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April 29, 2015 3:07 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to be in Chicago this weekend. What should I do? Interests and schedule inside.

I'll be in Chicago this weekend, playing shows on Friday and Sunday. I'll have Saturday off and can do anything I want. I'll be by myself using public transit. No clue where I'll be staying but I've heard the light rail is amazing.

I'll also have Sunday morning/early afternoon if there is some time sensitive thing or a great place for vegan brunch.

I'm interested in record stores, vegan food, modern/contemporary art and just museums in general. I also like old architecture and thrift stores.
I'm also interested in touristy stuff as long as its free. What is essential to see in Chicago?
posted by kittensofthenight to Travel & Transportation around Chicago, IL (24 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The Doris Salcedo exhibit at the MCA is worth seeing. The MCA neighborhood (Streeterville/Gold Coast/Mag Mile) has no vegan food worth making a trip for (that I know of), but there is a Lyfe Ktichen (which I believe is a California chain?) near to the MCA. The internet will tell you that Local Root (which is in that neighborhood) is vegan/vegetarian-friendly, but I ate there last month and then menu had changed dramatically.
posted by crush-onastick at 3:30 PM on April 29, 2015

Best answer: Chicago Diner is one of the best places for vegan/vegetarian food in the city, been there many times I've never been disappointed. Handlebar is great as well, but I think they are more vegetarian.

Unfortunately the museums tend to not be not be free, but they are worth price. I've never been to the MCA, but the Art Institute blows me away every time I go. The weather will be ridiculous Saturday, so checking out the Bean and walking around Millennium/Grant Park would be worth your time. Stay away from Navy Pier, but try to check out the lake front as it'll be quite lovely.

If you like parks, Lincoln Park is great, with a free zoo. If you're on the South Side, the University of Chicago in Hyde Park has a free art museum (Smart Museum of Art) but is not terribly accessible to public transportation.

Where are your shows?
posted by sicem07 at 3:39 PM on April 29, 2015

Well, if you're into museums, you're in the right place. I always encourage people to hit the Art Institute. There's just so much to see, and it's pretty impossible to do it all effectively in one day. So, pick your interests judiciously.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:40 PM on April 29, 2015

If you can (definitely not free), go to Green Zebra. If you can't, I like Native Foods. The Architecture Boat Tour is fantastic and highly recommended.

We lived in Chicago 8 years, and I just got to go back last weekend. The Chicago History Museum is really neat. In that neighborhood is also the Spice House.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 3:45 PM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh, thrift stores. Brown Elephant is in Boystown and good for furniture and higher end things, and the Goodwill at Washington and Racine in the West Loop is great for clothes.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 3:47 PM on April 29, 2015

Response by poster: One show is on South State St (Reggie's). I'm assume I'll be staying around there?
posted by kittensofthenight at 4:00 PM on April 29, 2015

If you bank with Bank of America, this coming weekend happens to be the free Bank of America museum weekend through which you can visit the Art Institute, Chicago History Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium and the National Veterans Art Museum for free.

(This is a nationwide program and is effective the first full weekend of every month -- I just lived in Chicago when I became aware of it and have been to the Art Institute on multiple free visits thanks to this program!)
posted by andrewesque at 4:01 PM on April 29, 2015

Best answer: If you like architecture, all you need to do is walk around The Loop and enjoy. But there are architectural boat tours that go into the history and architecture of all the buildings. I'm not sure which one is best. I took the Chicago Line Cruises one and it was fine, but the one by the Chicago Architecture Foundation may be better. It's a different view of the city, so it's nice. There are also bus tours -- they sound cheesy, but you learn a lot and they take you to areas you may not walk to on your own.

The Art Institute of Chicago is right by Millennium Park so that could be another good stop. Keep in mind, Chicago ain't Washington D.C., so the museums are not free. The Chicago Zoo is free -- it's not downtown, but a bus will take you there, and it's in a cool neighborhood with great views of the city skyline.
posted by AppleTurnover at 4:12 PM on April 29, 2015

Response by poster: The second show is at 2230 S. Ashland Ave.

I would love to go to the Art Institute or the MCA.
Where's the Loop? Close to any of the suggested museums?
posted by kittensofthenight at 4:30 PM on April 29, 2015

Best answer:

It's called the loop because the 'L' transit system meets there and makes a loop around it, like so. It's mostly where the tall buildings are. The Art Institute of Chicago and Millennium Park are in the Loop.
posted by AppleTurnover at 4:35 PM on April 29, 2015

Response by poster: Awesome, I guess I could have googled that hahaha.
posted by kittensofthenight at 4:40 PM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Unfortunately, the NFL Draft is going to be taking over a good part of the Loop this weekend, particularly the southern half. So it will be kind of a mess over there (or traveling back and forth through there).
posted by chimpsonfilm at 4:54 PM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'll make another plug for the Chicago Architecture Foundation boat tour. It's excellent. I've been on it as a tourist and a couple times as a resident and it doesn't get old.
posted by phunniemee at 4:58 PM on April 29, 2015

Standard advice of mine: you'll probably get a lot more out of your time if you pick a neighborhood and dig than if you try to run around town. Chicago rewards travel to and from the loop. Anything else is... Difficult. Especially on CTA.

