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View Full Version : OT-planning family trip to Chicago


hlane
05-24-2008, 10:29 AM
DH & I have decided to postpone our WDW trip for several reasons. We have over $400 Southwest credit to be used before mid Sept and we'd like to go somewhere. I was looking and we can go to Chicago for around $100 r/t and it looks like there is a lot to do. Problem I'm running into is hotels seem SO expensive. Does anyone have any recommendations as far as hotels that won't break the bank? We plan on renting a car, it will be me, DH, and DS 6 & 7.

TIA!

BTW, I'd love any hints or tips you may have besides hotel too. :goodvibes

Chelley00
05-24-2008, 10:54 AM
Since you are renting a car, you can try looking for hotels farther away from downtown. They are usually cheaper, and as long as you avoid rush hour, the traffic to get downtown isn't "toooooo" horribly bad

If you are set on staying near all the goodies, try Travelzoo. I saw a rep on TV the other morning and he was talking about travel deals in Chicago.

pixidust princess
05-24-2008, 11:12 AM
We live in central Illinois and will be traveling to Chicago for our vacation this summer. There are LOTS of things to do and Chicago has great weather in the summer! This will be our first trip with children, so it is somewhat of a new experience for us also. Our dates are August 4-7. You posted at the perfect time, as I have spent several days looking for hotels, with no luck because I won't pay $200.00 a night to stay anywhere(except WDW)!

Chicago is great, but Hotels are outrageous!!!!! As the previous poster stated, if you don't mind driving into the city, staying in the burbs is a great idea. We have stayed in the south suburbs several times (Willobrook) and the drive is not too bad. I have also been researching the O'Hare airport area, as the rail system goes out to that area and it would be kinda neat to take the train into the city.

I am a big fan of Priceline name your price. We have stayed downtown one time (several years ago) and used Priceline. We got a room at the Sheraton on Michigan Ave for $99 a night. Parking fees in the city are also very expensive, so plan another $25 a day for parking if you stay downtown.

I have been reading a website called bidding for travel.com. People post what kind of deals they are getting on priceline for the name your own price.
Appears to be anywhere between $80-$100 in the city. The burbs are anywere from $40-$80 for a good hotel.

You can pm me with any questions. I hope others have ideas to help with our dilema also.

snowbunny
05-24-2008, 11:33 AM
You can get some good deals on Travelzoo.com, definitely.

I got a great deal in Chicago for a hotel in July on priceline, about $100 for a four-star hotel on Michigan Ave ("name your own price" only...the regular priceline rates are the same as everywhere else). Go to www.biddingfortravel.com (http://www.biddingfortravel.com) and familiarize yourself with the hotels, star levels, and past successful bids in downtown Chicago. You can easily shave 50% off the published rate, with a bit of persistence.

Also in case you haven't heard, Wicked is nearing the end of its Chicago run. So buy tix if you haven't seen it!

P.S. I disagree that the driving to the suburbs and back is not too bad...the drivers are fast and they cut in and out on the highways, most of which are toll roads. You'll have to pay for parking if you drive in anyway, so just get a downtown hotel, park the car, and enjoy walking around beautiful Chicago.

momto2girls
05-24-2008, 11:40 AM
We recently took a trip to Chicago and so did some friends of ours. We stayed at the Marriott but they stayed at the Courtyard Marriott. I think they paid $250 a night which I thought was pretty good for downtown Chicago. Both hotels were right off of Michigan Ave.

We loved the city! So much to do and the city is so manageable! We thought driving in the city was no big deal. We chose to drive from our hotel to the museums, etc. and it was great. :)

hlane
05-24-2008, 11:42 AM
If we got a Downtown hotel and no rental car, how would we get to the hotel...taxi, train?? I've never traveled anywhere but WDW:confused3 :laughing:

snowbunny
05-24-2008, 12:00 PM
If we got a Downtown hotel and no rental car, how would we get to the hotel...taxi, train?? I've never traveled anywhere but WDW:confused3 :laughing:

Yes you can take the el (the train) downtown from either airport for a couple of dollars, if you have a lot of luggage a taxi is easier but more expensive ($50-60). Getting downtown with a rental car is not too hard (like I said, however, I would not stay in the burbs and drive back and forth daily unless there was no other way), but the parking garages downtown are $20-30 per day, more if you valet park.

Colinsmom
05-24-2008, 08:37 PM
I'd try to skip a rental car if you want to spend all of your time in the downtown area. Parking will run you $25+ per day per parking lot (that is, if you park overnight at the hotel, you'll be charged the $25-30+, and then if you drive to the aquarium, you'll pay another $25 to park). Chicago has a great free trolley system downtown, plus the el trains, busses and there are always taxis. I have a hard time imagining how you'd rack up as much in transportation costs per day moving between downtown Chicago's attractions as you'd spend on a rental car + parking per day.

