Tell Me About Chicago

Monday, August 10, 2009

Our trip to Chicago is coming up very soon, so you know what time it is... time for recommendations!

This has worked really well for us in the past. My lovely blog readers have suggested some great places to see, things to do, and restaurants to try. We've used reader comments to help us make decisions on what is a must-see, and what's not worth our time. Of course, we base these decisions on other factors as well, but your opinions do play a part. Sooo... tell me! What'd you like, what'd you hate, what'd you want to see/do but didn't? Also, any tips for public transportation?

I've actually been to Chicago a few times for work (June 2005 and June 2006), so I've had a little bit of a chance to see/experience the city, but never as a tourist. And Michael has never been. So treat us like we're newbies!

We're planning on seeing a Cubs game at Wrigley Field (still trying to get tickets!), but that is all that we currently have on the agenda.

And... go!


Heather August 10, 2009 at 9:33 PM  

Annnnnd... I just posted this, and what comes on Food Network like two minutes later? An episode of "Unwrapped" dedicated to... you guessed, it, Chicago. NICE!

Still need your recommendations though, people. I place a limited amount of trust in Marc Somers.

Anne August 10, 2009 at 10:42 PM  

definitely the art institute, navy pier, the michigan mile, and the chicago symphony if they have anything going on...

Kylee August 10, 2009 at 10:44 PM  

I saw this place last week and can't wait to go back up to chicago to go there.

Hancock Observatory was fun, miracle mile window shopping, take the train to the brookfield zoo (not far, worth the trip!), boat tour on lake michigan...ikea in schaumburg! i love chicago.

The Adventuresome Road to Where? August 11, 2009 at 12:47 AM  

I live in Chi and suggest checking out new glass observatory at Willis Tower, you stand on glass and look down over 100 stories. AH!(previously the Sears tower) The Wendella Boat tours are really fun, there are a few different options. China town is always fun. Lincoln Park and Millenium Park, both free! As for restaurants... Randolph street has many amazing places, De Cero for mexican, Sushi Wabi, one of my favs is Red Light. Kuma's is an interesting place to get a GREAT gourmet burger. Hot Dougs was just on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations and is on my hit list. La Creperie is one of my favs is you like crepes, it's quaint and romantic. A few ideas :)

Anonymous,  August 11, 2009 at 2:15 AM  

MUST EAT giordanos pizza. get the deep dish, it's amazing. Also, gotta get a true vienna beef hot dog from portillos or gold coast. We also really enjoyed the museum of science and industry.

Gaynor August 11, 2009 at 4:23 AM  

I suggest a visit to Oak Park, a lovely suburb full of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings and little shops; cocktails at the top of the Hancock Tower at night; Millenium Park & shopping!

Jen August 11, 2009 at 7:28 AM  

If you're a Harry Potter fan, there is an exhibit at the Field Museum right now. I haven't been since I don't live near Chicago, but just thought I'd throw it out there.

Charlene and Chris August 11, 2009 at 8:47 AM  

A tip if you go to the Hancock building (or Sears Tower - for it will never be the Willis Tower for this midwest native) is go to the Signature Room in the John Hancock building grab a cocktail - same great views but you don't pay $20 or however much to get to the top.

The architectural tour on the River is great!

Charlene and Chris August 11, 2009 at 8:48 AM  

Adventures...those are great suggestions!!

Emily+Anthony August 11, 2009 at 9:22 AM  

Navy Pier is full of little shops and food, and you can take awesome pics of the Chicago skyline from there! Wear your walking shoes.

Lisa August 11, 2009 at 9:23 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa August 11, 2009 at 9:24 AM  

(you don't know me...I came across your blog while googling DIY aisle runners)...anyways find out what the free ticket days are to the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) and the Art Museum...we just happened to hit those on the free days. Take a taxi to the Sears's a long walk no matter how "close" the building looks. Hancock building is an awesome thing to do at night. We also enjoyed Navy Pier, lots to do there...ferris wheel, putt-putt. For deep's a MUST! Have fun!

Angie August 11, 2009 at 11:41 AM  

Millenium Park, Navy Pier - pay for a boat ride, it's worth it! Giordanos does have great pizza and I also agree that Portillos is a must.

Becky August 11, 2009 at 12:43 PM  

Love Portillo's (especially the cheese fries!), Giordano's, and Garrett's Popcorn! You could skip Navy Pier...I do not see the point, really...unless you want to just grab some ice cream, a bench, and just stare out onto the lake (which is the only reason I go there). The beaches are great, but will be busy! There is one not as bad close to Navy Pier. Love the architecture tour. One of my favorite restaurants is Joe's Stone Crab! Very pricey, but worth it! The stone crab bisque is amazing!

I believe there are Seqway tours being done in the Museum District now (by the Field, Planitarium, and Shedd Acquarium).

Plan a picnic and take a break in Millenium Park...I believe there are still free concerts going during the midweek evenings.

Have fun! I love Chicago!

Anonymous,  August 11, 2009 at 2:13 PM  

Last July, my sister and I went for a couple of days. My favorite part was the museums.
We loved the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium.
They are all right on the water & was just a beautiful day of sights!

