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Is Chicago a good holiday destination?

(28 Posts)
ThroughThickAndThin01 Thu 01-Feb-18 11:55:41

DH and I are looking at visiting family in Toronto in September/October this year, and combining it with doing something in the States as well.

We love America and so far have been to New York (several times), a lot of California, Florida, Houston, New Orleans, Austin, Dallas.

Would love some suggestions of anything we could do in the north, so the flights aren't too long from London to USA and where we are in the USA to Toronto. I'm a terrible flyer, less time in the air the better.

No kids, just DH and I <sob> first holiday alone together now kids are late teens+.

Any suggestions would be fab.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 01-Feb-18 13:48:12

Chicago is a good place to go for a few days at that time of year. Its just over 90 minutes flight duration between there and Toronto.

BubblesBuddy Thu 01-Feb-18 17:12:59

I am very keen to go to Chicago. It has some great architecture and a good food culture. The Lonely Planet book on Chicago is full of good ideas. Friends have been and loved it. Alternatively, consider Boston. It’s wonderful with great museums and history about freedom from the Brits! Only 6.5 hours to uk from there. Not sure if the whales will still be around but in earlier September they would be!

Bekabeech Thu 01-Feb-18 17:32:48

I lived in Chiocago for a while, and would highly recommend it. Great shops, and fabulous architecture (especially if you like Frank Lloyd Wright). There are some great museums, theatre etc. too.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Thu 01-Feb-18 19:04:49

Thank you so much everyone. Good to know it's a great destination in itself.

Have had long chat with DH this evening and we are getting excited for this trip. He wants to drive rather than fly from Chicago to Toronto, 8 and a half hours apparently, which is doable.

Really want to get the best from Chicago and the surrounding area. We'll have a car and happy to drive, so any must see things out of Chicago would be handy to know about too.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Thu 01-Feb-18 19:08:41

Bubbles would love to whale watch. We were lucky to catch a couple frolicking when we were driving the coast road from San Francisco to LA. Mind blowing experience, unexpectedly so, really caught me by surprise.

BubblesBuddy Fri 02-Feb-18 00:00:03

We have seen them there too off Monterey. Also saw Orcas bear Santa Barbara. We love whales!

BubblesBuddy Fri 02-Feb-18 00:02:58

near Santa Barbara - not bear!

We saw whales from a large catamaran that sailed out of Boston Harbour. Very steady. That was late August so I think early September they would still be around. We also saw them in Alaska in late August.

RusholmeRuffian Fri 02-Feb-18 17:07:35

Chicago is my absolute favourite US city. Fabulous architecture, great bars, great shops and even a beach. Ok, it's not the seaside but Lake Michigan is so huge it may as well be! Head up to the Top of the Cock ( now called Chicago 360) or the Willis tower for great views. Try the wings at Jake Melnick's Corner Tap and of course deep dish pizza at Pizza Uno or Geno's. Take a river boat tour. In September you might catch the end of the baseball season, if you do, go to see a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. The Field Museum is excellent and so is the Shedd Aquarium. Wicker Park is worth a look if you are into vinyl or vintage clothes. Check out Navy Pier and Millennium Park.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Fri 02-Feb-18 18:55:16

Thanks Rusholme, useful info. Funnily enough we'd love to see a sports game and I was researching Chicago cubs today. My finger was hovering over the 'buy two tickets' button but I'm just not certain enough of the dates that we'll be there. Sadly it looks like the tickets are selling fast and I think we'll be too late. I think the football season looks like it starts around then so we may have some luck there (would prefer baseball though!)

DuckOffAutocorrectYouShiv Fri 02-Feb-18 19:06:28

Oh I adore Chicago. We stayed at The Langham last time. Fab. Enormous rooms and great views over the river.

DuckOffAutocorrectYouShiv Fri 02-Feb-18 19:12:20

The museum of surgery (International Museum of Surgical Science) is ace if you like that sort of thing. Beautiful building and lots of interesting medical exhibits. I’m a nurse so found it interesting from a nerdy POV but my teen DD and DH both found it fascinating too.

imss.org/ << that’s the website.

mathanxiety Fri 02-Feb-18 19:49:24

Chicago is fabulous! I am slightly biased...

September is a really nice time of year to visit. Beaches will be closed for swimming after Labor Day (first weekend of Sept) sadly, as the lifeguards will all be back in school. But you can go and enjoy the beach front. You can walk all the way south along the lake front to Hyde Park from downtown.

I would hesitate to drive from Toronto. That 8 hours is 'on paper' only. You will have to cross an international border, with third country passports. Even with an American or Canadian passport, delays can last hours.

Plus, there is little of interest between Detroit and Chicago. It's semi industrial outside Detroit, followed by semi farmland, followed by deciduous forest that will not yet have turned to fall colours in Indiana, followed by the gut wrenching experience of the Skyway and then the Roman Chariot Races aka the Dan Ryan. Traffic will be heavy as you come within 100 miles of Chicago. All westbound traffic to points north, nw, and west of Chicago will be taking the same highway as you around the southern tip of the lake. In short, I would fly.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 02-Feb-18 20:15:57

I would fly between Chicago and Toronto rather than drive as well. Taking a hire car across international borders is anathema to many car hire companies.

