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Talk to me about Chicago

My family & I are headed up to Chicago (Great Lakes) tomorrow for my baby brother's Navy RTC Graduation (haven't seen him in 8 weeks, I'm so frigging pumped!). 

We're from Alabama so we're not really looking forward to the frigid temps, snow, & wind - but we're pretty well prepared.
We're flying in Wednesday night and will be up there until Sunday night. 

Thursday we're driving south to Peoria to see the Dan Fogelberg memorial (my dad is OBSESSED with this dude). 

My brother graduates Friday the 23rd, and we'll have Friday afternoon/night, all day Saturday & half the day Sunday to spend with him in Chicago.

Anyone have any fun ideas for us to do while we're up there? We're obviously going to Cloud Gate & Wrigley Field (tourists, yay!), but I was wondering if anyone had some hidden treasures that we might not know about!

Also, keep my bro in your thoughts/prayers! His final tests are today & tomorrow! We are so proud & excited to see our Sailor! :)
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Re: Talk to me about Chicago

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    edited January 2015
    I live in Chicago!
    Congrats to your brother!

    Chicago is a great foodie town. Try the restaurants in the River North neighborhood and the West Randolph/ Fulton Market area.
    Comedy is really fun-- In the Old Town Neighborhood you have Second City and Zanies within a block of each other. 
    Seeing Cloud Gate is pretty cool. You can ice skate in front of it and there's a brand new "ribbon" ice rink on the other side of Millennium Park, in the brand new Maggie Daley park.

    The Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Field Museum, Planetarium, and Shedd Aquarium are all great and near enough to each other on the downtown lakefront. The Museum of Science and Industry is very cool but it is several miles south of the downtown area. 

    I'd skip shopping on Michigan Avenue. It's mostly mid-range stores you can find anywhere. Better stores are off Michigan on Oak or Rush streets ($$$) and you have to delve into the other neighborhoods (Wicker Park, Lincoln Park for example) to find boutiques.  

    If you can take an Architecture Tour, do it! Those are super interesting. I've always wanted to do something like a Gangster Tour but haven't gotten around to it. 

    If I think of more I'll add to this post. 

    Edit: I thought of more. If the weather is nice and clear, go to the Signature Lounge in the John Hancock center. For the price of cocktails you get amazing views of the city, and it would be preferable to going to the top of the Willis (aka Sears) tower. Both ShesSoCold and I got married there, fun fact! 
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    edited June 2015
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    Congrats to your bro!!! Very exciting!

    I lived in the Chicago area for four years and moved there from FL, so I feel you on the temperature thing. LOVE the city though. Most of my experience is with the far north side, but I can give you a couple of tips!
    • Use buildings as shelter from the wind when you stop at a cross walk. Don't walk right up to the edge of the curb to wait, cuz you'll get wind blasted.
    • Bring wind-resistant layers. Things like fleece just don't cut it. 
    • The bars and restaurants around Wrigley get CRAZY on the weekends but can be really fun! Just try to leave before things get messy (usually after midnight). 
    • If you're looking for a cute but chill area to walk around, head to Lincoln Square. Cute shops, great restaurants, good spots for brunch like Cafe Sel Marie. Take the Brown Line train to the Western stop. 
    • Certain areas of the Loop get pretty quiet on the weekends and have the potential to be dangerous, so if you're not sure where you are and it's late, you don't need to panic but maybe hail a cab. 
    • Merchandise Mart (in the Loop) is fun to walk around and is indoors! 
    • The museums and such are another fantastic indoor attraction, and the view of the city from the museum campus (near the planetarium) can't be beat. 
    • I would skip Navy Pier in the winter unless you're really excited about it.
    • The view from the top of the Hancock Building is actually much prettier than the view from the Sears (Willis) Tower, but it doesn't have the Sky Deck, which is this clear glass thing you can walk out on to for some scary good times. 
    Hope that helps! Have a great time! :)
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    edited June 2015
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    Good luck to your brother!