Brie,  August 11, 2009 at 5:44 PM  

Giordano's, Portillo's, and Hot Doug's are a must-eat. I also love the Art Institute and Brookfield Zoo!

Loni August 11, 2009 at 9:07 PM  

I second (or third) the Hot Doug's recommendation for their duck fat fries and the Signature Room for cocktails. We also checked out the Garfield Park Conservatory during our trip in January and that was pretty cool...definitely a nice spot for you to take some photos. :)

Anonymous,  August 12, 2009 at 7:11 PM  

hi,new reader. all of these suggestions are great. you may want to note that the harry potter exhibit is at the museum of science and industry. also, instead of paying to go to the top of the hancock building, just go to the signature lounge and buy a drink. much more fun...

i did a double decker bus tour. it is touristy, but you cover a lot of ground and you can get off and on at various points so you can tour at your leisure.

giordano's is yummy! Navy pier is fun.

Wendella architectural boat tours are cool and i think only $22.

You shoudl def check out Groupons. THey are once a day deals that are usually anywhere from 50-75% off random stuff. It's one deal a day and you can get emails. I've bought several Groupon coupons and have had a great experience (for example, got the Wendella boat tour for half off!) (i think, or you can just google).

THere is a new hotel with a rooftop bar that's all the rage right now. No cover to get in, but may be a little wait...It's called the Wit hotel and it's very very swank!

The day at a time. August 12, 2009 at 9:28 PM  

The Lincoln Park zoo is FREE and the architecture tour is a must!! And eat a Ed Debevics(Not sure on the spelling) its good food and a ton of fun! Its like a 50's diner but the servers are rude(on purpose) and so much fun! The Magnificent Mile is great to shop and lots of good food. Lawry's Steakhouse is delish too. THere is a great website called Metro Mix that will give you a list of free things going on any day of the week. Blue Man Group is always a good time!! Have fun we cant wait to hear all about the trip!!

Kristin August 14, 2009 at 1:40 AM  

We loved Millenium Park and the Shedd Aquarium, and we also caught a really funny show at Second City ...

Chrissy August 30, 2009 at 11:11 AM  

Hi Heather, first time commenter here, but I've been following your journey since The Knot days. My husband and I got married a week after you.

Anywho, I just wanted to thank you for always posting about your trips, asking for recommendations, reviews, etc. We live in Atlanta and just booked an impromptu flight to Chicago for this weekend. I've been pouring over everyone's comments, and they have been very helpful.

Have fun in the city! This will be our first trip.

Chrissy September 8, 2009 at 4:02 PM  

Hi Heather,

I just wanted to give you a few of my opinions/suggestions for your upcoming Chicago trip.

My husband and I stayed just north of the river on the Magnificent Mile (shopping district), and pretty much walked everywhere. The only time we rode the rail was to get to the Willis Tower (formerly Sears) and to and from the airport. We flew into Midway airport and bought the 3 day CTA pass for $14/pp. Even though we only rode the rail a few times this pass was SO worth it. On both trips we had to connect to other rails and use our CTA card again (which would have cost extra $$ otherwise). The maps are easy to read and available at most stations or online.

Secondly, we went to Giordano’s (soo good!), Gold Coast Dogs, Potbelly Sandwich Works, and Sugar Bliss Cupcakes. We went to the Gold Coast Dogs off of Wabash and they were just ok. The bun was super soggy and we were just overall unimpressed with the service. My husband is a HUGE sandwich fan (that’s all he eats when I go out of town), and we both really enjoyed Pot Belly’s sandwiches. They have locations all over the city and were inexpensive. We also visited Sugar Bliss Cupcakes (right down the way from Gold Coast on Wabash) and all I can say is YUM. They have a ton of flavors and both of our cupcakes were super moist (Red Velvet and Coconut Crème).

As far as tours … we did an architectural river cruise of the city. My husband works in property management so he is really interested in high rises, and I enjoyed myself as well. As the site says, it is about 90 minutes and definitely worth our investment. We also did a walking tour of Millennium Park through the same organization. Our guide was great and it was informative. I think next time we visit Chicago we may try the Segway Tour of the park.

We went to the Navy Pier, but I wouldn’t really recommend it. It was super foggy the day we went down there so it was useless to ride the ferris wheel, and everything else is just so overpriced. We walked to the end and back, and had lunch at Bubba Gump Shrimp. We were happy we went just to say that we did it, but will not be returning if we find our back to Chicago one day. We also went to the shopping district but I’m not really into shopping (I know, right?!), but we’re happy we went as we got to see more of the city.

We went to see a concert at the Chicago Theatre as well. Not sure if there will be anything playing there that you’d be interested in, but it’s a small venue, so there aren’t really any bad seats.

Oh, we also went to the Willis Tower (formerly Sears). We went at night as their website says their nonpeak hours are after 5:30. This was so not true when we went. It was PACKED and very frustrating, but we managed to get some great shots of Chicago at night.

I would recommend buying your tickets online in advance for any tours that you guys may decide to do. It allowed us to skip some lengthy lines.

I think that’s all. I hope you two enjoy yourselves! We were surprised at how nice everyone was.

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