First time visit to Chicago
January 12, 2008 2:32 PM   Subscribe

What should I do in Chicago this Monday from 3 pm until bedtime?

I'll be visiting Chicago primarily to check out law schools, but also to see if I like the city as much as I think I will. I've got unscheduled alone time from mid-afternoon until bedtime (midnight?) this Monday and I'd like to do something that will give me a feel for the city beyond campus. Awesome bookstore/cafe? A place to hear music where I won't feel like a dork for being alone? Indie movie theater? Neighborhood I should explore on foot (preferably with places I can visit to warm up)?

I'm 25 and from New York City. I'm staying at the Wyndham Hotel downtown. I'm not afraid of mass transit, but I'd be willing to walk or take cabs, too. Bonus points for telling me how to get a cab--can I hail one on the street like in NY?
posted by CiaoMela to Travel & Transportation around Chicago, IL (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A similar question was asked last month.
posted by hjo3 at 2:54 PM on January 12, 2008

The Museum of Science and Industry is a great place to spend a few hours, and it's free until the end of the month!
posted by borkencode at 2:58 PM on January 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Whoops, just realized it's only open till 4pm, so not very useful to you.. but for the bonus points, getting a cab in downtown Chicago is just like getting one in Manhattan (from what I can tell from movies set in New York).
posted by borkencode at 3:00 PM on January 12, 2008

Best answer: If you're staying downtown then you'll likely want to venture into the neighborhoods north or northwest of downtown, as there is really nothing good to do in that area after hours. The Wicker Park/Bucktown area has plenty of bars/cafes/venues/shops to check out, and is easily accessible via the Damon Blue Line stop. If you're in that area I recommend: Myopic Books, Sultan's Market (awesome falafel sandwich), and Marshall Mcgearty's (cafe). Other places I would recommend are:
The Music Box: Beautiful old movie theater showing indie films.
The Empty Bottle: My favorite music venue in town.
The Billy Goat Tavern: A Chicago landmark (great cheeseburgers) located under Michigan Ave.
Millenium Park: Nice place to walk around in the downtown area.

I could go on and on... but I don't want to drown you in ideas. If you need more help just holla!
posted by ISeemToBeAVerb at 3:19 PM on January 12, 2008

Response by poster: Just to clarify, I'm looking for for ideas along the lines of, "If I were a resident in this city, what would I do with a free afternoon/evening." Borkencode, you get the points.

On preview: ISeemToBeAVerb, that's exactly what I'm looking for, thanks! What's the best way to get to that area?
posted by CiaoMela at 3:30 PM on January 12, 2008

The best way to get to Wicker Park would be either A) take a cab to North/Damon/Milwaukee (this is the trio of streets that form the heart of Wicker Park) B) Take the Blue Line. From downtown you can pick up the Blue Line at the Clark/Lake station in the Loop. Just hop on the Blue Line heading north toward O'Hare and get off at the Damon stop. You'll be dropped right at the three intersections I mentioned above.
posted by ISeemToBeAVerb at 3:39 PM on January 12, 2008

To keep traffic flowing, cabs aren't supposed to pick up fares on many parts of Michigan, so move to a cross street if they aren't stopping for you. Of course, they will be waiting in front of your hotel.

Here's the Chicago mass transit trip planner.

Music listings. There aren't many rock shows Monday night, but there's some punk bands playing the Empty Bottle, no cover. For jazz, Patrica Barber sings at the historic Green Mill on Mondays, which is a great place to go by yourself.

Music Box Theater
The Gene Siskel Film Center is near your hotel. (Imamura link is nsfw)
The Landmark Century is a mutliplex in a mall that shows indie and foreign films.

Lincoln Square is another nice neighborhood with an independent bookstore, record store, nice restaurants and cafes, and a run down movie theater with good programming. Stick to Lincoln Ave. from Lawrence to Sunnyside and you can't go wrong.
posted by hydrophonic at 3:49 PM on January 12, 2008

I don't think you'll find it in any guidebook, but Devon Ave is the center of the Indian and Pakistan community in the Midwest. Its stores and restaurants are legendary across the U.S. If you're nearby, stop at one of the stores and pick up some desserts.
posted by exhilaration at 9:58 PM on January 12, 2008

Go see a late showing of Blade Runner at the music box.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:49 AM on January 13, 2008

CiaoMela, from a practical standpoint you should explore the neighborhoods around the schools you're checking out since conceivable that is where you're likely to spend much of your time. If you let us know what law schools your exploring then we can probably make specific suggestions.

Since the independent bookstore/record store/cafe/run down movie theater/hipster neighborhoods have already been suggested you may also consider some places a little more posh like River North, Old Town, Gold Coast, and Lincoln Park. In general these neighborhoods run in a line north from the Loop, are walkable, well lit, clean, safe, over priced, mostly lily white, and painfully gentrified.

Those neighborhoods aren't personally my bag, but they are popular with much of the law school set. (Not knocking your law school aspirations in the least.)
posted by wfrgms at 11:24 AM on January 13, 2008

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