Last minute trip to Chicago-- need help!

Discussion in 'Budget Board' started by jen-n-greg, Jun 30, 2009.

  1. jen-n-greg

    jen-n-greg Mouseketeer

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    k- my Dh just told me he has Thursday and Friday off, and since the kids don't have any sports those 2 days we decided to drive to Chicago to see the Harry Potter exhibit at the Science museum. I need some recommendations for hotels (cheap but decent - there are 5 of us) and maybe some other fun things to do. I am thinking the Shedd Aquarium and Lincoln Park zoo look interesting-- any comments? Also, are these places close to each other? How far away is Six Flags and does it take all day? Thanks for any help :)
     
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  3. akcire

    akcire <font color=royalblue>Mouse expert, computer chall

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    First and foremost. The Harry Potter exhibit at MSI is brand new. Before you work on anything else I would make certain you can get tickets to the exhibit. It is not included in your regular admission, and they are limited in the number of tickets they sell per day. MSI has a nice underground parking lot. Depending on your family size, and if the are doing specials on the website, it may be cheaper to buy a membership, even for just the one visit. Not knowing where you are from, you may also be able to visit other museums on their list.

    Hotels, aka budget busters. This is 4th of July weekend. The taste of Chicago is on this week. Hotels in the city will be expensive, plus you can expect a daily parking fee of $40+, keep in mind hotel tax in Shy town is about 20% a night. I can't even remember anymore since our company will not allow anyone to stay in the city, we put everyone up in the burbs.

    You could drive down on the MSI day, and take the train Metra (or stay near a hotel on the Blue line) on a day to visit the Shedd, Field, & the Planetarium. All three are located on the lakefront within a few blocks of each other. Another loop area attraction is the Art Institute.

    Lincoln Park Zoo is free and located at the other end of the loop. It is a VERY long walk or a bus ride from the Museum Campus.

    If you stay in the burbs you may also consider the Brookfield Zoo they have a dolphin show, and should have a butterfly garden. They have been advertising some sort of Dinosaur thing too.

    Six flags is in Gurnee. It can be a full day with the water park.
     
  4. tazdeb

    tazdeb Mouseketeer

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    If you use Grant Park as center (and this week it is home to the taste of Chicago and its millions of people) then the Museum of Sience and Industry is 3 miles south, Lincoln park zoo 1 mile north and the Shed aquarium right there at the museum complex (also home of the Field museum and Adler Planetarium). Six Flags is about 70 miles north and like one park at Disney will take all day. Other fun things to do in Chicago are Navy Pier, Chicago Historical Society, Chicago River water tours, deep dish pizza, Millenium Park and the bean, beaches on lake Michigan, walking along the waterfront, segway tours, ghost tours, mob tours ( takes you to all the famous places related to crime in chicago......ie...Al Capone, John Dillinger, machine gun Kelly, St Valentines Day masacare etc). This is one of the busiest weekends in Chicago so I would hotwire/orbitz hotels but make sure you have a map and find the address before you book. Many hotels say there "close" to everything but you will find you are outside the loop. I would stay within 8 blocks of the intersection of Michigan and Ohio, that way you can walk every where or take a cab or the subway (safe until late at night, get the weekend pass). Otherwise the parking fees will kill you... Have fun........TAZ
     
  5. kydisneyfans

    kydisneyfans <font color=blue>It may be because they are too em

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    We are staying about 20 miles out by OHare for $35 a night on Hotwire for the 4 day weekend. That's much better than the $100+ per night +parking that we were finding downtown, even if we have to pay to park at sights.
     
  6. adventure_woman

    adventure_woman DIS Veteran

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    Go to travelzoo.com. They have a lot of hotel deals for Chicago (not sure about this weekend, but I would look!)
     
  7. jen-n-greg

    jen-n-greg Mouseketeer

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    Just got back from my kids' softball games and appreciate all the info! As soon as I read this I went and purchased Harry Potter tickets so I'm all set there :) I went for a Best Western about 30 minutes away for $63 a night for the 5 of us - I thought that was pretty good. Now, just gotta narrow down our other choices for things to see -- don't know if the kids are thrilled with a zoo-- I would like to go though. Are there any can't miss restaurants?
     
  8. jen-n-greg

    jen-n-greg Mouseketeer

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    Thanks for the ideas :) Deep dish pizza-- I totally forgot about that -- anywhere special or are they all good? Ghost tours sounds interesting too and my husband mentioned Navy Pier. We only have 2 days so I want to do as much as possible.
     
  9. Psychodisney

    Psychodisney DIS Veteran

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    Where is your Best Western(what suburb)? That will help us make some suggestions.
     
  10. jen-n-greg

    jen-n-greg Mouseketeer

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    It is the Best Western Oakbrook Inn in Westmont, I believe.
     
