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All booked, Chicago here we come, but what can we do when we get there?

(31 Posts)
temmy99 Wed 23-Jan-08 21:31:30

Thanks OverRated for your encouragement, I have now booked us a week in Chicago and I am finalising a rental at Bridgeport (through VRBO) which I have been assured by the owner is only 20 mins drive to downtown even in rush hour, not that I have decided to drive yet. I don't want to bombard him with more questions (already done that in the last two days) but I really need to know (from experience)what driving is like in Chicago. I have thought about taking cabs if necessary but we are 5 in total so if the cabs are like over here, they will only carry 4 people. Also I am considering taking my niece with us making 6 of us so driving will be more convenient. I have been told that parking can also be a nightmare in terms of cost and finding a place downtown but saying that, someone else said its not as bad as London hmm. Also if I do end up hiring a car, is it advisable to book through a travel agent or directly. sorry for the lengthy thread, just so much I need to know blush. Almost forgot, what is there for us to see and do minus the shopping for me. grin

evenhope Wed 23-Jan-08 21:40:13

We didn't drive in Chicago but saw the huuugggge traffic jams from the train..

When we've had car hire in the States we've always booked online directly. Try airline-network.com or the big rental firms.

temmy99 Wed 23-Jan-08 22:52:16

Evenhope, what are the train journeys like with children?

funnypeculiar Wed 23-Jan-08 22:55:51

oh, we went to Chicago with ds & dd last year.
People on the L are LOVELY, ime - I've never had such a friendly, helpful response training with kids (although I do like in London). Lots of spontaneous offers of help/chats - ds (3) even pulled a gang of teenagers, who adopted him so totally we nearly missed our stop.
I'd totally recommend it

temmy99 Thu 24-Jan-08 15:49:00

Things to do or see, please.

ComeOVeneer Thu 24-Jan-08 16:02:36

I lived in CHicago for 6 months the year before last it is fab for children. What DO you need to know?

ComeOVeneer Thu 24-Jan-08 16:04:28

BTW I didn't have a car, had 2 children 4 months and 3 years (when we arrived), public transport is very good, people are very friendly and helpful, restaurants are family suitable (except for a few posh ones).

Navy pier is a must, as is the childrens museum, the aquarium.

ComeOVeneer Thu 24-Jan-08 16:06:46

The fountains at millenium park (take a change of clothes). Also jazz/music concerts in millenium park in the evening, take a picnic and a jumper as it cools later on.

Go to the beach at the lake (ok for a paddle but the water is too cold to swim (IMO)

ComeOVeneer Thu 24-Jan-08 16:09:00

You may want to consider getting this

ComeOVeneer Thu 24-Jan-08 16:10:30

What ages are your children. There are tonnes of museums and art institutions but som e may be boring if they are quite young. What about a trip to Wrigley field for a baseball game?

singersgirl Thu 24-Jan-08 16:12:25

Went to visit friends with DSs last year (then 5 and 8). Had a great time.

Children's museum and other attractions on Navy Pier
Ferris wheel on Navy Pier
Hired bikes along the lakefront
Boat trip on the lake/river
Aquarium/National History Museum/Museum of Science and Industry
Sears Tower or Hancock Tower - we did the Hancock
Chicago pizza pie
Didn't visit the zoo

Maidamess Thu 24-Jan-08 16:13:49

Wrigley Field is Great!! You don't need to know about the rules of baseball to go, I didn't and still had a great time.

ComeOVeneer Thu 24-Jan-08 16:14:57

If you have a young daughter (and a big wallet) take her to American Girl Place (111E Chicago Ave Chicago, IL 60611) - we lived a stones throw from it and I used to take dd there to have tea with her doll. Here is their website.

You can take a horse and carriage ride from outside the water tower, or do various open bus tours around the city. Perhaps a river cruise (more for those interested in architecture and history).

ComeOVeneer Thu 24-Jan-08 16:23:30

Don't bother with the zoo, it isn't very good. View from Hancock better than sears imo.

ComeOVeneer Thu 24-Jan-08 16:29:39

This may give you a few ideas.

ComeOVeneer Thu 24-Jan-08 16:30:53

And don't forget some retail therapy on the "miracle mile"

funnypeculiar Thu 24-Jan-08 17:04:10

We went to the zoo & quite enjoyed it (although we had low expectations smile
It's free so good when you feel you've splurged a bit!

temmy99 Thu 24-Jan-08 20:05:31

I really didn't think there could be so much to do. ComeO, the links are great and I have saved them to my favourites, thanks. Singersgirl, how long were you away for to visit all those places, they all sound nice but I don't think we will be able to cram it all in one week. Is 'miracle mile' a shopping mall of some kind or are you pulling my leg blush. Definately need to incorporate some retail therapy within the week somehow. The dc's ages will be 19mths, 5, 11 and 16. Need to please all. shock!!!
Still not to sure about transport though.

ComeOVeneer Thu 24-Jan-08 20:39:27

The magnificent mile is what everyone refers to this

ComeOVeneer Thu 24-Jan-08 20:39:27

The magnificent mile is what everyone refers to this

temmy99 Thu 24-Jan-08 20:50:53

Paradise! I could spend days here or when the money runs out which will probably be much sooner!!

sophy Mon 28-Jan-08 10:03:52

I lived in Chicago for 3 years, but it was 10 yrs ago so my knowledge is a bit out of date.

But just to add to what others have said, if you can get a babysitter for an evening, you should check out one of the blues or jazz bars.

There are a lot of great public spaces with very cool sculptures which your kids might enjoy.

Chicago Art Institute is world class, but probably not great with kids in tow.

And, depending on time of year you are there and weather, you can go to the beach. Oak St is the cool one, there will be others for families.

Go out for a proper brunch at the weekend.

Wicker park used to be the funky arty area but maybe that has gentrified now...

And don't even consider driving -- no so much the traffic, but parking is impossible in the centre of town.

Another tip is that restaurants serve huge portions (you will see a lot of obese people) and it is quite acceptable to share a single order between two. It's almost expected that you will ask for a doggy bag to take away what you can't eat there.

Also there are always festivals going on particularly during the summer -- there is a weekly free newspaper called The Reader which is available everywhere which tells you what's going on.

Enjoy!

temmy99 Mon 28-Jan-08 20:06:57

Thanks for that sophy so I better ditch any idea of driving and get the buggy out!. One niggling thing which I just have to bring myself to ask is 'Is there a Walmart around?, I love my food shopping just like I love Tesco so will definately want to stock up even for a few days.

sophy Mon 28-Jan-08 20:14:16

Plenty of supermarkets in Chicago but the big ones like Wal mart are usually out of town.

I remember a fantastic organic supermarket, Whole Foods? Not sure if I am remembering correctly maybe another poster can put me straight.

ComeOVeneer Tue 29-Jan-08 14:02:11

Yes Whole Foods, was just around the corner ofrom our appartment. I love that shop.

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