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Old 01-02-2013, 06:08 PM   #1
funkychunkymonkey
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chicago questions (and budget?)

Ok my freinds and I wanna go to chicago for 4 days this summer. What are some must dos? We know we want to go on the rides at navy peir, John G. Shedd Aquarium, Union station (were er fans), A zoo (which one is best) and willis tower. We would also like to tour a firehouse if possible anyone know how to do this? Also can you buy fire/police patches anywere? I collect them. were planning on staying in another city and taking the train into chicago. Also we want to go to six flags. Any good discounts out there?
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Old 01-02-2013, 06:15 PM   #2
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You can buy a card that gets you into various attractions in Chicago at www.smartdestinations.com. You pick either a 3,5,or 7 day pass based on what you want. There are very few restrictions other then most attractions close to the go USA card holders at 6pm. I buy them every time I travel to one of the cities on their website.
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Old 01-02-2013, 06:16 PM   #3
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Great thread! We want to take our kids this summer too. Don't want to hijack but am interested in family friendly hotel and want to go to Art Institute, American Girl, and Rainforest Cafe. Any info appreciated.
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Old 01-02-2013, 06:44 PM   #4
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they have a rainforest cafe? Well shoot! guess thats one dinner taken care of Feel free to take over! alot of those family freindly things are the most fun. We toured a place everyone said was "So for kids" and it was blast! two 20 year olds acting like they were 5!

Whats cool about the art instute?
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Old 01-02-2013, 06:51 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by funkychunkymonkey
they have a rainforest cafe? Well shoot! guess thats one dinner taken care of Feel free to take over! alot of those family freindly things are the most fun. We toured a place everyone said was "So for kids" and it was blast! two 20 year olds acting like they were 5!

Whats cool about the art instute?
I think there's one there. Now I have to double check. The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the best art museums in the country. Many famous works of art.
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Old 01-02-2013, 06:59 PM   #6
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I think there's one there. Now I have to double check. The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the best art museums in the country. Many famous works of art.
may have to check it out! Any advice on how to get around? were looking at the metro and trying to figure out what the best choice of ticket is considering were doing 4 days (and were VERY much get up and go girls). We tend to wanna roam!
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:05 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by funkychunkymonkey View Post
they have a rainforest cafe? Well shoot! guess thats one dinner taken care of Feel free to take over! alot of those family freindly things are the most fun. We toured a place everyone said was "So for kids" and it was blast! two 20 year olds acting like they were 5!

Whats cool about the art instute?
Rainforest Cafe?!?!?! NOOOOOOOOOO!

It used to drive me crazy when my friends would come into town and want to eat at a chain restaurant. You're in a city with all kinds of AMAZING foods and you want something you can get anywhere?

Ok off my soapbox now here's my recommendations:

Restaurants:

Bongo Room for breakfast.
Kuma's for burgers.
Hot Doug's for hot dogs.
Big Star for tacos.
Piece for pizza.
Portillos for fast food, get the chocolate cake.
Chop House or Gibson's for expensive steak dinner.

Those are my favorite places (besides Hot Dougs I've never been there, I just know it's good, be prepared to wait an hour or more at Kuma's or Hot Dougs) check out yelp to confirm my good taste .

I love the art institute, and Shedd and Field museum! You can't go wrong with any of those. For a zoo, I would go to Lincoln Park for convenience unless you are driving then I would pick Brookfield.

For drinks:

If you are into punk/rock music I love Delilah's on Lincoln
If you want to get all dolled up and go to some place unique I recommend the Violet Hour, an old speakeasy in Wicker Park (where Piece and Big Star are), it's pretty on the inside and the drinks are pretty freaking tasty! It has no signs or windows so it can be tricky to find, it has just a light on the outside of the building signaling if its open or not.

Instead of Willis Tower I recommend going to have a drink in the signature lounge in the Hancock building. You will have amazing views of the city (even in the ladies bathroom) and you get a drink for your "admission price".

