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Calling Chicago for Four, Chicago for Four - Anyone!

Eyota, Minnesota
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Calling Chicago for Four, Chicago for Four - Anyone!

Heading to Chicago by train from Winona to Union Station - There are four of us from mid 30's to 40's. June 3rd-June 7th. We are staying at the Chicago River Hotel. My first concern is that we will just take a taxi from the train to the hotel?? Sooo, What should we do, where should we go? I was thinking of touring the city by the river, any thoughts? I want to go to a rooftop bar, any suggestions. Yes I want to see grant park (buckingham fountain), millenium park, the skydeck at willis tower, navy pier and the magnificent mile but what about the stuff I don't know about....chinatown, gino's east or Vitos and Nick's pizza, best hotdogs around, beaches? State street shopping? Wrigleyville? what is this dueling piano place? It's my sister and I (think late night dancing) and my aunt and uncle older than us and most likely will do less walking and turning in early. Is the best way to just cab it - or is that going to get crazy spendy? Also I think June 7th the blues fest kicks off - think we better check that out. I would love suggestions and help from those that love this city, I am so excited!!

Illinois
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1. Re: Calling Chicago for Four, Chicago for Four - Anyone!

Taxi is best from US to your hotel.

Please start by doing some research at www.choosechicago.com for ideas of what to see/do here.

Vito & Nick's is on the southwest side of Chicago. Worth the commute? That's up to you.

You're thinking of howlatthemoon.com/locations/location-chicago - duealing pianos

Since there's four of you - cabs are best for short distant travels.

Also consider - groupon.com/deals/chicago-transit-authority-…

www.chicagoreader.com and www.chicagomag.com for dining and entertainment information.

Chicago, IL
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2. Re: Calling Chicago for Four, Chicago for Four - Anyone!

Can I ask where you got the idea for Vito & Nick's? It's WAY outside the center of the city. I've had it a couple of times, I've never had a hankering to go back so it couldn't have been that good. Personally wouldn't go to Gino's East either but that's a preference, at least you are not spending a couple of hours getting there. Lou Malnati's (deep dish), Giordano's (stuffed), Edwardo's (stuffed), Pizano's (but not the one on State, worst pizza I've had in a long time, Rush Street was much better) are some other options. Thin crust someone else will have to help you with.

For river tours, the most highly recommended is the CAF architecture tour if that interests you. If you just want a ride on the river, there are water taxis for a lot less money and at certain times they go all the way to Chinatown (no schedule on their website yet), no commentary though, just a ride on the river.

http://www.architecture.org/tours/boat-tours

www.chicagowatertaxi.com/SitePages/Home.aspx

Four people traveling, I would take cabs. A lot of places will be walkable from your hotel, State Street, Millennium Park, Blues Fest. Stop by the Cultural center on the corner of Michigan & Randolph across from MP. Tourist office plus a really cool building.

Chicago, Illinois
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3. Re: Calling Chicago for Four, Chicago for Four - Anyone!

I had to look up that hotel. That's the one in the old Lincoln Tower. A bit under the radar and I walk past it all the time. I wonder who wrote their website which says that they're on "the Miracle Mile"!!! Hello! "The Miracle Mile" is in Los Angeles not Chicago. We have "the Magnificent Mile" in Chicago. I wonder how this hotelier actually relates to Chicago. Let us know how your stay goes. Anyway, it is very well located.

Your choices, however, are all over the map and a few are not recommendable. Vito's and Nick's? Where did you find that one? Gino's, blech, but perfect for tourists so they don't crowd out Malnati's and Uno/Due or even Pequod's if you get up to north Clybourn Ave in Lincoln Park. Rooftop bars within walking distance from your hotel: Hotel Witt, Rock Bottom Brewery, Dana Hotel, Park Hyatt, Hotel Lincoln... Check to be sure that they're open.

Chicago, Illinois
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4. Re: Calling Chicago for Four, Chicago for Four - Anyone!

OMG! You all know how much I do not like it when someone calls Michigan Avenue the "Miracle Mile". And for a Chicago Hotel to have that in BOLD on the top of their website!

You will also notice, no one mentioned Bacino's, the restaurant at the hotel for pizza.

They also do not have a 24 concierge. They have the Front Desk 24 hours, but not an actual Concierge.

