Chicago Travel Tips?

Meagan G
By Meagan G,

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I'm going to Chicago in May and got an awesome deal on a hotel through Hotwire via the site's link. I'm looking at some different options for seeing sites and attractions in Chicago. I've looked at both the Chicago City Pass and the Go Chicago Card. I'm not sure which one is better. Can anyone offer some advice. The only museum that I'm interested in is probably the field museum. Also which is better Skydeck Chicago or the Hancock Observatory? Skydeck Chicago sounds neat because of the glass viewing decks. Any and all advice/suggestions is appreciated!

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First - let us know what you are looking for in general and maybe what your priorities are in terms of what you want to do - shopping, sightseeing? - and I would be happy to offer more specific recommendations.

A few thoughts:

1. I really don't recommend Navy Pier. It offers nice views, but otherwise it's an expensive tourist trap. I'd much rather recommend Lincoln Park Zoo - it's a beautiful walk up there if you're in the mood for a long walk, and it's free.

2. I don't get the cloud gate (aka bean) in Millennium Park. It's a giant, reflective metal orb. If you really want to see Millenium Park, you don't need a lot of time, and it's something that can be combined with a stop at the Art Institute (which is a must.)

3. The Museum Campus has the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum and Adler Planetarium next to each other. The Field is great, the Shedd is great (although pretty expensive), the Adler I'm not as much a fan of. If you're really only interested in the Field, then I don't think I'd get one of the cards, as they are really more if you are visiting a number of sights that the pass/card offers included admission to.

4. While a number of the main tourist sights are worth seeing, I'd recommend spending some time in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, which offers a wide array of restaurants and shopping, and both are more reasonable than downtown.

5. Chicago has some great Farmer's Markets, including the Chicago Green City Market in Lincoln Park, which is Wednesday/Saturday. Even if you don't get anything, it's fun to browse around.

6. Chicago has some great cheap restaurants and great high-end restaurants and there are great places at price-points in-between. Everyone wants Chicago Deep Dish pizza; personally I'd recommend trying places that are really more single/specific places to Chicago. La Madia, for example, offers (I think) very good pizza (link). Where really depends on what you like and are looking for, but definitely devote some time to sampling restaurants.

7. I'd really go to either/or and not both when it comes to the Skydeck or Hancock Observatory. The Signature Room at the Hancock would allow outstanding views and you could sit and have a drink or meal rather than going to the observatory and you could then go to the Skydeck at the Sears Tower. Singature Room photos at yelp - link.

I don't think you'll have time for it as it involves a fairly long trip outside the city and back, but the Chicago Botanic Garden (http://www.chicagobotanic.org/ - in the 'burbs, despite the name) is beautiful in the Spring.

I'll add more to this later on, but in the meantime, let us know your thoughts and I'd be happy to offer further suggestions or ideas if anything above sounds interesting.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I used the city pass for a 4 day trip and it is go for either a family trip or an adult trip. It had a choice of attractions. My kids would want to go to one out of the two choices. The citypass includes the frequently bought extras so I think it is a good deal. You can also skip the regular lines. The only long lines (and they were very long)were at the Shedd aquarium. The passes may have changed and you can look at them and decide for yourself if you know where you are going.

On the city pass we went to the Field Museum, Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium, Willis Tower, and museum of Science and Industry. The pass included what most people would buy when they go there. For adults I would definately go to the Art Institute but I think my kids may be bored. I agree with the other poster that either the Hancock or the Willis Tower but not both. Bring some glass cleaner for the glass viewing deck. I consider all of the above world class exhibits and worthy of spending time and money. I agree that Navy Pier is very good but not world class. It is worthwhile to go to the children's museum, imax theatre, stain glass museum, nice view from the ferris wheel, and a couple of other fun things (a wierd maze?).

I definately agree that you must get deep dish pizza and they also have good steak houses. I also love the Thai food as well. Theater is also very good with excellent new plays at the Goodman theater, and broadway touring companies at the State Theatre. There is great shopping on Michigan Avenue and


Pick up a copy of the Reader for all the nightlife and museums.

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