I'd suggest either Pilsen or the Lakeview/Edgewater area, the former being just south of the loop and the latter being further north. I don't know how vegan-exciting Pilsen is, tho.
posted by PMdixon at 5:58 PM on April 29, 2015

Best answer: Vegan food, if you're OK with more of a hole-in-the-wall: Vegetarian Express in Lakeview. AMAZING seitan fish (the ceviche with it's especially impressive, but the tacos are great too). I've also heard good things about the lentil burger.
posted by randomname25 at 5:59 PM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Records: Dusty Groove. Go.
posted by mai at 7:20 PM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Also the weather will be really nice so you can't go wrong walking along the lakefront.
posted by mai at 7:21 PM on April 29, 2015

Best answer: The boat tour is fantastic even if you don't like architecture. If you DO like architecture, you'd be seriously missing out if you skipped it!

It's also beautiful weather for it.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:07 PM on April 29, 2015

Response by poster: ah thank you! so awesome
posted by kittensofthenight at 8:45 PM on April 29, 2015

Best answer: Just down the block from Vegetarian Express (which is great) is Kitchen 17, where we get take-out a couple times a month. It's also around the corner from Reckless Records' Lakeview location and walking distance to the lakefront at Belmont Harbor (with the gorgeous Waveland Field house) and a longer walking distance (or Divvy bike and there's a couple stations nearby) to the part of Lincoln Park where the gardens and zoo are (as well as the awesome Elks Memorial, which is open to the public on Saturday and free). You'd take the red or brown line to the Belmont stop and walk east.

There is a giant thrift store near Vegetarian Express, but I've not been in it in years and years, so can't vouch for the quality, pricing or selection any more.

Obviously, this is my neighborhood and I love it, but I think you could do worse than just walk around here in your spare time. The most impressive architecture (both modern and less so) is in other parts of the city, but Lakeview hosts the Hawthorne Place Historic District (when the neighborhood was basically a wealthy suburb) and a lot of neat 20th century storefronts, as well as some much older residences, mixed in with the ticky-tacky 1990's and later stuff.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:27 AM on April 30, 2015

Best answer: If you are staying near Reggie's you'll be in Chinatown, which has a lot of cool bakeries and gift shops. I'd say go to restaurants there but vegan food may be tough to find. It'll also be very easy for you to get either to the Loop or to the South Side - the University of Chicago campus has the SMART Museum as mentioned and the Museum of Science and Industry nearby is also awesome. Reggie's itself has a neat little record store inside it, so I'd definitely check that out!
posted by capricorn at 9:05 AM on April 30, 2015

Best answer: Since you will be playing your second show in Pilsen, here are a few things from my 'hood. The National Museum of Mexican Art is a nice place to visit. Also, if you have time, a tour of the Pilsen Murals is worthwhile. If you are looking for some eclectic Mexican food, Pilsen has Birrieria Reyes de Ocotlan, Carniceria Don Pedro, Carnitas Uruapan, Sabas Vega, for fare beyond the usual Tacos/Tortas/Burritos fare. If you want a Memphis in May certified BBQ, Honky Tonk BBQ is on Racine/18th.

Shedd Aquarium is always nice to visit, if you are staying close to South Loop. Also, regional Chinese food is really good in Chinatown (real close to Reggies). Especially Lao Szechuan, Xian Cuisine, Little Lamb (mongolian), Yan Bai Cai (?)(Chengdu cuisine) and the like.

If you have time, stop by the Chicago Cultural Center on Michigan/Randolph. You will be surprised at all the exhibits they have. If you are looking for something to do for the night: check out the HOTTIX booths for half price tickets to all kinds of shows in town. The volunteers at the desk are quite helpful and will guide you to good shows depending on your interest.

The weather looks to be nice, so enjoy walking around.

EDIT: I just noticed the vegan restriction. So most of the Mexican and BBQ is out. BUT, Chinese food is vegan friendly. I am a Vegetarian and I enjoy Chinatown for all it's variety.
posted by indianbadger1 at 10:24 AM on April 30, 2015

People love the boat tours but I really prefer the Architecture Foundation walking tours in the Loop. You get to see and actually go into really cool buildings instead of just looking at them from the river. You also tend to get quirkier guides and more fun stories.
posted by srboisvert at 5:36 AM on May 1, 2015

Response by poster: These answers are amazing. Looks like we're staying at a place thats one block away fro n the Chicago Diner. thanks for the excellent recs.
posted by kittensofthenight at 12:37 PM on May 1, 2015

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