He wants to see the Bean
December 22, 2021 6:44 AM   Subscribe

My grown daughter is bringing her boyfriend home for Christmas. He's never been to Chicago and when I asked if there was anything he particularly wanted to do, she said he wants to see the Bean. What else can we do while we are there?

We will probably go tomorrow. What else is in the vicinity that would be fun to do? Places to eat, museums, attractions, etc? The Art Institute is one possibility, what else is there?
posted by Serene Empress Dork to Travel & Transportation around Chicago, IL (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The skating ribbon is fun and festive! I believe you have to reserve in advance right now.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 6:49 AM on December 22, 2021 [5 favorites]

If he skates, there's a rink in Millennium Park.

When you say "in the vicinity", what do you mean? Because there's stuff in the loop, and there's even more stuff a short subway ride or drive from the Bean.
posted by redlines at 6:50 AM on December 22, 2021 [2 favorites]

Zoo Lights, just plan on taking a bus because parking is terrible. This was always a favorite for people visiting us over the holidays, plus it's free, and since the sun goes away so early, it's a fun diversion before grabbing dinner. In Lincoln Park, so easy public transit from S Michigan and back, and to many good dinner options.
posted by ailouros08 at 6:51 AM on December 22, 2021 [2 favorites]

Walk up Michigan Ave to see the shops and the lights
Get a drink at the top of the Hancock Tower (If they are vaccinated)
Go to the Ex Marshall Fields Macys and see the scene
Walk through the Palmer House Hilton
posted by sandmanwv at 6:59 AM on December 22, 2021 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: In the vicinity meaning hopefully stuff we can walk to from there. I'm not good with public transportation. I'd also be interested in things a short drive away, if parking isn't terrible.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 7:02 AM on December 22, 2021

The Chicago Cultural Center is right across the street from The Bean and is always a great visit. Beautiful interior architecture including the world's largest Tiffany stained glass dome, plus an interesting variety of rotating exhibits. I believe there's currently one about comic artists in Chicago that I've been meaning to check out myself. Admission is free--no tickets necessary--so you can just walk in and see what there is to see.
posted by merriment at 7:40 AM on December 22, 2021 [9 favorites]

If you are trying to do the 'Chicago experience', then the glass walk in the Willis Tower and a Chicago style pizza at Gino's East. All are in walking distance of Millennium Park.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:41 AM on December 22, 2021 [2 favorites]

Parking is terrible.
The busses are easy and frequent downtown and all kneel and have ramp outs for accessibility. And downtown the bus drivers are used to tourist questions. They are knowledgeable, helpful, and generally in a good mood. I think the CTA drafts the A Team for the mag mile runs.

The CSO is a really short walk from the Bean and they've got a Christmas special in two showings tomorrow (1 and 4:30). If you like Christmassy music that's a pretty nice way to spend some time inside where it's warm. You will need to buy tix in advance and they require proof of vax.

But the museums are always a great choice.
posted by phunniemee at 7:46 AM on December 22, 2021 [2 favorites]

Every museum I've been to in Chicago was a delight. I'm not sure what walking distance is for you, but my friends and I walked all around that area over the course a long weekend a couple years ago. Favorite spots included:

- The Field Museum (dinosaurs!)
- Harold Washington Library, the Chicago Public Library's giant central library, which has a makers lab, music practice rooms, a counter where you can check out board games and jigsaw puzzles, and is basically the coolest library ever and the surprise favorite part of our trip
- Museum of Contemporary Art, which is about a mile and a half north but that's where we ended up after slowly walking up Michigan Ave and doing some shopping and snacking
posted by katieinshoes at 8:02 AM on December 22, 2021 [4 favorites]

Intelligentsia coffee is always a stop for us.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 8:28 AM on December 22, 2021 [2 favorites]

Russian Teatime is great place for lunch or afternoon tea, and it's right near the Art Institute.
posted by zorseshoes at 8:50 AM on December 22, 2021 [4 favorites]

Depending on your COVID risk tolerance, Cindy's Rooftop at the Athletic Club is a good place to wow visitors with a view of the park and serves quite good ~$25 meals or snacks and drinks. Plan on going very early for any standard meal time or mid-afternoon to get the best seating. The rest of the building is also fun to explore.

Also, walking along the lakeside and riverfront walk is obvious but impressive. And seconding Maggie Daley Park skating ribbon which you'd need to book immediately, the cultural center, and pretty much whatever museum fits your interests, including the Arts Institute.
posted by eotvos at 9:05 AM on December 22, 2021 [5 favorites]

The Chicago Citypass is worth it. There is a nice train station underground near the Bean, you can get all over the city from there — I don’t like public transportation, either, but it’s really not bad at all in Chicago. I would highly suggest the Museum of Science and Industry. We have been to a lot of science museums as a family, the Museum of Science and Industry is the best one! We also like the Shedd and the Field Museum.
posted by Ostara at 2:51 PM on December 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

Whenever I have visitors downtown, I make us pop into Marshall Fields and find the atrium with the Tiffany ceiling. It's incredibly beautiful, and a free 10* minute activity. You probably have to walk past there anyhow. (*Well, +/- depending how successful you are at locating the atrium and then navigating your way back out of the store.)

If you're driving (which I don't recommend, but you know, if...), you should go drive around Lower Wacker and environs. It's a very strange and cool place down there.
posted by gueneverey at 2:54 PM on December 22, 2021 [2 favorites]

The Art Institute is a must but watch out for the hours. They're been curtailed a lot recently. It looks like they are open today from 11-6, ditto tomorrow, but it also says "Hours may vary."

Have fun!
posted by BibiRose at 6:33 AM on December 23, 2021

Never been to Chicago? The man needs a cheeborger from The Billy Goat!
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet at 12:40 PM on December 23, 2021

Response by poster: We wound up at the Art Institute, both of them were excited to go it and is literally right next to Millenium Park. I'd forgotten how close they were. Afterwards we grabbed some sushi at Hot Woks, Cool Sushi which was right across the street. The food was good and the entrance to our parking garage was literally right outside their door. We had a good time!
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 3:40 PM on December 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

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