Pack light and take the train (the red line) into the city from Midway. Then, if needed, take a short (much cheaper) taxi ride to your hotel.

Ms.Grumpy
05-24-2008, 10:22 PM
I know that you have not arrived yet, but let me be the first to welcome you to our beautiful city Chicago. Were glad you chose us.:hug:
Sorry I can't be much help about hotel stays, but I will provide a link to the chicago tourism board. Here you will be able to see a calendar of all the activities that will be happening during your stay. The official City of Chicago website also offers great travel information for visitors.
Hope you have an awesome stay!
http://www.choosechicago.com/Pages/default.aspx
http://egov.cityofchicago.org/city/webportal/portalEntityHomeAction.do?entityName=Tourism&entityNameEnumValue=41
:cheer2:

NotUrsula
05-24-2008, 11:10 PM
Chicago if FULL of big conventions in summertime, and when they are there the downtown and Mile hotel rates rise exponentially.

Never make summer plans for Chicago without first checking your dates at http://www.chicagotraveler.com/chicago-conventions-trade-shows-conferences.htm

Any dates with enough convention events with more than about 8,000 total attendees downtown is going to put pressure on the hotel market and raise prices. Anything over 20K attendees is going to put downtown hotel rooms at a premium at that time.

Example: My professional association meets in Chicago every third summer (not this year) -- when we do, we bring in 35K people for 5 days. The only way to get a room downtown for those dates if you are not booking in our bloc is to book at least 6 months out, or pay over $400/night.

Newfie2000
05-24-2008, 11:38 PM
I want to be the second to welcome you to The Windy City - and I am sure you will enjoy your stay! Perhaps you can help us help you by letting us know what you are looking for in a hotel. Are you more concerned about staying in the downtown area or is conserving some $ more important to you? I recently had some family come in from Iowa and they stayed in the Elk Grove area - I think they got a hotel room for 4 for only $89.00 a night. Granted it was not the greatest hotel but it was clean, not too far out of the city, located near the highway and offered a pool and continental breakfast. So there are some deals around, but be careful where you look!:goodvibes If you key us in more on what you need I will gladly try to help you out!:)

AQW
05-25-2008, 12:03 AM
When we traveled to Chicago last year with two five-year-olds and a not-quite-two-year-old we opted to stay downtown (Embassy Suites Lakefront), skip the rental car, and take a shuttle to/from O'Hare. I was leery, because I *always* rent a car when I go places, but it ended up being an excellent decision. The public transportation in Chicago is great, and being right downtown we had easy access to most places we wanted to go.

Don't miss the Children's Museum at Navy Pier; my kids want to go back to Chicago just to spend another day there! :)

digitaldevice
05-25-2008, 12:03 AM
Check out HOTWIRE. We stayed at the Hyatt downtown not to long ago on the weekend (Sat. night) for $79.99. Cheap, close parking if you need it at the millennium garage round the block. We go into the city about 1 to 2 times a month. Getting ready to go to MSI this weekend. Can't wait I love that place.:thumbsup2

Tosha
05-25-2008, 12:19 AM
Welcome to Chi Town!

I don't have any hotel info either as I live here and never had to stay at a hotel, but let me be the first tosay you can NOT leave Chicago without hitting Navy Pier, The Shedd Aquarium and The Museum of science and Idustry.

JoyG
05-25-2008, 05:39 AM
We went to Chicago last summer and stayed in the burbs with relatives. We drove into the city each day. We found metered parking for the Shedd Aquarium so it wasn't too expensive. We could have easily walked to the planetarium from that spot too. We found free parking for the Museum of Science and Industry (around the back of the building, don't use parking garage).

I suggest you get a family membership at your local science museum. We spent $40 for a family membership to our local Buffalo Science Museum and used it to get in free at the Chicago Children's Museum, Field Museum, Museum of Science and Industry and we could have gotten into an art museum too, but we didn't have time for that one.

MarthaJr.
05-25-2008, 07:13 AM
I recommend priceline for hotel. I always use priceline for Chicago and have always spent less than $100 and received Michigan Ave. properties. As for parking--be prepared to spend at least $25 a day. We drive to Chicago and stay on Michigan Ave. and walk most places or most things area a short cab fare away. We love Museum of Science & Industry, Shedd Aquarium, Navy Pier, Millenium Park, shopping on Michigan Ave! Have fun and enjoy your trip! We love Chicago!

