Chicago Filter: Going to Chicago for 2 days, what MUST I see/do?
March 30, 2007 10:45 AM   Subscribe

Chicago Filter: Going to Chicago for 2 days, what MUST I see/do?
posted by jeff_w_welch to Travel & Transportation around Chicago, IL (38 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
You MUST see other threads, including here.

But really, thanks for asking. I'm following this thread since I'll be there for three days next months.
posted by sjuhawk31 at 10:52 AM on March 30, 2007

I actually just did this a couple weeks ago. I was taken to the highly recommended pizza joint "Gino's East," reputed to be the best deep dish in the city, and by extension, the universe. It was damn good.
posted by mr_book at 11:01 AM on March 30, 2007

If you happen to be gay, then don't miss Halsted St., around here.

In any case, I wouldn't miss the Art Institute.

If you have a choice of where to stay, may I recommend the Hotel Monaco.
posted by desjardins at 11:14 AM on March 30, 2007

For breakfast, ann sathers might be a good choice. It also will get you to visit one of Chicago's neighborhoods (lakeview). Art Institute and Millennium are popular destinations. (If you know any Chicagoans willing to do so, some museum passes can be checked out at the library.)

If you're a nightowl, Rush St. will be much more touristy than a neighborhood place (e.g., Wicker Park/Lincoln Park being fairly popular/mainstreams neighborhoods for bars). Downtown is fairly quiet at night. To unfairly overgeneralize, Lincoln Park is more yuppie/big 10 sports. Wicker Park is more hipster.

For dinner, other than the required pizza (Gino's East or Lou's), Greektown is a good choice, but there's also a ton of high-end restaurants in Chicago, many with recognized chefs (I can't recommend any being on a graduate student budget, other than getting taken to Naha's, which was great.)
posted by ejaned8 at 11:22 AM on March 30, 2007

Ditto on the Art Institute.
Never leave Chicago without visiting it.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:25 AM on March 30, 2007

My favorite thing on my first-time-to-Chicago trip last month was to take an architecture walking tour with the Chicago Architecture Foundation - there are a bunch of tours to choose from, they're about $10-15, the tour guides are super-knowledgeable, and our group only had about six people in it. I took this one and couldn't have been more pleased. The tours start at the Foundation's shop, which is kitty-corner from the Art Institute, so combining them is a great way to spend a morning/early afternoon.

And while you're in the general neighborhood, pop into the old Chicago Public Library building, now known as the Chicago Cultural Center, for ten minutes to see the most amazing stained-glass domes you will ever see in your life.
posted by mdonley at 11:30 AM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

Ginos East and West are fantastic. Get the deep dish on sausage - a pie whose crust is actually a sausage patty.

Definitely visit Millenium park. The art installations there, including the mirror bean, are really wonderful. Bring a camera, and look into infinity. You don't say where you will be going, but if it's during warmer times, bring some swimwear and play in the spitting fountains. It's a pair of towers with video screens on them, and the faces which appear on the screens have their mouths placed over nozzles which spew water into the center of the installation.

We were able to catch a performance of Mucca Pazza in Millenium park. Funny and entertaining.

I've only been to Chicago a handful of times, but these are some of the things which have intrigued me.
posted by tomierna at 11:31 AM on March 30, 2007

I moved to Chicago recently. Here are some highlights I've enjoyed:

Chicago is good at two things. Fast food or steak houses. Here's some fast food:
- Al's #1 Italian Beef
- Gino's East (or go to Pizzeria Uno or Duo, these are the original spots and serve different pizzas, better, than the chains)
- Hot Doug's
- Twin Anchors

- Old town
- By the lake
- Millenium park

- Wicker park (just walk around)
posted by xammerboy at 11:31 AM on March 30, 2007

Oh, and if you are looking for something touristy check out the Franklin Loyyd Wright houses. Those are actually really cool tours!
posted by xammerboy at 11:32 AM on March 30, 2007

Never been to Gino's West. I second Gino's East. If you're up at 2 in the morning and need a bite, go to the Wiener Circle at 2622 N Clark St. Then come back here and thank me.
posted by phaedon at 11:37 AM on March 30, 2007

Thirding the Art Institute. Then go drive by my old house and let me know how it looks.
posted by clh at 11:40 AM on March 30, 2007

Seek out a Hot Dog called the Frank N Cheesy.

It is a hot dog with a piece of cheese wrapped around it. To tie the cheese to the hot dog, they use a piece of bacon. Chicago residents could tell you better than I can where to find it though.
posted by drezdn at 11:42 AM on March 30, 2007

Oh yeah, I think the Cubs are starting up their season real soon. Arguably the best National League park to go see a game. GO. The atmosphere's fantastic.
posted by phaedon at 11:43 AM on March 30, 2007

I have lived in Chicago all of my life, and have never heard of a Frank N Cheesy.

Definitely do the Art Institute and see Millenium Park, which is nearby. Please avoid Rush street, and Division Street and the nasty meat market bars there.

