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Going to Chicago
Old 07-23-2011, 02:54 PM   #1
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Going to Chicago

Any suggestions on stuff to do, see, etc.?

We'll be there the week of Aug 8 - 12, and are going to Ravinia on the 10th to see Los Lobos and Los Lonely Boys (thought it would be more fun than just going to the Greek Theater next week here at home, plus we'll have a birthday experience for my wife that she should really enjoy).

Looking for blues clubs particularly, but like all the normal stuff too.
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Old 07-23-2011, 03:36 PM   #2
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Sorry - I don't know the blues places.

You could take her on a sailing vessel.

Tall Ships Chicago starts the 11th

Taste of Tall Ships 2011

(if you want to sail, it would be best to book now) We took the Red Witch last year.

There are some other ships at Navy Pier that have dinner cruises http://www.odysseycruises.com
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Old 07-23-2011, 04:32 PM   #3
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Back in the day Megacorp ran a training center in Chicago and I spent several weeks there. I was fascinated by Union Station, which is worth seeing in its own right and by the commuter trains which radiate out to all the outlying towns. Union Station is within walking distance (assuming you're a strong walker) of a lot of the stuff you will want to see in downtown Chicago. I always felt safe walking in downtown Chicago.

I learned that if there are not many people at the Sears Tower (or whatever it's called now), the Tower is socked in and you will not be able to see anything. On the other hand, if there are a lot of people there, the viewing is good.
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Old 07-23-2011, 05:15 PM   #4
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Some Chicago blues clubs...

Blues Clubs, Chicago - Nightlife - VirtualTourist

I use to live by House of Blues and always thought it was a decent place, but depends on your taste.

North Ave beach is always worth a walk

The Shedd or the newer park downtown and/or Navy Pier could be fun.
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Old 07-23-2011, 06:03 PM   #5
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Staying in the city and taking the train to Ravinia? Here are a few options to consider:

Art Institute The Art Institute of Chicago

Chicago Architectural Tours Chicago Architecture Foundation - Architecture River Cruise

Botanic garden (near Ravinia) Chicago Botanic Garden

Chicago Segway Tours City Segway Tours » Chicago

Sears Tower (aka Willis Tower) has a glass "balcony" built out from the observation level where you can look down to the street. No extra charge, but the tower visit is around $15 or so.

Have you been to Ravinia before?
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Old 07-23-2011, 06:07 PM   #6
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The architecture river cruise was excellent. Millennium park is a kick if you like art the Art Institute is awesome and has new addition. We had fun on a Segway tour. Lots of great places to eat for every price level-from hot dogs at hHot Dougs to low priced Mexican street food at Xoco to the very pricey but absolutely AMAZING Topolobampo (must have reservation) and 11 City Diner I've heard good things about
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Old 07-23-2011, 06:13 PM   #7
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Any suggestions on stuff to do, see, etc.?
We'll be there the week of Aug 8 - 12, and are going to Ravinia on the 10th to see Los Lobos and Los Lonely Boys (thought it would be more fun than just going to the Greek Theater next week here at home, plus we'll have a birthday experience for my wife that she should really enjoy).
Looking for blues clubs particularly, but like all the normal stuff too.
Do you read Jim Butcher's "Harry Dresden" books, about the Chicago wizard detective? It's R-rated Harry Potter for grownups.

I enjoyed seeing the Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium, both of which Harry's managed to desecrate or destroy at one time or another. And you don't want to know what he did to the T. Rex skeleton named "Sue"...

Both places had surprisingly good food vendors. I think you're required to get your tourist passport stamped at Uno's Pizza. We enjoyed Star of Siam (a few blocks away from Trump Tower) and Volaré, although they might no longer be in business.

The Museum of Science & Industry, of course, including the U-505. We also liked the Frank Lloyd Wright tour, which includes his house as well as a neighborhood shade-tree stroll to ogle other people's homes designed by him.
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Old 07-23-2011, 06:32 PM   #8
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You already have great suggestions above on blues and other stuff, the architecture tour by boat is great (not necessary to be interested in architecture at all) and The Art Institute is wonderful if you have any interest in art.