Oh --just remembered another website for hotel rooms. hotrooms.com

cole6179
05-25-2008, 07:26 AM
I was going to add the parking thing. When we went last year, I couldn't believe the parking prices. Most hotels charged $30-40 I believe for overnight, so you may check if your hotel charges for parking. We parked and then just walked everywhere. They also had trams, I believe.

hilltopfamily
05-25-2008, 08:09 AM
It was 3 summers ago that I got brave and took my 3 kids (7,11,14 at the time) to Chicago by myself (first time I took them without DH along....he couldn't get away from work at the time). I LOVE researching travel plans....I see it as half the fun of the trip, getting it all figured out ahead of time and I spend a great deal of time online getting it all "set". I will second the Hotwire notion....I ended up with the Palmer House Hilton smack in downtown area and very close to the "El" for about $100 a night for 4 nights. I used the 2 sites (betterbidding and biddingfortravel) to help me figure out what I was booking, even though you supposedly can't know until after your purchase. So, when I went ahead and booked, I had a 99% chance of it being the very exact hotel I wanted. Worked out fabulous!!!! But it does take some detective work! My kids really love a swimming pool at a hotel (which is almost essential for "down time" in the evenings for them) and pools can be few and far between in downtown metropolitan hotels, hence the need for me to have a pretty good idea of what I was booking before I booked it.

There were so many great things to do in Chicago and we never rented a car. We used the El and the city buses to go everywhere with the exception of just one time....I had decided the kids would love to eat at Ed Debevik's :rotfl: and it was a bit off the path for public transportation, so we took a taxi there. And next time I'd probably do a taxi from the airport to the hotel....we used the subway/train and it was fine but my DD is in a wheelchair, so managing that and the luggage was more work than I'd probably do next time. And yes, Chicago's public transport was very wheelchair-friendly. Have a terrific time....as was said earlier, the weather was really beautiful while we were there....the breeze off the lake kept the temps so very nice!

maggiew
05-25-2008, 10:19 AM
Please be aware that if you use Priceline or Hotwire, Chicago is one of the places you are likely to get a room with only one bed. These sites only guarantee rooms for 2 people. If you go the Priceline/Hotwire route, you can call the hotel ahead of time and request a room with 2 beds.

I really would NOT rent a car. There is NO reason to. The public transportation will get you EVERYWHERE. If you don't find that convenient, a taxi will work. If you rent a car, you will have to pay for the car, pay for parking EVERYWHERE you go including your hotel, and you have the frustration of driving in the city. And don't think you can get away with not parking in a garage and trying to park on the street. There will be NO spots.

If you want a cheaper hotel, check out the ones by the airport and then take the train into the city each day. If you are getting a visitor train pass anyway
http://www.transitchicago.com/maps/fares.html#d
it won't cost you any more to do this. But its worth the little extra to stay downtown if you can.

I recommend Giordanos pizza for deep dish pizza. You should also go to Millenium park and play in the fountain and see the Bean. If you have girls, check out American Girl Store. Personally we don't like the food at American Girl, but doing tea there once is a must (make reservations early). We'd rather go to the Cheesecake Factory across the way in the John Hancock building.


Maggie

digitaldevice
05-25-2008, 10:36 AM
Please be aware that if you use Priceline or Hotwire, Chicago is one of the places you are likely to get a room with only one bed. These sites only guarantee rooms for 2 people. If you go the Priceline/Hotwire route, you can call the hotel ahead of time and request a room with 2 beds.

We have never had this happen and we use hotwire all the time. For rooms in downtown. I use it about twice a month. You do not know what hotel you’re booking but there is a website, don't remember the URL that you can search with the star rating and it will give you a good idea of what hotel it picked.

momto2girls
05-25-2008, 11:19 AM
I really would NOT rent a car. There is NO reason to. The public transportation will get you EVERYWHERE. If you don't find that convenient, a taxi will work. If you rent a car, you will have to pay for the car, pay for parking EVERYWHERE you go including your hotel, and you have the frustration of driving in the city. And don't think you can get away with not parking in a garage and trying to park on the street. There will be NO spots.




I agree that there is no need for a car and that it will cost a good bit to park there. We chose to drive everywhere (we would prefer to drive rather than use public transportation and won't use cabs because our kids need booster/car seats and we have a GPS so it was super easy), but we definitely paid for it. It was worth it for us, but I know that it might not be worth it for everyone. :)

maggiew
05-25-2008, 11:51 AM
We have never had this happen and we use hotwire all the time. For rooms in downtown. I use it about twice a month. You do not know what hotel you’re booking but there is a website, don't remember the URL that you can search with the star rating and it will give you a good idea of what hotel it picked.

