View Full Version : You Have Two Days To See Chicago . . . . [INCL COMMENTS BY CECIL]
And by "you" I of course mean "me." :)
My sister and I are coming to fair Chicago for Memorial Day weekend. It was my choice (the trip is a birthday present) and I picked Chicago because I've heard good things about the city and have never been there. We will be there all day Saturday and all day Sunday, staying in a hotel on Michigan Ave. We fly home Monday noon-ish.
So what do we do? What do we do???
What are the "can't miss" things to see in Chicago? I know we can't really put a dent in it in two days, but that's all we have. We are more the shopping/ strolling/ museum/ tours/ sidewalk cafes/ glasses of wine types, as opposed to the sports-loving/ club-hopping types. Oh! And suggestions for places to eat would be appreciated as well.
Thanks for any help!
05-07-2009, 11:50 PM
With only two days in town, you don't want to go too far afield from Michigan Avenue, or you'll spend the whole day in cabs. Sticking right downtown, though, there's some great things to do.
I highly, highly recommend the Architectural Boat Tours (http://http://www.architecture.org/tour_view.aspx?TourID=8)run by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. They give fabulous tours up the Chicago river, giving a great overview of Chicago history as seen in its wonderful buildings.
I'd also recommend the Art Institute of Chicago (http://www.artic.edu/aic/)...their Impressionist exhibit is one of the finest in the world.
I'll think of some more stuff and post it tomorrow. :-)
Man With a Cat
05-08-2009, 07:03 AM
The entire Grant Park, Millennium Park, Museum Campus area is a day of walking, but entirely worth it.
If for nothing else, to go see Sue (http://www.fieldmuseum.org/SUE/).
Tim R. Mortiss
05-08-2009, 03:31 PM
Navy Pier is highly tourist-centric, but still worth a look. Especially as you're pretty close already.
Taking a stroll up and down Rush Street and Division Street is fun, even if you don't go into the clubs. Be sure to stop for the world's greatest Gyros at Five Faces.
Walk up the lakefront from your hotel to North Avenue Beach and back. Or do the Segway Tour.
Definitely check the city website for festivals. Most weekends, there is some sort of free festival in Grant Park; music or ethnic or food or something.
Ride the free trolleys. They go all over the Loop and the North Side. You don't have to get off; just riding them is fun. Same goes for riding the El.
Have some deep dish pizza. Maybe a fully-dressed hot dog.
Lincoln Park Zoo isn't too far. And it's free.
And of course there are the Sears and Hancock Towers for incredible views.
Hope you have a great trip!......TRM
05-11-2009, 04:22 PM
Agree with the boat/architectural tour. And as long as your down that way, do the boat/lakefront tour. If you're not familiar with Chicago, especially the downtown area and the skyline, it's well worth 2 hours of your time. It's obviously better on nice days.
C K Dexter Haven
05-13-2009, 08:32 AM
Agree with the boat tour, and the Architectural Society has a number of walking tours as well. While I personally love the boat tour, it's crammed with architectural info but you only see what's along the river. (I just did that tour with ianzin yesterday.
I personally find the Grey Line tours in most cities to be a great way to see lots in a fairly efficient mannner.
If you like art, especially impressionist, the Art Institute should be on your list. If you like fish, there's Shedd Aquarium. If you like dinosaurs and everything, the Field Museum of Natural History. There's also the Planetarium.
Millenium Park is interesting and fun, and the Chicago Cultural Center (formerly the public library) is worth a fifteen minute walk-through, it's a jaw-dropper.
For eating: I dunno what you like, but any of the restaurants in Greek Town (Halsted Street - my personal favorite is the Parthenon) are wonderful.
05-13-2009, 04:08 PM
So I take it that we'll need to look for a 3d and 4th for our Sat a.m. 4-some, and you and mom won't be joining us for cards Sat night and SCOTS Sun eve? :p
Plenty of good recommendations already. Pick and choose.
05-13-2009, 05:36 PM
YOU MUST go out and hear some Chicago Blues! I recommended B.L.U.E.S. on N. Halsted and Rosa's on W. Armitage. Google either club for more info. That'll take care of your nightlife needs for sure.