I don't even follow baseball but I would never miss an opportunity to go to a Cubs game at Wrigley, a magical place!

Mag mile is great for shopping but no bargains.

The Shedd Aquarium is also nice, though the Northwest exhibit with the dolphins and beluga whales is the best part IMO. The view of Lake Michigan alone from that venue is worth the price of admission. The entire wall facing the Lake is glass!

If you need restaurant suggestions, I could probably help there with a few insights into what you like.
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Old 07-23-2011, 07:56 PM   #9
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Please see the list below of all the bars / blues / jazz places within walking distance from the Loop. I would recommend the Velvet Lounge.

Blues Chicago
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Old 07-23-2011, 09:41 PM   #10
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I suggest taking the signature tour from Chicago Trolley and Double Decker that will give you a background intro of Chicago's significant attractions for $24/person. You may get off on some of the attractions and hop back in and if anything interests you, you may want to spend more time on it later.

John Hancock Building has a breakfast brunch on the 95th floor that offers good view of the lake and city. I think it is worthwhile to bring the DW one time.

Willis Tower (formerly Sears) is good place to visit. Sorry, I don't remember the fees. Millennium Park with the "Bean" is good. If you are into museums, Field Museum is good but you should plan to spend at least a day.
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Old 07-24-2011, 07:08 AM   #11
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Took architecture tour by boat last weekend from Navy Pier. Enjoyed very much.
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Old 07-24-2011, 09:33 AM   #12
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Thanks to everyone for your input. Seems to be plenty of neat stuff to do and I'm sure we'll get around to some of it leaving a lot for another time. We are staying in the South Loop/Printers Row area so a lot of these things will be fairly close by.

We like to travel sort of like I like to surf. Have a general plan and then react spontaneously and see what happens. We'll have a good list of activities and then see how it shakes out.

We like the hop on/hop off bus tours usually to get the overall picture and then go back to the things that pique our interest.

The list of blues clubs is very helpful. No longer a night owl, but can still do the pub crawl on occasion, especially if good live music is involved.

I love sailing, was an avid sailor, but wife not so much. I think the tall ships look pretty cool.

The Segway tour, I could do but my wife would likely find a path to disaster along the way, so probably won't be high on the list.

The art/architecture things sound very good. Like that kind of stuff.

Never been to Chicago, much less Ravinia Park, but it has been high on my list of "to go to" places (Chicago, that is). Looks like there's a Metra stop right at Ravinia Park so that should be convenient. It's funny, we never take public trans. at home, not that there is any realistic option out here on the red-headed stepchild east side of the county, but can always get around well in other locales using buses and trains and such.

Definitely need a go-to deep dish pizza recommendation to round out the experience.
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Old 07-24-2011, 09:57 AM   #13
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Definitely need a go-to deep dish pizza recommendation to round out the experience.

You can try Uno's 29 E Ohio St or Due's 619 North Wabash Avenue
Uno Chicago Grill - Original Chicago Deep Dish Pizza, Flatbreads, Pasta, Steaks, Seafood, Burgers, Sandwiches, Salads, Soups

My out of town coworkers always enjoyed deep dish pizza from Uno's or Due's.

Have fun!
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Old 07-24-2011, 10:11 AM   #14
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Here's some deep dish pizza places near where you're staying and by Ravinia:
(I prefer Edwardo's and Bacino's, don't really care for Malnati's, but others do)

Edwardo's Natural Pizza l Locations

Welcome to Bella Bacinos & Bacino's Italian Restaurants

Lou Malnati's Pizzeria - Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza

also, you're close to this famous place for deli foods:

Manny's Cafeteria and Delicatessen - Chicago Deli - The Best Deli in Chicago
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Old 07-24-2011, 11:14 AM   #15
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Thanks to everyone for your input. Seems to be plenty of neat stuff to do and I'm sure we'll get around to some of it leaving a lot for another time. We are staying in the South Loop/Printers Row area so a lot of these things will be fairly close by.

