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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. dinakt

    dinakt Well-Known Member

    :swoon:Chicago, you'll love it, such gorgeous architecture. Probably my favorite US city.
    My favorite walk close to you: exit the hotel, go south on Michigan, explore Millenium Park Park ( Navy Pier is blah, but millenium Park/Grant Park is glorious- don't ignore the Cloud Gate sculpture, the twisted bridge etc), cross back to Michigan, sneak peak into the interior of the Fine Arts building at 410 South Michigan ( gorgeous Art Nouveau interior), notice if Art Museum Lions are wearing anything unusual ( like the Bears uniforms, though it'll be past the football season), keep walking South meandering through Grant Park, Buckingham Fountain should be working in late April, with flowers all around, pass by the Field Museum, Planetarium and Acquarium, walk on the boardwalk by the lake near the Acquarium ( that's quite a long walk).

    If you are into art at all, the Art Museum is not to be missed; it's much more compact than the Met but incredibly impressive.
    Symphony is awesome, as well, if you are in a concert mood.
    Restaurants- not cheap ( but not backbreaking either) and not quiet, but Frontera Grill, at 445 North Clark Street- Rick Bayless' gourmet Mexican, absolutely delicious and justly famous ( mezcal margaritas, oh my).
    Wacker Drive is beautiful; it's another great walk just to follow it from Michigan Ave. west as it curves.
    You can't lose, really. Chicago is very special.
    BTW, there is a lovely Nordstroms on Michigan probably across from your hotel:D

    There are numerous posh hotels on and near Michigan where it's fun to go into a bar for a drink- the Drake at the North End of Michigan Ave, for example.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2012
  2. flyingsit

    flyingsit Well-Known Member

    I spend a lot of time in Old Town as my brother and his family live there. There's a really nice French bistro called Bistro Margot; prices are reasonable and the staff is so friendly it's unreal. If you happen to be on Wells Street there, make sure you go into Kilwin's. They have the best peanut brittle I've ever eaten (and I'm not typically a fan of peanut brittle). They also make really good ice cream.

    If you like sushi there's a place on Wells called Kamehamachi (sp?). I've not been but my brother loves it.
  3. Kruss

    Kruss Not Auto-Tuned

    Quick warning - Wacker Drive is under construction. While the bulk of it is closer to Union Station, I am not sure if there is anything being done on Wacker on the Michigan Avenue end of it.

    There is also an architectural walking tour available, if you like to walk and explore. But honestly, you can probably wander on your own and view our beautiful architecture. The Cultural Center (across from Millennium Park) is a beauty - the former Chicago Library, it's very historical, was restored some years back, and has some beautiful features inside.

    Really sad is that so many historical buildings were razed in years gone by - in the early days, Chicagoans didn't see the value of keeping some of the older buildings, so we lost some gems. But what is left is still breathtaking.

    I'm really enjoying hearing everyone's impressions of this beautiful city. :)
  4. Orable

    Orable Well-Known Member

    I'm loving the Chicago love in this thread :D Matry, if you like improv, you should try to catch a showing of Second City - generally, a really great bet for a fun evening.
  5. emason

    emason Well-Known Member

    Another vote for Rick Bayless' restaurants, either Frontera Grill or Topolobampo. Also, another vote for the Field Museum.

    I've been to Chicago 4 times on weekend getaways and I have loved it each and every time. I think it is a super city in which to vacation.
  6. znachki

    znachki Active Member

    If you even think you want to go to Trotters, you need to make a reservation now. He is closing the restaurant in ugust, so I suspect that reservations will be increasingly hard to come by.
  7. ballettmaus

    ballettmaus Well-Known Member

    So far the Wacker Drive that winds along the river is still without construction. They start somewhere around Randolph St.
  8. manleywoman

    manleywoman podcast mistress

    LOVE Bistro Margot.

  9. Matryeshka

    Matryeshka Well-Known Member

    I love improv; I totally forgot about Second City. Maybe I'll skip the convention. :shuffle: Although I will NOT be visiting an hookahs! Orable, yes, I'm looking at you.
  10. PrincessLeppard

    PrincessLeppard Holding Alex Johnson's Pineapple

    Have Orable take you to the restaurant where she took Spinner and me. It was fab.

