Tips for visiting Chicago?

JosueLT

Original poster
Member
Nov 20, 2011
315
My wife and I are looking into visiting Chicago for a few days here in the near future. We had a trip to NYC planned for back in September, but our puppy needed emergency intestinal blockage surgery over the summer, so we had to cancel the trip. Our tickets were non-refundable, but if we book another flight within a year, we can at least apply that balance to the new tickets. Problem has been, we bought them during a crazy fare sale...it was only $245 for both of us round trip to Laguardia, and now flights are expensive again. It's looking like we can fly into Midway for only another $45 though, so we might pull the trigger. We really need to take a Babymoon before our little one arrives in June. :smile:

I know there are a few Chicago peeps on here, any tips for visiting? MUST sees? Places to stay away from? Best way to get around?

Thanks in advance! :thumbsup:
 

JRTAHOE

Member
Nov 20, 2011
848
I'm extremely jealous right now. I miss Chicago. Deep dish, hot dogs, gyros etc...

I'd visit the aquarium and the science museum. I miss field trips to those places.
 

DucatiSS

Member
Nov 19, 2011
369
The city offers sooooooo much. What are your interests? Sports, shopping, museums, ethnic culture, eating?
As far as transportation, if you are staying downtown, the buses and L-trains are easy and safe.
 

JosueLT

Original poster
Member
Nov 20, 2011
315
Definitely looking forward to some Authentic Chicago Pizza and Hot Dogs!!

We like just about all things, but we're trying to do this on somewhat of a budget, so the cheaper stuff will be for us. I'm into sports, but being winter time, I'm not sure what all there is to see? A tour of Wrigley Field would be cool, but not sure if they do that in the winter, or if the wife would be into it. lol We saw a 7 or 9 story mall we'd be interested to check out, but we wouldn't be buying much. Thinking it was on Michigan Ave? Navy Pier looks amazing, and Millenium Park, but not sure how many outdoor activities we're going to be doing in the middle of winter.

Still unsure on where we'd be staying. I imagine it's going to be more expensive to stay downtown, so we're probably going to stay out by the airport or whatnot. Friends of ours did this, and said they had to take a 30 minute train ride into the city...is that accurate?
 

DucatiSS

Member
Nov 19, 2011
369
JosueLT said:
Definitely looking forward to some Authentic Chicago Pizza and Hot Dogs!!

I am a fan of Ginos East for pizza and SuperDawg for Hot Dogs. I have also heard that Gene and Judes in River Grove is great for Hot Dogs

We like just about all things, but we're trying to do this on somewhat of a budget, so the cheaper stuff will be for us. I'm into sports, but being winter time, I'm not sure what all there is to see? A tour of Wrigley Field would be cool, but not sure if they do that in the winter, or if the wife would be into it. lol We saw a 7 or 9 story mall we'd be interested to check out, but we wouldn't be buying much. Thinking it was on Michigan Ave? Navy Pier looks amazing, and Millenium Park, but not sure how many outdoor activities we're going to be doing in the middle of winter.

That would be Water Tower Place in downtown. A must see as well as the Hancock building or Sears Tower if you want a 100 + story view of the city. Navy Pier is nice but make sure to dress reall warm because of the wind off of the lake.

Still unsure on where we'd be staying. I imagine it's going to be more expensive to stay downtown, so we're probably going to stay out by the airport or whatnot. Friends of ours did this, and said they had to take a 30 minute train ride into the city...is that accurate?

Anywhere around the airport will be expensive also. Look online and see what you can find around the blue line (out towards Ohare by Rosemont or Cumberland)

http://www.transitchicago.com/assets/1/maps/cta_Train_Map_-_April_2011.pdf
 

JosueLT

Original poster
Member
Nov 20, 2011
315
It almost seems too good to be true, but looks like there are some hotels downtown that won't be terribly expensive? Double Tree by Hilton is under $100 a night.

I was kind of leaning towards Embassy Suites, around $100 a night and they have a free full service breakfast every morning. Would save us a few dollars, but if being downtown in the heart of it all saves us transit time and whatnot, that might be better. I keep asking the wife if she's going to be up to ALL that walking, but she says she will be, so we'll see! haha

We saw some special on Chicago that featured a Popcorn place that's been around forever too, might stop in just to get a taste.
 

DucatiSS

Member
Nov 19, 2011
369
JosueLT said:
It almost seems too good to be true, but looks like there are some hotels downtown that won't be terribly expensive? Double Tree by Hilton is under $100 a night.

