5 Days in Chicago
June 14, 2013 12:36 PM   Subscribe

Could you look over my preliminary agenda and fill in the gaps?

Hello there! Sorry this is rather long, but can you review my rough draft itinerary for a trip we are planning 3-7 Jul? We are from Indianapolis and come up to Chicago pretty frequently so we don't want to do super touristy things since we've done most of them. If you would like to move things around because maybe locations are too far apart that would be fantastic since I don't know how far apart places are.

And for sure I need some help with ideas for Saturday. It's very sparse at the moment.

Okay here's my prelim list:

W 3 Jul
Check-in hotel (Hyatt Regency off of Wacker)
Chicago style hot dog, near Grant Park (Suggestions on where to get this welcome!)
Millennium Park/Cloud Gate and the Art Institute
Chicago Fire match at Toyota Park (Should we drive our car out there or take a cab? Because the train doesn’t get all the way out there right?)

Th 4 Jul
(Do you know of an open air market to visit?) / If not then take a run on the Lake Front
Wicker Park (What to do in Wicker Park? Or should we visit Lincoln Park instead or are they near each other we can do both?)
Ceviche at Irazu in Bucktown
Map Room for beers
Fireworks in the evening (Best place to watch them? / Anything else to do that evening?)

Fri 5 Jul
National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen
Lunch at Birreria Reyes del Ocotlan
Cubs game at Wrigley Field
Architectural boat tour beginning at the Chicago Spire site / John Hancock Observatory.
Tapas at Café Iberico (or is there a better tapas place you recommend?)

Sat 6 Jul
Walking tour (which is your fav?)
( Not sure what to do Saturday afternoon - Shopping on Magnificent Mile? What else could we do? )
Brewery tour/visit (Revolution? Or what’s the best brewery to visit?)
(Best place for live music in the evening?)

Sun 7 Jul
Dim Sum in Chinatown (What’s the best restaurant for this?)
(What else should we see in Chinatown?)
Return home

And a few other additional questions:

- I would like to squeeze in a proper Korean BBQ visit.. are there any fantastic ones in Chicago you recommend?
- What about hookah bars?
- We are major fans of live music (preferably rock) so can you recommend places?
- We like festivals and open air markets but I haven't found any for these days and we are staying far away from the Taste of Chicago, any others you know of?
- And last one, is there anything must see or do around the hotel we are staying at?
posted by xicana63 to Travel & Transportation around Chicago, IL (28 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
I did find this for open air markets.. perhaps you can recommend?
posted by xicana63 at 12:44 PM on June 14, 2013


The hot dog is best procured at Portillos. The closest one is at 100 W. Ontario, Chicago IL 60654, 312-587-8910.

As for the Cubs, why would you want to see them? They suck. However, if you stay through Monday, you can see the Cubs and the White Sox play each other on Monday.

And you are not going to the Art Institute of Chicago? It is one of the top art museums on Earth.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:48 PM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Green City market is on Saturdays, and that is what you should do Saturday morning. It's fantastic, and you can follow it up with a trip to the (free) Lincoln Park Zoo and/or Lincoln Park Conservatory.

Not rock music, but the Green Mill is great for live music. You might also want to check out this list of free shows this summer. If any of the Millenium Park concerts catch your eye, pack a picnic and a blanket and hang out on the grass—the sound is fantastic everywhere at Pritzker Pavilion, even very far from the stage.

Revolution is a good brewery to visit, and so is Half Acre. Half Acre tours are hard to get into these days, but they have a very nice tasting room that's well worth a visit.
posted by booknerd at 12:57 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Phoenix has good dim sum (so say my Chinese friends; I, personally, do not care for dim sum). Best place to eat in Chinatown is Lao Sze Chuan, but it is not dim sum.

I'd go to iO if I were you. Right by Wrigley.

Take some time just to walk around Pilsen. The awesome murals that neighborhood has rival what you see in the museum.

Also, make sure you factor transit time into your schedule. I don't know if you're planning to cab/train/whatever, but (for instance) Pilsen is pretty far away from Wrigley.

You can get a great view of the fireworks from Castaways.
posted by phunniemee at 12:59 PM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Rock - Metro, Double Door, or, my favorite, the Empty Bottle.

Go to the Green Mill.

Lincoln Park and Wicker Park are not close to each other but if you want to get a feel for the northside of Chicago you can rent a bike and pedal there.

It's really too bad the Lakeview Lounge is gone, that was THE greatest dive bar in the United States.
posted by playertobenamedlater at 12:59 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you go to the Green Mill as booknerd suggestsn (great suggestion), go around the corner and eat duck at Sun Wah.
posted by phunniemee at 12:59 PM on June 14, 2013


Go to the Green Mill for live music. Or check out the listings in the Chicago Reader or Time Out Chicago for specific shows.

Divvy Bike Share should be up and running by the time you visit, and would be great for short trips within the city limits.