    Wait, you hate baseball. :drama: Don't go there. It was awful.

  11. Matryeshka

    Matryeshka Well-Known Member

    You don't love baseball, PL. You just love Bigfoot in a baseball cap. :p
  12. Matryeshka

    Matryeshka Well-Known Member

    Sorry to keep posting so much--I love all the suggestions, keep them coming, BUT, let me reiterate--the bulk of my budget went to staying close to the Magnificent Mile as to save (I hope) on cab fare and being in an unfamiliar city.

    While I would love to go to places like Charlie Trotter's, it's not in the budget, closing or no. And to be perfectly honest, that's really not how I prefer to eat if I'm going to be somewhere for a short amount of time.

    I know this is probably sacrilige, but I will make a konfession:

    IME, nice upscale restaurants are the same worldwide. An upscale restaurant in New York is not that much different from one in New Orleans, Paris, St. Petersburg, Munich, Moscow, Orlando, Houston or any other major city where I've gotten to eat in a swanky restaurant. (And to me, swanky is anything over $30 where the sides are a la carte. I recognize that 65/tasting menu is very reasonable for many budgets, but not mine.). It's always been my belief that you taste a city not through its fancy restaurants that get featured in magazines but in the individual neighborhoods, street vendors and dives.
  13. essence_of_soy

    essence_of_soy Well-Known Member


    Too bad you're not staying at the Chicago International Youth Hostel. It was in a fantastic location next door to the Auditorium Theatre, and very economical for a private room, only $79 a night.

    Also, in terms of dining, why not try R J Grunts near Lincoln Park, home to the first salad bar.


    For quick bites to eat during the day, Au Bon Pain is great, too.

  14. Spinner

    Spinner Where's my book?

    THIS describes Chicago. If you eat in a chain restaurant here, you're doing it wrong.
  15. jeffisjeff

    jeffisjeff Well-Known Member

    This was my favorite hang out back in grad school (15 years ago, so don't shoot me if it is awful):


    You probably won't be able to enjoy the beer garden, but they used to have free pretzels and dipping mustard. Friends, beer and free pretzels made for an economical grad school dinner. :p
  16. Civic

    Civic New Member

    I believe Chicago is a good place to see live blues music if that sort of thing floats your boat. I attended a blues brunch when I was there attending a conference back in 2000.
  17. ballettmaus

    ballettmaus Well-Known Member

    Definitely possible. There are so many buses around here... Though I'm not a bus fan AND the names of the stops they give me on google maps didn't correspond with the ones given on the bus...
    But you can definitely walk to and around the Loop, Millenuim and Grant Park, Buckingham Fountain, the Navy Pier etc. Even the Sears Tower would be possible to walk to if you wanted to just take a look at it though if you do the architectural cruise then you'd have a fantastic view of it anyway.
    I would recommend avoiding the red line going into the city in the very morning though and going out I'd avoid it starting around 3 p.m. Being an awefully public-transportation-system-spoiled girl from Berlin I've never seen such a crowd. I actually choose to walk home for about an hour and something each day to avoid the crowd. :D
    But both the blue line and the red line run all night as far as I know and there are tons of night buses. And depending on how much luggage you have and how adventurous you are, you could even save some bucks going to the hotel from the airport if you fly into Chicago. The blue line goes into the city from O'hare, and I believe it's the orange one which goes into the city from Midway. You could take a cab from their loop stops which would be cheaper. Cab fare from O'hare is around $40.

    Uno's would be the exception to the rule. :) Though I've come to learn that Uno's in Chicago offers only deep dish pizza whereas it offers other pizza in other states. The menu in Chicago is a lot smaller and I would think more authentic.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2012
  18. Aaron W

    Aaron W Well-Known Member

    My favorite pizza in Chicago isn't actually Chicago-style deep dish pizza. I like the thin crust pizza at D'Agostino's on Addison in Wrigleyville. I was craving some of their pizza last night, but I no longer live in Chicago.

