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First Trip to Chicago

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Toronto
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First Trip to Chicago

This is going to be our first trip to Chicago. We will be going there end of this month with our 3 years old daughter for 1 week stay. I would like to have some recommendations for good places to go to that would be interesting for a 3 years old. We will be staying at the Le Meridian on N Rush St. Is there any parking available near the hotel if we don't want to pay the extra fee for valet parking in the hotel. If we don't rent a car what is the public transport like going to the zoo, aquarium or The Pier? What river cruise would be good for us to do? Which park is highly recommended?

I love shopping and wants to know if there is public transport available to the factory outlet malls if we are not renting a car?

Rensselaer, Indiana
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1. Re: First Trip to Chicago

Snowyuki, don't rent a car here in Chicago, if you don't absolutely need to. Saves time, hassle and expense. The money you save on that rental can pay for some other extras.

Are you flying into O'Hare? Take the Blue Line into the City at the Clark/Lake stop and then just cab it to Le Meridien. IMHO, with a 3-year old and luggage, it wouldn't be worth the hassle to navigate a transfer for such a small amount of savings. If you are flying into Midway, the Orange Line in (State/Lake stop) and then (again) just cab it.

Transportation to the Lincoln Park Zoo: free trolleys or the #151 NB - pick up all along N. Michigan Avenue.

Navy Pier: free trolleys, the #29 WB on State (south of Grand)/Grand or the #66 WB bus can be picked up from the bus stop just to the north of the Ralph Lauren store.

Aquarium: the #146 SB bus any stop along Michigan Avenue or the free trolleys (from State Street area)--you can transfer from the one that goes to State Street from Michigan Avenue to the one that goes to the Museum Campus very easily. (I rode one just a couple of days ago and the driver gives very good commentary as to where to pick up the particular free trolleys, as well as what is going on that evening in Chicago.)

All the factory outlet malls are out of the city limits. I cannot answer for the ones in Illinois but there is one in Michigan City, Indiana--Lighthouse Place. You can take the South Shore Railroad from the Metra station at Michigan/Randolph to the 11th street stop in Mich. City (NOT the Shops stop--that refers to the place where the trains are kept).

The South Shore travels along the south shore of Lake Michigan, into Indiana several times daily (depends on which day you are going). Travels through the south side of Chicago, past the steel mills area, then the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore area and finally (if you went to the end of the line) South Bend, IN - where Notre Dame University is. The cost to Michigan City is about $7.25/pp one way (your daughter would ride free on weekends) and the trip is about 1.5 hours each way. There is a free trolley that meets the train at the 11th Street stop on weekends (not sure about weekdays though--check Lighthouse Place's website). If this interests you, check the NICTD website for the schedule.

If you didn't want to go that far, there are couple of options in Chicago. Crate and Barrel's outlet is on N. Clybourn (at Wisconsin). You'd take the Red Line (El) up to the Clybourn stop--and walk 3 blocks to the north on Clybourn.

Clybourn Corridor (the area around North, Clybourn, Halsted)has a great many stores now. Crate and Barrel, CB2, Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, a Borders, Best Buy, etc. In addition, on Halsted, just north of North is where the Steppenwolf and Royal George Theatres are located.

There are Filene's Basements on both N. Michigan and State Street. There is a Nordstrom's Rack on State Street as well.

If you are going to Lincoln Park Zoo, then Lincoln Park is just fine - one of the best places for kids is the gardens just to the west of Lincoln Park Zoo. They are on both sides of the street - the one on the west side is nicer (for the flowers) but the one on the east side is bigger with more room to run around in.

The river cruise question is a toughy - how well would your daughter sit for a 1+ hour cruise? And she'd not get much out of the Architecture Foundation's cruise (although the two of you would).

If you are going to both the Aquarium and Navy Pier, why don't you try the harbor taxi across and see how she does. It's not a long ride but you can see the skyline from the water at reasonable cost. There's also a river taxi (by the same company) that goes from Navy Pier to the Sears Tower (and back). Maybe the brevity of it would be fine for your needs.

Hope this information helps.

Toronto
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2. Re: First Trip to Chicago

Thank you ChiTownFriend for your recommendations. I will follow your advice and not hire a car now. I am going to follow your directions using the public transport from O'Hare airport. Your directions and recommendations for travelling to places of interest are very useful and much appreciated.

Chicago, Illinois
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3. Re: First Trip to Chicago

In response to an outlet mall, there is one west of the city in Aurora, Il. (about 40 miles west of downtown chicago) called Chicago Premium Outlets. I've attached a link to their website.

www.premiumoutlets.com/outlets/outlet.asp…

Hope this helps and enjoy your stay!

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4. Re: First Trip to Chicago

Just one thing to add to ChiTownFriend's excellent and informative post!

Definitely try to make time to check out Millennium Park. If nothing else, your daughter should enjoy splashing around in Crown Fountain (the one with the faces displayed on large television screens behind glass bricks) on a hot day. It's always filled with kids shrieking with glee through the water, especially when the waterfall or "spitting" happens. :-D

Toronto
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5. Re: First Trip to Chicago

Thank you Chitowntrvrls on the site for the outlet mall.

The Millennium Park sounds like a fun place for my daughter. I will definitely go there. Thank you so much for the recommendation Leslie2.

Rensselaer, Indiana
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6. Re: First Trip to Chicago

Snowyuki, I just wanted to mention a couple of other things that will be happening at the end of this month, in case you have any interest.

The Newberry Library Book Fair will be held 7-28 to 7-30. Thousands of books--very, very reasonably priced (many less than $2). The Newberry Library (one of the premier research libraries in the world) is at 60 W. Walton (that's the street north of the 900 N. Michigan where Bloomingdale's is located). Just walk west a couple of blocks.

Also at Newberry Library are the Bughouse Square Debates (on Saturday and Sunday). It's all about free speech and the chance to exercise that right (open-mic). Debaters and hecklers all have their say.

Also, that's the weekend of our Venetian Night. Lovely event, although expect about 500,000 souls to attend.