There are some secondary roads alongside the lake possible, but usually not for very long distances. Still it's a great drive. Forget the tour and do it on your own. Also most drives between the stops I pointed out should be no more than 3-5 hours, so they are easy quick drives and you don't loose a lot of time during the drive day.

Good luck on your planning and have a wonderful trip!
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Old Jul 11th, 2004, 11:14 AM
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This is my favorite part of Michigan.

http://www.harborcountry.org/
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Old Jul 11th, 2004, 11:19 AM
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How did you decide on Chicago?
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Old Jul 12th, 2004, 12:01 PM
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Thanks very much everyone, you have given us some good ideas. What is the Holiday Inn downtown chicago like....is it worth a stay? another important question...what is the weather like in mid September?
Once again thanks for your help.
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Old Jul 12th, 2004, 12:16 PM
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Woodies, Which Holiday Inn? The weather is gorgeous in mid-Sept. should be 60s-70s and nice. I would also recommend at least a night or two in Michigan, possible stops, depending on how long you want to spend and how far you want to travel are Harbor Country (New Buffalo, Union Pier, Lakeside, 3 Oaks) South Haven (one of my faves), Saugatuck/Douglas, Traverse City. I don't believe there is a coach tour around the lake though.
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Old Jul 12th, 2004, 12:27 PM
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Woodies, type "Chicago" in the search box at the top of the page and you'll come up with many posts about the city. It's a really popular destination. You'll get the latest scoop on restaurants, tourist spots, etc.

My favorite hotel in Chicago (and we've stayed in several) is the InterContinental on the Magnificent Mile. It has a great location, the building is historic, has an indoor swimming pool (vintage 1920s at that!) and it's simply a lovely place to stay. We found a wonderful package deal for staying at the hotel at the Chicago Tourist Board's website, www.877chicago.com. The package includes tickets to the George Seurat exhibit at the Chicago Art Institute. Very nice!

One of my favorite things to do in Chicago--taking a boat tour hosted by the Architectural Foundation. If you look up past posts about Chicago, you'll come up with a few discussions about the tours.

Have fun in wonderful Chicago!
 
Old Jul 12th, 2004, 12:32 PM
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woodies,

If you are talking about the Holiday Inn on west Harrison then I would suggest you find another place. It's a nice enough new property but the location is not the best for tourists.
If you want to stick with Holiday Inn, pick the City Centre(Navy Pier) on east Ohio Street. Much better location for just about any activity.
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Old Jul 12th, 2004, 01:29 PM
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A beautiful hotel is the sofitel. It's right there, in the middle of everything, and seeing that you're coming with the pound, anything should be cheap. A good suggestion for finding hotels is www.hotels.com or simply look on expedia. They both often have sales and special internet rates, and you can look at the hotels as well from there. A lot of times they have virtual tours.
I noticed that no one recommended Kohler, Wisconsin. Man, is that place awesome! If you like to golf, it has some of the best courses in the world, and this year the pros will be there. Personally, I"m not a golfer, but I just spent some time up there with my family, and while they were golfing I was relaxing in the most beautiful spa imaginable.
Also, you can go up to Lake Geneva, WI and rent a boat. It's a great lake with lots to do for the whole family. Enjoy!
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Old Jul 12th, 2004, 03:15 PM
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A word about the weather in Sept. That is Chicago weather can change drastically during the course of one day.Mid Sept. should be pretty nice, as described above. I do remember a winter day several yrs. ago when the temp. actually changed 49 degrees in ONE day. Yes, this is true.
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Old Jul 12th, 2004, 07:42 PM
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I've notice that most respondents are not giving you hotel suggestions, but I'll make one. My husband & I love the Drake Hotel. It is older, which we like, and we like the location, on Michigan, near the beach. Not real expensive, but not cheap, either. In a good area to walk around, restaurants, shopping, etc. As for taking your comment literally, driving around the Great Lakes would take way too long. You need to narrow your scope. Grayline, or similar, is a good way to tour outside the city. Chicago has good (not fabulous) public transportation. It's a really big city...what are your interests. Museums, architecture, performing arts, sports, zoos, ethnic restaurants...everything is there. I love the place - you'll have a great time!
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Old Jul 13th, 2004, 02:26 AM
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My husband and I have just returned to Australia and spent four days of our trip in Chicago. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza Silversmith (in the loop) on Wabash. The hotel is art deco and we found the service excellent and would highly recommend it, the hotel is central to everthing in Chicago. The "L" stops right out the front. Do the Signature Lounge in the Hancock Building for great views for the cost of a drink. There are a range of free trolly buses that will take you around the whole town but we found the three day transport pass the best way to go (Unlimited bus and train rides) Please try the Chicagogreeters.com this is a free service where locals show you around their town. There are a number of guided tours, check out their website. We were delighted with our guides, they will help you get around Chicago and show you places you never thought of. Its a great place you will just love it.
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Old Jul 13th, 2004, 11:14 AM
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Thanks everyone for all the help, it makes it so much easier when planning a trip. We are really looking forward to our visit.
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