I was kind of leaning towards Embassy Suites, around $100 a night and they have a free full service breakfast every morning. Would save us a few dollars, but if being downtown in the heart of it all saves us transit time and whatnot, that might be better. I keep asking the wife if she's going to be up to ALL that walking, but she says she will be, so we'll see! haha

We saw some special on Chicago that featured a Popcorn place that's been around forever too, might stop in just to get a taste.

Stay downtown if the rates are that cheap. The popcorn place is Garretts. Gourmet Popcorn | Corporate Gifts & More | Garrett Popcorn Shops On Michigan ave. and they also have several locations, their hot caramel corn is awesome. Expect a line of people.
 

Busterbrown

Member
Dec 4, 2011
253
If you're frugal (and smart) like many well seasoned vacationers, use sites like Priceline and Hotwire to maximize your savings. I've booked 4 star hotels within walking distance of the Magnificant Mile for around $70 per night. You just don't know which hotel your bidding on until it's accepted. You can also use betterbidding.com to scout current accepted bids for dates and areas of travel. I love this website in that it helps narrow you in on that "sought after, low ball" price. Visit Ed Debevics and most definitely Navy Pier.
 

cody_s

Member
Dec 6, 2011
625
Atlanta, GA
DucatiSS said:
Stay downtown if the rates are that cheap. The popcorn place is Garretts. Gourmet Popcorn | Corporate Gifts & More | Garrett Popcorn Shops On Michigan ave. and they also have several locations, their hot caramel corn is awesome. Expect a line of people.

Lol I've never been able to get in there. I hate lines. They also built a massive Marilyn Monroe statue, I can only assume its still there. That's definitely worth walking by. Navy pier is awesome, but I haven't been in the winter, so idk if there's anything fun going on. Going to the top of Sear's Tower (Willis Tower now) is always fun. Oh and that mall on Michigan Ave. is pretty impressive.
 

Boricua SS

Member
Nov 20, 2011
3,080
Ohio
Dude! I've been to chicago!.. remember HU for mcd's for over a week? Lol... I took a downtown tour and got to see Wrigley Field, US Cellular Field and a bunch of other misc landmarks that of course I don't remember lol.. but enjoy the "baby"moon since you couldn't have a honeymoon...
 

JosueLT

Original poster
Member
Nov 20, 2011
315
DucatiSS said:
Stay downtown if the rates are that cheap. The popcorn place is Garretts. Gourmet Popcorn | Corporate Gifts & More | Garrett Popcorn Shops On Michigan ave. and they also have several locations, their hot caramel corn is awesome. Expect a line of people.

Is it worth it then? Do ALL the locations have lines?

We're not huge popcorn people or anything, we just saw it on TV, and it's always cool to go somewhere that's been on TV. haha

Busterbrown said:
If you're frugal (and smart) like many well seasoned vacationers, use sites like Priceline and Hotwire to maximize your savings. I've booked 4 star hotels within walking distance of the Magnificant Mile for around $70 per night. You just don't know which hotel your bidding on until it's accepted. You can also use betterbidding.com to scout current accepted bids for dates and areas of travel. I love this website in that it helps narrow you in on that "sought after, low ball" price. Visit Ed Debevics and most definitely Navy Pier.

How has that worked out for you? To think that we're booking a hotel without seeing pics, reviews, location in reference to where we want to be, etc., is a little out of the ordinary for us.

I was just looking up hotels where I can use my AAA discount.

cody_s said:
Lol I've never been able to get in there. I hate lines. They also built a massive Marilyn Monroe statue, I can only assume its still there. That's definitely worth walking by. Navy pier is awesome, but I haven't been in the winter, so idk if there's anything fun going on. Going to the top of Sear's Tower (Willis Tower now) is always fun. Oh and that mall on Michigan Ave. is pretty impressive.

She's wanting to go as early in the pregnancy as she can, so she has the energy and whatnot, but I can't help but to keep worrying about how cold it's going to be if we go in Feb or early March. I think Chicago gets worse winters than us here in N.E. Ohio, or at the very least, comparable winters. We're definitely not going to be able to check out many outdoor sights with single digit temps and negative wind chills coming off the lake.

Boricua SS said:
Dude! I've been to chicago!.. remember HU for mcd's for over a week? Lol... I took a downtown tour and got to see Wrigley Field, US Cellular Field and a bunch of other misc landmarks that of course I don't remember lol.. but enjoy the "baby"moon since you couldn't have a honeymoon...

I've been to downtown Chicago too! But it was like 7 years ago, and it was only overnight. lol

And I didn't think you did any sightseeing when you were out there? I thought you just went to your classes and back to the hotel room.
 