    I agree with the others on places to go, things to see, what to eat, etc.

    One quick recommendation: grab a drink at the bar at the top of the Hancock building. It's a beautiful view of the city and it can end up being cheaper than going to the sky deck of the Sears tower- you just need to get a window seat. Drinks aren't cheap but you get to sit down while looking out over the city.
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    My family & I are headed up to Chicago (Great Lakes) tomorrow for my baby brother's Navy RTC Graduation (haven't seen him in 8 weeks, I'm so frigging pumped!). 

    We're from Alabama so we're not really looking forward to the frigid temps, snow, & wind - but we're pretty well prepared.
    We're flying in Wednesday night and will be up there until Sunday night. 

    Thursday we're driving south to Peoria to see the Dan Fogelberg memorial (my dad is OBSESSED with this dude). 

    My brother graduates Friday the 23rd, and we'll have Friday afternoon/night, all day Saturday & half the day Sunday to spend with him in Chicago.

    Anyone have any fun ideas for us to do while we're up there? We're obviously going to Cloud Gate & Wrigley Field (tourists, yay!), but I was wondering if anyone had some hidden treasures that we might not know about!

    Also, keep my bro in your thoughts/prayers! His final tests are today & tomorrow! We are so proud & excited to see our Sailor! :)

    Hi, I am a native. And happy to help you explore my amazing city. Where are you staying? What type of food do you like? Are you comfortable with public transit?

    If you are going to the Bean and its a clear day. I would go have lunch at the Cafe on at the Art institute. It is on the North side of the musuem and you enter by the Modern wing.The food is really good and reasonably priced plus it has amazing views of the city. When you go see the Bean, don't just see jus see the Bean, go see the faces, maybe ice skate, walk grant park if its nice enough outside.

    Believe it or not a segway tour is a really good way to see the loop.

    Take the red line up to Wrigley, wonder clark street. Or Halsted St if you want to wonder Boystown. If you are in boystown ans want some reasonably priced small plated and great drinks go to Tavern 750. Its 2 blocks from wrigley and tasty!

    If you like Musuems, get a day or weekend pass and hop around. The best IMO are the Shedd and Adler.

    I think its restaurant week so you are going to want to make reservations right away.

    Skip Navy Pier

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    P.S. @Katwag Restaurant Week starts at the end of January and goes through the first two weeks of February. I got a reservation for Moto and am PUMPED..... 

    Restaurant Week is my Super Bowl. 

    But yeah, OP, the public transportation is pretty easy to figure out and will save you boat loads of money over taking cabs everywhere.  
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    KatWAGKatWAG member
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    edited January 2015
    I would go check out the Cultural center and see their absolutely stunning Tiffany glass dome, and then I would get a drink at the Palmer House in the evening. I wouldn't stay there for multiple drinks, because they're very pricey ($13 for a martini!) but you have to get one. It's an absolutely beautiful place to relax, the bar will come to you, and the people-watching in second to none. You'll see multiple weddings parties and business execs off work and some fat dude in a Cubs windbreaker all hanging out together easily.

    I would go to the art museum, especially since it's right by Grant Park and it's very pretty. If you want fine dining that doesn't have an 8-month wait list, hit The Girl and The Goat, or Publican. If you feel like going on the cheap you have to go to the Dim Sum houses. I go to Posticker House, but that's more on the south side / on the outskirts of chinatown. Given your tours, you'll be mostly on the north side.
    The Magnificent Mile is kind of fun, but I wouldn't go out of my way to see it. Oooh, shopping, Macy's, big whoop.

    Seriously? Girl and the Goat has the longest waiting list in the city.

    And the restaurant PP are referring to in the John Hancock is called the Signature Room on 95th. It is expensive with really shitty food. But if its a clear night, go for one drink. The best view is actually from the women's bathroom.

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    P.S. @Katwag Restaurant Week starts at the end of January and goes through the first two weeks of February. I got a reservation for Moto and am PUMPED..... 

