Traveling to Chicago for work - what shouldn't I miss while there?
October 19, 2007 5:12 AM   Subscribe

I'll be in Chicago this Sunday (October 21st) through Wednesday. As a first time visitor - what can you commend to me?

I'll be attending a conference 8-4 M-W and flying out on Wednesday. Basically I have Sunday from Noon on and Monday & Tuesday night to experience a bit of Chicago.

I like craft brews & red meat but don't want to stretch the company expense account too much. Also, will have a rental car but don't know how far I should stray from my hotel in Tinley Park.
posted by revbrian to Travel & Transportation around Chicago, IL (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The Bears play away this Sunday so feel free to get downtown this Sunday. The art museums, the science museum and the natural history museum are all top notch.
posted by mmascolino at 5:29 AM on October 19, 2007

I would catch a Sunday night Second City show.
posted by lpsguy at 5:32 AM on October 19, 2007

tinley park isn't chicago; it's actually south and west of the city. you'll want to stray.

i don't know anything about the south side, so all this will be northside-specific. this is a big town, so locals stick to smaller sections.

for both craft brews and beef, hit the hopleaf on clark in andersonville. they have one of the best beer selections in the city, and the menu's back up to par from a low point about a year ago.

underbar at western and belmont is microscopic, but it has a knowledgeable bar staff who's friendly and stocks a mean beer cooler.

down the street from our house is a great little neighborhood bar called small bar; good local and european microbrews. the occasional drunk yuppie in a rep tie, but mostly hipsters from the neighborhood. it's albany and wellington, just east of kedzie.

liars' club on fullerton is a great place for rock burnouts on sunday nights. great bar, great staff, and a six-foot-one ex-wrestler bartender named cookie. the carpet's so disgusting it's turned to linoleum, so don't look down.

happy chicagoing.
posted by patricking at 5:42 AM on October 19, 2007

I was recently in Chicago for the first time. Things I enjoyed a lot included this riverboat-based architecture tour and Gino's pizza</A..
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:48 AM on October 19, 2007

Don't miss the Bean in Millennium Park. Yeah, it's ridiculously touristy, but I loved it.

The Art Institute is always a must.

The architecture tours are good (I've heard), but make sure to book ahead of time.

Given your car, you might have fun tooling around along the lakeshore. Try going up along Sheridan Road through Evanston and environs; stop at the Baha'i Temple if you have time. It's beautiful.
posted by Madamina at 7:27 AM on October 19, 2007

+1 Madamina. Those are all great recs. You can spend all day at the Art Institute.
posted by adamrice at 7:43 AM on October 19, 2007

Here were my Chicago picks on TravelFilter.
posted by Miko at 7:50 AM on October 19, 2007

nthing the Art Institute. Although most cities have decent art and a lot of people are happy to ignore it even in their hometowns, taking time out to visit can refresh your appreciation. If it takes a unique circumstance to get you in the door, so be it. Just go.

If your hometown doesn't have a Fry's Electronics, it's worth stopping in. I'm in Detroit and the Chicago location is the closest one to me. It's like an old Radio Shack (with components and tools!) meets a Best Buy, the size of a Wal-Mart. Maybe I'm a nerd for suggesting this as a destination, but face it, we're deprived over here.

There's always stuff to do in the evenings on the lakeshore, and we're nearing the end of the season where it's pleasant to do. I don't know more than that, but if you enjoy water, start searching in that direction.
posted by Myself at 7:53 AM on October 19, 2007

-1 to Second City. I've been there twice in the past year (to see both a Main Stage and an etc. show) and laughed a total of...7 times? Maybe less.

Much better: TMLMTBGB. Just make sure to get there well before the doors open, as the line gets long.
posted by schustafa at 7:54 AM on October 19, 2007

Since you'll be driving in from the southwest, I suggest fantastic (and cheap!) seafood at Lawrence's Fisheries followed by jazz at the Velvet Lounge.
posted by generalist at 8:20 AM on October 19, 2007

Also: had a great time on the Weird Chicago Tour.
posted by schustafa at 8:21 AM on October 19, 2007

If you don't want to drive into Chicago, you can take the Metra train into downtown. There's a stop in Tinley Park.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 8:36 AM on October 19, 2007

If you're into art at all go to the Art Institute - it's a great collection. See if there are any concerts in Millennium park you're interested in.

