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What To Do in Chicago in the Spring?

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Matryeshka, Jan 9, 2012.

  1. Matryeshka

    Matryeshka Well-Known Member

    I will be going to Chicago at the end of April/beginning of May. Sunday-Wednesday and Thursday morning, I will be at a convention for work so sight-seeing is kind of out. But I thought it was such a shame to go to Chicago--when I've never been there before--and see nothing, so I'm taking a few days to look around. I don't know much about Chicago, besides deep-dish pizza.

    For my vacation-part of my stay, I will be staying on the Magnificent Mile, the cost of which is :eek: :scream: but it's my present to myself. :p

    Things I've heard of that I'd maybe like to see/do/eat:
    Water Tower Plaza
    Navy Pier
    A great lake
    Fields Museum
    Museum of Industry and Science (this one is a definite must)
    Deep-dish pizza
    Something with either sweet or spicy peppers?

    Any input would be appreciated!
    PeterG and (deleted member) like this.
  2. Jem X

    Jem X Who'll stop the rain

  3. Jem X

    Jem X Who'll stop the rain

    Last edited: Jan 9, 2012
  4. aliona22

    aliona22 Active Member

    If you want some delish and inexpensive Thai food try Star of Siam, on Illinois bw Wabash and State. It's right off Michigan Ave. There's a really good Spanish tapas place called Cafe Iberico on LaSalle at Chicago Ave. Also if the weather is nice the Terrace Rooftop might be open at the Conrad Hotel, right off Michigan Ave (behind Nordstrom). It's a nice place to have lunch, up high and outside with a yummy menu.

    The Museum of Science and Industry is south of downtown, in Hyde Park, take the Metra or the bus... a taxi will be like $20.
  5. Matryeshka

    Matryeshka Well-Known Member

    I'm staying at the Sheraton Four Towers on the Magnificent Mile. I have an upgraded room with a "comfy bed."

    I don't know if I can afford to eat anywhere near the Magnificent Mile. It's way too expensive. Staying there is bad enough. :lol:
  6. jeffisjeff

    jeffisjeff Well-Known Member

    Cubs game and a blues club!
  7. Kruss

    Kruss Not Auto-Tuned

    I second the recommendation of taking a bus to the Museum of Science and Industry. While everything else is not far from where you're staying, that museum is. Check out the CTA site to find out which buses to take and where to catch them.

    Another thing you might try is a Wendella Boat tour. They have three kinds, one is an architectural tour along the Chicago River (all the downtown buildings, fantastic history), one is the Chicago River and Lake tour, which starts in the river, goes through the locks and out to Lake Michigan for a fantastic view of our beautiful skyline, and the third is Chicago at Sunset. Those tours start up again in March, and the best thing is that all the tours depart and return to the Chicago River right by Michigan Avenue, so you should be able to walk there.

    For pizza, Unos or Gino's East. :)

    Enjoy your trip, and please let us know how it goes!
  8. manleywoman

    manleywoman podcast mistress

    Matry, I live here. I can help. Let me know your interests and tastes. Can meet up with you too. :)
  9. Spinner

    Spinner Where's my book?

    Same here! A Chi-town meet-up is a must! :cheer2:
  10. Orable

    Orable Well-Known Member

    I'm all about the Chi-town meet-up! And I have to second the architectural boat tour - I take out of towners on it and it's always a hit. BTW, end of April/beginning of May in Chicago will probably still be chilly (that is, if this winter ever decides to actually winter. Still no real snow yet this season :eek: ). Bring your layers if you want to walk around outside!
    PeterG and (deleted member) like this.
  11. essence_of_soy

    essence_of_soy Well-Known Member

  12. Colleen

    Colleen Active Member

    I did the architectural boat tour when I was in Chicago and thought it was fabulous. Our tour guide was so knowledgeable. We also did the on/off tour bus for a day which is well worth it. Great way to get to know the city. You can stop wherever you want and just wait for the next bus to come by. But if you can only do one .. do the architecture cruise!
  13. flyingsit

    flyingsit Well-Known Member

    If you are at all interested in architecture, the boat tour is fabulous. You can't go wrong with the Museum of Science and Industry. If you were from somewhere other than New Orleans, I'd recommend the Shedd Aquarium, but you have a really good one at home too.

