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Calling all Chicago knotties

peachy13peachy13 in my cubicle, doing very important work member
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I'm attending a work conference in Chicago this September and am really excited because I've never been. DH is buying a ticket on my flights and tagging along for the four day trip. We'll have the first full day together (and the Cubs are home so you bet we'll be at Wrigley that day), and then the next three days, I'm basically in the conference from 7am-3pm, giving me time with DH every late afternoon and night.

The hotel/conference is right near Millennium Park and the Theater district and it looks like there are tons of cool places nearby. Looking for 1) great dinner spots or fun nighttime activities to do with DH, and 2) ideas for DH when he's by himself during the day. Without suggestions he would probably just hang in the hotel, go to the gym, watch movies, drink in the hotel lounge, so I'd love to give him some adventure guidance. 

Thanks!
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Re: Calling all Chicago knotties

  • This is an international board.  You should move this to the Chicago local board. 
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  • thisismynickname2thisismynickname2 City By The Lake member
    5000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited April 2016
    Fun!
    So, a lot can change in the dining scene between now and September. Look up Chicago Magazine (pretty sure it's chicagomag dot com). I love looking up the Top 10 hot spots each month and seeing what's new and trying those things out. I'm happy to give more recommendations as the date draws closer so feel free to PM me then. 
    It's always great to see a show, whether a play, a musical, the symphony, the ballet, the opera- just have to see what's available that week. 
    The Art Institute is only open until 5pm except for Thursdays it's open until 8pm. Weekends for any museum are mobbed but oh well- the Field is great, the aquarium is great, the planetarium is great.  
    Architectural boat tours are also well worth it. 
    There are often free cultural events in Millennium Park in the evenings, so again, all depends on exactly when you're there. 
    So this is all the big ticket tourist stuff. If you have more discerning taste, I'm happy to help find activities or give recommendations off the beaten path. 
    Even weather depending, it's just really nice to rent a bike and ride up and down the lakefront trail.

    Good luck!
    -- A Local

    P.S. for the love of all that is holy, don't go to Navy Pier unless it's to board a boat. 
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    [Deleted User]ShesSoColdkimmiinthemittenpeachy13
  • Boat tour! I'm a fan of the Wendella company- the river & lake ones. 

    Dont eat at chains. Find local places. Chicago has so much good food, it's a shame to waste it. 

    Touristy stuff like Sears tower (Willis tower blerg) is pretty cool to do once. Drinks at the Hancock building at night give a great view of the city lit up at night. 

    Lincoln park zoo is one of my favorites. And it's free admission! 

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    ILoveBeachMusicpeachy13
  • Boat tour! I'm a fan of the Wendella company- the river & lake ones. 

    Dont eat at chains. Find local places. Chicago has so much good food, it's a shame to waste it. 

    Touristy stuff like Sears tower (Willis tower blerg) is pretty cool to do once. Drinks at the Hancock building at night give a great view of the city lit up at night. 

    Lincoln park zoo is one of my favorites. And it's free admission! 

    Yes, get a drink in the Signature Room at the Hancock Building.  It would cost something like $15 to ride the elevator up to the observation deck on the 94th floor.  OOOOooooor, you can ride the elevator to the 96 floor for free and buy a $14 martini.
    kimmiinthemittenpeachy13
  • Ditto doing the architectural boat tour - they are awesome. It's a cool way to learn about the city and see a lot in a short amount of time. Millennium Park is really nicely done as is the lakefront and the riverwalk path, both are nice to walk around for a bit and there are a bunch of (overpriced) places to sit and grab a drink on the riverwalk path and people watch. I've also done some food tours when people have come to town where you stop at a half dozen places and try food of a theme (they have chocolate, pizza, etc.) 

    I'd definitely venture outside the Mag Mile / Millenium park area; and head up to Lincoln Park area (way better restaurants that aren't chains) and the park / zoo is fun to walk around. There are also some good shops along Armitage and Halsted. 

    If you want to try Chicago pizza, Lou Malnati's is my favorite. 
    peachy13
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs member
    Tenth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    sunset30 said:
    Ditto doing the architectural boat tour - they are awesome. It's a cool way to learn about the city and see a lot in a short amount of time. Millennium Park is really nicely done as is the lakefront and the riverwalk path, both are nice to walk around for a bit and there are a bunch of (overpriced) places to sit and grab a drink on the riverwalk path and people watch. I've also done some food tours when people have come to town where you stop at a half dozen places and try food of a theme (they have chocolate, pizza, etc.) 

    I'd definitely venture outside the Mag Mile / Millenium park area; and head up to Lincoln Park area (way better restaurants that aren't chains) and the park / zoo is fun to walk around. There are also some good shops along Armitage and Halsted. 

