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View Full Version : Weekend in Chicago. What to do?



oneupper
07-11-2011, 01:40 PM
I'm going to be in Chicago this weekend with daughter and wife.
Would like suggestions. Apparently the weather will be good.
I was thinking a city tour for one day. Maybe one of those hop on hop off things.
And something with the water on the other day. Be it beach (are there beaches?) or taking a cruise/sail or something on the Lake.

Good plan? Bad plan? Better stuff to do? Specific suggestions.

I know there are several Chicago dwellers on the board. I'm counting on you guys.

PS. Leaving then Chicago for St. Louis. Its a 5 hour drive (ugh). Anything on the way worth stopping for? (could even make a whole day out of it, if warranted).

Homer Bailey
07-11-2011, 01:57 PM
My suggestions:

Do the Chicago Architectural tour. I've done it twice, and it's pretty awesome. Just a nice hour cruise down the Chicago River, with some pretty spectacular views.

There is a beach. There is North Avenue beach, which is absolutely packed with 20 somethings for as far as the eye can see, but there is also Oak Street beach, which is just a few blocks further south, and is much more quiet.

Food:

For pizza, my favorite deep dishes are Lou Malnahti's and Gino's East, with Giordano's holding up the rear. They are all pretty good.

For a steakhouse, gotta go to Gibson's. Must make a reservation if you go. There is another one I love called Gene and Georghetti's (sp?).

Chicago style hot dog - There are tons of places for these, but my favorite is Portillo's.

I've actually not branched out to too many eateries since I've lived here, so I'm not that much of a help there.

Touristy activities:

Top of the Hancock building - It's free to ride to the top, and there is a bar and a restaraunt up there with an outstanding brunch. Drinks are pretty expensive up there, but it beats paying to go to the top of the Willis (Sears) Tower.

Shedd Aquarium - I've actually never been, and wouldn't actually suggest doing too many indoors things, but I've heard this place is awesome. I think it's kind of pricy though.

Chicago Art Museum - Pretty famous museum. I've been once. Art isn't really my thing, but if you're into that kind of thing, you'd enjoy it.

Festivals:

Here's a link to several festivals that will be going on this weekend (http://chicago.metromix.com/events/article/chicago-festivals-2011/2450230/content). I will be going to Old St. Pat's.

That's all I can think of for now. Shoot me a PM if you have any questions or need any further advice. Enjoy!

BuckWild03
07-11-2011, 02:32 PM
I think Homer hit on pretty much everything I was going to suggest.

For the boat tours, they also have lake and river tours that go out on the lake as well as down the river rather than just staying on the river. I think it's an hour and half compared to the hour river tour. If you book in advance, get the sunset cruise, the skyline from the lake is quite a site at sunset. I recommend Wendella Boats but I'm a bit biased having worked for them one summer.

Depending on how old your daughter is, Lincoln Park Zoo is a nice attraction--and it's free. Just have to pay for parking as is the case anywhere you go in the city.

Sweetstop
07-11-2011, 02:35 PM
my daughter and her family live there. we go all the time.

an architectural tour for sure, art institute (there's a new modern wing), field museum, museum of science and industry, millinium park w/ the bean, 2nd city improv is a must for comedy (although, i don't know how old your daughter is), billy goat tavern, smoque on pulaski ave. for bbq, one of rick bayless' restaurants (frontera), visit frank lloyd wright and hemingway homes in oak park, green mill jazz club where al capone used to hang out, navy pier ferris wheel, lincoln park zoo, hike the lakefront, shopping on michigan avenue ..these are some highlights. lots of great theater in chicago also.

oneupper
07-11-2011, 03:18 PM
My Daughter is 17. We're actually going to visit the University of Chicago, since she is thinking of applying there.

(Thanks everyone for the tips). Anything between Chicago and St. Louis? Or is that barren Wasteland haunted by the ghosts of Cub and Card fans?

BuckWild03
07-11-2011, 03:31 PM
Chicago to St. Louis is the first leg of the old Route 66 trip if you'd care to try that out. I know Route 66 doesn't really exist in it's entirety anymore but you can always pretend and hit the spots along the way.

oneupper
07-11-2011, 03:39 PM
I'm now looking at Wildlife Prairie State Park as an on-the route option.
Is it any good? Anyone been?

Reds Fanatic
07-11-2011, 03:56 PM
I agree with the suggestions that Homer and Sweetstop made. The aquarium, museums, hancock center and the architectural tour, milenium park are all good places to visit. You also may want to visit the Navy Pier.

One thing I wanted to mention is if you are planning on visiting several of these attractions you may want to consider buying a Chicago city pass:

http://www.citypass.com/chicago

It basically gets you into several of these attractions at a discounted rate and if you have a city pass you can skip the lines to buy tickets in most of the locations.

reds44
07-11-2011, 04:00 PM
Portillo's is overrated as hell. I expected better from Homer. If you want a real Chicago hot dog, just find a vendor on the street or go to one of the neighborhood places in Wrigleyville.

I will ignore the rest of his post which was right on the money lol

RedsManRick
07-11-2011, 04:04 PM
I'd second the architecture cruise, as well as a Millenium Park tour. The Chicago Architectural Foundation also does a bunch of other tours as well (http://caf.architecture.org/page.aspx?pid=204&cgid=1&ceid=974&cerid=0&cdt=7%2f16%2f2011)

Homer Bailey
07-11-2011, 04:16 PM
Portillo's is overrated as hell. I expected better from Homer. If you want a real Chicago hot dog, just find a vendor on the street or go to one of the neighborhood places in Wrigleyville.

