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Help Needed Organizing Chicago Bucket List

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Virginia
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Help Needed Organizing Chicago Bucket List

We will be visiting Chicago Sat., June 16-June 20. Arriving ORD at approx. 1:30 p.m.; departing late afternon on June 20th. We are staying at the Embassy Suites on N. State St. Plan on using public transportation so considering the Transit Pass.

After checking in at the Embassy we plan to have a late lunch before starting our sightseeing.....recommendations?

Below is a list of things on our "bucket list", As this is our first time in the Windy City, we are open to suggestions from the experts of when/where in order to make the most of our time.

LOOP TOUR...recommendations of how to do this...bus/train?

DRINK AT TOP OF WIT HOTEL

SHOPPING AT WATER TOWER PLACE

MAGNIFICENT MILE

WATER TAXI TO CHINATOWN

MILLENNIUM PARK/CLOUD GATE

CHICAGO CULTURAL CENTER

BUCKINGHAM FOUNTAIN AT NIGHT

SIGNATURE LOUNGE IN THE HANCOCK FOR VIEWS, DRINKS/DESSERT

CAF BOAT CRUISE

NORTH AVENUE BEACH

RIVA'S CAFE @ NAVY PIER [SAT. NIGHT] FOR LIGHT MEAL + WATCH THE 10:15 P.M. FIREWORKS [not something that MUST be done]. Suggestions for alternative place to watch fireworks???

LINCOLN PARK/ZOO

MILLION DOLLAR QUARTER [Sunday night would be our only opportunity as they are dark on Mon/Tues]

Do we need to visit places farther out early in the trip & save activities closer to our hotel for Wednesday morning? Also, the Chicago Pizza Fest & Chicago Barbeque Fest are both the weekend we are in town....are either of these something worthy consideration?

None of the above are set in stone so any deletions or new recommendations will be greatly appreciated.

Illinois
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1. Re: Help Needed Organizing Chicago Bucket List

Which Loop tour are you referring to? CAF has several. You also might want to consider - http://chicagogreeter.com/

Water Tower - Mag Mile - Sig Lounge are all essentially in the same area. CAF boat tour is at the south end of the Mag Mile.

You might want to start the day at Lincoln Park Zoo/North Ave beach and Also consider - http://www.chicagohs.org/ - before or after the zoo.

Chicago Cultural Center - Buckingham Fountain - MP/Cloud Gate are essentially the same area.

Several of your to-do items are outdoor related. Let the weather be your guide.

Comox, Canada
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2. Re: Help Needed Organizing Chicago Bucket List

I am coming just before you. i ordered the transit pass and also booked the CAF tour already for the 15th. You should look at their site before you go as you will discover several times are already booked.

I was curious about the fireworks too. There is a Wandella (sp) boat trip that covers that too. I think I am going to get the hop n hop off 3 day tour ticket.

That would cover your loop tour and more I think. 3 day is not a lot more than the one day.

Virginia
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3. Re: Help Needed Organizing Chicago Bucket List

Hey, thanks for the input,

Ref. the Hop on/off Trolley: Initially my plan was to get the 3 day pass also. However, I've read in other posts that the trolleys can be filled to capacity on weekends and during the summer. My concern is that we may be waiting in sweltering heat or rain only to find the trolley full when it arrives and cannot stop. Now I'm conflicted as to what to do.

Michigan
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4. Re: Help Needed Organizing Chicago Bucket List

Take the double decker bus, on /off usually pick up around Hancock. Good tour of the city.

Illinois
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5. Re: Help Needed Organizing Chicago Bucket List

You have a fairly long to-do list and a fairly short time-frame to complete it.

IMO - skip the Hop On Off bus a get CTA fun passes - transitchicago.com/fares_gifts/default.aspx

Rensselaer, Indiana
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6. Re: Help Needed Organizing Chicago Bucket List

Sometimes we have the unpleasant duty of pointing out issues/problems in visitor's projected itineraries. Not that we want to do this but a poster needs to be aware of these in order to continue with their *proposed* itinerary.

First, a great many of these are outdoor activities. You need to consider alternate plans on what to do if the weather is inclement. Make two lists and try and keep your plans as flexible as possible (meaning don't have a great deal of timed events, such as cruises, ballgames, even going up to the Willis Tower and/or John Hancock Signature Lounge/Signature Room/Observatory.)

Are you assuming that you can get a restaurant to guarantee you seating where you can see the Navy Pier fireworks? That's a specific point you'll have to get a restaurant to guarantee when you call for the reservations, no matter where you go. The likelihood is that they will not. There are only a small number of seats at any restaurant with the proper sight configuration - and everybody wants them when you do.

