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Critique My Itinerary, Please!

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Critique My Itinerary, Please!

We're going to Chicago for the first time in mid-September (hope the weather is great!). Group in their early 30s to early 40s (relatively good shape). We get in late Thursday and leave Monday at 6 p.m. Flying into Midway at staying at the Courtyard on E. Hubbard in downtown. Planning on buying the 3 day CTA pass to use Saturday-Monday. Here's what we tentatively have planned:

Friday

- a.m. Architectural Boat Tour

- lunch: Carson's (Ontario/Wells)

- visit to Marshall Fields (which will be a Macy's at that point) and Filene's Basement (State Street)

- early dinner: Giordanos/Atwood/Trattoria No. 10

- walk to Millennium Park/Buckingham Fountain (if time permits)

- Wicked at Ford Theater

Saturday

- day of shopping on Mag Mile!

- lunch: Portillos/Mr. Beef

- snack: Garrett's Popcorn

- dinner: Rosebud's/Heaven on Seven (Michigan/Ontario)

- Hancock Tower for drinks

- Navy Pier

Sunday

- one member of the group is going to do the Gangster Tour while others finish shopping (yes, we love to shop!)

- quick stop at the Hard Rock restaurant for souvenirs/Rock and Roll McDonald's (what is there to do there?)

- lunch: Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder

- (possibly) walk through Lincoln Park Zoo after lunch

- (possbily) quick trip to Chinatown to look around

- dinner: Chicago Chop House or some other steak place

- walk to Millennium Park/Buckingham Fountain (if not accomplished on Friday)

Monday

- walk to Millennium Park/Buckingham Fountain (if not accomplished on Friday or Sunday)

- Chinatown (if no accomplished on Sunday)

- (possibly) visit Shedd Aquarium (free day)

- (possibly) Museum of Science and Industry (opens at 9:30)

- no definitely meal plans although we plan to either eat a big meal so we don't get hungry on the flight home or pick up something to eat before we go to the airport (maybe a nice deep dish pizza to put us right to sleep when we get on board!)

Your thoughts??? We come from a big city (Los Angeles) if that sheds any light on your comments re whether its worth it for us to do certain things like go to the zoo or the aquarium.

Yes, we spend our vacations constantly on the go. We rest on the flight home and when we get home.

Thanks!

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1. Re: Critique My Itinerary, Please!

Great itinerary! I respect someone who even plans out their meals &snacks ahead of time.

My only suggestion - if you plan on seeing the MSI on Monday (or any other day) - get there when they open. You can easily spend a 1/2 to full day there. If there are any special exhibits that you want to see that require tickets, you might want to order them ahead of time. Check out www.msichicago.org/ for details.

You can take the CTA #10 museum express bus to/from downtown & the MSI. Allow yourself enough time to get back downtown to retrieve your luggage and get back to Midway.

One other note - I've never been too impressed with our Chinatown. It's OK. I think the ones in NY or LA or SF are better.

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2. Re: Critique My Itinerary, Please!

Your itinerary is certainly doable. Here's a few of my thoughts:

Friday

if you are planning on going back to your hotel after shopping & before the theater, think about getting your Garrett's at the one on Randolph Street, right across from the Marshall Field's on State. Much less crowded usually.

Also, make sure you stop by the Cultural Center on the corner of Randolph & Michigan, a block away from Field's, there's a tourism office in there and two gorgeous Tiffany glass domes on the 2nd floor.

Giordano's Pizza is REALLY heavy, it's stuffed pizza and you might not want a big block of cheese in your stomach at the theater. If you choose the Atwood, make sure you have reservations well in advance, it's small and it's popular.

I like Chicago's Chinatown, I was there for lunch today in fact, but I don't know that I would suggest going there without planning on eating there. It's a great place to get dim sum, fun with a group. It's a very quick ride by el, doesn't take more than 10, 15 minutes max.

Monday

Shedd Aquarium-the free day is just for the main part of the aquarium, there's still a charge for the Oceanarium and Wild Reef if that helps you make your decision. My favorite part of the aquarium is the large tank when you first walk in which would be included in the free part.

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3. Re: Critique My Itinerary, Please!

If you like to shop here is a suggestion . . . When you are in Lincoln Park head down Armitage. There are the usual chain stores (banana, ann taylor, benetton etc) but also some great boutiques. If anyone in your group likes shoes or handbags, I suggest Lori's (www.lorishoes.com). They have a good selection of shoes and handbags, many brands you won't find in department stores. There are also a number of other boutiques specializing in unique clothing and jewerly (e.g. Jame Hamill 1117 West Armitage) stationary (e.g. The Paper Source 919 W Armitage) and other creative finds. Most of the shops are along Halsted from Webster to just south of Armitage and then on Armitage from Halsted to just west of Sheffield. It's a nice stroll thru Lincoln Park from the Zoo to this shopping area. There are also many great restaurants to eat in the neighborhood. Shine (901 west armitage) offers great asian fare or for a quick cheap eat the Chicago Bagel Authority (953 W Armitage) has great sandwiches. The mag mile and downtown are great areas but some of the best parts of Chicago are the neighborhoods. Enjoy your trip.