There is a lot of fun things to do. I love Second City comedy club where a lot of famous people got their start. Chicago Food Planet has some fun awesome tours where you walk around a neighborhood in Chicago and you learn about the history of it and sample food at about 6 different restaurants! I've only been on the Wicker Park tour but it's so worth the $40 (yelp has a coupon to get 10% or 15% off). There's also haunted tours (fun!), and architectural tours by the river in a boat. Check out groupon for good deals.

I would skip Navy Pier for sure its beyond lame and not worth any of your time.

I could go on and on but I'll stop now. Have fun

ETA: The CTA (el or L and bus system) is your best budget friendly bet. I'm not sure if they have the 3 day passes anymore? I know for sure you can pay for a 1 day one (which isn't a bad idea to get multiples of that if they don't have the 3 day one). Walgreens, Jewel, etc. sell them and usually one of the little vendors by an el station sell them. Otherwise you can just go to an el sation and buy a regular card.

I named my own price on priceline on my inlaws hotel last summer and got a great deal for the W but not included of course was the $50 or $55 parking per day charge! (just another tip)
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Last edited by ChiCat; 01-02-2013 at 07:17 PM.
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiCat View Post
Rainforest Cafe?!?!?! NOOOOOOOOOO!

It used to drive me crazy when my friends would come into town and want to eat at a chain restaurant. You're in a city with all kinds of AMAZING foods and you want something you can get anywhere?

Ok off my soapbox now here's my recommendations:

Restaurants:

Bongo Room for breakfast.
Kuma's for burgers.
Hot Doug's for hot dogs.
Big Star for tacos.
Piece for pizza.
Portillos for fast food, get the chocolate cake.
Chop House or Gibson's for expensive steak dinner.

Those are my favorite places (besides Hot Dougs I've never been there, I just know it's good, be prepared to wait an hour or more at Kuma's or Hot Dougs) check out yelp to confirm my good taste .

I love the art institute, and Shedd and Field museum! You can't go wrong with any of those. For a zoo, I would go to Lincoln Park for convenience unless you are driving then I would pick Brookfield.

For drinks:

If you are into punk/rock music I love Delilah's on Lincoln
If you want to get all dolled up and go to some place unique I recommend the Violet Hour, an old speakeasy in Wicker Park (where Piece and Big Star are), it's pretty on the inside and the drinks are pretty freaking tasty! It has no signs or windows so it can be tricky to find, it has just a light on the outside of the building signaling if its open or not.

Instead of Willis Tower I recommend going to have a drink in the signature lounge in the Hancock building. You will have amazing views of the city (even in the ladies bathroom) and you get a drink for your "admission price".

There is a lot of fun things to do. I love Second City comedy club where a lot of famous people got their start. Chicago Food Planet has some fun awesome tours where you walk around a neighborhood in Chicago and you learn about the history of it and sample food at about 6 different restaurants! I've only been on the Wicker Park tour but it's so worth the $40 (yelp has a coupon to get 10% or 15% off). There's also haunted tours (fun!), and architectural tours by the river in a boat. Check out groupon for good deals.

I would skip Navy Pier for sure its beyond lame and not worth any of your time.

I could go on and on but I'll stop now. Have fun
navy peir is a must do. My dad grew up in chicago and he used to go there all the time as a child. He died when I was 16, so its kinda one of those trubite things. Gonna ride the fairis wheel.
you seem to be pretty knowlagable, Is there a good safe club for two (mabey 3) 20 somthings to go out?
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:21 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by funkychunkymonkey View Post
navy peir is a must do. My dad grew up in chicago and he used to go there all the time as a child. He died when I was 16, so its kinda one of those trubite things. Gonna ride the fairis wheel.
you seem to be pretty knowlagable, Is there a good safe club for two (mabey 3) 20 somthings to go out?
What kind of club do you like? I'm not into clubs, besides Neo which I don't recommend unless you like dancing to Joy Division and NIN

I will say that I would avoid Excalibur which no one I've ever met likes that place.
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:25 PM   #10
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double posting because I lied!