    Restaurant Week is my Super Bowl. 

    But yeah, OP, the public transportation is pretty easy to figure out and will save you boat loads of money over taking cabs everywhere.  
     
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    Thanks! I knew restaurant week was soon. I couldnt remember exactly when.
     
    You are going to LOVE moto. When I was there I got a "cuban cigar." It was a cuabn sandwich, made to look like a cigar that was actually smoking when it came out.
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    I didn't think of Restaurant Week!

    DH and I have a weekend of it planned:
    Lunch at Le Colonial
    Dinner at Zed 451
    Lunch the following day at McCormick & Schmick's (he loves lobster rolls...)

    We're using a gift to stay downtown for the night and plan on including a movie, couples massage and, if we can possibly hold it, a trip to the chocolate buffet at the Trump (never been but read about it).

    You'll have a blast!
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    edited June 2015
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    We were just up there and I didn't even realize the new park area by Millenium Park (toward the lake) was open - we had fun going through there as adults!  Plus make sure you check out the wall with faces and some of the other sculptures, it's a nice area to walk around.

    Shopping on Michigan Avenue - I feel like it is a rite of passage and I still end up doing it whenever I'm there even though I rarely buy anything and it is mostly stores I have at home.  But for some reason it feels like something I have to do.  Honestly though I think I'd skip it though if you aren't likely to be back any time soon.

    Lincoln park zoo is a free zoo, and pretty decent at that.  I'm not really an animal or zoo person but I always like it there. Lincoln park is a fun area too


    If you think you'll be going a lot of places look at getting a 24 hour (or longer) transit pass for buses/trains.  We only took the bus once so didn't get it but I've used it other times when going lots of different places and not wanting (or being able) to walk everywhere.


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    KatWAG said:
    I would go check out the Cultural center and see their absolutely stunning Tiffany glass dome, and then I would get a drink at the Palmer House in the evening. I wouldn't stay there for multiple drinks, because they're very pricey ($13 for a martini!) but you have to get one. It's an absolutely beautiful place to relax, the bar will come to you, and the people-watching in second to none. You'll see multiple weddings parties and business execs off work and some fat dude in a Cubs windbreaker all hanging out together easily.

    I would go to the art museum, especially since it's right by Grant Park and it's very pretty. If you want fine dining that doesn't have an 8-month wait list, hit The Girl and The Goat, or Publican. If you feel like going on the cheap you have to go to the Dim Sum houses. I go to Posticker House, but that's more on the south side / on the outskirts of chinatown. Given your tours, you'll be mostly on the north side.
    The Magnificent Mile is kind of fun, but I wouldn't go out of my way to see it. Oooh, shopping, Macy's, big whoop.

    Seriously? Girl and the Goat has the longest waiting list in the city.

    And the restaurant PP are referring to in the John Hancock is called the Signature Room on 95th. It is expensive with really shitty food. But if its a clear night, go for one drink. The best view is actually from the women's bathroom.

    BS. Alinea and Next makes Girl and the Goat look like a 2 minute text.
    Those arent reservations. You buy tickets to those.
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    Thank you! I forgot the name of the Signature Room. I also agree- don't eat there. Just get a drink. The food is awful and expensive. The drinks are expensive too, though cheaper than paying for a trip to the top of the Sears tower then getting a drink somewhere else. And yes, it's pointless on a cloudy day.

    I love the dim sum houses. The Publican is amazing as well. If you're more of a burger group, Au Cheval is amazing. They don't take reservations and the lines can get long but if you go at an off time, it works out. Or, if you're just going for amazing food that's easy, check out a place like the Greek Islands. It's near the train or a quick cab ride from downtown and delicious. It's a tradition in my family.

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    Thanks you guys! I am really looking forward to our trip. I know it's gonna be cold & all but Chicago has been on my travel bucket list for quite a while now so I am pumped.