05-15-2009, 02:53 PM
Drive/take the bus to the Adler Planetarium for the great view of the lakefront. Since you only have two days, skip actually going into it.
05-15-2009, 07:27 PM
No free trolleys this summer. Budget cuts.
Get a CTA pass and learn about the number 29 (Navy Pier-Michigan Avenue-State Street) and number 146 (Michigan Avenue-State Street-Museum Campus). Or just walk. Only the Museum Campus is very far away.
Tim R. Mortiss
05-15-2009, 07:49 PM
No free trolleys this summer. Budget cuts.
Man, that's a bummer. Crimps my favorite hobby: scaring the tourists.
05-16-2009, 01:07 AM
Since you mentioned you like museums, may I suggest checking out the Chicago History Museum. (http://chicagohistory.org/) Sure it's not the Field or S&I, but if you want to get a grasp of some of our history, it's a great museum with wonderful displays and exhibits.
I also co-sign the boat tour!
As for great places to eat, seriously, one of the cool things about Chicago is that that is pretty much anywhere you go. If I told you where to go it'd just be biased opinion, you'll find something that you like, no doubt.
Also, a few good websites to check out daily events and news would be:
Between all of those sites, you can pretty much get the scoop on everything going on here in Chicago.
I hope the weather is nice for you and that you have a great time!
05-16-2009, 09:24 PM
The Trolley is still running out to Navy Pier from Grant. If you're already staying on Michigan though, it's really not too far to walk it.
Shedd Aquarium is fairly easy to get around quickly, but my first trip to Field Museum took about 4-5 hours and I still feel that I didn't see it all.
The Museum of Science and Industry just opened a Harry Potter exhibit, so if you're a fan of the books and/or movies, its a definite must-see (although my experience there was also of the "I don't think I saw everything" variety--and I was there for 3 hours).
If you like places that are part of Entertainment history, I know it's cliche, but you ought to stop into one of the Billy Goat Tavern locations (inspired the Belushi "cheesborger" sketch on SNL).
Another suggestion for eateries-- Frankie's, located in the Shops at 900 Michigan on the 5th floor. I've never had anything but excellent service there, and the food is pretty good, if you like pizza/Italian.
Hey, I thought those of you kind enough to make recommendations might be interested in an update on how the weekend went. My sis and I had an awesome time in Chicago. The weather could not have been better, the flowers were blooming, the sky was big and blue, it was like the city was showing its very best side. In return, we embraced Tourism with a capital "T." Here's what we did:
Friday: Went to dinner at LuxBar (http://www.luxbar.com/location.html) on Rush Street, and strolled around a bit.
* Took the Architectural Cruise (http://www.chicagoline.com/architectural.php) on the River -- highly recommended by several people and really worth it, very fun and interesting.
* Rode the Ferris Wheel, had lunch, and walked through the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows, all at Navy Pier (http://www.navypier.com/). Bought the required amount of city-specific tourist junk at the Navy Pier shops, for distribution back home.
* Went for a Speedboat Ride (http://www.seadogcruises.com/chicago/extreme.cfm) out onto the Lake (goofy fun, but overpriced).
* Went back to our hotel and sat in the hotel bar in the lobby, watching people arrive for a wedding reception (Bride mad at Groom -- much entertaining drama, plus much fashion to comment on!).
* Went to dinner at Gaylord's -- excellent Indian food.
* Up late, then over to Michigan Avenue for SHOPPING! Macy's, Filene's Basement, Nordstrom, Needless Markup, etc. Very fun to be out on a beautiful Sunday late morning.
* Walked down to Millennium Park (http://www.millenniumpark.org/), pictures in front of the Bean, we would have joined people sitting on the lawn listening to the free jazz concert, which sounded excellent, but we were running out of time.
* Went to the Chicago Art Institute (http://www.artic.edu/aic/). One word: Fabulous. We didn't have enough time there, but we closed it down at 5 p.m. Cabbed back to the hotel (many shopping bags + sore feet).
* Drinks in the hotel bar, with the world's worst cheese plate.