If you could give more details, like what time of year, your interests, what area you'll be staying in, you'll get more targetted suggestions.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 12:02 PM on March 30, 2007

Must I say this in every Chicago post? Lou Malnati's trumps Gino's. This is not an opinion, it is fact.

I've not done a walking tour, though I hear good things. If you're coming in May or later, the architectural river boat cruises will be running. They are great (but skip the Seadog).

Baseball season starts on Monday. See if the Cubs are in town when you are. (Or, if you must, that other team.)

Go out into the neighborhoods. Just take the el away from the loop until you can't see a Chipotle or Starbucks.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 12:10 PM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

You must see The Second City and laugh until you pee yourself.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 12:15 PM on March 30, 2007

I have lived in Chicago all of my life, and have never heard of a Frank N Cheesy.

It could be my natural Wisconsin cheese instincts, but I found it on the menu at a restaurant on Lincoln Ave. (I think) within a few blocks of Belmont, across from "The Golden Apple."

Eating it was a lovely dream, though my heart probably hated me for it. After that I thought I had made it up, but then I heard it mentioned on the Colbert Report.
posted by drezdn at 12:32 PM on March 30, 2007

Take a look here (disclosure: I'm the editor), here and/or here for some non-touristy ideas.
posted by me3dia at 12:33 PM on March 30, 2007

Sorry, apparently it is called francheezie... They are awesome though.
posted by drezdn at 12:35 PM on March 30, 2007

If you will be there on or before April 29, Body Worlds 2 is at the Museum of Science and Industry. I saw this when it was in Cleveland about a year and a half ago, and it's one of the most amazing, fascinating exhibits I've ever seen.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:39 PM on March 30, 2007

Two days? That's a toughie.

1. The field museum/shedd aquarium/lake front. Especially nice when its sunny out.

2. The new millenium park might be a nice place to stop by, especially if you'll be downtown anyway.

You could do the lakefront/downtown walk one your first day. Do the downtown restaurant/bar thing. A lot of visitors like going to the Luxt Cafe.

On my second day I'd take it easy and get some stuffed pizza (Gino's, whoever). Visit the Art Museum. Maybe explore the neighborhoods, especially around wicker park or lincoln park. Lots of cafes and boutique shops. Might not be much fun unless you have a native along with you.

If youre into live music, we have more than a few venues. Visit the chicago readers website for more info. If you have time, the comedy venues are worth checking out (second city, IO).

Obligatory mention of live theater, greektown restuarants, and baseball.

You can't get it all done in two days, so pick 2 or 3 things you really want to do and go for it. You can do gimmicky stuff like getting to the top of the sears tower or eating an overpriced roast beef sandwich on your next visit.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:52 PM on March 30, 2007

I second BodyWorlds.
posted by doctorcurly at 1:18 PM on March 30, 2007

Fie on the Sears Tower. If you wish to ascent to great heights for a view, the John Hancock building is much better.

However in two days I would take on other tasks as well. Field museum, Science & Industry, and Art Institute are all great.

Order some Goose Island beer while you're there. Honker's Ale is your most likely find, unless you go to one of their locations.
posted by stevis23 at 1:22 PM on March 30, 2007

I've done a few weekends there, here's what I thought:

I loved the walking archetecture tour, it's great. I did the art deco one. The boat archetecture tour is fun, but not as interesting, it's more fun just to be on a boat on a river in a big city.

I thought Second City was ok, but not great. I saw Iraqtile Disfuction, which got good reviews. I've seen the touring version do their greatest hits, which was much better.

I did not like Gino's East, the whole place felt fake, it was filled with families and kids, and the pizza is kind of gross like the crust tastes like cornbread. Giordano's atmosphere was slightly better, but I didn't really like their pizza either, and it felt rushed since you had to order first, and then get you order shortly after they seated you. I'd probably try something else.

The Billy Goat has bad food, but it's not really touristy, and the bar is great. It's like something out of a Tom Waits song. Stop in the one that's near the Wrigley Building, under the street.

The Museum of Science and Industry is cool, but really expensive once you get done buying tickets to everything. I wanted to see the U-Boat, but it was sold out, so you may want to buy tickets over the phone if you decide to do anything optional. The Field Museum is better.

Millenium Park is really neat, and near everything. The Art Institute is great, my favorite piece was The Portrait Of Dorian Grey.

Body Worlds is cool, but don't waste your time seeing it in Chicago if you only have two days, you'll see it eventually, it isn't going away any time soon.

