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Do I have too much packed into itinerary??

Texas
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Do I have too much packed into itinerary??

We arrive ( 4 adults, 3 kids ages 13, 11 ,8) on Sunday, July 27 early afternoon via Amtrak from Dallas. We figure to leave this time open for exploring possibly with free trolley system.

We have Monday thru Thursday for 4 full days of seeing all the wonderful places. We leave on Friday early afternoon on the amtrak so that morning activities are up in the air.

So, a tentative schedulue for us looks like this....is this too much crammed in...eliminate some or add something else? By the way we are staying at Hotel 71....please tell me that is not a horrible choice.

Monday: Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum and Grant Park

Tuesday: Michigan Ave. Lunch buffet special on Tuesdays in July at the Signature room/Hancock , Millenniium Park , Chicago cultural center, Chicago outdoor film festival(lakeshore &monroe)that is on Tues nights.

Wednesday: Museum of Science and Industry,

river boat tour ( Wendella ??) and Navy Pier later in day in order to catch firework show.

Thursday: Lincoln park zoo and Oak street beach or take brown line on the L and venture from there if there are any suggestions. I read somewhere about Art Institute have Thurs. evening free??

Would like to see where the Harpo Studio/gift shop might fit into this schedule and at least take pictures of Wrigley field. Also if places need to be rearranged by locations or days then please advise.

We are either going to get a citypass or go card chicago to save alittle money.

Thanks so much for any info or advise.

I know this was long but want to see and do as much as possible, but also survive the trip.

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Rensselaer, Indiana
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1. Re: Do I have too much packed into itinerary??

Tattie, you are looking OK with most of your schedule. In fact, you've done an excellent job in grouping the days by location.

I'm not sure if the CityPass or the Go Chicago card will save you all that much money, especially if you are planning on taking in any of the special exhibits (which are extra). You'll have to do the math.

My suggestions:

Sunday: You don't know if your train will be delayed (sometimes by a substantial amount) so it is wise not to make any specific (especially timed) plans. However, if you have any interest in it, there is a free performance at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park that afternoon, "Rising Stars: Midwest Young Artists" (3-4:30 p.m.).

Monday: Good planning going early to the Shedd Aquarium. It gets the longest lines. Also, if you didn't want to go to Millennium Park on Sunday mentioned above, there is an excellent performance planned on Monday evening at the Pritzker Pavilion: "Chicago Human Rhythm Project" (7:30-9:00 p.m.)

Tuesday: If you've gone to Millennium Park either of the above days, you could skip it on this date. Gives you a little more time with the other items on your list.

Wednesday: The MSI will take the better part of a day. River Cruise? Might be a little much for the younger kids. How about a bike hike at night? Bobby's Bike Hike does have the Sunglasses at Night Tour. You'll see the Navy Pier fireworks from a different vantage point (see photo on their website).

Thursday: Well, if you wanted to take photos of Wrigley Field, you are only a little more than a mile away from the Lincoln Park Zoo, as the crow flies. Problem is that the Friendly Confines is 1 mile inland from the Lake, whereas the Zoo is just west of the lakeshore. So you have to take a combination of busses and trains for the most expeditious way to get there and back to go to the beach.

You could either take the Red Line (El) up to the Addison station (just east of Wrigley Field); do your thing there; and then grab the #152 EB Addison bus, transferring to the #151 SB Sheridan bus at the inner Lake Shore Drive (aka Sheridan in this area) to get to the Zoo. Or do the opposite - go to the Zoo first, then Wrigley via the same busses. After you are through, take the Red Line back south to the Chicago (Ave.) station. From the Chicago station, you can walk east to get to Michigan Avenue and then you are only a few blocks south of the Oak Street Beach.

OR, you might consider the North Avenue Beach instead of the Oak Street Beach, since it is immediately east of the Lincoln Park Zoo.

And, yes, the Art Institute is free on Thursday evenings from 5-9 p.m.

Hope this information helps you a bit.

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2. Re: Do I have too much packed into itinerary??

Get yourselves some CTA visitor passes. They will definitely save you money with your itinerary. www.transitchicago.com for public transit information.

Texas
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3. Re: Do I have too much packed into itinerary??

Thanks for advise and info. A few follow up questions follow:

Why do you think that the river/lake cruise would be too much for the kids at this age?

Would it be wise to do a double decker tour bus instead of wendela river/lake tour?

Are the Harpo studio/gift shop a waste of time or completely out of the way for where we are going? Promised best friend I would take pictures for her.

With all that has been listed on itinerary....restaurant suggestions for each day??

Are there special exhibits at the museums that have to be paid for extra?

I am afraid to ask this again.....Hotel 71....ok or not....I keep reading such mixed reviews.....I know location is good but is that all I can expect?

Thanks again for responding!!

Rensselaer, Indiana
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4. Re: Do I have too much packed into itinerary??

The question about the cruise you will have to answer yourself, as it will depend on how "antsy" your kids might get during that long of a cruise.

Special exhibits at the museums: There are permanent special exhibits and traveling exhibits for which you might have to pay extra. The CityPass and Go Chicago cards (usually) only include general admission. You have to read from their websites *exactly* what will be included under the card you choose to decide.

So, for example, at the Shedd Aquarium, on the GoChicago they are now offering all admission included (a new feature, by the way) and on the CityPass, there is a VIP feature including some, but not all, of the exhibits.

At the Field Museum, under the GoChicago card, the special exhibits of "Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids" and "Nature Unleashed" would be an extra admission fee, but the special permanent exhibit of "Underground Adventure" is included. The CityPass appears to be the same.

