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Chicago in July: Where to stay/What to do?

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South Dakota
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Chicago in July: Where to stay/What to do?

We are thinking of going to Chicago for our 5 year anniversary in July. We are about 9 hours from Chicago so we will be driving. We will pry be there from a Friday until Monday. We've never been to Chicago. We are are pry looking at $120-150/night for a hotel. Thinking of taking in a Cubs game too. The Navy Pier looks fun. Which is better for an observatory . . John Hancock or the Sears Tower?

My husband said he found a hotel in Downers Grove . . nice area? Or stay elsewhere?

Any other comments would be helpful. Thanks.

Illinois
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1. Re: Chicago in July: Where to stay/What to do?

Downers Grove is a very nice area and the hotels would have free parking. However, you aren't very close to all the things you want to see in Chicago. You could take the train ($5 for a weekend pass) into the city, but be aware that the weekend schedules aren't very frequent and that you will be on the train for an hour each way.

http://www.metrarail.com/Sched/bn/bn.shtml

You could drive to Chicago if you feel comfortable driving in the city, but then you will be paying for parking. It may be difficult to find a place to park near Wrigley Field.

Have fun planning your trip!

Illinois
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2. Re: Chicago in July: Where to stay/What to do?

Downers Grove is about 25 miles from the Loop. It is about a thirty to forty minute drive if (and I emphasize if) the traffic is moving.

Illinois
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3. Re: Chicago in July: Where to stay/What to do?

A hotel is the Magnificent Mile or River North area downtown is best from a tourist standpoint. You don't want to spend a good chunk of your visit commuting back and forth from Downers Grove.

"Reasonable" parking downtown - www.millenniumgarages.com/Source/Home.aspx

Once you're here - you want to park your car once. Use public transit to get around. www.transitchicago.com for public transit information.

IMO - Hancock is better than Sears. You can save $$ by having a anniversary drink in the Signature Lounge at the Hancock. It will be less expensive than tickets for the observation deck. You'll get the same view without the crowds.

Chicago
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4. Re: Chicago in July: Where to stay/What to do?

Do NOT stay in Downers Grove. It is at least a half hour drive or train ride into the Loop. Stay downtown somewhere. If you use priceline or hotwire you should be able to get a good hotel in a good location for $120-$150.

If you are going to Chicago in early July, the Taste of Chicago will be going on. It's a great food and music festival.

The Hancock building has a better view and it also has a bar and restaurant at the top called the Signature Room. Going there would be nice on an anniversary. The food is a bit overpriced, but you get a free view as opposed to the high price ($20?) of admission to go to the Sears Tower observation deck.

There are free symphony concerts in Millenium Park during the summer months. There's usually at least one on a weekend night. I'm sure you can find the concert schedule on-line Bring a blanket to lay on, some food and a bottle of wine and you will have a very nice evening.

Illinois
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5. Re: Chicago in July: Where to stay/What to do?

Downers Grove is a nice suburb, but as has been mentioned previously, you will be spending a lot of time commuting between your hotel and downtown and transit options from there are very limited on the weekend. Also, by having a hotel downtown you could easily return to your room to freshen up for dinner.

Navy Pier is tacky and touristy, but for a first time visitor it might be worth checking out. The ferris wheel is pretty impressive and you can also take a boat tour from there.

When you arrive downtown, you will want to park your car and use public transit or taxicabs to get around. See www.transitchicago.com for transit information.

Illinois
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6. Re: Chicago in July: Where to stay/What to do?

There are architectural tours by boat that are really fun. Choose one that goes on BOTH the river and the lake. It will take you through the locks.

Wendella is the tour operator that I usually go on. It is a little cheaper than the one that leaves from Navy Pier, but if you are going to the Pier it will be more convenient. Wendella's docks are on the river.

Chicago
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7. Re: Chicago in July: Where to stay/What to do?

Just to emphasize previous posts, I live in downtown Chicago near the tourist attractions and I don't even know where Downer's Grove is. (I know it's far west of the city). The way Chicago downtown people look at things is by telephone area code. So pay attention to area codes of hotels, restaurants, etc. Here is a rule of thumb for how you should be thinking: "312" and you are exactly where you want to be. "773" can be almost as good as 312, but be careful as you can be in 773 and be in a dicey area, "708" is a close by suburb but generally not worth the trouble to get to unless you like Frank Lloyd Wright and "630"--almost another culture from downtown people. Or lack of culture actually.

8. Re: Chicago in July: Where to stay/What to do?

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