Revolution is a great brewery, and they also have a new tasting room on Kedzie, a few short blocks from the Logan Square Blue Line stop.
posted by smich at 1:18 PM on June 14, 2013


Hot Dougs!
posted by capricorn at 1:18 PM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also yes to Revolution Brewing.
posted by capricorn at 1:18 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Walking tour and boat tours: I highly recommend tours by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. If you want to buy tickets ahead of time, avoiding Ticketmaster fees, there office is at Michigan and Jackson. (If it's nice out, popular weekend times on the CAF architecture boat tour can sell out. I would not be worried about walking tours.)

Korean BBQ: I'd go to Cho Sun Ok, which is easily accessible by the Montrose or Irving Park Brown Line stops. Plus it's right across the street from Half Acre Brewery if you're into that.

As the crow flies, Wicker Park and Lincoln Park are not actually far from each other but it is a bit of an annoyance, though perfectly doable, to get from one to the other via public transportation. Driving is also not ideal as weekend parking in Lincoln Park can be very difficult.

I live just south of Wicker Park. If you're into it, you can visit the Bloomingdale Trail-to-be (sort of like the High Line) which is not yet open but the elevated path is there and people run on it all the time. Memail me for more details if you're interested. The stretch of stores on Damen from just south of North Ave to just north of Armitage is nice if you're into boutique shopping.

Personally for tapas, if it's nice out, I prefer the patio at Cafe Ba Ba Reeba in Lincoln Park. The wait can be long, but you can call ahead with the number of your party and put your name on the list. (This contrasts with most places in Chicago which require you to show up in person to put your name on the list.) If it's not nice out the inside is nice, but nothing special, and I'd go to Iberico instead.
posted by andrewesque at 1:38 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Taste of Chicago won't start until the 10th, but you might encounter street closings in the Grant Park area before then so they can set up.

Navy Pier is your best bet for fireworks on the 4th, although I don't know how spectacular they are. The big lakefront fireworks used to be on the 3rd, not the 4th, but I don't know if those will occur this year.

The Orange Line goes to Midway, and then you can take a bus to Toyota Park.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 1:40 PM on June 14, 2013


FIREWORKS: THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT.

OK so the city doesn't really do fireworks anymore, BUT I have good news for you: the best fireworks show in the city (nay, the state!) takes place across the street from me on the 4th every year.

If you are OK with venturing further out of the core - we are in between Andersonville and Lincoln Square, both of which are awesome neighborhoods to eat/shop/wander in, fwiw - there is an amazing, 2-hour-long fireworks show in Winnemac Park, at 5000 N. Damen Ave. People come from ALL over the city to see it with friends and kids and dogs and snacks, the cops sit by and watch, people shoot off thousands of dollars of fireworks. It's amazing. It is the best party. We always camp out with people and lots of food - you'd be welcome to join us!

Revolution is excellent, and easier to get into than Half Acre. Note that the brewery is not in the same location as the brewpub.

I used to work a mile from Toyota Park and I'd recommend driving. I don't know how late the buses run, but if you have to take Pace (the suburban bus system) it's not always reliable, though it's reliably slow. I've done it, and I don't recommend it since you have access to a car.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 2:10 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seconding Phoenix for Dim Sum, I love that place.
posted by Max Power at 2:16 PM on June 14, 2013


I was totally coming in to suggest the fireworks at Winnemac Park. It's free, it's AMAZING, and I also live across the street. Bring bug spray and a blanket to sit on and you're golden.
posted by bibliogrrl at 2:25 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


You have an amazing and packed schedule. As someone said above, watch out for travel time as well.
-Use stubhub for the Cubs game and get cheap tickets.
-I also recommend Hot Dougs, where you can get your Chicago-style hot dog + one of their specials (e.g. "Red Wine and Bacon Smoked Buffalo Sausage with Roasted Pepper Dijonnaise and Smoked Gouda Cheese ")
-Drive to the Fire game. It will save you hours vs. public transportation. Plus, bring a grill or just a few beers with you and you can tailgate in the parking lot before the game.
-For music, check the listings here. I like Lincoln Hall, and Empty Bottle can be fun. But I'm more into the music than the setting anyway, so the band would dictate where I would go rather than the venue. For jazz, the Green Mill is an excellent suggestion.
posted by RabbleRabble at 2:41 PM on June 14, 2013


OH and if you do go to iO, see the Improvised Shakespeare Company. They are amazing - in all seriousness I have never seen them and not had it be the funniest thing I've ever seen - and everything else I've seen there is terrible. (Disclaimer: I hate improv.)

But Improv Shakespeare is awesome. Thursday and Friday nights, two shows on Friday. Do it do it.

Empty Bottle is good, Lincoln Hall is good, Park West is good and tends to have bigger names. I kind of like Bottom Lounge, but don't eat there. Elbo Room is worth checking but they book some weird stuff. Also if you like bad/awesome '90s rock, I heard a rumor that Matchbox Twenty is playing at Ravinia on the 3rd...

Oh yeah, re: open-air markets, the one in Daley Plaza is good, but I don't know if it'll be running on the 4th. But it's right by your hotel so it's worth a stop if it's open. Note that it's pretty small, as are most farmers markets in Chicago. We do not excel at markets. (I'm looking at you, "French Market.")
posted by goodbyewaffles at 3:02 PM on June 14, 2013


Some answers as to what to do in Wicker Park in here.