We like to travel sort of like I like to surf. Have a general plan and then react spontaneously and see what happens. We'll have a good list of activities and then see how it shakes out.

We like the hop on/hop off bus tours usually to get the overall picture and then go back to the things that pique our interest.

The list of blues clubs is very helpful. No longer a night owl, but can still do the pub crawl on occasion, especially if good live music is involved.

I love sailing, was an avid sailor, but wife not so much. I think the tall ships look pretty cool.

The Segway tour, I could do but my wife would likely find a path to disaster along the way, so probably won't be high on the list.

The art/architecture things sound very good. Like that kind of stuff.

Never been to Chicago, much less Ravinia Park, but it has been high on my list of "to go to" places (Chicago, that is). Looks like there's a Metra stop right at Ravinia Park so that should be convenient. It's funny, we never take public trans. at home, not that there is any realistic option out here on the red-headed stepchild east side of the county, but can always get around well in other locales using buses and trains and such.

Definitely need a go-to deep dish pizza recommendation to round out the experience.
Ronin, if you want pizza recommendations you should probably go to the politics forum - once people start insulting each other's taste in pizza it really gets nasty. (just kidding - kinda). Seriously, you might want to visit the chowhounds chicago forum Chicago Area - Chowhound and look at some of the threads on food. Chicago has unique pizza but also excellent hot dogs.

Ravinia is a blast. The train brings you right to the front gate. Gates open at 5 and there will already be a crowd. Almost everyone brings chairs, a blanket or tarp, and lots of good food and drink. Lots of beer and wine. You can rent folding chairs there. If you can't get a tarp try to bring something that you can spread on the ground, such as a plastic sheet - you need a way to stake your lawn claim and the ground might be wet.

If at all possible you should bring your own food (and booze). Ravinia selection is limited, pricey and not particularly tasty. Whole Foods has a store in the south loop - you are much better off buying there and bringing along. Also bring along the train schedule. The last train out is timed close to the end of the show, you want to try and be close to the gates by then - you don't want to miss the last train out.
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Old 07-24-2011, 11:21 AM   #16
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Ravinia is a blast. The train brings you right to the front gate. Gates open at 5 and there will already be a crowd. Almost everyone brings chairs, a blanket or tarp, and lots of good food and drink...

Also bring along the train schedule. The last train out is timed close to the end of the show, you want to try and be close to the gates by then - you don't want to miss the last train out.
Thanks for the info. We have reserved seats in the Pavillion rather than out on the lawn so we should be good for sitting. Have to pack something to eat and some water.

Definitely don't want to miss the last train!
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Old 07-24-2011, 11:27 AM   #17
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Here's some deep dish pizza places near where you're staying and by Ravinia:
(I prefer Edwardo's ...)
Looks like I'll be able to smell Edwardo's from the front door of the hotel. Just have to follow my nose.

and Manny's looks like a definite stop on the eating my way thru Chicago tour! Thanks!
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Old 07-24-2011, 11:33 AM   #18
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Here's the train schedule you'll need. Keep in mind it leaves Chicago from the Ogilvie Transportation Center at Canal and Madison and NOT Union Station:

Metra Union Pacific North (UP-N) Schedule
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Old 07-24-2011, 11:37 AM   #19
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Thanks for the info. We have reserved seats in the Pavillion rather than out on the lawn so we should be good for sitting. Have to pack something to eat and some water.

Definitely don't want to miss the last train!
My pleasure. You can't eat in the pavillion, and also don't want to. You still might want to sit on the lawn and eat. There are concrete tables/benches around the entry points and park benches around the center lawn that don't usually fill up until close to showtime.

By 6 the lawn is packed and it's enjoyable just walking around looking at all the people, the different ways they have prepared and brought food, and all the unique Ravinia gear (tables, chairs, other portable stuff) they have.
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Old 07-24-2011, 11:44 AM   #20
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Here's the train schedule you'll need. Keep in mind it leaves Chicago from the Ogilvie Transportation Center at Canal and Madison and NOT Union Station:
Got it ... I'm sure it'll all work out. If not there's always hitch hiking, I'm sure that's safe.
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