Take the L (the elevated train) several of the lines have great views of the city, pick up the brown line in the loop and it'll take you North. It's a great way to see some more of the city if you don't want to take a more formal tour. You could get off at Fullerton and walk east to the Lincoln Park Zoo - best free zoo in the country! Autumn is so beautiful in the park - walk around the ponds! There is a great conservatory (giant greenhouse) right next to the zoo also.

I'd recommend trying some deep dish pizza while you're there. Personally, I really like Nancy's Pizza (Oakdale & Broadway). They pour a mean long island.

Cafe Iberico is great if you like Tapas and Sangria - 737 N La Salle. - Try the frog legs - they're super!

Take some time to explore the neighborhoods that interest you: fancy boutiques on Armitage, Gay culture on Belmont/Halsted (Lakeview neighborhood), baseball mecca at Clark & Addison (Wrigleyville), Scandanavian bakeries in Andersonville further north, hipsters on the west side (take the blue line) Wicker park and Bucktown. There's Greek town, Little Italy, Ukrainian Village (the sausages!) - etc.

Do check out the Hancock Tower on Michigan Ave. Great views from the observation deck - or you can spring for the restaurant.

Visit the Chicago Cultural Center and gaze at the giant Tiffany glass dome (Washington and Michigan)

Chicago has incredible architecture, look up occasionally - you'll see some of the most important buildings in the country. Love the view on the Michigan Ave bridge at the foot of the Wrigley building.

Man, I miss that city - enjoy!
posted by Craig at 9:27 AM on October 19, 2007

RE: Cheap Red Meat

Chicago is known for its traditional steakhouses, but I can't afford them, so I'll let someone else pick a few out for you.

Here are my picks for cheap red meat eats in Chicago. (I get overly excited about food in the city, so I apologize if this is all tl;dr):

Tango Sur, an Argentinean steak house on the Northside, is delicious and affordable. There will be a wait, but it's well worth it. Heartily approved my boyfriend, who is both a steak-and-potatoes kind of guy and a broke actor.

OMG, steak tacos and burritos! And other assorted Taqueria food involving grilled steak. I vote for Nuevo Leon in Pilsen and/or La Pasadita Wicker Park. There are three La Pasaditas, like, right next to each other. You want the big one, furthest away from Division, closest to Dusty Groove. Ask for the "black sauce." Do not put anything in your taco other than onions, cilantro, and maybe cheese. If you put lettuce in there, the Mexican food gods will strike you down where you stand or something. Nuevo Leon is kind of "classier," I guess.

There are also those crazy all you can eat Brazilian steakhouses. Steaks on swords. Not cheap, but fun, in a gluttonous kind of way.
posted by thewrongparty at 9:40 AM on October 19, 2007

If you like beer, the maproom on Armitage and Hoyne is the best place to go. They have a lot of Belgian and American beers. I'd also recommend Hot Doug's for chicago hot dogs.
posted by danb1 at 9:58 AM on October 19, 2007

First off, Tinley Park is a far south suburb. You'll need to drive or perhaps take the metra if you want to spend time downtown. I think its a good 45min to1 hour drive. Maybe more with all the recent construction on 90/94. You can take the Metra downtown too.

Secondly, depends on what you want to do. If you're a museum lover you have tons of great options. You can visit the Field Museum, Science and Industry, Shedd Aquarium, and Art Institute. If you like Zoos you can visit the small-ish free Lincoln Park zoo or drive out to the Brookfield zoo.

I recommend checking out the Chicago Reader's website and seeing what appeals to you. There's usually lots going on and its tough to summarize.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:28 AM on October 19, 2007

I was just there last weekend.

The Museum of Contemporary Art is free right now, in honor of its 40th. The main show (rock and art) is middling, but their retrospective upstairs is top notch. A neat mini-show of Calders too.

The Columbia museum of contemporary photography should be open again—they were hanging while we were there (which was a bit of a bummer).

The Art Institute, well, if you've never been… But it's, what, like $20 now? Hard to justify if you just want a couple hours of art.

The aquarium's better than the Field Museum, and they're right next to each other. Try to hit it mid-day, otherwise prepare to be swamped.

I second the recommendation of TMLMTBGB, and would add that if the Torso Theater's still going that you should hit them up too (though it's been a while since I did). I think the last thing I caught there was Cannibal Cheerleaders on Crack, which was as good (or bad) as it sounds.

I believe there's also a meetup going on that weekend…
posted by klangklangston at 11:35 AM on October 19, 2007

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