    We're staying at the Navy Lodge right outside the base. We have a rental car - mainly just so we can drive down to Peoria & into Wisconsin & Michigan and stuff if we feel like it. We have heard from lots of people NOT to drive into downtown Chicago, so we are definitely planning on using mass transit. We've been to Boston & New York a couple of times & we like to say that we mastered the mass transit system pretty well :) 

    I'm a lighthouse fanatic so I'm trying to convince my mom to let us drive up to Kenosha and see the Southport Light (even though I know it's gonna be crazy cold - I still wanna see it). 

    We are definitely foodies, and my brother specifically stated in his last letter that we HAVE to get a deep dish pizza.
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    Thanks you guys! I am really looking forward to our trip. I know it's gonna be cold & all but Chicago has been on my travel bucket list for quite a while now so I am pumped.

    We're staying at the Navy Lodge right outside the base. We have a rental car - mainly just so we can drive down to Peoria & into Wisconsin & Michigan and stuff if we feel like it. We have heard from lots of people NOT to drive into downtown Chicago, so we are definitely planning on using mass transit. We've been to Boston & New York a couple of times & we like to say that we mastered the mass transit system pretty well :) 

    I'm a lighthouse fanatic so I'm trying to convince my mom to let us drive up to Kenosha and see the Southport Light (even though I know it's gonna be crazy cold - I still wanna see it). 

    We are definitely foodies, and my brother specifically stated in his last letter that we HAVE to get a deep dish pizza.
     
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    Tell us what types of food you like and we can come up with some ideas for place to eat!
     
    Personally I am a Lou Malantis fan for pizza but there are so many good ones to choose from.
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    @KatWAG

    We've had a lot of recommendations for Giordano's for pizza.

    I'm a somewhat picky eater - I'm almost 24 years old & still eat off the kids menu if I'm allowed!

    We all really like some good Italian food, Mexican, my mom and I really like Greek food.
    And of course the all American burgers, fries, hot dogs, chicken fingers lol. 
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    There are some "big" pizza places and everyone has a favorite. I personally like Giordanos better than Lou Malnatis, but some people might revoke my Illinois citizenship over a comment like that.  Gino's East is very popular, and I particularly like Pizzaria Uno and Due. 

    But hey, that's a good thing about a place like this- plenty of options to please everyone! 

    And I have to defend the Signature Room because I was married there and it was fabulous. On a regular night is the quality of the food worth the price? Not really. They up-charge for ambiance. Is it still good food? Yes.  Again, with the diversity of Chicago you're going to have a million opinions. My family is solidly middle class and everyone loved the food at our wedding. People who are fortunate to be able to afford high end restaurants have the luxury of choosing many other places with amazing food at better value. Still, that being said, grab a drink there! 
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    For deep dish, I prefer Pizano's. 
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    The she'd aquarium is my favorite place. I also love walking around the pier even in winter
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    @KatWAG

    We've had a lot of recommendations for Giordano's for pizza.

    I'm a somewhat picky eater - I'm almost 24 years old & still eat off the kids menu if I'm allowed!

    We all really like some good Italian food, Mexican, my mom and I really like Greek food.
    And of course the all American burgers, fries, hot dogs, chicken fingers lol. 
     
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    Italian: Balena, Osteria Via Stato, Quartinos, RPM, Carmines, Ricardo Trattinos, Tarantinos,
     
    Mexican: Cantina Laredo, Taco Joint, De cero, Frontero gril, Mercadito, Carnival, Nacional 27,
     
    Greek: not my area of expertise but Greedk Islands is good and GRK is a good lunch spot
     
    Burgers: DMK, Kumas Corner, Kumas 2, 25 Degrees
     
    Hot Dogs: Portillos, Al's Beef
     
    Did I miss anything?
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    @KatWAG and @thisismynickname both suggested everything that I would suggest. I am a Lou Malnati's fan too, and the pizza will take 45-1hr to bake, so don't come starving. Navy Pier is a tourist trap and I wouldn't go unless you were going to the IMAX. Restaurant week ends on February 12th this year, so it looks like you will just miss it.
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