    You'll be visiting at a wonderful time of the year provided the winter doesn't suddenly turn cold & remain that way through the spring (though Chicago is in store for a winter storm tomorrow). Assuming spring arrives on time, you'll have perfect timing to enjoy all of the tulips that blossom along Michigan Avenue. They generally do so in the later half of April and linger into early May. The lake water is still very chilly at that time of year, so make sure you bring a jacket because it's quite possible you'll have to contend with a chilly lake breeze that keeps the city in the 40's, while the western suburbs have temperatures as warm as the 60s & even 70's. But if the weather pattern keeps the cooler air out over the lake, I'd recommend renting a bike and enjoying the wonderful lakefront biking/jogging/walking patch. On a sunny day when the lake is beautiful blue, there isn't a better place to be in the city.
  19. Matryeshka

    Matryeshka Well-Known Member


    Errrr...I mean, I know I'll have a lovely time in your fair city. I'll be ever so politely behaved. :shuffle:

    So, I neeeeds help. I will be taking out three authors for dinner while in Chicago, and I need a restaurant suggestion. I have some pretty severe guidelines, and I know FSUers like to deviate from the standard :p , but these are absolutely set in stone. This is business, paid for by my company, so please no suggestions of "if you spend a little more you can eat X" or "if you go furhter, go to X"
    1. It needs to be under 35/person, including tax and tip. Preferably, it needs to be under 30. But seriously,y'all, 35 is the ABSOLUTE LIMIT.
    2. It needs to be within walking distance of the Doubletree Hotel on the Magnificent Mile.
    3. I need to appeal to four different taste pallettes. While I don't want to make sweeping generalizations, two of the authors are from Bumpkin, Midwest and are pretty conservative in their tastes and outlook. It needs to be a restaurant that's American or familiar ethnic food that's been reallly Americanized.
    4. If possible, I'd like to avoid chains, or if we do go to a chain, one that's based in Chicago. (But not Uno's. My company has a VERY STRICT no-drinking policy, even for authors we are entertaining. I'd love to go to Uno's in Chicago, but will do that after the convention on my own time. I've heard the cocktails are really good.)
    5. No cabs. Two of these authors don't listen so well, and I foresee :yikes: with herding them into a cab. Public transportation is out for the same reason. Plus, whatever we spend on transportation comes out of the budget for food.
  20. Jem X

    Jem X Who'll stop the rain

    Here's a couple of suggestions based on your location and walking distance, menu and price. I haven't been to these places, but the reviews seem ok.

    http://www.pjclarkeschicago.com/menu-streeterville.html Seems to be two blocks from your hotel. Can't tell if they are long blocks or short block s.

    http://www.d4pub.com/menu.html Very close. Lamb stew (yum)

    There are a Chipotles and Panera close by, and a lot of ethnic restaurants that might not appeal to your group. Sorry I can't help more, but I live out by O'hare Airport and can tell you about restaurants out my way. Maybe other FSUers will review and/or give more feedback.
    Matryeshka and (deleted member) like this.
  21. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

    Is FoodLife in the Water Tower Place too casual?

    It's like an upscale food court--lots of different choices, usually made to order (and often very healthy). It would appeal to a wide variety of palettes, and you wouldn't have to tip.
  22. Matryeshka

    Matryeshka Well-Known Member


    Of all the fun stuff, I've forgotten the nuts-and-bolts. How much is it for subways? Is there a visitor's pass thing, like you pay one flat fee for a week's worth of travel? How close is it to various attractions.

    Also, I'd really like to do the boat tour, but according to the outlook on the weather channel, the chance of rain is going to be high next week, or overcast. Is the boat tour still enjoyable?

    ps Sorry--this is the LAST BUMP I promise. (she lied)
  23. jeffisjeff

    jeffisjeff Well-Known Member

    I was in Chicago this past weekend. It was cold! I took the train from the airport into downtown (got off at Clark & Lake). I wanted to take a cab but the line for cabs downtown was :eek:. It cost about $2 for a single ride - I'm not sure if they have passes, but I'd be shocked if they didn't.

    Which boat tour are you referring to? If it is the architectural tour, it is definitely worth it, even in the cold. I recommended it to a friend last weekend when the temps were in the 40s :lol:. If you're concerned, I think there are also walking architectural tours.
  24. vesperholly

    vesperholly Well-Known Member

    The subway is reasonably well laid out - they all converge in central downtown. We took the red line from the White Sox game to downtown and got off at Lake. It was only a few blocks over to Millennium Park. We walked up to the Magnificent Mile area easily.