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4. Re: Critique My Itinerary, Please!

Thanks for the help everyone! And thanks to Dave for the compliments re planning on where to eat meals and snacks -- what can I say -- eating is one of the main reasons why we're going to Chicago!! Haha.

Does anyone have any breakfast suggestions for Sunday morning? We'd like to have breakfast before we part ways (one is going on the Gangster Tour) at 10 a.m. The tour starts near Ohio/Clark. Doesn't have to be a fancy or expensive place, just something to tide us over for a couple of hours.

Thanks again!

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5. Re: Critique My Itinerary, Please!

Sorry, I meant to add, we are looking for a non-chain recommendation for a breakfast joint. We (luckily) have Corner Bakery in LA.

Also, any recommendations for a place to grab lunch near the Museum of Science and Industry (assuming you leave the Museum and re-enter after grabbing a bite to eat).

Thanks again!

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6. Re: Critique My Itinerary, Please!

Does anyone have any breakfast suggestions for Sunday morning? We'd like to have breakfast before we part ways (one is going on the Gangster Tour) at 10 a.m. The tour starts near Ohio/Clark. Doesn't have to be a fancy or expensive place, just something to tide us over for a couple of hours.

Tempo Cafe (cash only)

(312) 943-4373

6 E Chestnut St

Original Pancake House

(312) 642-7917

22 E Bellevue Pl

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7. Re: Critique My Itinerary, Please!

Also, any recommendations for a place to grab lunch near the Museum of Science and Industry (assuming you leave the Museum and re-enter after grabbing a bite to eat).

Medici on 57th

(773) 667-7394

1327 E 57th St

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8. Re: Critique My Itinerary, Please!

Friday

Trattoria No. 10 would be my choice. They have an excellent all you can eat at the bar for $12.00? with a two drink minimum. It would make for a light dinner.

At Millennium Park stop for a quick cocktail at the outdoor bar with a great view of the surrounding area.

Saturday

Mr Beef hands down

Heaven On Seven has good cajun food/Rosebud enormous portions.

Sunday

Steakhouse try Keefers

Instead of the zoo I would suggest just walking around the area near the Oven Grinder.

Before you go home stuff yourselves with one last piece of pizza at Lou Malnati's for the best deep dish in Chicago. Good Luck

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9. Re: Critique My Itinerary, Please!

jcena, don't know which weekend you are coming in mid-September, but check the City of Chicago's website to see if it happens to be when the Celtic Festival is occurring.

I really, really enjoy that festival - the crowds aren't as enormous as the other festivals (but growing each year as word gets around), the entertainment is great and the weather (usually) is nearly perfect (by our standards).

If it is occurring when you are here and you do go, please make sure you see the Bagpipe Parade and Bagpipe Circle as well as a good sampling of the entertainment by the students and the dancers. Personally, after listening to the Bagpipe Circle, I make my way to the Harp Tent, as it is such a treat to sample two so different styles in just minutes.

The Rock-n-Roll McDonald's is no more but there is another McDonald's in its place - the 50th Anniversay McDonalds - with the 60' golden arches.

With all due respect, I think you'd enjoy the walk around Lincoln Park Zoo more since you are first timers. Make certain you stop in at the Lincoln Park Conservatory (just north of the Zoo) and at Cafe Brauer (to the south). Go to the little grill area in the back of the Cafe for lovely views.

When you are finished in that area, just keep strolling south. About 3/4 of a mile south is the underpass which goes into the Gold Coast neighborhood. As you come out from underneath it, immediately to your right is the Chicago History Museum and straight south is the Cardinal's Mansion. It is located between Astor Street (to your left) and State Street (to your right), although it's formal address is State Street. Either street has great architecture and atmosphere - but Astor Street is the winner between the two (IMHO and others). Astor Street is only 6 blocks long and when you are finished with the walk to the south, you are only 3 blocks north of the John Hancock Building.

You know, if you didn't want to walk around Lincoln Park Zoo, your group could always rent bikes. Great way to take in the area and there are many bike paths around. Just be careful not to be on the busiest of thoroughfares (such as Stockton, Lincoln Park West or Clark) for very long and don't ride on the sidewalks.

Have fun in Chicago!

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10. Re: Critique My Itinerary, Please!

Thanks everyone for your help!

Quick question: How late are people out walking on Mag Mile and around Millennium Park/Buckingham Fountain???

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