I'm telling you this because if that is the sole reason you are going to Navy Pier, you'll need to look into other options - such as the fireworks cruise mentioned above. Of course, you'll be paying considerable $$ for the privilege of doing so away from the Pier (and crowds).

So, with the thought in mind that you are still going to be somewhere around Navy Pier on Saturday; at the Apollo Theatre on Sunday; and one of the other evenings at Buckingham Fountain, you've already scheduled three of the nights.

No comment on what type of waiting time you will be facing with the Signature Lounge if you go later in the evening for dessert on a weekend. Again, as with my comment on Riva/Navy Pier fireworks, there are no guarantees you will get a window seat.

You'll need to schedule any timed events next, such the Chicago Architecture Foundation's River Cruise, which often sells out during the busiest periods. I daresay that some of the times have already been sold out. Please keep in mind that once you purchase the tickets, they are yours - rain or shine.

The CAF River Cruise boarding area is only three blocks north of the north end of Millennium Park and the Chicago Cultural Center so that would be a natural fit.

You have picked some of the activities most desired by visitors and are only a couple of weeks out from your arrival. I would be making any necessary reservations as soon as possible.

Brookfield, Illinois
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7. Re: Help Needed Organizing Chicago Bucket List

Unless you are really set on a narrated history of the sit, I would skip the trolley. A CTA pass will allow more access.

the suggestions above for grouping things are good.

If you want to go more casual or can not get seats by the windows for Riva - you can try the beer garden at Harry' Careys. As long as you are on the pier (with the exception of at the entrance or Bubba Gumps (neat the entrance you should see them). You could a little earlier elsewhere and then head to the pier at the East End (furthest out in the water) is the Landshark Beer Garden. They have live music and if you get table near the edge you can just turn away from the band come fireworks time.

For the Signature Lounge consider an afternoon appetizer/drink or dessert stop to take a break from shopping... it is close by and it won't be as filled, the view is great during the day too. If the weather is really gray and gloomy or looks foggy and the wait is long skip it.

Chicago
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8. Re: Help Needed Organizing Chicago Bucket List

You don't have to be on Navy Pier to see the fireworks. There are good views at various points along the river and along the lakefront all the way down to the museum campus. (I watch them from my bedroom window, but that's another story). So, if you want to avoid the hustle and crowds at Navy Pier you might consider an off site location. One place that is nice that you may also enjoy cocktails etc., is at the bar at Sixteen at Trump Tower. You do have to arrive early enough to secure a seat, but it is a great view of the fireworks and also the city and river. Regular outdoor firework viewing locations include; anywhere along the lakefront from about Oak Street to the Museum campus, Upper Wacker east of Michigan Avenue, the Michigan Avenue Bridge, the Wabash Bridge and the river walk below, East Illinois and McClurg Court.

Also, I love any opportunity to explore and wander so if you like food and people watching I would give the festivals you mentioned a go. I have never been to that particular street festival, but I enjoy a lot of Chicago street festivals when they sneak up on me. :o)

Chicago, IL
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9. Re: Help Needed Organizing Chicago Bucket List

WATER TAXI TO CHINATOWN

I would suggest you change this to "Chinatown" and consider the CTA red line as an alternative to the water taxi as necessary in one/both directions. Reason being, there are more redline stops in the Loop/mag mile area - and you'll already get a boat ride w/ the CAF tour. Just give yourself some more flexibility.

Rensselaer, Indiana
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10. Re: Help Needed Organizing Chicago Bucket List

I suspected from the OP's title that they may be of a more mature age and might want to forego Navy Pier, if they cannot get a seated vantage point.

Which brings up another point: Some people might assume that you can just show up early at a restaurant to snag one of these desired tables and keep sitting there until the show starts. Do not assume this. It may be that the restaurant places time limits on those tables - and perhaps a minimum $ charge as well, especially if they are outside. The restaurants usually state such on the menus posted, but if you are making a reservation more than an hour out, it's best to check in advance.

Personally, I try to keep my presence at Navy Pier on weekends, fireworks nights in particular, and holidays to an absolute minimum - and I usually only sit out at the far east end at or near the Beer Garden, as the crowds are somewhat lesser there (that's not saying there aren't a lot of people there). My own experience is that the tables (picnic and otherwise) there which do have the proper sightlines - and a large majority of them don't - are filled considerably before the fireworks begin.