But anyway, good location I think since it is between Magnificent Mile and State St and others on your list.

The closest rooftop with be The Roof at The Wit Hotel, State and Lake.

Eyota, Minnesota
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5. Re: Calling Chicago for Four, Chicago for Four - Anyone!

Dave148 - Thanks for the links I'll keep doing my homework, Have you been to howlatthemoon- a friend suggested it! LoveChicago - I am sorry I have pissed of the Pizza lovers (never a good thing or my intentions!) I found the "best pizza in Chicago" on some random site. I had a top five and yes I didn't bother to check how far away they were - I just drooled and said I'll go anywhere for the best! That is why I second guessed the pizza place in my hotel, is it the best, I can eat pizza here in MN how does Chicago's Compare - a hotel pizza is my best comparable - I'm wondering on that answer! I never thought of the just doing the water Taxi genius! Thanks for those links - I was thinking a night tour on the water could be breathtaking but is that stupid will I actually see the architecture? I will look into this more! Shallow_shoals Ok the hotel reference has freaked me out - Damn I am embarrassed for them. It was really hard to find open rooms I am guessing because of blues fest and I think there was some conference going on - this was available and centrally located. I swear if they lost my reservation.....Haha ok let's not freak out! Thanks for the rooftop bar lists I will check on prices-Hotel witt looks swanky and needs reservations? I will look into this!!!

Chicago Suburbs
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6. Re: Calling Chicago for Four, Chicago for Four - Anyone!

Read the article under "Top Questions about Chicago" to learn about the different types of pizzas. Vito and Nicks is very different from Ginos. IIRC, Bacinos is not in the article, but they make great stuffed pizza. There is no answer for what the best pizza is; different people have different opinions.

Illinois
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7. Re: Calling Chicago for Four, Chicago for Four - Anyone!

Vito & Nicks was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives. Maybe that is where it got some of its celebrity?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ob1tLx5wiM

Eyota, Minnesota
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8. Re: Calling Chicago for Four, Chicago for Four - Anyone!

Will do RickMP! - thanks. Yes that is exactly where I heard it!! DD&D

Edited: 07 April 2013, 16:20
Rensselaer, Indiana
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9. Re: Calling Chicago for Four, Chicago for Four - Anyone!

RIR, yes, the CAF River Cruise is the most highly recommended. You should realize that while Chicago grew up around its harbor and the Chicago River, the city is very large, so most of your explorations will be away from the River.

What you and your party should consider investing in are the CTA Visitor's Passes. Unlimited travel on CTA busses and 'L lines 24/7 for however many days you purchase.

You are staying at the Chicago River Hotel, which is in the historic Mather Tower built in the late 1920's - and, if you take the CAF River Cruise, you will hear them talk about that building further. It is located on Wacker Drive (which runs parallel to the Chicago River), east of State St., almost to N. Michigan Avenue (the Magnificent Mile). Since there are four of you, plus luggage, you might wish to take a minivan taxi to your hotel from Union Station.

I'm going to mention something that your party might like to do to see a little bit of Chicago around the Chicago River and Lakefront, while stretching your legs from the long train journey:

Once you have checked in, you might wish to take a short (or longer - up to you how far you want to go) walk on the Chicago Riverwalk - which is also a great opportunity to see where the CAF River Cruise, as well as the water taxi companies, have their boarding in that area. To get there, you would cross Wacker Drive to go to the north sidewalk at either State St. (which is to the west of your hotel) or Michigan Avenue (to the east).

If you do so at State Street, just to your right before the bridge (to the east), you will see some ramps and steps going down to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which is located at Wabash Plaza. (Wabash is the street immediately east of State Street.) You just then need to walk eastwardly along the Riverwalk, under the DuSable Bridge (fka Michigan Avenue Bridge). Just to the east of the foot of the bridge, you'll see the docking areas for the CAF boats.

If you choose to go to the Riverwalk at Michigan Avenue (on the east side), you have to walk down a few flights of stairs. I'm mentioning both to you because you don't mention how active and able all of the members of your party are.