* We wanted Chicago-style pizza for dinner, and the unanimous recommendation was Gino's East (http://featuredfoods.com/cgi-local/SoftCart.exe/a-store/c-GinoAns_East.shtml?E+scstore+ginos). It was really good, although I confess deep-dish is not my personal pizza preference. The joint was jumping on a Sunday night and it was really fun.
* Walked back up to the John Hancock Center ( http://www.johnhancockcenterchicago.com/) in the twilight and took the trip up to the observation deck. Beautiful sunset and then nighttime views of the city and lake, and we stayed long enough to see the fireworks over Navy Pier.
Monday: Nice breakfast at the hotel, and then a cab ride back to the airport to head home.
We really, really enjoyed your fair city. It was one of those trips where the location, the weather, the company, and attitude all line up and things just seem to go very well. Literally the worst thing we encountered in the whole trip was the sub-par cheese plate at the hotel one afternoon. That's the only thing to complain about.
We had a great time, and it was a great birthday for me. Thanks for all the help in making it so fun. :)
Tim R. Mortiss
05-27-2009, 11:07 AM
Glad you had a good time! And thanks for letting us know how it all went.
By the by, my GF and I were at the Stained Glass museum about the same time. Might have walked right past you!.....TRM
06-28-2009, 10:44 PM
I'd completely disagree with Sarahfeena, but that may just be the way I like to travel - get into the neighborhoods, go as far away from Michigan Avenue as you can. The one don't-miss spot in River North (tourist area) would be Pizzeria Uno or Pizzeria Due (I prefer Due), that is the real deal Chicago deep dish. Gino's is also the real deal.
I'd say, while we are famous for deep dish pizza, an even more authentic Chicago meal would be an Italian Beef. The best is Al's, on Taylor Street in Little Italy. There's also an outpost in River North, probably just as good but experiencing Taylor Street would be more fun, plus you can follow it up with Mario's Italian Ice.
If the Cubs are in town, that would be a great way to spend a day. Either in the ballpark or on a rooftop.
If you like art, the Art Institute has a collection of Impressionist paintings that will take your breath away, and the MCA has a swiftly-rotating collection of great contemporary works, lots of installations and avant-garde video stuff, plus it's cheap and usually not crowded at all.
All summer long, each weekend has a couple neighborhood street festivals, featuring a variety of local food and music. If you want a taste of what Chicagoans do for fun, a neighborhood street festival would be a good bet. You can probably find out where they're happening at metromix.
If you like seeing indie bands in small venues, check out the Empty Bottle, Double Door, or Subterranean, all in Wicker Park. Metro, Bottom Lounge, and Martyr's generally have pretty good booking too.
Millennium Park is a tourist trap, but the Park Grill has good food and this summer there is a series of free shows on Mondays at noon and 6:30. Whoever booked these bands (mostly rock and experimental) did a great service to our fair city, you should at least see who's playing if you're here on a Monday.
If you want to dance to beats, you have a ton of options. I'd recommend Sonotheque (cheap and pretension and dress code-free) or RedNoFive (slightly more pretense and druggier), or if you want the big Chicago Megaclub Experience, Crobar or maybe Soundbar.
One more thing - Chicago is not known as a mecca of Indian food, but if you like Indian food, go up to Devon Avenue. Tiffin is my favorite, it's American style white tablecloth service, full bar, and amazing food. Others like Hema's, which is grittier, arguably more authentic, cheaper, and byob.
C K Dexter Haven
07-03-2009, 07:50 AM
Well, you were coming for Memorial Day weekend, so it's probably too late... but Cecil has actually chimed in with his advice for visitors: http://chicago.straightdope.com/sdc20090702.php
Congrats, Jodi, on being one of the favored few. Now you'll have a list for next time.
Wow. :o I'm stunned. For a hardcore Straight Doper, it's like having God speak to you. I seriously want to brag about this to all my friends, except none of them understand the remote and awesome majesty that is Cecil.
I do hope to get back to Chicago some day and will defintely follow Cecil's suggestions. They won't be hard to find because the column is framed and hanging in a spot-light about my fireplace. Of course. Thanks Cecil!
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