Things to do in ORD for 8 hours
June 3, 2010 7:46 AM   Subscribe

We're going to be in the chicago airport (O'Hare) for 8 hours this Saturday between flights, and I'm looking for any info on things that might be fun to do, or restaurants that are particularly good, or anything else that comes to mind. We'd rather not leave the airport, and its a pretty mixed group as far as ages and tastes go, so any sorts of recommendations are great. Many thanks
posted by korej to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total)
Best answer: O'Hare inside security is pretty boring, but this interactive map shows you what food & shopping there is inside the terminals. There is a Hilton attached to terminal 2 (outside of security) which used to have an entertaining faux old-timey bar, but I don't know if it's still there.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:57 AM on June 3, 2010

Best answer: There's a Wolfgang Puck restaurant that is pretty good (clam chowder was excellent). There are Children's Museum exhibits located throughout. Other than that, O'Hare is a pretty boring place to spend eight hours.

If your bags are checked, and you already have boarding passes for your connecting flight, eight hours is plenty of time to take the El into the city, have a meal and walk around for a little bit, with plenty of time to be back and through security with a couple of hours to spare. It beats sitting in the airport and paying money for a wifi connection just for something to do.
posted by honeybee413 at 8:02 AM on June 3, 2010

Best answer: The Wolfgang Puck place has a kick-ass and reasonably-priced (for an airport) breakfast, if you're there for breakfast.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:06 AM on June 3, 2010

honeybee is right, though -- O'Hare is not a fascinating place for a long layover. Once I resorted to going to church repeatedly at the airport chapel just because I was so bored.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:08 AM on June 3, 2010

What time on Saturday?
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:09 AM on June 3, 2010

Response by poster: We'll be there from about noon to seven. Thanks... now to convince the rest of the crowd its safe to leave the airport, timewise!
posted by korej at 8:14 AM on June 3, 2010

Nothing in O'Hare is particularly good, or even good. It is a wasteland of airport-quality crap, with a special helping of "it's Chicago, everything in certain places is owned and controlled by the same connected hoods" thrown in, and not in the fun way, in the "I never thought that I would long for being in the Detroit airport" way.

With 8 hours, it is so easy and manageable (even with a big group with different ages) to get to the City on the Blue Line that I would definitely go to the Logan Square stop and go to Lula or the Damen stop and go to Piece or downtown to talk around near the lake and do something or a dozen other stops and choices.
posted by iknowizbirfmark at 8:16 AM on June 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Logan Square is about 1/2 hour on the train, and it usually takes me about 20 minutes to get through the terminal to the CTA. It's more than possible to get out of the airport, grab lunch somewhere pleasant and get back to the airport in time to get back through security and catch your flight. You could probably even go all the way downtown, but Logan Square or Wicker Park would be a shorter train ride and plenty interesting.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:27 AM on June 3, 2010

Your best bet would be to just take the el downtown (~45 min). You can have a glorious hour or two just exploring Millennium Park and taking a stroll by the lake. There are quite a few food options down there as well. If you head back to the airport at some point between 4 and 4:30, you should have plenty of time to make your flight.
posted by onepot at 8:28 AM on June 3, 2010

The CTA Blue Line is a great way to get around town. Going from O'Hare to the Loop on the Blue Line on Saturday afternoon is quite safe. It's a great opportunity to see a great city.

If you do not want to go all the way downtown, you can take the Blue Line a single stop to Rosemont, walk around there, and have a nice sit-down meal. I believe that there's a Giordano's (9415 West Higgins Road) and a Gino's East (8725 W. Higgins Road) within walking distance. Both will offer you a pretty good example of the archetypical Chicago deep-dish pizza. (Ok, for Gino's, you'll probably want to go one more stop to Cumberland.) That entire area is dominated by hotels and the convention center, so walking around on Saturday afternoon shouldn't be a problem at all.

I've recommended the short jaunt to Rosemont to friends with a shorter layover at ORD or for whom extended Blue Line delays would be overly stressful / unacceptable. With 8 hours though, you have enough time to enjoy a few hours in the Loop -- just leave enough time to return on the Blue Line, walk to the terminal, and re-clear security.
posted by QuantumMeruit at 8:58 AM on June 3, 2010

Best answer: Am I the only one who usually has a pretty good time at O'Hare?

Sadly, Brookstone had removed their free massage chairs the last time I went through, but there's always a 10-minute for $10 backrub at the BackRub Hub in Terminal 3, if you want to relax briefly.

There's an underground moving walkway with the usual flashing lights and music between two of the terminals that kids might enjoy, and there a kid's play area in Terminal 2 too.

You might also enjoy the Field Museum Store in Terminal 1, and if you like good beer, definitely stop at one of the Goose Island Brewery locations for drinks.

Basically, if you have 8 hours, you'll have time to see all the terminals, so I'd just walk around and see what there is to see. At the very least you'll get some great people-watching out of it.

This page has some more ideas. (I forgot about the brachiosaurus! Ah, and the neon-lighted tunnel is between concourses B & C in Terminal 1.) And depending on how much money you want to spend, a day pass to an airline club might be worth it for the relative peace and quiet and to have a "home base". Delta's Sky Club has free booze.
posted by MsMolly at 1:09 PM on June 3, 2010

Best answer: Here's the list of power outlets:

AirPower Wiki - Chicago
posted by trialex at 4:07 PM on June 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would suggest getting out of the airport if you have time. I had a layover there once (about 5 hours) and was unbelieveably bored. It's a cramped, dank airport without much charm in my opinion.
posted by fso at 4:38 PM on June 3, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks all - I'll do my best to get out. And thanks especially to folks who came up with anything at all to keep occupied!
posted by korej at 6:55 AM on June 4, 2010

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