    If you want to try Chicago pizza, Lou Malnati's is my favorite. 
    Even as locals, we have taken the pizza food tour for a birthday event.  It is amazing.  One of the restaurants is owned by the Malnati family.  If you love pizza, I highly recommend the tour!
    http://www.chicagopizzatours.com/pizzerias

    peachy13
  • kimmiinthemittenkimmiinthemitten Detroit, MI member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    edited April 2016
    I'm a wannabe Chicagoan, can I play?

    I usually stay in River North/ Streeterville and my favorite bars are:
    Green Door Tavern-allegedly oldest bar in Chicago. I'm never out early enough to get into the Speakeasy downstairs though
    Underground Wonder Bar- this is an interactive live music place ran by a bunch of hippies. You could be dancing in a drum circle downstairs or playing tambourine for the band upstairs. 
    Pippens- just a cool hole in the wall
    If you want to do a piano bar I like the Redhead better than Howl at the Moon.
    I also agree that Signature Room > Observatory Deck. And while you're there, go to the bathroom. I think it's where the best view of the city is lol. 

    Reataurants - I'll have to update when my friend gets back to me with all of the places we went to last time. The chef at their catering company gave us a list (last summer so relevance may be at issue):
    Acanto is across from Milenium Park. There's a special not always on the menu that is so good Vince Vaughn hunted down the chef for the recipe. A touristy stop, but a should do especially if you eat here, is to go to the Chicago Athletic Club (2 doors down) Roof for a drink. It overlooks the park and is pretty sweet. The Cherry Cordial room makes killer classic cocktails as well. 

    Purple Pig has/had the youngest James Beard winner but that was a few years ago and it's since caught on and has huge wait times now. 

    Big Star in Wicker Park is super trendy and hipster but in a way that makes you really want PBR and a walking taco. 

    Bavettes is is where I've had my best steak yet. 

    Theres also a great local middle eastern lunch spot/ grocery store in Wicker Park but I can't remember it's name. 

    I usually shop when I'm there so I suck at the day time stuff, but the walking tour of Frank Lloyd homes in Oak Park is cool. I haven't been to Wrigleyville in almost a decade so I don't know anything over there but do want to hit up a Cubs game when I go back with FI. 

    ETF autocorrects
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    peachy13
  • Not a local, but I go to Chicago every spring for work. Definitely do the architectural boat tour, I loved it. Also, if you're into craft cocktails (and willing to spend some money), go to the Aviary, or to the downstairs bar The Office. We did both and the custom cocktails downstairs were amazing, so worth it.

    Also, check out the Art Institute. There are some famous works there but you can also see Chagall's Anerican Windows. I just saw he Van Goigh bedrooms exhibit but I think it closes before you'll go. 
    peachy13
  • All I know is I wish I could find a reason to go there later this year for the Saved By The Bell pop up restaurant opening soon
    peachy13thisismynickname2CharmedPam
  • kimmiinthemittenkimmiinthemitten Detroit, MI member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    kvruns said:
    All I know is I wish I could find a reason to go there later this year for the Saved By The Bell pop up restaurant opening soon
    Is that The Max?  My friend got tickets; it sounds like fun!
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    peachy13
  • I'm headed to Chicago at the end of May ... this just made my research easy!
    kimmiinthemittenpeachy13[Deleted User]
  • kvruns said:
    All I know is I wish I could find a reason to go there later this year for the Saved By The Bell pop up restaurant opening soon
    Is that The Max?  My friend got tickets; it sounds like fun!
    Yup. I think it's coming in May but could be wrong 
    peachy13
  • kvruns said:
    kvruns said:
    All I know is I wish I could find a reason to go there later this year for the Saved By The Bell pop up restaurant opening soon
    Is that The Max?  My friend got tickets; it sounds like fun!
    Yup. I think it's coming in May but could be wrong 


    It's coming in June for one month only! Tix are sold out but they will do walk ins :) 
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    peachy13kimmiinthemitten
  • peachy13peachy13 in my cubicle, doing very important work member
    Fifth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    you guys rock. Thank you! So pumped about the lake and river tour. Need to watch "My Best Friend's Wedding" before trip.  :'(


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  • CharmedPamCharmedPam Chicagoburbs member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer

    I live in the 'burbs, so when I go to Chicago, I'm practically a tourist myself.

    I'm one of the few who does like Navy Pier.  I went on the Odyssey last weekend and the views were spectacular. I would NOT pay full price for it though ($310).  I found window seats at goldstar for 1/2 that price and it was worth it then (oh, buy the drink package!).  There's a Giordano's at the Pier, it's a must.  DO NOT DO LOU MALNATI'S. I mean, you can - but only if 1/2 cooked, watery, tasteless ingredients for the same price as quality pizza's are your thing.  (seriously, ask me how I feel about Lou's)

    Willis - it's $30 bucks now and NOT worth the price.  I guess to do it once, I'd go but it's really a waste of money IMO.

    If you venture out in an uber, I love "Monk's Pub". I'm pretty sure that's an uber ride (but worth it!)


    thisismynickname2
  • adk19 said:
    Boat tour! I'm a fan of the Wendella company- the river & lake ones. 

