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Winter in Chicago

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Dec 29th, 2011, 03:22 PM
  #1
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Winter in Chicago

Hello All - We will be in Chicago from 1/18-22nd and was wondering if anyone had some great INDOOR suggestions of things to do. Last time in Chicago was at least 7 yrs ago for a wedding we will have much more free time on this trip. My husband is not totally into Art Museums but I do think the Science Museum will work for one day - after reading other reports. He is also extremely sensitive to the cold so we will try to prepare as best we can. We are staying at the Whitehall on E Delaware off Michigan Ave.
also wondering about an interesting and moderate restaurant in which we can take relatives that live in the area. There would be a minimum of 8 but most likely 10 of us. I am thinking of possibly footing the bill if it were reasonable but also don't want to invite people out to dinner and expect them to pay an outrageous price. I'm sure they will have suggestions but I would love to come with one myself.
Any suggestions on not to be missed places to see in winter would be greatly appreciated. Read about the improv theater and wondered if that would be something to do on Sat night. Any suggestions. You guys are always so helpful.
Thanks
JK1348
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Dec 29th, 2011, 05:09 PM
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Google, google, google. Try Yelp, and Chowhound, and just Chicago Restaurants. Chicago has tons of restaurants.

Even if your husband is not into Art - it would be a sin if you didn't get to the great Chicago Art Institute. He should like the Museum of Science and Industry is it? - where they have an actual U-Boat from WWII.

Also driving up the coast is fun - and Northwestern has a beautiful campus.
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Dec 29th, 2011, 05:58 PM
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For a large group, consider Greek Islands restaurant in Greek town just west of the Loop.
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Dec 29th, 2011, 06:14 PM
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I have no up-to-date recommendations, but the mention of Greek Islands for a large group made me smile. All my college roommates and our families gathered there for dinner after our graduation in 1973. I recently found the photo (but I'm not posting it). Glad to hear it's still that kind of place.
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Dec 29th, 2011, 06:21 PM
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I would recommend both Shedd's Acquarium and the Field Museum (both next door to each other and an easy bus ride from your hotel).

Restaurants, the sky is literally the limit. There are probably 300-400 restaurants within a mile of your location. I'm not certain what you would consider "moderate" but the local restaurant group Lettuce Entertain You (www.leye.com) is a good start and has a wide, wide variety of different and fairly well regarded restaurants (Osteria Via Stato and Scoozi are both locations we have taken relatives before which are good if you like italian (although more italian than italian american which Chicago obviously also has a lot of). More touristy but wildly popular is Grande Luxe which is done by the Cheesecake Factory people (this may be an attraction or detraction for you).

Otherwise, as a prior commenter stated, go to the websites (www.metromix.com, www.yelp.com, www.chowhound.com) which will all lead you generally to pretty good choices.
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Dec 29th, 2011, 06:23 PM
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also, check out the view from the Hancock Tower which is right by you. You can go to the observation deck (which does have a cost) or do the no longer secret cheat and go up to the Signature Room lounge and have a drink.
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Dec 29th, 2011, 06:57 PM
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You are in Chicago, home of Rick Bayless! Frontera Grill takes very limited reservations but usually will for a large group, if there is room. We just got back from visiting family in Chicago but could not get a reservation at Frontera for the Friday before Christmas, as such a popular day had been booked for months!
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Dec 29th, 2011, 08:15 PM
  #8
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Thank you, thank you, thank you. I will look into all your suggestions. I have started with Explore Chicago and will continue on. Greek Islands sounds like it might be a great place for a gathering. Will check out others but again, thank you for providing some direction.
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Dec 31st, 2011, 07:30 AM
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Hi, jk1348.

Indoor Activities:
Theater - Steppenwolf Theatre's 'Penelope' is a fun, 90-minute play. You can buy $20 tickets on the day of the show by calling the box office right at 11 a.m. (I think there's a $3 fee/ticket, too.) The play is at 7:30 Wed-Sat, and a 3 pm Sat show, too. (Just saw this the past week and really enjoyed it.) Other time-tested theaters: The Goodman has David Mamet's 'RAce,' Timeline will have 'Enron,' A Red ORchid Theatre will stage 'Megacosm,' and if you like musicals, the Black Ensemble Theatre is staging 'The JAckie Wilson Story.' 'A Fiest: an intimate Tempest' at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre (on Navy Pier) stars John Judd, who is, IMO, the city's best stage actor.

Improv - Second City is always a popular choice, but you can also look into ImprovOlympic up in Wrigleyville. The day you arrive- Wednesday night at 11 p.m.- TJ and Dave is a GREAT improv show. Like nothing you'll ever see anywhere else. (And you can take pictures of Wrigley Field which is 1/2 block away.)

