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The windy city
« on: February 15, 2014, 07:18:17 AM »
DH has a month long work skit in Chicago in April and we are toying with the idea of me and baby Girl going with him for the hole thing or I go join him for his last two weeks and Baby girl (who is 2 so I shouldn't say baby really) stays with Nana (who I adore and would love to have her)

Any suggestions or advice for things to do and see. Is it true you can't get anyware without driving. I will have a car but I must admit the idea of driving on the right side kind of terrifies me.

We would be staying in west Chicago near Batavie if that helps.

I will be solo for at least half of the trip.
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Re: The windy city
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2014, 07:25:34 AM »
Museum of Science and Industry and the Aquarium!


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Re: The windy city
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2014, 08:42:28 AM »
Not true about a car, if you are sightseeing mostly in downtown (where most of the sights are, anyway).  The "El", or elevated train runs from several distant suburbs downtown, so you just have to find a map with the closest one to you.  Once downtown, taxis are numerous.

(I hear you about driving on the "other side of the road".  In England, I had a bad habit of throwing up my hands and stomping on imaginary brakes whenever an oncoming car passed us).

Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum of Natural History are close together, as is Soldier Field (where the American football team the Bears play)
John Hancock building observation deck, or the Skydeck observation in the Willis Building
Museum of Science and Industry-get a cab.  The building itself is from the 1893 World's Fair (or whatever it was called)
Grant Park (the Aquarium and FMNH are there): If you've ever seen Married: With Children, you'll recognize the fountain.  This also has a planetarium. 
Navy Pier (shops, rides and restaurants)
Magnificent Mile (close to downtown on Michigan Avenue): Lots of swanky shops and interesting architecture

See if you're able to get a CityPASS from Australia; you can get a discount on many of these.


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Re: The windy city
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2014, 08:58:16 AM »
Batavia is pretty far out and public transportation isn't really very good. You need to drive to the Amtrac station and take the train in. Last time I was there, the buses to Chicago were few and far between. Once you are in the city, there are more trains - elevated, els - that pretty much serve the same purpose as subways in other cities. Taxis are easier to get than in most other cities I've been in. I don't know how expensive they are these days.

If you are in Batavia, check the Paramount Theater listings in Aurora. They have fine, highly praised traveling shows from Broadway often. Aurora also has a Hollywood Casino - that's a chain. We don't gamble, but did go to see the displays a couple of times.

I second the Museum of Science and Industry and the Shedd Aquarium, and add Adler Planetarium and Lincoln Park Zoo. The architecture for the first three is a treat in itself! Shopping at Water Tower Place is kind of interesting. Chicago also has major sports teams and parks. The Chicago Theater has lots of good shows, and there seems to always be a Broadway show somewhere in town. There are interesting tours of the city, just like most city have. We always take those tours when we go to a new city.

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Re: The windy city
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2014, 09:02:42 AM »
I rode the water taxi for the first time last summer and being on the water was a nice way to travel.  I don't know when the service starts for the year though.


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Re: The windy city
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2014, 10:20:46 AM »
I adore the Art Institute.  I know, pictures on a wall are hard to do with a small child in tow.  However, in the basement, way far far back you will think you are under Lake a collection called the Thorne Miniature Rooms.  Early in the 20th century, a Mrs. Thorne collected miniature furnishings (think dollhouse-sized items) from all over the world.  She created 68 different showrooms, thankfully behind glass, that you and your little one might find fascinating. 

Here's a link:


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Re: The windy city
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2014, 11:46:59 AM »
Chicago is one of my favorite cities, with lots of amazing things to do. And once you're in the city, you really don't need a car--the el, buses, and taxis will get you almost anywhere you want to go, relatively cheaply. As a tourist, honestly, it's probably better not to have a car. Parking can be pretty dire and very expensive, especially downtown.

But the key to not needing a car is "once you're in the city." It sounds like where you're staying is pretty far out (40 miles or so). That's sort of like saying "We're going to London!" when you're actually going to Slough. In traffic, the drive into/out of the city is probably going to take more than an hour. It's doable, definitely, but you're probably going to end up spending a lot more time in the suburbs than in the city itself.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2014, 12:34:21 PM by Sebastienne »


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Re: The windy city
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2014, 12:33:41 PM »
The only one I enjoyed growing up that hasn't been mentioned is the Field Museum (Natural History Museum).  It wasn't one of my favorites but if anybody in your party loves dinosaurs, it's a must-see. 

Also, be sure to check out street and food fairs.  Maybe someone who lives there can chime in on timing, because April seems a bit early to me.  But nobody does these better!  Sometimes they're ethnic based and other times neighborhood.  You can also check suburbs for this.  I grew up on the North Shore and our Greek Othodox church put on the best ever Greek food extravaganza! 


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Re: The windy city
« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2014, 02:58:12 PM »

For Navy Pier, I suggest a boat ride around Lake Michigan.  You could do a nice cruise around the lake, or if your adventurous,  the Seadog, a speed boat type of boat ride. 

Must try food:

Chicago deep dish pizza
Italian beef sandwich
Chicago style hot dog

I think the street fairs and food fests are in the summer, I don't recall there being any as early as April here.  The weather can still be chilly.


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Re: The windy city
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2014, 03:04:18 PM »
I went to college there and I go back at least once a year.  In chicago proper, you do not need a car.  I have no idea what the suburbs are like because the furthest I traveled was Evanston.

I second (or third) the museum and sightseeing suggestions

Each neighborhood is different, in fact I would say that downtown is really quite boring and it's the neighborhoods that you want to spend most of your time in.  The festivals don't really start until June or so, but once they do it's quite wonderful.  No one does summer like Chicago. 

I lived in Lakeview just on the border of Lincoln Park.  It's really easy to spend your day hanging out at the local parks and coffee shops with all of the other parents and kids. 


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Re: The windy city
« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2014, 04:36:42 PM »
Shedd Aquarium
Museum of Science and Industry
Field Museum
Adler Planetarium
Navy Pier
Brookfield Zoo
Magnificent Mile


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Re: The windy city
« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2014, 07:04:23 PM »
I grew up in West Chicago!

The suburbs offer a lot to do, as well. Fermi Lab in Batavia gives tours to the public. The Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art is in Elmhurst. Nearby Aurora has a riverboat casino, as does Elgin. There's a trolley/train museum in South Elgin and Saint Charles and Geneva have beautiful parks and walking trails along the Fox River.

There are forest preserves/parks everywhere as well as the Illinois Prairie Path, which is a great place to walk, run, or bike. I trained for a marathon on that path!

Another great museum in Chicago is the Chicago Historical Society on the corner of North ave and Clark st. It has wonderful exhibits pertaining to the history of the city.

While I no longer live in the area, I still consider it home. Enjoy your stay!

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