We had this happen to us at the Westin Chicago River North with a Hotwire bid. Only one bed.

Maggie

traces7
05-25-2008, 12:25 PM
My DD (8) and I went to Chicago for spring break. We stayed at Four Points Sheraton in downtown Chicago (right off Michigan Ave.)
We paid $115 for the American Girl pkg. which included breakfast, cookies and milk and a bed to keep for her doll. We really enjoyed it there. We stayed during the week, I think prices are higher for weekends. (and summer).
We walked or took the bus everywhere, except a cab to get back to train station on the way home.
We always have fun in Chicago, there's so much to do. We hope to go back again this summer. We live fairly close that we can just go for the day (which is what we do most of the time.)
Hope this helps! :)

hilltopfamily
05-26-2008, 06:41 AM
I've used Hotwire and Priceline both many times. In fact, the bed configuration is the precise reason why sometimes I'll go with Hotwire rather than Priceline. Priceline does not guarantee more than a bed for 2 persons. With Hotwire, YOU put in how many people you are booking for and then you will be given appropriate accommodations for THAT number of people. When it's just me and my daughter going, I use Priceline (and have still always gotten 2 double or queen beds) but if I'm taking my 3 kids (4 of us total), then I use Hotwire, put in 4 people in my info when booking area and dates, and I get a bookind and a room sufficient for 4 of us. Hotwire can be a few $$ more than Priceline, but it gives the piece of mind as far as number of beds. And it is still a big savings over regular rates. Other places to check: Quikbook dot com, hotels dot com, Hotel Kingdom dot com, and Kayak dot com. Lastly, if using the "Opaque" method (hotwire or priceline) the two sites I mentioned, betterbidding and biddingfortravel, are invaluable in helping figure out what property you are probably dealing with, etc.

hilltopfamily
05-26-2008, 06:47 AM
[url]If you have girls, check out American Girl Store. Personally we don't like the food at American Girl, but doing tea there once is a must (make reservations early).

Agree! We mistakenly did not make reservations there and almost did not get in. My DD had brought her Amer. Girl doll along because we had this all planned, except I forgot the ressies! The kind maitre' d "found" us a table at lunch and we had the most memorable, enjoyable time there! My son was not initially happy about being there with us, but pretty soon he warmed up to the whole idea, once he saw it was kind of an "event". It was pricey, but so worth the experience! It's a time I will hold dear to my heart forever! :lovestruc

pixidust princess
05-26-2008, 09:09 AM
Thanks for all of the Chicago information. I checked out www.travelzoo.com and it had some pretty good deals on it. We already know what we are going to do with our time while in Chicago, still don't know where we are going to stay.

LIBLULA
05-26-2008, 05:00 PM
Hi, We used Hotwire for our trip to Chicago. We stayed at the Swiss Hotel for less than $100.00 a night. Very nice hotel, downtown--walking distance to Navy Pier. We have used Hotwire for numerous hotel rooms and have never been disappointed. We have only stayed at 3-5 star hotels. Don't miss the childrens museum down by Navy Pier and Fields museum. My daughter had a blast!!!!

DisneySouthernChick
05-27-2008, 07:04 AM
I spent two weeks in the loop with my two boys ages 2 and 6 at the time. My husband was on business so we stayed at the W on lakeshore for free:cool1: . We had a car but I took both boys on public transit everyday all by myself. They loved it so much they wanted to move there. Small kids travel free on public transit and that was a plus but alot of the time we walked. Look into a citypass on citypass.com you can bundle museum admissions on save a bundle. The lincoln park zoo is free and that's a plus. Beware that food in the muesums can be high $7+ for a kids meal. I packed snacks and the kids split a meal. We did the Navy Pier, The Childrens Museum, Field Museum, Science and Industry Muesum,shedd Aquarium, Lincoln Park Zoo, Space Museum, A historical boat tour, Natural History Museum, Shopping on Michigan Ave. I'm sure I missed a few things I'm sure but after two weeks we hated coming home. Feel free to pm me with any questions. We left no stones unturned. If you are there over the 4th Macy's fireworks are wonderful but beware they are set off a day or two early so they can air them on the 4th. We loved them. Hope you have as much fun as we did.

windycitymom
05-27-2008, 07:56 AM
I'd recommend eating at Ed Debevic's, then walking to the two-story McDonald's down the street - it's pretty cool with toys and memorabilia from the various decades. Across from Ed's is a 6-story sports store too. Check out Millenium Park, and Navy Pier. There is so much to do in Chicago!

budbeerlady
06-05-2008, 07:21 AM
Great thread. We are going for a long weekend in July to see the Cirque show.