I need to get out of the house and chill.
June 29, 2009 10:10 AM   Subscribe

Calling all introverts: I need suggestions for places in or around Oak Park/Chicago where I can chill with a laptop or a book and not be bothered.

For personal reasons, I'd like to be able to get out of the house on a moments notice for awhile and chill by myself. I don't want to go to bars or listen to live music. I'm comfortable in crowded urban settings but I don't want to talk to people. Museums are great but I can't afford to do that every weekend. I prefer not to be outside unless it's cold enough to snow. Yes, I am serious.

I just moved near Ridgeland and Madison in Oak Park. I'm closest to the green line, but the blue line isn't out of the question (I also have a car). I have a laptop. I cannot connect to wifi or 3g or whateverthehellyoucallit with my phone.

This would especially be needed Saturday, Sunday and Monday. If there are places open late (after 9 pm) during the week, that's good too. Actually, for weeknights, anywhere between Hoffman Estates and Oak Park would work (off of I-90 or 290).
posted by desjardins to Grab Bag (12 answers total)
No idea on specific locations but big bulky headphones send a great "Leave me alone" message.
posted by mollymayhem at 10:36 AM on June 29, 2009

Why not just go to the local public library? Most of them have free wifi and nobody will bother you.

If the public library closes too early try a local college. Internet access at some of them is limited to students/faculty/staff, but not all, and parking is generally easy in the evening.
posted by mareli at 10:54 AM on June 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Also, consider coffee shops. Some of them are open late, and they tend to be comfortable places where for the price of a drink you can relax with people around but still be in your own world.
posted by Night_owl at 11:00 AM on June 29, 2009

When I spent a few days in Oak Park a couple of years ago, I found that the Caribou Coffee at N. Oak Park Ave & Lake Street was a nice quiet spot with decent wi-fi. It's diagonally across the intersection from Scoville park (the one with the Frank Lloyd Wright/Richard Bock-designed horse watering trough). It looks like that's about 1.1 miles from your home coordinates.
posted by usonian at 11:03 AM on June 29, 2009

2nding library (Chicago Public Libraries). There's a location on Central just north of Lake, another on Chicago and Central, etc. CPL has 79 (!) locations all told. They all have free wifi. Seems they all close by 9p.

I've been known to go to the train stations (Union or Ogilvy) to read or people watch. There's hustle-and-bustle noise, but no one will bother you or even realize you're there. Its a bit of a haul from Oak Park, but definitely interesting and open late.

Borders in Oak Park is an option as well.
posted by steeb2er at 11:19 AM on June 29, 2009

What do you mean by not be bothered? Most coffee shops and such are going to have some noise, music, people shuffling around. There's a lot of incidental interaction which may be beyond your threshold (can I get by you to go to the bathroom, is someone using this chair, etc.)

My first suggestion is your community library, but the hours might not work. Another option is a local college library, but they are sometimes noisier than you'd like. Generally, if you can get a study carrel it's pretty quiet. Sometimes there's a small fee to use the college library as a member of the local community. Totally worth it.

Sorry to be light on specifics to your neighborhood. Hopefully getting a clear picture of "not bothered" will help the locals give you good suggestions.
posted by 26.2 at 11:24 AM on June 29, 2009

Hey, Oak Park represent. I used to live right around the corner by Washington and Cuyler. If you haven't checked out the amazing OP library, you definitely should. It's only like 5-6 years old and is not only beautiful but extremely functional as well.
posted by lazywhinerkid at 11:47 AM on June 29, 2009

From the library website: The Main Library, Dole Branch, and Maze Branch offer a wi-fi network for patrons who have laptop computers or hand-held personal digital assistants (PDAs) configured for DHCP. These connections offer high speed access but cannot print to any library printers. Patrons need to bring their own laptop computer or PDA complete with wi-fi cards, supporting either 802.11b, 802.11a, or 802.11g (operating at 802.11b speeds). The Library does not provide equipment or hardware. To use these connections configure your laptop's network connection for DHCP. Your SSID should be set to "opplair" in order to be connected to the Library's wireless network. Also, ensure that your wireless session is set to infrastructure mode and not ad-hoc. Oak Park Public Library cardholders log in using their 14-digit library card number and pin number (the last four digits of your telephone number unless you have changed it). Those without an Oak Park Public Library card log in by entering their email address in the "Guests" section on the screen. All users must accept the terms of service for a successful authentication to take place.
posted by lazywhinerkid at 11:48 AM on June 29, 2009

Alliance Bakery is a few blocks west of the Division blue line stop. It is spacious, well-lit, and has free wi-fi. It is very chill, with a large seating area, and you can enjoy delicious pastries there. Open til 9PM.

Argo Tea on Armitage and Sheffield has free wi-fi, open til 10, and no one will bother you. However, on weekends, it gets pretty crowded.
posted by Lieber Frau at 11:53 AM on June 29, 2009

Response by poster: What do you mean by not be bothered?

I mean that no one will try to strike up a conversation or encroach on my personal space. I tend to attract the "Do you have a dollar for gas?" or "Have you been saved by Jesus?" types. I'm fine with street noise, recorded music, people milling around, incidental interaction. Not too keen on gaggles of children, given that my desire to leave the house already indicates a level of increased irritability.
posted by desjardins at 11:55 AM on June 29, 2009

I've never been to the Garfield Conservatory, but I heard it's nice. It's on the green line. I used to try to go to every Argo Tea downtown. New Wave in Logan Square (blue line) has a Nintendo, which always seems to be open. They close at 11 too, and have free wifi.
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 9:46 PM on July 6, 2009

Fellow OP'er here & late to the party. The Caribou Coffee on the corner of lake & oak park is small and has limited seating - you might be better served with the starbucks immediately to the east of it 1/2 a block, which is slightly bigger, has outdoor seating and less traffic (although it is closer to the high school so I imagine there is a spike around that schedule). The library has a quiet room which I love to use it is on the south west corner of the second or third floor - you can use the guest system so all you need is an email, not a library card or anything. And no - one ever bothers me in there, although quiet means no headphone music. Also close is Lido's cafe on marion which isn't terrible.

But if you want something a little better try Blue Max Coffee over in Forest Park. Yes, it is a house, and yes, it has the appearance for it to be terrible but it really is not. It just closes at 4 pm. So that is likely out. Buzz Cafe is in the opposite direction the little art district on Harrison, it is the only classic independent coffee shop in the area. I have no complaints - although they may have live music on the weekend evenings.
posted by zenon at 9:23 PM on September 1, 2009

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