  11. Psychodisney

    Psychodisney DIS Veteran

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    I don't know the western suburbs very well but I think you would be failrly close to Brookfield Zoo. I would opt to go downtown. Take an architecture boat trip from Navy Pier. My favorite pizza would be Giordano's or Gino's East. The Shedd is not my favorite-I think it's expensive for what the experience is. The big fireworks will be on Friday night-expect HUGE crowds.
     
  12. Psychodisney

    Psychodisney DIS Veteran

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    If the weather is good(clear) you might enjoy going to the top of the Sears Tower of Hancock. The Chicago Entertainment book has coupons for the Hancock, the Seadog boat trip, Museum of Science and Industry and the Field Museum.
     
  13. Octoberbabiesrus

    Octoberbabiesrus DIS Veteran

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    Priceline.com for your hotel IF u can get one...
    Betterbidding.com will help u get an idea of what to bid.
     
  14. Octoberbabiesrus

    Octoberbabiesrus DIS Veteran

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    Pizza, Connies or Giordanos.
     
  15. akcire

    akcire <font color=royalblue>Mouse expert, computer chall

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    .

    So you will be near to two malls which have a lot of good places to eat.

    The Oak Brook mall has a Cheesecake Factory, which I know many people enjoy. They also have multiple Let's Entertainment properties: Maggiano's, Wildfire, Mon Ami Gabi. At Oak Brook my husband is partial to Alexander's, the Club House, and there is also a Thai place. You can google for Oak Brook center.

    If you drive down 22nd Street about 3 miles you will see tons of other places, ending approximately at the Yorktown Mall in Lombard. Yorktown is an older mall, BTW both have TDS. The out lot of Yorktown has many famous chains: the Weber Grill, Claim Jumper, The Capital Grill, etc. Once again if you google I am sure you can find some places with menu's that fit your family.

    A favorite fun place to eat is Jimmy Buffet's Cheeseburger in Paradise. Reasonable, with a good atmosphere. I believe it is located in Downers Grove.

    In the city some places you could try may be: popcorn from Garrett's, a large Rock-n-Roll McDonald's near the Rainforest Cafe. There are many Rick Bayless restaurant's in the city, depending on your budget. My favorite is The Frontiera Grill. If you are downtown during lunch the Signature Room on the 95th Floor of the Hancock Building with good lake views used to have a pretty cheap buffet.

    There are ton's of great Greek places in Greektown, we like Greek Isle's the best @Adam's and Halstead (Southwest corner). Another funny thing in Chicago is that ton's of Greek immigrants own restaurant's, they serve a full menu of standard American fare and then some Greek dishes, they are almost like diners. These places have some of the best, and most economical meals in the city and suburbs. My husband likes Omega (only the one in Downer's Grove & The Marquette Inn in the city I think it is on Madison near the Sear's Tower) ***If you choose to go to one ask your server before you order about portion sizes...some of them are insanely huge.

    Can you tell my husband and I have both had expense account jobs, where we took people out to eat all the time.

    This is just an overview of things/places you can eat. If you tell me what you are looking for type of food and a budget, I can probably give you more specific information.

    Also depending upon your kids ages I may be able to recommend some other things since you are staying in the burbs. I know there is some sort of a Lego-land-like thing in Schaumburg.

    I don't know if you can email me though the boards? If you can go ahead.

    Otherwise tell me what you are looking for and I will do my best to answer in a timely manner.
     
  16. jen-n-greg

    jen-n-greg Mouseketeer

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    Wow-- thanks for all the great ideas! My kids are 9, 12 and 14. Other than pizza, I have no specific food in mind- we're pretty open. As for budget, just nothing outrageous or fancy.
     
  17. MAH4546

    MAH4546 DIS Veteran

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    Navy Pier is very tourist-trappy. The Ferris wheel is awesome, but I never really saw the appeal of the place, but then again I lived in Chicago for a few years and was never a tourist.
     
  18. akcire

    akcire <font color=royalblue>Mouse expert, computer chall

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    Okay, since you clearly had the kid's ages indicated in your signature...I feel like a big dork!

    That said, all of your kids are old enough that you should be able to successfully do the Big stuff in Chicago. If you decide to do the taste of Chicago, you will NOT want to drive to the loop. You will want to take Metra. You can park at the train station, we think it is free to park on weekends, then you can get a weekend train pass. Check the website, but I think it is $5.00 an adult all weekend, not sure their cut off age for kids but I seem to remember a kids ride free promotion. There is a Metra stop in Westmont on the Burlington Northern Line, you may ask the hotel if another stop is closer. Fireworks in Chicago are on the 3rd, and the Taste has tons of free concerts--bring something old to sit on towels/blanket. There is some radio disney kid one day too?? Check out www.explorechicago.org

    The symphony plays along with the fireworks. It is very crowded! If you drive it can take 3-4 hours to get back out to the burbs, trust me the train is the way to go.