The only hotel I've stayed at that I really liked was Hotel Allegro, it's very close to everything, fairly cheap, and the rooms are really nice.
posted by andrewzipp at 1:32 PM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

My absolute favorite place is the Field Museum. I'm disappointed that only one other person has mentioned it. I love love love that place and have love love loved it since I was a wee child. Is it touristy? Yes. Is it quality? Definitely.
posted by santojulieta at 1:40 PM on March 30, 2007

my bad... two previous people mentioned it.
posted by santojulieta at 1:40 PM on March 30, 2007

brunch at Orange or EarWax
posted by nimsey lou at 3:06 PM on March 30, 2007

I have two tickets to the Sears Tower Skydeck that I am not going to use - they are good until November. I got them free for doing the Sears Tower climb. If you want them (for free of course), my email is in my profile. I can mail them to you or you can pick them up from me - I work across the street from the tower.
posted by MeetMegan at 3:12 PM on March 30, 2007

Response by poster: Actually, I have to visit family in Racine. What's the traffic like in that direction on weekends?
posted by jeff_w_welch at 3:21 PM on March 30, 2007

See Too much light makes the baby go blind, the longest running show in Chicago.
posted by bryanzera at 3:44 PM on March 30, 2007

Day 1: don't miss Millenium Park, and while you're in that area go top to bottom in the Cultural Center, plus Art Institute and the Architecture tour is also great. It's a total cliche, and not the same since the main dining room closed, but eat at Berghoff.

Day 2: Get on the red line going North to Howard and get off at the following stops. Take a 30 to 60 minute walk in each neighborhood:

Belmont: breakfast at the original Ann Sather's right by the L stop (don't skip the cinnamon rolls), walk east to Halsted street and North through Boys town, then wander back to the L.

Wilson: Last ungentrified mixed income neighborhood on the north side. Hugely diverse ethnic/immigrant population, best neighborhood for avoiding chain stores (although they did open a Border's or something in the great old Goldblatt's). Walk north to Lawrence and see the bones of the beautiful old Uptown Theater (from the outside only), then get back on the L at Lawrence (just east of Broadway).

Bryn Mawr: go east towards the Lake and walk up Sheridan Road-- highrises on the east side, and some of the last old mansions left on Sheridan on the west. Sadly, this is also the only stretch of Chicago lakefront that the developers managed to snag. The rest is "forever open and free." Walk all the way up to the Loyolla campus at Devon, and get back on the L at Loyolla, or keep going another 1/2 mile and eat at Leona's (Sheridan and North Shore).

Depending on how exhausted you are, go back to your hotel, or get back on the L northbound to Howard. Switch to the purple line north and take it to Davis Street in downtown Evanston. Great old-line suburban downtown, good mix of chain and locally owned shops and over 70 restaurants in a 1/2 mile radius. This is also Northwestern University's campus town. Then see what great performances are around on the Northwestern Campus for the evening.

Two days is just not long enough in Chicago. This is a great town.
posted by nax at 4:42 PM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

seconding too much light makes the baby go blind

i found out about it from metafilter, and it was the best thing ive ever seen in my entire life.
posted by thisisnotkatrina at 5:21 PM on March 30, 2007

I'm a native, and there's one place -- and only one place -- I must always go when I come back home:


If you're familiar with New York, consider Superdawg to be the Papaya King of Chicago. And if you're familiar with Los Angeles, Pink's can't even begin to hold a candle to Superdawg (or Papaya King, for that matter.)

There's a little Superdawg at Midway airport, just like there's a little Papaya King at JFK, but nothing beats the experience of the real location.
posted by davejay at 6:41 PM on March 30, 2007

Oh, THIRDING too much light makes the baby go blind. A Chicago institution in the making, I used to see them in their first few years.
posted by davejay at 6:42 PM on March 30, 2007


("Quimby's Bookstore: Zines, books, comics, tracts, and other aberrant cultural items that all but defy explanation.")
posted by kmennie at 7:01 PM on March 30, 2007

Spend time with a Chicago Greeter, "a free service offered by the Chicago Office of Tourism designed to match a friendly, enthusiastic, and city knowledgeable local with a visitor for a two – four hour informal, insider orientation to Chicago’s sights. . . . Visitors are matched with greeters through an online registration system based on special interest and language." You're supposed to do this two weeks ahead of time, but you can show up at the InstaGreeter booth in the Visitor Information Center at the Chicago Cultural Center and see downtown Chicago in an hour with a greeter leading free downtown walking visits.
posted by Joleta at 9:22 PM on March 30, 2007

I highly recommend the architectural boat tours on the Chicago River. The one that I went on (the name escapes me at the moment) left from the piers east of the Wrigley Building.
posted by aliasless at 11:52 PM on March 30, 2007

The Chicago Greeter program is fantastic, but if you're a "go it alone" type of person it might be too much for you.

If it's warm while you're there I would have recommended Margie's on Western & Armitage until last week. They were a must visit whenever I was in town or taking visitors about. But last week, the night before both my birthday and my last day in the city, I was refused service for being gay. It was, by far, the worst case of blatant homophobia I've encountered in 37 years. It was devastating. Go to Oberweis on Milwaukee & Ashland instead.

The MCA has a great photography exhibit right now, as well as a Rudolph Steigl interactive exhibit. Have a great time.
posted by FlamingBore at 9:24 AM on April 1, 2007

« Older Can I keep ignoring this thing?   |   Millions of images Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.