Getting around Chicago, stuff to do near Evanston, plus vegan traveler
September 11, 2019 6:37 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to a conference at Loyola University next week. I didn't register early enough to get in the main hotel. The shuttles they're setting up probably won't be enough for me. I could also use recommendations for vegan food in the area. Please help.

The conference I'm going to will be on two Loyola campuses on different days. So it will be at both the Water Tower campus and the Lake Shore campus. I'm staying at the Holiday Inn in Evanston (unless someone has a better idea - the Hampton Inn Loyola is full on those days, and I don't want to drive into downtown to stay near the Water Tower Campus - I looked at airbnb, but couldn't figure out what was actually close to campus). So far, they are planning on two shuttles during the day. I can guarantee the one at 8 in the morning won't work for me - I'm on chemotherapy drugs and will be ill when it picks up or shortly after. The best answers for me will be as specific as possible (not "oh just take the red line" - whatever that is). I'm profoundly stupid about figuring out transportation plus it makes me super anxious. I will have my car, but want to avoid driving more than I have to. Also, will these areas be safe for a female walking about at night? That's another thing I get anxious about.

Also, I'll be in Evanston on Sunday afternoon with nothing to do. I was thinking of going to the Art Institute, but it looks like it's pretty far. What cool thing is closer? I like museums and walking outside.

And vegan food recommendations for these areas would be awesome. I know about Happy Cow, but I'd appreciate hearing from MeFites.

This is the first time I've traveled by myself since being diagnosed with cancer. I'm super excited and super anxious. Thanks for your help.
posted by FencingGal to Travel & Transportation around Chicago, IL (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Given the conference hotels and your hotel, this can all be accomplished via public transit, so you shouldn't need to use your car at all! As per your OP I have tried to write these instructions in quite a lot of detail, but (hopefully) once you do the trip once or twice you'll see it's really pretty straightforward!

To the Lake Shore campus:
From the Holiday Inn in Evanston, you'll walk to the Dempster Purple Line stop (two blocks south of the hotel). Then you want to take a southbound Purple Line train, which are signed as Howard- or Loop-bound (the destination changes depending on the time of day, but for this trip it doesn't matter which one you take). If in doubt, there are only two platforms at Dempster station -- the northbound one will be signed for Linden; you want the other platform, which is the one going south.

Get on the Purple Line and take it 3 stops south to Howard station. At Howard station, get off the Purple Line train and transfer to a Red Line train -- all you have to do is stay on the same platform and just walk across to the other side/track. Once the Red Line train comes, take it another 3 stops to Loyola station. (It is not possible to take the Red Line in the wrong direction at Howard, because Howard is the first/last stop!) The Lake Shore campus is right next to Loyola station.

The reverse trip is the steps in reverse: take a Howard-bound Red Line train 3 stops from Loyola to Howard; walk across the platform and wait for a Purple Line train; take the next arriving Purple Line train (which will be signed as a Linden-bound train) north 3 stops to Dempster station, and walk back to your hotel.

To the Water Tower campus
Start again by walking to Dempster station and then taking a southbound Purple Line train. Same advice applies as above -- you can take either a Howard-bound or Loop-bound Purple Line train.

Take the Purple Line 3 stops to Howard. Then transfer to the Red Line across the platform (same as above), but now take it 17 stops to the Chicago Red Line station. The Loyola Water Tower campus is 2 blocks east.

To return, simply reverse the directions: take a Howard-bound Red Line train 17 stops from Chicago station to Howard station; walk across the platform and wait for a Purple Line train; then take the next arriving Purple Line train north 3 stops to Dempster.

(For Chicagoans, I know there's the possibility of taking a Loop-bound Purple Line train during rush hours all the way to Chicago Brown/Purple line and then walking, but I didn't mention it here because I think explaining the return trip is easier this way, and more importantly, the time savings compared to Purple-to-Red in this case are pretty minimal and it involves more walking once in River North, which I think can be inconvenient in conference attire.
posted by andrewesque at 7:18 AM on September 11, 2019 [9 favorites]

Best answer: The Halim Time & Glass Museum in Evanston is open 12p-5p on Sundays and is located just a few blocks from your hotel. If you are into timepieces (so many!), stained glass, or Tiffany this would be a fun afternoon visit. The walk (three blocks west, 1.5 blocks north) will also take you through a commercial area in case you want to do some browsing.
posted by treefort at 7:29 AM on September 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Chiming in with one more - to go to the Art Institute you'd take the purple and red lines but go all the way to Adams, get off the train and walk east to Michigan, cross the street and you are there - about 4 blocks from train.

Evanston has a pretty waterfront with lots of parks so you could happily walk there and wander Northwestern University's campus. The Blind Faith Cafe in Evanston used to be good - I haven't eaten there in years though. Near Loyola's Lakeshore campus there is Uncommon Ground - tasty and with nice outdoors space if the weather cooperates.

I suggest downloading citymapper for your phone - specific and helpful for getting around and lately seems a lot more accurate than google.
posted by leslies at 7:31 AM on September 11, 2019

Best answer: The Baha'i temple in Wilmette is nearby and not a difficult drive from Evanston. Pretty architecture and serene grounds.
posted by typecloud at 7:56 AM on September 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: There's a Lyfe Kitchen near to the Water Tower campus. The FoodEase market in the Water Tower mall food court will have vegan options. Beatrix at the Northwestern hospital campus near the Water Tower campus also has vegan options. There's also a Ramen-Sam near there (Streeterville), which has a vegetarian ramen, but we're only vegetarian, so I'm not sure on the subtleties of ramen and vegan.