2001FZ1

Member
Dec 27, 2011
43
Don't take a gun and don't pack a pocket knife or you'll never leave Chicago. The police and the criminals are the only ones allowed to pack weapons to defend them selves. if in trouble, call police. They will be there in 10-15....
 

HARDTRAILZ

Moderator
Nov 18, 2011
49,665
Amazingly none of the many Chi members are chiming in....

Navy Pier is cool. I had the best time, just wandering around downtown.
 

Boricua SS

Member
Nov 20, 2011
3,080
Ohio
JosueLT said:
I've been to downtown Chicago too! But it was like 7 years ago, and it was only overnight. lol

And I didn't think you did any sightseeing when you were out there? I thought you just went to your classes and back to the hotel room.

No.. we had agendas planned for us tht we signed up for before we left ohio... the actual classes were in Oak Brook, but we drove to chicago.. and that was 3 years ago for me.. so yea, don't remeber s#!+ lol..
 

fletch09

Member
Nov 20, 2011
1,982
Sears tower is now called Willis tower. they have a glass ledge that you can walkout on and look down.
it cost money just to go up to the top. $17/ea. wife and daughter were just there yesterday.
i believe there is ice skating @ mellenium park, and also @ Wrigley Field this year, if your in to that. like $10-12 to rent skates
mueseum of sciece and ind. has a christmas around the world display.
the Grand Lux cafe on michagan ave has good food for a decent price.
Blue Man Group @ Briar Street Theater is a must, if you can get tickets.
there's a Hard Rock Cafe, Planet Hollywood and Rainforest Cafe.
Ed Debevic's is a cool place to eat. a 50-60's diner setting where the wait staff is rude to you on purpose.
hope you enjoy your trip.
 

JosueLT

Original poster
Member
Nov 20, 2011
315
Thanks for all the info guys, keep it coming!

We might splurge for one fancy dinner, but for the most part, we're going to try and eat as cheaply as possible. Food is a slippery slope, before you know it, you've blown hundreds of dollars!
 

JosueLT

Original poster
Member
Nov 20, 2011
315
So, the wife is adamant about me asking.....what's the weather like in mid-February? How about March?
 

DucatiSS

Member
Nov 19, 2011
369
JosueLT said:
So, the wife is adamant about me asking.....what's the weather like in mid-February? How about March?

mixed bag, could be sunny and 40, could be really wet snow.
One thing is for sure, wait 10 min. and it will change. :rotfl:
 

JosueLT

Original poster
Member
Nov 20, 2011
315
Haha...awesome.

We pulled the trigger on Feb 11-14th. Tried Hotwire and got a 4 Star hotel for $80, I'm not jumping up and down about it though. It's called Hotel Felix, Huron St. about 6 blocks west of Michigan Ave. Closest subway stop is 2 blocks over and 2 blocks up from the Chicago Red station. It's fairly new, but it's a super-uppity eco friendly green hotel with free parking for hybrid cars only. We're flying in, but that just shows you what kind of place it is. lol

How big are the blocks in the city? How far would it be to walk to Mag. Mile? Quarter mile? Half? Out of the question in single digit temps?
 

fletch09

Member
Nov 20, 2011
1,982
IIRC, 12-13 city blocks = 1 mile, so your about 1/2 mile off michigan ave.
should not be to bad even in single digit temps. just watch out for the wind.
once your on the mag mile, you are going in and out of stores anyway.
as DucatiSS said, could be anything as far as weather.
according to weather.com end of jan has an ave. high of 32, ave low 19
 

JosueLT

Original poster
Member
Nov 20, 2011
315
I'd like to think the buildings would block some of the wind, but that's probably not the case. Mechanical turbulence is a big deal when.flying, so it probably whips around the buildings just the same.

I was looking to see what the cab fares were, and even those didn't seem too bad though Any tips for cab rides? Or is public transit better? Is it like NYC where you just hail a cab cause they're just driving around? Or do you have to call the company and have then come pick you up?
 

Hatchet

Member
Nov 21, 2011
2,405
its been listed but i'll list it again..

Skydeck (sears tower... yes we still call it sears tower, will never be willis tower)
Watertower
Hancock building
Millennium park (depending on when you are going, if spring summer see a show there also)
Field Museum
planetarium
Shedd aquarium
Art Institute
Go see a ball game (depending on season)
River Boat tour (season depending)
Michigan Ave
Navy Pier (they have special in voyages a bit pricey but i have heard its well worth it. im hitting this up this spring/summer myself. Odyssey Cruises- Chicago - Chicago - NavyPier.com - Web) they have other boat tours also http://navypier.com/din_shop/buy_online.html
Alot of great restaurants (Dick's last resort is a great little bar/restaurant) and theaters (if into theaters check out UIC The UIC Department of Performing Arts they have a few different things all the time.)