    Dont eat at chains. Find local places. Chicago has so much good food, it's a shame to waste it. 

    Touristy stuff like Sears tower (Willis tower blerg) is pretty cool to do once. Drinks at the Hancock building at night give a great view of the city lit up at night. 

    Lincoln park zoo is one of my favorites. And it's free admission! 

    Yes, get a drink in the Signature Room at the Hancock Building.  It would cost something like $15 to ride the elevator up to the observation deck on the 94th floor.  OOOOooooor, you can ride the elevator to the 96 floor for free and buy a $14 martini.
    And if you do this, you can be all, "Here is where Knotties ShesSoCold and ThisIsMyNickname each got married!"  ;-) 
    Wait!  Both of you actually got married in the Signature Room?  How many people attended your wedding?  Because that's always been on my personal short list of venues.
    kimmiinthemitten
  • ShesSoColdShesSoCold bend over and I'll show ya mod
    Moderator 5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its

    I can't quote, but I only had 33 people, I reserved one of the private rooms but the adjacent one wasn't in use so they gave me that one too. I believe they can accommodate quite a few people. When we looked at it, they had it set up for at least 100 people. There's a lot of private space down the hall from the main dining area with the stairs to the bar.

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  • edited April 2016

      There's a Giordano's at the Pier, it's a must.  DO NOT DO LOU MALNATI'S. I mean, you can - but only if 1/2 cooked, watery, tasteless ingredients for the same price as quality pizza's are your thing.  (seriously, ask me how I feel about Lou's)


    This makes me laugh cuz I actually hate Giordano's. I much prefer Gino's East, or if you want to try a local deep dish chain, go to Pequod's. Lou Malnati's is fine, not my top choice, though, but it's a staple institution here ya know? If I were the OP i'd venture out to Pequod's or try Gino's East but definitely NOT Giordano's. I hate that place.  

    Edited to remove the NONE... These are all deep dish places!! Try them!!
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  • ShesSoColdShesSoCold bend over and I'll show ya mod
    Moderator 5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its
    Pequod's is delightful. I also like Pisano's. I hate Lou's.
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  • CharmedPamCharmedPam Chicagoburbs member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited April 2016

    Oh, we don't have those here in the 'burbs, so it's a fight for Lou's and Giordano's.  Is this Chicago style we're talking about, because I'm willing to try it if it is! edit:  I see you said "non Chicago style". sorry.

    Our office LOVES Lou's and I think it's such a waste of money.  My friends are also all fans of Lou's.   


  • Oh, we don't have those here in the 'burbs, so it's a fight for Lou's and Giordano's.  Is this Chicago style we're talking about, because I'm willing to try it if it is! edit:  I see you said "non Chicago style". sorry.

    Our office LOVES Lou's and I think it's such a waste of money.  My friends are also all fans of Lou's.   

    Fuck I meant deep dish. They are deep dish. Idk why the fuck I put a none in there. I just woke up?

    try it!!!!
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  • ILoveBeachMusicILoveBeachMusic Indiana member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers

      There's a Giordano's at the Pier, it's a must.  DO NOT DO LOU MALNATI'S. I mean, you can - but only if 1/2 cooked, watery, tasteless ingredients for the same price as quality pizza's are your thing.  (seriously, ask me how I feel about Lou's)


    This makes me laugh cuz I actually hate Giordano's. I much prefer Gino's East, or if you want to try a local deep dish chain, go to Pequod's. Lou Malnati's is fine, not my top choice, though, but it's a staple institution here ya know? If I were the OP i'd venture out to Pequod's or try Gino's East but definitely NOT Giordano's. I hate that place.  

    Edited to remove the NONE... These are all deep dish places!! Try them!!
    I totally agree about Giordanos' - yuck! I do like Pequot's. Had Malnati's at a wedding reception and it was very good. Never been to the restaurant.

  • thisismynickname2thisismynickname2 City By The Lake member
    5000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited April 2016

    I can't quote, but I only had 33 people, I reserved one of the private rooms but the adjacent one wasn't in use so they gave me that one too. I believe they can accommodate quite a few people. When we looked at it, they had it set up for at least 100 people. There's a lot of private space down the hall from the main dining area with the stairs to the bar.

    The private dining space stretches for a big chunk of the south side, all of the west side, and a small chunk of the north side of the restaurant. The main restaurant is the entire east side with some of the south and north. We technically reserved four rooms (south, west, and north) as we were planning for 80 or so. They would have done 3 rooms if we knew we'd have 75 people or fewer.
    Each room you get you have to commit to a minimum spend in food/bar costs. ETA: I think they can accommodate around 125 in private event space. 

    Now, on to pizza. I don't much like Lou Malnati's either, I think it's bland! I really like Giordanos, Pequod's, The Art of Pizza, Gino's East, Pizzaria Uno and Pizzaria Due. But not Lou's. Blugh. 
     
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    CharmedPam
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