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Visiting Chicago

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I know that several on this board/forum live and work the great city of Chicago. I have been to Chicago many many times when I was on the ASHI Board, however I have never visited as a tourist.

My wife and I are planning on visiting in October and would be interested to know of recommended hotels in the downtown area (loop, lake front, etc.) and must do activities and special restaurants.

I know there is a lot that can be experienced in the downtown area, Millennium Park, Navy Pier, shopping, aquarium, etc.

Would be interested about any feedback on special architectural tours (riverboat or on foot) or other cool things to do.

Thanks in advance.


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I have never visited as a tourist either but the Grant Park lakefront scene is always a wonderful thing no matter what the weather or time of year.

Pack yourself a lunch do an outdoor picnic near Buckingham Fountain if the weather allows. The Lake and Chicago skyline is awesome and the fountain is very cool.

Navy Pier is better at night than during the day especially the Ferris wheel with the city lights.

I've always been partial to the Lincoln Park zoo which has got a great ape house. the whole zoo is small and compact but there is a lot there. Rent a paddle boat and chug around the lagoon.

On a clear day go to the top of the Willis Tower. There are too many good places to eat to even mention. I am told that lunch at Millennium Park is very good.

Bring a camera.

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Millenium Park @ dawn. The Bean at sunrise is exquisite.

You're probably staying out at Rosemont near HQ, but if possible stay downtown. Give me a budget, I can tell you options, but honestly, check out Hotline and all the other services, come up with names, and I can tell you what you're getting. Tell me what you want the hotel or neighborhood to feel like, I can tell you where to stay. If you're looking for the usual Nike/Apple/Needless Markup, stay on N. Michigan Ave. and have your wallet removed through your anus. If you want something more interesting, there's about a thousand options.

There are boutique hotels in Wicker Park that are pretty cool. Wicker Park is the youngster neighborhood about 15 minutes from downtown; as close to NY street feel as anything else in Chicago. A hundred owner operator restaurants are all walkable in Wicker Park. Lotta old renovated houses from 1880's. A few clubs, lotta boutiquey shops.

Then, all the stuff. Too much to list. The river architectural tour is the only one worth taking, imho. The other's show you stuff, but the view from the river is the view you want.

What kind of food? There's thousands of options...gotta pare it down a little.

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Thanks for the advice.

I will be staying downtown. We plan on being in Chicago about seven days.

No budget however the wife wants to be pampered but my wallet says stay away from the Trump and the Four Seasons.

I have good things about the Architectural Boat tour so that certainly will go on the agenda.

We tend to like to sample local foods (immigrant/eclectic) and love to experience the walking and mixing that comes with large cities. I personally want to experience the finest steak and Italian that Chicago has to offer.

Any day trips where we would need to rent a car for the day?


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The Architectural Boat Tour is a must! You can also rent Kayaks and paddle the river, if you're so inclined.

Best steak in Chicago is at Mastro's. It is a chain restaurant, but it's the best. Chicago Cut Steakhouse is pretty damn good too and the space is a little nicer. Plus, you are likely to run into a celebrity there.

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If you're interested in an architectural tour you should come out to Oak Park and visit the Frank Lloyd Wright home and studio, and then take a walking tour of some nearby FLW homes. Just last week I inspected a 1903 FLW home. It was spectacular. Oak Park is the first suburb west of Chicago, so it's a short cab ride.

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