Just to name a few things.

or we could also have a meet one day if yall get bored...


JosueLT said:
I'd like to think the buildings would block some of the wind, but that's probably not the case. Mechanical turbulence is a big deal when.flying, so it probably whips around the buildings just the same.

I was looking to see what the cab fares were, and even those didn't seem too bad though Any tips for cab rides? Or is public transit better? Is it like NYC where you just hail a cab cause they're just driving around? Or do you have to call the company and have then come pick you up?

cabs will be faster and more direct. and downtown they are everywhere, if you cant find a taxi, your blind...
 

JosueLT

Original poster
Member
Nov 20, 2011
315
Faster sounds like a good route, since we'll be trying to pack in as much as we can in the 3 days we'll be there. I'm pretty excited about taxi's for some reason...never been in one period, let alone have to call out for one on the side of the street! haha I love big cities!


Looks like we can get tickets for Blue Man Group at Briar St. Theater as well, I think the wife is wanting to hit that up, alone with 1 "fancy" dinner night. The rest will be Chicago Dogs, Deep Dish Pizza, and smaller local eateries!
 

DucatiSS

Member
Nov 19, 2011
369
JosueLT said:
Looks like we can get tickets for Blue Man Group at Briar St. Theater as well, I think the wife is wanting to hit that up, alone with 1 "fancy" dinner night. !

Follow that up with a horse and carriage ride around downtown for a few extra brownie points. (if you know what I mean...:wink:)
 

JosueLT

Original poster
Member
Nov 20, 2011
315
DucatiSS said:
Follow that up with a horse and carriage ride around downtown for a few extra brownie points. (if you know what I mean...:wink:)

Oh boy....better not let the wife see THIS! We were supposed to do that in NYC. lol


She found a trolly deal too, something about a 2 day pass and $20 off BMG tickets? Definitely going to look into that.
 

TB2k4

Member
Dec 4, 2011
134
cody_s said:
Seconded, this place is great, owned by the same people as Cheesecake Factory.

Hatchet said:
Skydeck (sears tower... yes we still call it sears tower, will never be willis tower)
Watertower
Hancock building
Millennium park (depending on when you are going, if spring summer see a show there also)
Shedd aquarium
Michigan Ave
Navy Pier

:thumbsup: love the cheesecake factory, and the sears tower- IMO that is a must see. i love random things like that but its so cool to just feel the swaying (be sure to get there early to beat the lines).
 

JosueLT

Original poster
Member
Nov 20, 2011
315
How early is early? We have 3 days to spend, so we can go at the best time possible.
 

JosueLT

Original poster
Member
Nov 20, 2011
315
Nice...they have a combo with the Trolly tours too!
 

JosueLT

Original poster
Member
Nov 20, 2011
315
Open at 10am....we should be able to make that no problem. Maybe even go on Monday morning, how many people visit Sears tower on a Monday morning in the middle of February? :rotfl:
 

JosueLT

Original poster
Member
Nov 20, 2011
315
The city will be ours for the taking!! MUAHAHAHAHA...:biggrin:
 

fletch09

Member
Nov 20, 2011
1,982
JosueLT said:
Faster sounds like a good route, since we'll be trying to pack in as much as we can in the 3 days we'll be there. I'm pretty excited about taxi's for some reason...never been in one period, let alone have to call out for one on the side of the street! haha I love big cities!


Looks like we can get tickets for Blue Man Group at Briar St. Theater as well, I think the wife is wanting to hit that up, alone with 1 "fancy" dinner night. The rest will be Chicago Dogs, Deep Dish Pizza, and smaller local eateries!

if you've never been in a taxi, hold on your in for the ride of your life :wootwoot:

also check out the Billy Goat Tavern :yes:
 

JosueLT

Original poster
Member
Nov 20, 2011
315
I think the only time I've been on public transportation, was in Puerto Rico back in '01. We took a bus around downtown San Juan, and holy HELL...we were FLYING! I thought for sure we were gonna clip some cars in those tight streets. lol
 

JosueLT

Original poster
Member
Nov 20, 2011
315
Trip is this weekend!! Figured I'd search through this thread again, since we literally haven't given planning this trip ONE thought since I last posted. We better get on it!!!! hahahaha

We don't need an itemized itinerary or anything though, I think we're just going to...go with the flow and see where it takes us. :cool:
 

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