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Chicago

First trip to Chicago Oct. 9-13! Staying near the Navy Pier. Will be walking and using public transportation.

What should we NOT miss? What are MUST DOs? Any good restaurant suggestions? Any places we should avoid?

I know everyone’s opinions differ, but we are open to suggestions. Only thing we aren’t interested in is bars/pubs. Love history, architecture and hidden gems. Have already booked the architectural boat tour.

Thank you in advance!

Posted by
7748 posts

The Chicago Architecture Foundation
also offers walking tours in the city which are interesting.

Posted by
6487 posts

I loved the architecture boat cruise on the river and around the harbor. I'd also recommend the architecture tour that goes to the Frank Lloyd Wright locations. The Shedd Aquarium is really good as is the Natural History Museum. The Art Institute of Chicago is wonderful and has many famous masterpieces. If you like pizza you can't do better than Chicago. It's been years and there are many new places but a couple of the old standbys which I hope are still good would be Gino's East and Pizzeria Uno. Carson's is great for prime rib, ribs, and bbq. I'm a zoo lover and the Brookfield Zoo is a good one. One of my favorite things to do in any city is to walk around and just enjoy the atmosphere.

There is so much to do in Chicago you definitely won't be bored. Check out a couple of guide books to get more ideas.

Posted by
5262 posts

Good ideas above. Also don't miss the "Cloud Gate" sculpture, aka "The Bean," in Millennium Park near the Art Institute.

Posted by
7196 posts

I was born here. You have to go south (it is such a historically segregated and racist city that you may here some say don't go south of the city) to see the Museum of Science and Industry and the Robie House on the south side. Barack Obama's house is at 5000 S Greenwood. One of the houses Muhammed Ali lived in is near Obama's. The University of Chicago campus (one of the top ranked universities in the world) is a must see, all in the same area.

Posted by
16848 posts

FYI, The Chicago Marathon is taking place in the city on October 10, so there will be a lot people in town for that. Found that out my self 4 years ago.

Posted by
6361 posts

You can kayak on the river, visit Garfield Conservatory, visit OZ Park, take in a performance at the Green Mill Jazz Club, peruse the Dusty Groove record shop, visit the Chicago Art Museum, or the Field Museum or tour Wrigley Field.

As far as restaurants: Have the walnut shrimp at the Golden Bull in Chinatown. If you seek no
nonsense good small shared plates then enjoy Chalam Balam. It’s underground. Believe it’s closed on Mondays. I found it interesting with good service.

Where ever your accommodations are ask the staff where they like to eat.

Posted by
6649 posts

The underground streets are interesting: Michigan Ave underground where the Billy Goat Tavern of Saturday Night Live fame is. You have to be old enough to remember. Frank Lloyd Wright stuff in the suburbs. Jane Addams house. Lake Shore Drive. Lots of ethnic neighborhoods with appropriate food options. Outside of downtown, Chicago seems like a bunch of small towns thrown together.

Posted by
308 posts

Thanks! Lots of fun ideas! We are really looking forward to our trip!

Posted by
308 posts

We saw the marathon was happening. Hopefully most people will be gone my Monday 😬😁 we are there Sunday - Wednesday. May do Oak Park I’m Sunday

Posted by
3307 posts

As another Chicago native and alum of the U of Chicago, I second Jazztravels recommendation for visiting the south side. Robie House is part of the campus of the U; and for a history lover, the Oriental Institute is a hidden gem (“oriental” referring to middle, not far east). The Museum of Science and Industry is fantastic.

Posted by
1202 posts

Stroll the Magnificent Mile and maybe do some shopping. See a Broadway show at one of the theaters. Observation decks at the Willis Tower and the Hancock Building.

Posted by
16848 posts

OK, a couple architecture interesting points from the one of the architecture tours plus a lunch tip.

  1. Go to the Monadnock Building on the southwest corner of S Dearborn and Jackson. It was built in 1891 and was the last "skyscraper" built without structural steel, but entirely supported by its masonry. It is 16 stories tall and is the tallest free standing masonry building in the world, and was the largest office building at the time it was completed. Note the thickness of the walls at ground level by looking in one of the windows. You could fit a bed in there lengthwise.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monadnock_Building

  2. Walk 2 bocks north on Dearborn to the Marquette Building. You'll pass the famous Calder steel statue "Flamingo" in the plaza in front of the post office. The Marquette Building is also 16 stories tall, but note how slim the walls are. This was built only 4 years after the Monadnock Building, but they used the new structural steel building technique, so it is notably lighter with bigger windows. Go inside and gawk at the newly restored 2 story lobby.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marquette_Building_(Chicago)

  3. Walk down the hall opposite the entrance and through the door into the Revival Food Hall. This is a food court with all local establishments, mostly ethnic. Go on a week day when it is open, but it will be crowded from 11 am to 2 pm as lots of office workers in all the surrounding towers like to do lunch there.
    https://www.revivalfoodhall.com/

Posted by
1277 posts

Yes oak park

Add the tribune tour, rocks from around the world impeded in its face

Posted by
448 posts

For me, a tour of Wrigley field was high on the list but I think you're too late for that - however, the stores around Wrigley were cute (we were there before Covid, though).
I highly 2nd the Museum of Science & Industry, the German U boat was DEFINITELY a must see for me.

And we took one of the Architectural cruises (got a groupon, no less) that was fascinating too!

Posted by
198 posts

When visiting Chicago, take a look at LTH Forum for information on dining anywhere from a hole-in-the-wall to fine dining.

Enjoy your visit!

Posted by
3307 posts

One place I forgot to mention is the Chicago Cultural Center, formerly part of the main branch of the Chicago Public Library. It has a Tiffany glass dome and gorgeous Tiffany mosaics. Its location at 78 E. Washington is very close to Grant Park and Michigan Ave.

Posted by
14919 posts

I hope I'm not too late to the party. The Art Institute is a top-notch museum. Take a lunch break by walking straight out of the main entrance, crossing Michigan Ave and continue down the left side of Adams Street. Less than 1/2 a block down is the Russian Tea Time Restaurant. Have afternoon tea before going back for more art.

There are great views of the city from the Hancock Tower. Instead of paying for the observation deck, go to the bar on the 95th floor. They usually let people in to have a look at the views even without getting a drink (though that's not a bad idea either). Whether you go in the bar or not, there are excellent views toward the Loop from the free bathrooms. \

Oak Park is a great day trip. Take the Lake Street el. Then walk to the Wright Studio for a tour. You can also get a self-guided alking tour of the area - a good number of early Wright homes and contemporaries - interesting to compare. If you go to Robie House, be sure to allow a couple hours to walk across the street and wander around the University of Chicago campus. If you only have time for one, I'd choose Oak Park. After your walk, stop at Oberweis, 124 N. Lake St., for some of the best ice cream in Chicagoland.

Posted by
89 posts

You need to eat some tavern pizza. Chicago natives have a standing argument about Chicago pizza - deep dish or tavern. I am a true believer in tavern style. Very thin crust, round pie cut into rectangles. My favorite is Nick & Vito’s. They won’t be anywhere near your sightseeing, but hopefully you can find a good substitute. Enjoy!