At the Museum of Science & Industry, it appears that the CityPass includes the general admission and one OmniMax movie and the GoChicago Card includes general admission plus a 10% discount on purchases at the Brain Food Cafe and Brain Food Court.

One of the biggest advantages of these cards is that you don't have to wait in lines - but you can basically do the same thing by purchasing tickets to the various museums in advance and picking them up at the will call window or by purchasing a family membership, which *might* pay for itself, depending on the circumstances. NOTE: Special exhibits usually have timed entry, so you cannot just decide to change your schedule at the last minute. These timed entry tickets are sold on a first come, first served basis, so if you wait until you get there, it could be that the time slot(s) you wanted are sold out, sometimes for the entire day, when it is a very popular exhibit during the busy summer season - particularly on a weekend.

Correction to a previous response above: General admission to the Art Institute is free on Thursday evenings between 5-9 p.m. You still have to pay extra for special exhibits.

The question about restaurants near the main attractions have been covered rather thoroughly in previous posts. If you do a search for them, you'll find many very good suggestions.

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5. Re: Do I have too much packed into itinerary??

Again, thank you!

Anything or place that you can think of that really is a must see that we have not included in schedule?

My hubby says to make sure we get to eat at Smoque BBQ at 3800 N. Pulaski Rd.....what area with our schedule does this fall. I think all my hubby wants to do is eat his way thru Chicago!!

From the fireworks at the Navy Pier....what mode of transportation would be the quickest and safest way to get back to Hotel 71?

2 of the adults going are in their 70's so anyway we can shorten the walking distance is to our advantage on this entire trip.

Thanks again....Although I am very excited about the trip....alittle nervousness is creeping in too.

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6. Re: Do I have too much packed into itinerary??

You don't necessarily need to be on the pier to see the fireworks. You could just walk east on Wacker from your hotel and cross Michigan.

If you really want to watch from Navy Pier, their free trolley runs to State/Grand and Hotel 71 would be around 5-6 blocks south of there.

I can't tell you anything about Smoque other than it's around 4 miles west of Wrigley Field near the Irving Park stop of the Blue Line subway. If your base is going to be in the loop, it seems like an awful long haul for just a restaurant.

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Stuck in North Texas
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7. Re: Do I have too much packed into itinerary??

We are also taking Amtrak from Texas (Ft. Worth) but not until September.

However, I did an ontime average for the last couple of weeks and indeed the Texas Eagle has a bad average of being late: 236 minutes. So you might want to figure that into your plans for the first night.

I love your schedule and am going to use it as a base to start building mine! That is a sincere compliment.

There are only 2 of us - seniors - no kids, but your schedule covers a wide variety of interests, so I'll be monitoring this post.

Happy Travels!

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8. Re: Do I have too much packed into itinerary??

One note about Smoque, friends of mine have eaten there and loved it BUT it seems that they run out of certain items and that's it for the day. So if you really feel like you need to eat there, try to go earlier rather than later or you may end up disappointed. You might have a look at Yelp, within the 1st few posts there were two people who complained of just that.

Stuck in North Texas
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9. Re: Do I have too much packed into itinerary??

I noticed that you are concerned about your hotel pick. I can't help you with that, but on travelzoo dot com there are usually some great deals and they do identify the hotel if that's important to you. (I like it!)

Here's what that have for your time period, as of today, they do add hotels very frequently.

This Week's Top Pick from The Seneca Hotel - Chicago

$99 -- Chicago Hotel near Mag Mile w/Breakfast

European-style boutique hotel in perfect downtown location

book by July 18

$149 -- 4-Diamond Fairmont Chicago near Mag Mile, Navy Pier

$89 & up -- 4-Star Hotels in Chicago

Hotwire.com Through July 31

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10. Re: Do I have too much packed into itinerary??

Yes, Smoque does run out of certain items. It's not a big place, and there is often a line. Do you really want to come from Texas to eat BBQ? You will be going pretty far out of your way to eat there, although the Blue Line would work. I don't see it fitting into your schedule easily, unless you head up there on Sunday night. If so, have a second place in mind if they are sold out of some items.

In lieu of the lake boat ride, you might consider the water taxi: http://www.shorelinesightseeing.com/taxis.php

which will get you around town and give you some time on the water.

Regarding your schedule, if you get to the Shedd on Monday morning, then work your way through the Field, hit Buckingham Fountain on the walk back towards Michigan Avenue (there is an underpass near the Field). You can get some very good ice cream there at the stand on the SE corner, and can walk back to your hotel.

Tuesday: add the Art Institute to this day since you will be within a block of it. Check out the Thorne miniature rooms and the Kids section in the basement of the main building.

Wednesday: MSI with a group takes all day, as you know. Get the plan of the museum from their website and figure out in advance where you want to go. Otherwise you'll do a lot of backtracking - the layout is like a giant octopus. Also, if you are planning on eating dinner in Hyde Park, get some ideas in advance. There aren't that many options, especially if you walking from the train. You might want to come back to the downtown and eat at Connie's or Giordano's Pizza, near the north end of Millennium Park. Please note that the train to Hyde Park is not covered by the CTA visitor's pass.

Thursday: after the zoo, just walk east on Fullerton (or take the overpass near North Avenue) and you'll be on the beach. The farther south you go, the more crowded it will be.

Citypass and Gochicago cards won't necessarily save you any money. Do the math, especially with kids - you'll need to do a spreadsheet, because the age cutoffs are different everywhere. Don't believe the claims on the card websites.

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