Restaurants: (for two) bistronomic is near your hotel and I thought it was wonderful, affordable French-open for lunch/dinner. (Ask if you can sit in the back-bar room for more privacy.) Casual-but wonderful-is L'Appetito Italian deli/grocery at the base of the John Hancock building. Good place for sandwiches, pizza, pasta,soup, Italian bakery, even breakfast.
(for groups) If your family's from Chicago, it might be easier/less aggravating for them (and cheaper once parking is taken into consideration), to pick a neighborhood place. Some neighborhood places which I think would be moderate and good for 8-10: Zapatista (Mexican; Lincoln Park), Reza's (Middle Eastern; Andersonville), Vinci (Italian; Lincoln Park), Adobo Grill (Wicker Park or Old Town-next to Second City). So many restaurants- Yelp is a good resource.

Shopping on State Street is great on particularly cold days: Starting a Macy's (the old Marshall Field's-just to see the old lady), but across the street, there's Anthropologie, Magnolia Bakery, Sephora, Disney Store, Eileen Fisher, and, in the basement, overlooked but wonderful creme puffs (if you didn't get cupcakes up at Magnolia) at (Tokyo-based) Papa Beard's Chou Creams.

Have a wonderful time. Just have cash ready to pop into cabs. It's just so much better to taxi than wait or walk in really cold, windy weather. It'll ruin your day.
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Dec 31st, 2011, 07:34 AM
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Also...
Hopefully exiledprincess will weigh in. Her posts are very thorough. You can search for her posts by name.
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Dec 31st, 2011, 08:40 AM
  #11
JJ5
 
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If the weather stays like it has been, you won't have any problems. But then, we here are not bothered and go anyway, regardless.

My Granddaughter went downtown this Thursday and there were 3 hour waits for every thing that they wanted to do. I'm not kidding. The new Willis Tower glass walk out is fantastic, much better than the Hancock. Both have/had waits. Grand Lux to eat, had 1-1/2 waits to get in. FOR THAT?????

Seriously, if you are very bothered by cold, you will not want to go the Science and Industry but to the Shedd and Field. All kinds of reasons, but the strongest is that you will not be outside in exposed lakefront wind, as much or as long. Science is a ride and for people not used to the cold- they often act as if it were dog sledding or something.

There is enough downtown to keep you there. I'm a library person and always go into the Harold Washington and view the different marbles among other things. At the top is a kind of open atrium to settle and keep warm, if you want a "stop". The old library is not the Cultural Center that has the tourists' information etc.

Do look for the gochicago deal online if you are here for any time at all. The prices are so up here. I just nixed a Shedd trip for 5 of my grandkids last week and we went to Brookfield Zoo Lights (I am a zoo member) instead. Too much $$$. It costs as much now to see Jellies as it would for a stage play- at the least about $40 per person. Look for theater choices at Cadillac Palace or Ford Theater of the Performing Arts and walk quickly from where you are. Good time.

For a very crowded stay- if all are packed with tourists, I love 10 N. Dearborn- go down the steps into Trattoria #10 by the theaters- cozy and not cheek to jowl crowded and white table cloth. Smaller portions but lovely lunch, IMHO.

Most are telling you to travel outside the downtown area. If the weather is 30 degrees and no precipitation, that might be ok for you? Not for some who have visited me.

Always wear WINTER coats. Not stylish jackets, IMHO. Clothes on your legs and cover your butt coats.
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Dec 31st, 2011, 08:45 AM
  #12
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Sorry, that should be the old library is NOW the Cultural Center etc.

If the weather stays this level, you may get wet but won't be truly frozen. It has been decent, compared to the last 3 years- which were in most weeks- brutal.

For the 8 or 10 people dinner, you might want to try the tapas places if none of the others suggested "work". We have had larger gatherings there a couple of times at the various choices. google
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Dec 31st, 2011, 10:17 AM
  #13
 
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ChgoGal's very politely saying that I get all revved up and enthused about pointing out the wonderful aspects of Chicago - and, as a result, have a tendency to give rather lengthy responses. To which I plead guilty. But, I say, it's sometimes better to say more than too little - especially when something as important as fun is involved.

Getting the dining thing out of the way...I'm sure that your relatives will have suggestions for their favorite places. Places they always go. But when I visit distant relatives, I attempt to get them out to places they haven't tried before but always wanted to. A gamble, yes, but often one that pays handsomely. So ask them about it.

As another thought, would they be interested in something such as this? www.kendall.edu/news-and-events/the-dining-room Keeping in mind that you's takes your chances because these are still culinary students. But many fine and well-regarded chefs are alumni of Kendall College.

Take a look at the calendar for the Harris Theatre for Music and Dance at Millennium Park (too bad you aren't here on the 24th). Think about some interior tours, perhaps one of the historic theatres, such as the Auditorium, a gem. Who knows? Maybe we'll have a moderate winter this year (wouldn't bet on it, though) and you could check out what the Chicago Architecture Foundation has for exterior tours, as well as their interior - although they do have the Highlights by Bus tour as well.

Did you take a look at the Art Institute's website? There's a lot more there than just paintings hung on the wall or sculpture on pedestals. Medieval armor, architecture (including the entire Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room), furniture, textiles, photography, and so on.

Remember that Chicago has a pedway system which runs under a goodly number of buildings south of the River. And, of course, it isn't unheard of for people to duck into a building's lobby along the way for a little warmth.
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