    I prefer Italian beef sandwiches to hot dogs, and http://www.alsbeef.com/ rules.

    Navy Pier is kind of blah; it's mostly just crap stores and a ferris wheel, but there is a small stained-glass museum that's a neat way to spend about an hour.

    Lincoln Park Zoo is easy to get to from Michigan Avenue, and it's a nice zoo, on the small scale but definitely worth more than you pay (it's free).
  14. Stefanie

    Stefanie Well-Known Member

    I'm going to use some of the info in this thread as well, as I plan on visiting Chicago this summer. I've never been and I've always wanted to go. :) I'm hoping I can see either the Cubs or White Sox play a game as well.
  15. Kruss

    Kruss Not Auto-Tuned

    In this town, asking people which team to see will give you a split vote. :lol:

  16. Stefanie

    Stefanie Well-Known Member

    I prefer to see the Cubs, mainly because of the stadium. ;)
  17. Stefanie

    Stefanie Well-Known Member

    Kind of a dumb question, but where are the Polish neighborhoods? My guidebook mentions Ukrainian Village, but there is nothing written about where you can find a good Polish deli/restaurant/etc.

    Matryeshka, I am sorry for highjacking your thread.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2012
  18. skatingfan5

    skatingfan5 Past Prancer's Corridor

    Matry: I would have added the Art Institute to the "must see" list, but since you are tied up with the conference during the day and leaving Thursday a.m., I guess that is out (Thursday is the one day they are open past 5:00). :( Still, lots of other things to see so have fun and enjoy your visit to the Windy City! :)
  19. vesperholly

    vesperholly Well-Known Member

    See The Bean! It's also near an ice rink - though I'd assume it's closed by the spring. :)
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2012
  20. znachki

    znachki Active Member

    I attended a convention in Chicago a couple of years ago and enjoyed many of the sights and tours mentioned here. I second the following:

    Architecture Tour
    Field Museum
    Art Institute
    Cubs Game
    Museum of Science and Industry
    Willits Tower (aka the Sears Tower)

    I was not impressed with the Navy Pier at all - except for the Smith Museum of Stained Glass - that was good.

    You might take a look at the City Pass program. They have booklets that, depending on what you can see, can make it slightly chaeper - but also get you priority entry.

    I'm not a fan of the deep dish, but Gino's East is generally cool on the inside. I do however, love the Chicago Dog, so get one of those.

    If you are interested in good cocktails, there are some fine places. The Violet Hour, The Drawing Room, Aviary to name a few.
  21. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

    :huh: what kind of bed would you have had if you hadn't upgraded?
  22. skatingfan5

    skatingfan5 Past Prancer's Corridor

    I'm not sure if this is Matry's hotel (it's the Sheraton Four Points, not Four Towers) which says it features:
    The Chicago Sheraton Hotel and Towers, also just off the Miracle Mile, on the other hand, offers "Sheraton Sweet Sleeper™ Beds, featuring crisp sheets, plush blankets, and soft pillows." Both hotels seem to have the same beds for all levels, but the upgrades involve room size, bathroom amenities, etc. I don't think Matry would have been sleeping on an army cot even if her room hadn't been "upgraded." ;)
  23. Myskate

    Myskate New Member

    I love the Museum of Science and Industry but it took my family 3 trips just to see it all! That was when they had the lego city in the lower area.(Do they still have that there?) I think one afternoon of window shopping is in order too. It doesn't cost anything to look and if you buy something-even better.
  24. rfisher

    rfisher Will you rise like a phoenix or be a burnt chicken

    It would take me 3 days just to see the Field Museum alone. :shuffle: Two of those would be in the anthropology exhibits. The other in the palentology exhibits. Hmmm....I'd need a week to see everything.
  25. Matryeshka