I love Boystown (the gay subneighborhood of Lakeview). There are lots of bars and clubs to hop if you are cool with partying with gay people. I have always found it to be pretty safe. As in any place there is potential for drugs or violence but on average it's fun and safe.
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:26 PM   #11
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Grew up in the region, and would never consider Navy Pier a must-do. It's way crowded and commercial. However, they do have free fireworks (used to be on Wed. and Sat.) in the summer. Lincoln Park Zoo is great and free. Portillo's, Al's Italian Beef, and of course pizza at Giordano's or Geno's is always a must.
Art Institute has several free days throughout the year - more in summer. Check this out as you get closer to time.
A few years ago we took an architecture tour along the river - well worth the time and it was really inexpensive.
Many local museums have reciprocal programs with others around the country. The Field Museum and Museum of Science and Industry participate in this so you can go for free if you have a membership to your local museum. May be worth getting a local museum pass just for this discount!
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:27 PM   #12
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We are from a suburb of Chicago:
yes, there is a Rainforest Cafe in Chicago at 605 North Clark Street. You can walk there if you are shopping in the Loop (or bus/cab from the Pier). There are also 2 Disney Stores. One on Michigan Ave and the other is in a mall type building (think it is called Block 36 or something like that) off State and Washington. You can enter that mall from Randolph Street as well.

Brookfield Zoo is an awesome zoo (very large and there is a cost for admission-Lincoln Park is smaller and I believe it is still free). You can bring your own food in via a cooler and eat at the picnic areas. Much cheaper than buying food there.

Navy Pier is great fun but be prepared- $$$$$. There are many places to eat on the Pier itself, but I highly recommend eating at some of the great places in the city itself.

Our museums are some of the greatest anywhere in the US. Science and Industry has something for everyone. Shedd Aquarium is really nice as well. Just be advised that the admission only gets you the basics and all the really awesome exhibits are generally an additional amount of money.

The city pass for Chicago is a great idea if you will be here for a while.

Six Flags is always running some sort of deal. Generally any Coke cans come spring/summer will have $$ off a general admission ticket. Jewel/Osco sells discounted tickets off and on as well throughout the season.

Head over to the Chicago Area Disers on the Community Board. They are a very helpful group over there and many of them work/live in the city and can answer more questions for you with re: trains, busses, cabs, trolley.

Hope you do come and enjoy your stay. I highly suggest a summer visit when there is free music entertainment in Millenium Park. Chicago is great for summer fun. The Bean and the area all around Grant Park is a great place to explore.
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:28 PM   #13
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They have 3 day half price CTA passes on Groupon.

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Old 01-02-2013, 07:28 PM   #14
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Quote:
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I think there's one there. Now I have to double check. The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the best art museums in the country. Many famous works of art.
The Art Institute is my favorite in Chicago. I also highly recommend the Field Museum (really superior exhibits). Have fun!
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:36 PM   #15
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You have to go eat at the Rick Bayliss restaurant XOCO. http://www.rickbayless.com/restaurants/xoco.html The food was awesome! If you are walking around, State street is pretty impressive. There are things there like the Chicago theater and the new state of the art Walgreens. Navy Pier does have shops but nothing you can't find cheaper elsewhere. We bought all our souvie shirts at Walgreens.

We are going in Feb. and plan on eating at Heaven on 7 http://www.heavenonseven.com/

We took the bus a few times. It's always crowded but efficient. Our hotel was within walking distance to all the main attractions. We needed to take a bus to the United Center though.

Michigan Ave. has so many neat sculptures along with the famous Buckingham fountain. You could spend the whole day looking at all there is and not spend a dime. They also have free days at the Art Institute. We are going to throw a chain restarurant in the next time, the Weber grill for breakfast. Our hotel, the ACME did have free continental breakfast but i think that's stopped.
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