    If you don't want to do fireworks it may still be worth a walk through the taste, I don't know if I would eat a full meal there, but is fun to see part of a Chicago tradition. They always have some of the bigger name pizza, ice cream, rib places represented.

    If you want a more low key, but still fun third/fourth. You can google the Naperville Rib fest. Naperville is a fairly large suburb not too far from Westmont. You can park your car a mile or so from the fest site, and take a school bus to the actual site...I think parking and transportation are free...google to be certain. They tend to have good bands, in a low key atmosphere. The town also has a city pool called Centennial Beach. It is unique because it is a sand bottom, but it is a pool not a beach. Admission is about $5. You can check the city of Naperville website if it is something you would like to try.

    Also most suburbs will have Fireworks on the 3rd or 4th you can find as many displays as you want.

    If you are downtown go to Millenium Park with the Bean, the spitting water-fountain thing...lots of interesting outdoor art.

    I agree that Navy Pier is over-rated. You would be better off taking a sight-seeing boat ride on the lake. It is choppy, but the views are awesome. The Chicago Architecture Foundation leads some really good tours and they have boat ride tours. They tend to sell out quickly. If you do a boat tour, ask where they go...Chicago River or Lake Michigan, both are cool but different views.

    You should stroll North down Michigan Ave. "The Mag Mile" lots of hotel's shopping... Depending on your families mobility/motivation you can walk from the loop to the Lincoln Park Zoo, it is a hike! Probably 4 miles a trip, once I am in the city (I take the Metra) I try to just walk where I need to go. The MSI is somewhere you will not walk to, that is something best to just drive from the suburbs from since it is so far south. (MSI has IMAX movies usually showing 2 or 3, don't miss the submarine, and check out the ice cream parlor on the main street--even if you don't eat any ice cream it is fun to see. My husband also really likes the giant train set up--if you do everything you can spend a full day--so like I previously said you may wish for a membership)

    The Cubs will be in town that weekend, playing the Brewers, always a good match up, unfortunately the Cubs have not been doing so well. Not sure about the Sox, we keep up with Cubs in my house.

    The Field Museum www.fieldmuseum.org has a good collection, this is where Sue the dinosaur lives, and really good visiting exhibits. Currently the big one is the Pirate exhibit.

    Honestly, I think unless you have someone who is crazy for the solar system that the Planetarium is a dud. Now some say it is one of the best in the country...I just never got into it.

    The Shedd Aquarium may be doing some renovations right now, not sure.

    There is a new waterpark in Yorkville which some of my co-workers are excited about called Raging Waves. It is probably about 45 minutes from your hotel. Your kids may like the Great America & their water park better. I have not checked out either. If you decide to go, google for deals. I know people on the DIS were talking about cheap combo tickets. My husband's company does a yearly picnic at Great America, that one trip is good for me.

    If I have anymore inspiring ideas I will post again

    Enjoy your trip
     
  19. CathrynRose

    CathrynRose <font color=brown>R.I.P. Possibly Un-PC Tag, R.I.P

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    You're at a really perfect location to visit it all. I'm 5 minutes down the road from where you'll be, in the next town over.

    As a PP mentioned - take the train to the city. You can park at the Westmont, Clarendon Hills, Hinsdale or Downers Grove (which has a parking deck for the train) garage.

    Six Flags is about 1/2 - 45 minutes or so, north of where you'll be. It's a nice park, though, and you're right near the expressway to hop on and go.

    I also would not do Navy Pier. But, like a PP suggested, the boat tours are really nice to see the city.

    Brookfield Zoo is a very short drive from where you are at, as well - and is a really nice zoo.

    As far as food - again, you're in the middle of some really great choices. :thumbsup2
     
  20. CathrynRose

    CathrynRose <font color=brown>R.I.P. Possibly Un-PC Tag, R.I.P

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    The fireworks in the city are on the 3rd. That still allows you to go to (as a PP mentioned) Ribfest (I dont like Ribfest, though...too crowded)

    But every town has a 4th of July display. The biggest one in your area, about 10 minutes from where you'll be is Downers Grove, Woodridge & Darien's combined. It's at 75th and Lemont - and like I said, 10 minutes from your hotel.

    There are a lot of restaurants on that corner too, so you could have dinner then watch the fireworks. And plenty of parking. 75th and Lemont is 4 corners of strip malls, so people just park in the lots.

    Youre right near Oak Brook Mall, too - which I :love: Oak Brook Mall.
     
  21. nd5056

    nd5056 DIS Veteran

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    You can read more about the Taste of Chicago & Fireworks weekend HERE: & HERE:

    .
     

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