    Matryeshka Well-Known Member

    Yes, yes, yes a meet-up :cheer2:

    Stefanie, highjack all you want. Tis expected. :D

    Cubs=no. I hate baseball. The Sears Tower is out--I discovered last spring I have extreme vertigo; I had to be escorted down by medical staff from the Top of the Rock in New York :( It might have been a one-off, as I've never had a problem with heights, motion sickness of anything like that, but it's something I never, ever, never want to experience again. New Orleans has its own world-class aquarium and zoo, so I'm going to give that a miss. Blues is one of those things I feel like I should like, but I don't. :shuffle:

    skatinfan5--my convention ends on Thursday, but I'm staying till Sunday! So Art Institute is in!! I definitely want to see The Cloud too.

    My interests are museums (clearly), architecture, shopping, walking tours, drinking. I want to see something that's unique to the area, that you can't see anywhere else.
  26. Southpaw

    Southpaw Saint Smugpawski

    I took a nap in the Field Museum back in, oh, 1992 or so. I had just come in on the Amtrak from Newark. 19 hours on a train. Didn't sleep a whole lot. Was in Chicago meeting my boyfriend at the time because he was there on business, but I couldn't meet him until 5. My train got in at 8am. So I walked from Union Station over to the lake and tried wasting time in the Field Museum but I ended up conking out on a bench instead. I think it was a marble bench. Then I left the museum and took a boat ride out on the lake and I fell asleep in the sun for while.

    Downtown Chicago was the first time I ever saw a Starbucks. They were everywhere. And I said what is this....this....Starbucks?
  27. Spinner

    Spinner Where's my book?

    Thank you for not calling it "the bean". ;)
  28. ballettmaus

    ballettmaus Well-Known Member

    That's too bad because the view from the Hancock Tower is fantastic, too. Especially at night. It's located at the North of the city so you've got the entire skyline. But... :(

    I second or third or whatever the architectural cruise! Definitely worth your money!

    And I was actually surprised to find that there are restaurants in the Michigan Ave area (State St and side streets) which had fairly decent prices. (though I guess it all depends on what one's used to paying for dining out anyway).
    Uno's is usually packed, long line at dinner time! When a friend visited last summer we went to Due which is just a block away and offers the same and was less crowded.
    You can also find quite a few restaurants in Old Town (N Wells St) I have no ideas about the prices though.

    I really enjoy just walking around the city. With its architecture I never tire of that.
    Also, if the weather's nice, walking along the Riverwalk can be nice, if you get on it by the Vietnam Memorial which is State Street and then walk towards the lake.

    As far as uniqueness goes, I'd say the entire city is unique :)
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2012
  29. Nomad

    Nomad Celebrity cheese-monger

    Another vote for the architectural cruise.
  30. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

    Some things that haven't been mentioned:

    There's the DuSable Museum of African-American history. That's one museum where it's helpful to have a guide. It's not far away from the Museum of Science and Industry (in Hyde Park).

    Also in Hyde Park is the Smart Museum of Art--they showcase contemporary art.

    While in Hyde Park, I recommend a tour of Rockefeller Chapel. It's the only true Gothic Cathedral in the Midwest I believe.

    And don't miss Robie House--famed house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (practically next door to Rockefeller)

    There's also the National Museum of Mexican Art. Another museum where having a tour is very helpful. They are small, but have amazing artwork there.

    This is for the literary/academic geeks: the Newberry Library has outstanding archival materials if you're interested in some research areas. It's within walking distance of the Magnificent Mile:

    For perhaps the best meal of your life, try Charlie Trotter's

    or Arun's

    Both of the above are $$$, but they are world-renowned, Top Chef quality restaurants that are simply beyond words.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2012