For things near to the Water Tower campus or directions, "Streeterville", "Gold Coast" and "Mag Mile" are your neighborhood search terms. Assuming you're good for walking up to a mile, near the Water Tower campus is a pretty busy neighborhood, with a pretty lovely beach front. You can cross under to the water at Oak Street (near the Drake Hotel) or on Chicago Avenue (PLEASE use the pedestrian underpass! It's always terrifying to see people try to cross the road). The Museum of Contemporary Art is just past the actual Water Tower (near the Loyola campus) and is open late on Tuesdays.

posted by crush at 7:57 AM on September 11, 2019

Also, the Epic Burger on Pearson has the Beyond Burger.
posted by crush at 8:07 AM on September 11, 2019

Best answer: The area around Water Tower is high-tourist, shopping, expensive condos, and a vast university complex (Loyola has a number of buildings there, as does Northwestern's medical, business and law schools). You absolutely do not want to drive nor pay to park in this neighborhood, and you're very safe walking around alone, even after dark.

CTA's red line (North to Howard/South to 95th is what the trains say on the front) is your closet train. You would take the Purple from Evanston and transfer to the red line at Howard. You could take the Purple to Chicago Avenue, but it's a longer walk. Purple stays above ground; red runs subway for part of its run. The subway stations all have medallions which orient you N/S/E/W, although I hear from non-natives that they are largely unnoticeable. Most L stops will direct you to the north/south or east/west sides of the street and tell you which exit is for which street. When you come up out of the red line at Chicago Avenue (your stop for Water Tower), the McDonald's (and Loyola) are on the north side of the street. Loyola's water tower campus is one block north (walking up State Street), on Pearson, taking up several blocks to the east along Pearson to Michigan Avenue. Really, it's very safe.
posted by crush at 10:20 AM on September 11, 2019

It's not really near Loyola, but the Chicago Diner is actually a vegetarian/vegan restaurant and it's SO YUMMY. I just finished the reuben sandwich I got yesterday and enjoyed it immensely.
posted by amtho at 10:30 AM on September 11, 2019

In the neighborhood with Chicago Diner is Kitchen 17, which is entirely vegan and has one of the "you must try this burger in Chicago" burgers--their BBQ "cheddar" burger which is really very very good. But, as amtho says, it's not in the same neighborhood as Loyola Water Tower. I highly recommend Kitchen 17, but you are not really going to be near there.
posted by crush at 10:40 AM on September 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: andrewesque's directions are really accurate. The area around the Loyola campus is pretty safe too, though it's certainly less fancy than the area around the downtown campus. It's pretty residential, with businesses along Broadway/Sheridan, larger condo and apartment buildings on the lake side, and smaller apartment buildings & houses to the west. Street parking can get pretty competitive in the area. Loyola does have at least one garage at the south end of their campus along Sheridan, but I'm not sure whether there is guest access to it, and if so, how expensive it is. Most of the other lots in the area are connected to specific stores or apartment buildings, unfortunately.

Up in Evanston, you might be interested in Northwestern's Block Museum; it's small but can have some pretty neat art exhibits.

If you like Ethiopian food, there are a great many Ethiopian restaurants near Loyola, and they will have delicious vegan options. Two that are really easy to get to are Ethiopian Diamond and Ras Dashen (near Granville and Thorndale, 1 and 2 Red Line stops south of Loyola respectively) are tasty and only about a block from the L. For the former, head left from Granville, cross Broadway, head left again, and you'll find Ethiopian Diamond on your right. For Ras Dashen, head right when you get out of the Thorndale station, cross Broadway, and make a right again, heading north along Broadway. You'll find Ras Dashen on your left.
posted by ubersturm at 12:41 PM on September 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

One note - the Block Gallery is closed until Sept 21.
posted by leslies at 1:02 PM on September 11, 2019

The Toby Jug museum and the Perspective Art Gallery in Evanston are right near one another. Doublecheck the hours, but both are fun. The Time and Glass museum is pretty cool. A couple of jaw dropping Tiffany glass pieces and then a couple floors of clocks from all different time periods from all over the world. You can rent a bike from a station and just ride around. The houses and streets are all really interesting and the lakefront is very nice. Northwestern campus is nice too. Too bad the Block is closed.
posted by xammerboy at 9:45 PM on September 11, 2019

As far as vegan food in Evanston proper, Joy Yee's was one of my favorite places for veggie food when I was a student. Blind Faith was always excellent as well.

Walking along the lakefill on the Northwestern campus is truly lovely!
posted by marshmallow peep at 7:51 AM on September 12, 2019

Best answer: Evanstonian here. A nice walk would be to start at the Grosse Point Lighthouse, just north of Northwestern. It's a short walk from the Central stop on the Purple Line. There's a beach tucked away back there, and you can check out the restoration efforts of the Jens Jenson-designed garden of the Harley Clarke Mansion. (The mansion itself, while recently saved from demolition, is closed while we figure out what to do with it.) To go south you have to go back to Sheridan road for a short bit to get around the Water Dept. complex, but then you're on the campus and you can look for Jens Jenson's Shakespeare Garden and the Lakefill. South of campus you can continue along the lakeshore to Dempster, or cut through downtown, or walk down Sheridan Rd. to check out the stately homes.

Just north of Dempster at the lake is the former home of Vice-President Charles Gates Dawes, which you can tour. The the home of prohibitionist Francis Willard is just southwest of campus and is also open to tours.

Google Maps does an excellent job of plotting routes, whether your walking, biking, or taking public transportation. I strongly recommend using it to check times for the Purple Line, which doesn't run that often outside of rush hour.
posted by hydrophonic at 11:38 AM on September 12, 2019

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