I am taking my husband to Chicago in June for his birthday. We already have tickets to a Cubs game but, beyond that, I have not made any other plans. If anyone has a suggestion for a place we should visit, an activity we should join, or a restaurant where we should eat, I would love to hear about it. Thanks.
We did the same last summer. We enjoyed the Science and Industry Museum and took an architectural boat tour. The boat tours are easy to find and very interesting (even my 16 yr. old admitted he liked it).
Way too many great restaurants to pick from so, check out the other food sites and ask around. If you like steak, the Chop House is one of the best. There are a ton of others on Rush Street.
Be sure to go to the game early so you can visit some of the local bars.
For sightseeing I recommend the Field Museum of Natural History and the Shedd Aquarium
If you want a prototypical Old Style Steak House take your man to The Chicago Chop House. A very nice Italian restaurant is Rosebud. Then of course you gotta have a deep dish at Pizzaria Uno if you haven't ever had one
It's difficult from your post as to where your interests lie. For starters, Chicago has excellent museums. There is the Art Institute of Chicago on Michigan Avenue. The Field Musuem, Shedd Aquarium, and Adler Planeterium are close to each other on the lakefront by Soldier Field. On the south side, there is the Museum of Science and Industry. I never get tired of visiting the Museum of Science and Industry. I was there a couple of months ago and they have new display of the captured WWII U-505. Its the actual boat they captured and the story behind it.
If you want to be outside, there is Navy Pier along the lakefront. Navy Pier provides a combination of shops, restaurants, rides, and lakefront cruises. Also, Chicago has two zoos, the Lincoln Park and Brookfield Zoo.
It fun to visit the Blues Bars Chicago has to offer. Even if shopping isn't your thing, the Magnificent Mile along Michigan Avenue is fun to walk. The restaurant choices are endless. It more of where your tastes lie.
The biggest problem you're going to have is having the time to take it all in.
Go to The Italian Village Restaurant at 22 W. Monroe in downtown. Eat the restaurant on the third floor. Nice little booths, ceiling is painted like clouds, been in business since 1938, waiters speak Italian, food is awesome, wine is great(have a glass or three of the Super Tuscan red!!!!!!!).
There are 3 restaurants in the location, but pick the top floor which is "family style traditional" but is very nice and not too casual.
If you like sushi, go to Japanais restyaurant, located near the river. They have 2 stories and you can go downstairs and sit outside.
Last one is Chicago Firehouse on Michigan Ave. Higher end, nice place(yes a former firehouse).
If you enjoy zoos, the Lincoln Park Zoo is a wonderful zoo and free. It's on the near north side of Chicago right off the lake. The Shedd Aquarium is one of my favorite spots. Also, you must go up either the Hancock, right off Michigan Ave or the Sears Tower, a bit off the beaten path. The view can't be beat.
Chicago is a favorite place that we visit about 2x/year. During the spring and summer you can walk to just about anywhere. The CTA transit is also a great way to get around. Buy the 1, 2 or 3 day pass. You will more than get your money's worth. It is good on all busses, subways and the EL. All the lines are marked and color coded. And the bus drivers are very helpful in letting you know which bus you need.
We loved Centennial Park in the Summer. It has a really cool fountain with a wall of water and faces. And don't forget to buy the Garrett's Popcorn. The lines can be long, but the wait is worth it. They have THE best popcorn in the midwest.
Must do's in Chicago:
Things to do
Millenium Park ("the bean" + other great artwork)
Architecture River Cruise (link) - get reservations ahead of time
Sears Tower observation deck
The Field - amazing if you're into natural history
The Shedd - if you're into aquariums
Art Institue - if you're into art (some really great impressionist work + other famous paintings)
Giordano's - still my favorite deep dish in the city. The main one is on Rush street. You'll go, order your food, then come back in an hour to sit and eat. There's another on Lake street that you'll most likely be able to save a lot of time at.
Uncommon Ground - on Clark a few blocks north of Wrigley. Amazing food - very unique yet great combinations.
Catch 35 - in downtown - good, updscale seafood.
Navy Pier - it's supposedly the biggest tourist destination in Chicago, but it's a big tourist trap waste of time.
Being from Chicago, also, there is a pizza place you do NOT want to miss. I know the "biggies" are Gino's East, Giordanno's, Eduardo's, etc., but do whatever you have to do to get to AURELIO'S PIZZA. It is so incredibly good that unless you've ever tried it, you cannot begin to explain it. It's like explaining chocolate. Unbelievably delicious.
Someone else posted about the transit system. There is the Metra (which takes you out to the 'burbs--don't think you have to stay in Chicago proper on your vacation!) and then the CTA will take you wherever you want to go. Pretty much everyone there is friendly and loves to help with directions.
Depending on when in June you go to Chicago, at the end of the month the Taste of Chicago begins and that is where they shut down Columbus Drive and about 70 or so different restaurants setup on the street. People buy tickets which can be redeemed at the various restaurant booths. The local radio stations and various entertainers come in and it only costs you the price of the tickets you purchase to buy food!
There are festivals all summer long in all of the neighborhoods in Chicago. I suggest you go to CITYSEARCH.COM and check out activities planned for when you are going to be there. They have food/art/craft/music festivals--again depending on when you'll be there.
If you go to the Mag Mile, DO NOT MISS GARRETT's POPCORN and get some cheese popcorn and some carmel. (Believe it or not, the mix of the two is superb). It's worth the line!
Lunch on the 95th floor of the Hancock is good, too and quite reasonable. My stepkids LOVED it. The food is a buffet, but the elevator ride and the views were the "wow" factors for the teens with us. Dinner gets pricey but lunch (when we were there) was around $10 each--not bad for downtown Chicago.
Oh, and again, if you're on the Mag Mile, check out BANDERA. It is almost on the corner of Ontario and Michigan--upstairs--south of Ontario and on the east side of the street on Michigan. Their food is fabulous and they serve both lunch and dinner.
I also would take the architectural "Wendella" boat tour. Also, check out the Foodnetwork.com's link to $40/day with Rachel Ray and look at her visit to Chicago--she might give you some other ideas on where she went and what she did.
I alway recommend Corner Bakery--local chain for breakfast or a light lunch. They are scattered 'round town. You should be able to enjoy al fresco dining in many places, too, if that is a treat for you.
Enjoy your trip--don't forget to check out the CTA's website--I recently went back home to Chicago on business, bought my CTA pass before I got there, and had free transportation for the whole week I was there.
Hope this was helpful!
Great discussion about Chicago, where to stay, what to do, where to eat!
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