Call ahead / check their Twitter before going to Hot Doug's. It's tough to get there on public transit, so driving would be better. They usually take major holidays off. For example, they were closed May 27th-30th for Memorial Day last month. It's kind of random. Some times they take only the holiday day off, sometimes it's the whole week. They're typically open Monday - Saturday, 10:30am - 4:00pm. Cash only. Get there before 11am before the line gets too long.

Your hotel is very close to Billy Goat Tavern and the Purple Pig, BTW.
posted by kathryn at 3:21 PM on June 14, 2013


Maybe you can get some excellent Chicago-style pizza at Pizano's. I love their original location but they also have locations in Wicker Park and in the Loop.
posted by perhapses at 3:26 PM on June 14, 2013


Since you'll have a car, go to FitzGerald's in Berwyn for their American Music Festival.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 3:29 PM on June 14, 2013


Get the oatmeal shake at Irazu.
posted by Fig at 4:18 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


List of all Chicago Summer Festivals. :)

Also, if you do go to FitzGerald's in Berwyn, it is an easy walk from the Oak Park blue line stop. Walk south down east ave once you exit. You'll run right into it. :)
posted by allthewhile at 5:32 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hot Doug's is a cinch by public transit. Just get to Addison by train and then take the bus to California. It's a three minute walk south from there. Just don't do it when the Cubs are playing.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:46 PM on June 14, 2013


Lunch at Birreria Reyes del Ocotlan

I've never been super impressed with this place, despite the good reviews. Either they're coasting on their former glory or are inconsistent and I've been hitting bad days exclusively. If you're stuck on birreria, I would strongly recommend going out of your way to Birreria Zaragoza (may be tough on public transportation--you'd have to hoof it south to the Orange Line) or, if birreria is optional, just go to the Taqueria El Milagro on Blue Island, which is nearby--closer to the museum, in fact--and consistently good. For dessert you can go around the corner to La Michoacana (~1346 West 18th St., not to be confused with the carnitas place on Cermak with the same name--they opened very recently, may not be on Yelp yet) for paletas or ice cream in awesome flavors like mamey, guyaba, mango, rompope etc. I would say this is actually a must if it's a hot day.

Dim Sum in Chinatown (What’s the best restaurant for this?)

I like Cai and Minghin but basically never get dim sum because I always end up going to Tony Hu's restaurants, specifically Lao Szechuan or Lao Hunan. They are SO GOOD. Chinatown is nice to wander around but unfortunately there isn't a lot to do other than eat or shop. It's an excellent place to buy kitchen stuff, especially woks/steamers etc. If you like BBQ pork or bean buns try Chiu Quon.
posted by pullayup at 5:47 PM on June 15, 2013


fireworks at Winnemac Park

I used to live a block south of the park, and can vouch for their awesomeness. Be aware, however, that it's an unofficial show put on at least in part by enthusiastic amateurs. The last time I went (in 2011?) there were definitely some bottle rockets accidentally launched into the crowd. I'm into that kind of thing, and I think you should go, but maybe bring protective eyewear?
posted by pullayup at 6:00 PM on June 15, 2013


Take some time just to walk around Pilsen. The awesome murals that neighborhood has rival what you see in the museum.

Heartily seconded. There are murals all over the neighborhood, but if you don't feel like hunting for them there are a bunch on the side of the railyard--it's above street level, so all you see is a concrete wall--on the north side of 16th Street roughly between Wolcott and Halstead (there are many new ones even in the two years since the Google Street View images were taken). It's as interesting as the National Mexican Museum of Art.
posted by pullayup at 6:09 PM on June 15, 2013


I'm married to a Spaniard who states the best Spanish food in Chicago is Cafe Iberico. Other Spaniards we know agree. We drive to Chicago from Cincinnati (6 hours) just to eat there. Try the empanadas - simply amazing. My husband loves the eel and orders it prepared 2 different ways. (I don't do eel myself). Cafe Ba Ba Reeba is more atmospheric but not as good, in our opinion - less authentic. We never pay for the valet parking at Cafe Iberico, because we are willing to drive around the block a couple of times. Chicago is a great town. Enjoy!
posted by daneflute at 2:11 PM on June 16, 2013


It's not yet scheduled because of potential conflict with the holiday weekend, but it's worth noting that Chicago mefites tend to gather at the billy goat tavern under michigan avenue on the first wednesday of the month, followed up by karaoke at a local dive bar called the blue frog. If you're up for hanging out with strangers, than keep an eye on the IRL for events in Chicago.
posted by garlic at 12:31 PM on June 17, 2013


Korean Barbecue: San Soo Gab San will not disappoint. Drive there.

Honestly, I wouldn't bother with Hot Doug's that week. It's true that it's an amazing experience but unless you really like waiting in long lines and don't have anything else to do, skip it.

I second the suggestion to see the 16th street murals in Pilsen. There are some local Chicago and world class street artists on display.
posted by brandsilence at 3:44 PM on June 17, 2013


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