Great tips, thank you all so much (although DH and I both hate sport so perhaps won't be doing any of that, ha ha!).
All sports were on a break when we were there - my Chicago based friend was gutted as she wanted to take us to a Bears game. If they're not playing while you're there, see if the Bulls are in action too.
mmmmm cheesecake factory!!
I'd rather see a Bears game than baseball, personally! Football season is quite short but preseason games start in august.
I love Chicago. I lived in Oak Park. I never had a car, and used the El to get around all kinds of places. North side is full of mixed neighbourhoods, the Lake is amazing, brilliant to be on a beach where your hair doesn't get knotty because there isn't any salt. Say Hi to Sue in the Field Museum, I would love to go back just to see her (a T-Rex).
I love Chicago too. I did actually drive and didn't find it too bad. We only had a day there (drove up from Indianapolis) but went up the Sears Tower, saw Chinatown, the Navy pier, rode round the loop on the subway system. It was great! Then we drove down to the mexican quater for food, found a really fab mexican restaurant with a bar, lively music, and delicious food. If you've already done NY, it def worth a trip.
There is also a semi good outlet village not too far out.
Brilliant, thanks so much. This is exactly the info I needed and it sounds a fantastic city; just what I was hoping for!
Went there with DH in October (no kids) and had a great time. Easy to walk around, great architecture, good restaurants and bars etc. We stayed at the Raddison Blu Aqua which was excellent (got a great deal on Trivago). Recommend the architecture foundation boat tour - really interesting. Art Institute was good too. And there's a walking tour of public art you can do which we found really fun. V easy to walk around/get tube to neighbourhoods too. Definitely go - its lots of fun. If you go in the summer, hire bikes from millenium park and cycle along the lakeshore (we did it in october so no stopping off at beaches) to Lincoln Park - was lovely in autumn but imagine it would be even better in summer.
Chicago is a great city. I've been there and to NYC many times and prefer Chicago. There's loads to do and it's very easy to get around.
Thanks for your reply. We don't have kids and wouldn't ever hire a car in any city - just the two of us and public transport & cabs is perfect. We love great food, architecture, museums, galleries, wide open spaces, boats of all types and shopping for interesting things we wouldn't get at home (plus clothes & drugstore odds and ends!). We'd be going in either May/early June or September.
My husband's from Chicago so we go there often enough with kids as well, although usually the suburbs. Assuming you'll be closer the city- its not very travel friendly/easy- hard to park plus expensive parking downtown. May have to resort to cabs. Snows sometimes in winter and beautiful but to see the lakes, maybe warmer months better. We stick to suburbs (not so great for us but cousins/kiddy stuff for kids) when travelling with kids. On our own, we venture downtown esp if you're into vintage/retro- some great buys, otherwise normal malls. I suppose it'll depend on your agenda and kids. Frank Lloyds's Wright's house is a must see if you're into architecture. I'd say if your kids are young, something familiar will be easier to navigate- my 2 cents anyway.
We're planning on taking the Amtrak "California Zephyr" train journey through the Rockies to California. It starts at Chicago, which is pretty easy to fly direct to from the UK, so that was the plan. An alternative would be to fly direct to NY and have a few days there before making our way to Chicago to start the train journey. It seems to me that since Chicago is a new city for us we should do that but I do love NY and would never turn down the chance to go back so am hesitating between the two...
Just out of curiosity, why Chicago, as opposed to, say, Washington or Los Angeles?
Has anyone been to Chicago? Planning a trip to the US next year and can't decide between NY and Chicago as our starting point. Have been to NY twice before (although would not be averse to going a third time!) but thought it might be a good idea to go to a city we've never been to before. I know it's famous for its architecture and that it's a great foodie city - anything else to recommend it? We'd be looking to spend maybe four days there before continuing with the rest of our trip.
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