If you wish to continue walking east along the Riverwalk, it follows the Chicago River and you can take it all the way east to DuSable Harbor. Along the way, across the Chicago River at McClurg Court, you will see your first fountain on this walk - the Nicholas J. Melas Memorial Fountain and Water Arc. If you are there on the top of the hour, you will see the water cannon in operation. Since this utilizes water from the Chicago River itself, you **do not** want to be standing or walking near or in the spray when it goes off.

The Riverwalk then curves southwards (through the Riverwalk Gateway*) and joins the Lakefront Trail. About 3-4 blocks to the south, you would be to the east of Millennium Park. At that point, you can could take the Frank Gehry-designed BP (Serpentine) Pedestrian Bridge back west into the park itself. I'm going to give you an URL for the Grant Park Music Festival's website which shows a map of this area of which I'm writing. Unfortunately, the Grant Park Orchestra's first concert will occur after you leave, but you can enjoy some of their music from this website. grantparkmusicfestival.com/plan-your-experie…

If you continue southward on the Lakefront Trail for another 5-6 blocks, you would be walking along Grant Park and see Buckingham Fountain. You cannot miss the fountain, as it is one of the largest in the world. The water shows occur at every hour, on the hour, and there are light and music water shows at night (on the top of the hour). You can read up on it a little here: chicagoparkdistrict.com/parks/clarence-f-buc…

The lakefront area immediately across Lake Shore Drive from Buckingham Fountain is called the Queen's Landing. It's named that because Queen Elizabeth II (and Prince Philip) alighted from their watercraft at this point in the late 1950's celebrating opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. You can pick up a Shoreline harbor taxi there, if you wish, to continue on to the Museum Campus (where the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum and Adler Planetarium are located) or take one northwards to Navy Pier. At Navy Pier, you can transfer from the harbor taxi docking to one of the company's river taxis to take you to N. Michigan Avenue (by the Wrigley Building) or even go as far south as the Willis Tower.

Of course, if you don't feel like all this scenic walking along the Chicago River and then the lakefront, you can just walk from your hotel to Michigan Avenue; cross with the light to the east sidewalk; and then head south three blocks. The north end of Millennium Park is right across Randolph Street to the south. If you want to go to the Chicago Cultural Center, it's just across the street - and I recommend highly that you do so.

The Chicago Cultural Center has a visitor's center. The Chicago Greeter InstaGreeter service for the Loop originates there. They have many free concerts, exhibits and events there. And, the building is architecturally significant - they have building tours of the two Tiffany domes (largest in the world) and their mosaics. cityofchicago.org/city/…

The Art Institute of Chicago is immediately south of Millennium Park. Highly, Highly, Highly recommend that you go there, if you have the time. And the Chicago Architecture Foundation's main location, the ArchiCentre, is housed in the Santa Fe (aka Transportation) Building just across S. Michigan Avenue from the south end of the Art Institute - another great stop.

The Chicago Blues Festival begins June 6. You can see the information a bout the concerts here: cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_inf…

All this walking around will make you a little - or a lot - hungry - or maybe you'll already be hungry from your trip and want something before you start out. I recommend that at some time during your explorations you stop in at Pastoral: Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine (on E. Lake Street), very close to your hotel. Pick up a little something special for a nice picnic out in one of the parks mentioned above. http://www.pastoralartisan.com/

BTW, you are coming to a world-class dining destination. Live it up a little and enjoy something that you don't get at home. Try some ethnic cuisine or something a more little special.

*Lastly, during all of your explorations, enjoy some of Chicago's public outdoor artwork. Here is a brochure for your use to do so: cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/dca…

Have fun in Chicago.

Edited: 07 April 2013, 18:01
Chicago, IL
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10. Re: Calling Chicago for Four, Chicago for Four - Anyone!

" I am sorry I have pissed of the Pizza lovers (never a good thing or my intentions!) " No worry about that, I just wondered where the recommendation came from. Sometimes when you are reading sites like Chowhound or LTH Forum the recommendations really aren't always practical for a visitor, people are always trying to find that undiscovered place that no one else knows about. I'd be really ticked if I visited Chicago, went all the way out to Vito & Nick's without a car, to have unmemorable pizza.

Besides, best pizza is subjective, I've had bad pizzas at many of the places people recommend on here, I'm sure the converse is true with the places I've recommended. If anyone says a pizza is the best, it's purely their opinion, nothing more.