I will ignore the rest of his post which was right on the money lol

So you've never had the chocolate cake shake.

oneupper
07-11-2011, 04:40 PM
As for getting around. I have a car and we will be staying in the Suburbs (Elmhust/Oakland) and driving in as needed (or not).
Was thinking of driving in, parking for the day and just getting around somehow.
Is that a good idea? or should we...
Take a train in? Get around by bus? The hop-on hop off trolley? Walk?

Homer Bailey
07-11-2011, 04:51 PM
As for getting around. I have a car and we will be staying in the Suburbs (Elmhust/Oakland) and driving in as needed (or not).
Was thinking of driving in, parking for the day and just getting around somehow.
Is that a good idea? or should we...
Take a train in? Get around by bus? The hop-on hop off trolley? Walk?

Be prepared to battle weekend traffic. I would suggest taking the train in if possible. Once you're downtown you should be able to get around via walking to most places (could even take a water taxi on the river for like $2 a person).

Roy Tucker
07-11-2011, 05:04 PM
I third (fourth?) the architecture boat tour, plus museums, restaurants, etc etc. Chicago is a great town.

Taking the El around isn't bad at all.

And there always is the Cubs or the Sox if you want to take in a ballgame.

Sweetstop
07-11-2011, 05:59 PM
Be prepared to battle weekend traffic. I would suggest taking the train in if possible. Once you're downtown you should be able to get around via walking to most places (could even take a water taxi on the river for like $2 a person).

i agree taking the train in from the western suburbs will be the least hassle, although, on saturday and sunday the traffic isn't as bad, relatively speaking, as it will be on friday evening. if you do drive in, there is good parking under michigan ave..entering in the middle of the street near the art institute.

definitely agree about the walking downtown..with maybe a quick cab over to the shedd aquarium and/or field museum.

hopefully, there will be parking on campus or the street if you drive to the university of chicago.

reds44
07-11-2011, 06:15 PM
So you've never had the chocolate cake shake.
I have but then I found out they put mayo in it and it was ruined forever.

oneupper
07-11-2011, 06:29 PM
hopefully, there will be parking on campus or the street if you drive to the university of chicago.

The campus tour/interview is Friday. We plan to drive in REALLY early (like 6 am or so) and park in one of the university-suggested garages. School's out for the summer, so I have to guess we can pull that off. That will take us most of the day.

As for the weekend. I think we'll train in on Saturday and do as much as we can by foot and stay until the fireworks.

Question: Is it safe to walk around downtown at night?

Sunday. We'll have to drive in, park and finish off whatever we couldn't get done on Saturday and then start off down to St. Louis (another campus tour).

top6
07-11-2011, 06:49 PM
The campus tour/interview is Friday. We plan to drive in REALLY early (like 6 am or so) and park in one of the university-suggested garages. School's out for the summer, so I have to guess we can pull that off. That will take us most of the day.

As for the weekend. I think we'll train in on Saturday and do as much as we can by foot and stay until the fireworks.

Question: Is it safe to walk around downtown at night?

Sunday. We'll have to drive in, park and finish off whatever we couldn't get done on Saturday and then start off down to St. Louis (another campus tour).

I went to U of C, and parking can be a nightmare, even for someone who knew where they were going. But you should be OK getting in that early on a Friday. It's a beautiful campus. You can also walk to the Lake, and a place called Promontory Point (which is near the Museum of Science and Industry). If you have time, it's a beautiful view. That museum is also OK -- probably more interesting for kids, but there is a WWII sub there that's pretty cool.

As for walking around at night, it is a big city, so you do have to use some common sense. Downtown is actually pretty empty late at night - the "action" is really north and west of the city and in about 25 other neighborhoods. If you are near where the fireworks are, though, I think you'll be OK, as there will be crowds.

Also: definitely take the train on Saturday. Driving in and out the suburbs is a nightmare at any time, but especially on a nice, summer weekend, which hopefully for you it will be.

Homer Bailey
07-12-2011, 10:57 AM
I have but then I found out they put mayo in it and it was ruined forever.

Well thanks for returning the favor.

medford
07-12-2011, 12:54 PM
I'm by no means a Chicago expert, but if its Chicago, and its the summer, there's a festival somewhere in the city worth checking out, garunteed.

RedsManRick
07-12-2011, 01:44 PM
As for getting around. I have a car and we will be staying in the Suburbs (Elmhust/Oakland) and driving in as needed (or not).
Was thinking of driving in, parking for the day and just getting around somehow.
Is that a good idea? or should we...
Take a train in? Get around by bus? The hop-on hop off trolley? Walk?

The city is very walkable for the most part and you can get unlimited CTA (L train & busses) passes for less than the cost of parking.

That said, depending on when you arrive/leave, you can actually find reasonable day rates in the loop on the weekend, particularly on the west side of the loop that's mostly businesses. Check here: http://chicago.bestparking.com/. You could also take the metra (commuter rail) in from Elmhurst. It's fast & reliable. http://metrarail.com/metra/en/home/maps_schedules/metra_system_map/up-w/station.ELMHURST.html

If you want to leave downtown at all and check out the neighborhoods, the CTA is the way to go. Otherwise parking can be a best, especially on the north-side.