The Cubs are playing in September at Wrigley Field (to get there you will need to take the red line train to Addison station, do not drive there!). The ball park is opposite this station) and single game tickets go on sale 23rd February.

www.mlb.com/cubs/tickets

Bears tickets may be hard to come by but its worth trying via Ticketmaster or the like.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Sat 03-Feb-18 09:25:46

Thank you so much for all the info.

I'm going to have to rethink the Chicago/Toronto drive then I think. Driving in traffic isn't a problem (used to London and M25), nor the distance (drove from San Francisco to Las Vegas via Los Angeles), but issue of crossing an international border hadn't really occurred to me, so used to driving through different European countries with ease. Damn. I had even planned an en route overnight stay in Detroit so we could book on to the urban tour of disused buildings. That looks fab grin

Can I pick your brains about things to do outside of Chicago. Is Springfield and the Abraham Lincoln stuff worth a visit? Galena? Anywhere else?

mathanxiety Sat 03-Feb-18 10:49:01

Springfield sucks imo. All it has is the state Capitol, the Abraham Lincoln sites, and all else is depressing, run down, and looks like a place where every second home is a meth lab. It's quite a slice of rural small town American life if you like authenticity.

Galena is very nice. It's a getaway location for Chicagoans and draws lots of tourists too.

Starved Rock State Park is very nice too.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio and the self guided house tour in Oak Park are great (take the Green line El to Oak Park station and walk 20 minutes northish to Chicago Avenue, or take a Lyft or Uber).

The Unity Temple by FLW is also in Oak Park, and they do tours. It has recently completed a long refurbishment. You could do the Unity Temple first (it's closer to the station) then head north to the Home and Studio and house tour.

You can canoe on the Chicago River, in a rented canoe.

Maybe check out music festivals in the city?
Fitzgerald's in the western suburb of Berwyn (just south of Oak Park) does great live music of all sorts, including great local blues artists, and you could check their calendar closer to your dates if you like music. It's accessible by EL too - the Blue line to the Oak Park stop, then exit on the East avenue side of the station and walk a few blocks south.

Ravinia is another great music venue, north of the city. People travel by train with fancy picnic baskets and lots of bug spray. Very enjoyable. Also, right in Grant Park, the Pritzker music pavillion hosts outdoor concerts that you can check online.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Sat 03-Feb-18 13:27:27

Cheers math very good to read your recommendations, and thoughts.

Defender90 Sat 03-Feb-18 18:43:54

We finished Route 66 in Chicago last October.

It was a lovely city, we did the lake cruise and also the river cruise. Lots of walking!

Eating a hotdog and chips on Navy Pier is one of the happiest memories from our trip.

JWIM Fri 09-Feb-18 09:40:33

Another fan of Chicago. We have done two 4 day stays. We stayed in The Langham with a river view - good location for walking the area. We ate both times at a lovely restaurant - The Kitchen. Definitely recommend the river Architecture cruise.

mckenzie Fri 09-Feb-18 13:31:55

throughthickandthin, would you mind if I added a question to your thread?

We are looking to go to Chicago at Easter (we are very last minute with holidays).
'We' are DH, DS (golf mad), DD (newly a teenager) and me.

I really don't know where to start with organising this trip. I don't want to go with a golf company as we want more than just golf, Virgin Holidays have some pretty nice looking hotels but that's only the flights and accommodations sorted and I'd have no idea about golf and other trips/experiences.

Any help of tips gratefully received.
TIA

RusholmeRuffian Fri 09-Feb-18 15:08:26

I usually find it cheaper to book hotels and flight myself, especially now that Norwegian have added Chicago to their routes.

BubblesBuddy Fri 09-Feb-18 16:17:53

Golf: Diversey driving range in Lincoln Park, Sidney R Marovitz and Jackson Park are 9 and 18 hole courses respectively. See Lonely Planet book. No doubt they have web sites.

juneau Fri 09-Feb-18 18:24:18

I love Chicago! We went twice when we lived in the US. There is lots to do and Mid-westerners are a really friendly bunch of people. If you love Frank Lloyd Wright you can go to lots of his buildings in Oak Park, plus the Robie House. The Museum of Asian Art is great, the Shedd Aquarium is fun, the shopping is good, the food is excellent, there is great live music, which as two adults you'll be able to go out and enjoy. Go!

mckenzie Fri 09-Feb-18 20:34:44

Thanks for the extra posts.

Rusholme, are Norwegian definitely the cheapest? I’m guessing at Easter all flights have their prices hiked up huh?

RusholmeRuffian Fri 09-Feb-18 20:40:59

Not always but usually. Run a search in Skyscanner and see what comes up

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