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1st time visit- mag mile area better than the Loop?

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Chilliwack, Canada
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1st time visit- mag mile area better than the Loop?

My wife and are looking forward to a 1st time visit to Chicago (4 full days, 5 nights) and are doing some initial planning. In doing some research, some of the things we would like to see are your typical touristy things: chicago history museum, field museum, millennium park, mag mile, maybe a segway tour, maybe a mafia tour, willis tower. In the evenings see a couple plays, maybe a cubs game and go to a jazz club. Initially I thought we would like to stay in the Loop area as I understand thats where the theatres are. But, I have since read that the loop area is more of a downtown area and as such a bit more.....not sure the right word.....seedy? So now I am wondering if we would be better staying in the Mag mile area? With our list of things we would like to see....does this make sense? We prefer slightly upscale accommodations and won't have a car, and will be traveling on foot or by cab. I saw what looked like a good deal for the Langham, but not sure I want to stay somewhere too pretentious (not sure it is though?? just guessing??) Thanks for any help / suggestions you may have!!

Chicago, Illinois
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1. Re: 1st time visit- mag mile area better than the Loop?

Seedy is definitely not the right word. The loop is the business district. Other than the theaters, it gets quiet at night when all the office workers go home. River North/Mag mile usually works better for a first time visitor because there's more options for hotels, restaurants, shopping. But the two areas are right next to each other and either will work fine. They're both close to the major tourist attractions and have easy access to public transportation.

Chicago
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2. Re: 1st time visit- mag mile area better than the Loop?

Agree with Wes. Not even close to seedy. And I wouldn't say the Loop gets "quiet" at all--there are many bar and restaurant patrons, theatre and film goers, shoppers, etc. The two neighborhoods you are considering are right next to each other and actually, The Langham would be a good choice as it's right in the middle of the two so it's in walking distance to the south like the theaters or east to Millenium Park or north to where the bars and restaurants are. And I don't think The Langham is pretentious at all.

Chilliwack, Canada
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3. Re: 1st time visit- mag mile area better than the Loop?

Sorry, my choice of words may not have been the best. I just remember I read a post somewhere that someone said the Loop area was not as nice as the Mag Mile area, can't recall the exact description however, maybe that it was more of an older downtown area. And we arent night owls, so an area quiet in the evening is fine with us. Maybe another way to put it....if we wanted to go for an evening stroll is the Mag Mile area any different than the Loop are as far as safety goes? Thanks again for taking the time to respond!

Chicago, Illinois
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4. Re: 1st time visit- mag mile area better than the Loop?

The Loop is a vibrant area. Numerous colleges with high rise dormitories (24/7 population) residential high rise condos and apartments, government, entertainment, restaurants, hotels... Even Chicagoans are unaware that the Loop is a great, safe and NOT seedy neighborhood. We still remember it from the 1970's when it did fall on hard times. That was 30+ years ago! Yes, it is busier during the 9-5 work day but it is alive until well after the theatres get out at 11:00 pm. All public transit converges in The Loop. River North is just across the Chicago River and is what we consider "tourist central". You're very safe choosing a hotel in either location. The Magnificent Mile is a knickname for Michigan Ave between the Chicago River and Oak street Beach; it is a street in River North. The "Cultural Mile" is Michigan Ave south of the Chicago River to Roosevelt Road along Millennium and Grant Parks in the Loop area.

We walk from N Michigan Ave into the Loop at night all the time; Water Tower to the Opera House, friend in Printer's Row, Millennium Park events, and back home at midnight ...never felt unsafe anywhere, anytime.

Edited: 02 July 2014, 00:17
Chicago, Illinois
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5. Re: 1st time visit- mag mile area better than the Loop?

I do not know about a " mafia tour " but I will recommend the GREEN MILL for jazz. It is located in the Uptown neighborhood which is about 6 miles north of the Loop. This neighborhood is a tad seedy but has character never the less. Do some research on the Green Mill because it has an interesting organized crime history going back to prohibition. You can go there listen to some jazz and sit at the bar where old Chicago mobsters once sat sipping on gin martinis looking over their shoulders. Have fun.

Rensselaer, Indiana
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6. Re: 1st time visit- mag mile area better than the Loop?

Some of the big pros about staying in the Loop is that you are at the hub of all the 'L lines out to the various neighborhoods. In fact, that's why it's called "The Loop" - look at the Downtown Map on the CTA's website. And, with so many days at your disposal, I **strongly** urge you to go out and explore some of those outlying neighborhoods - not only for the dining but the entertainment options as well. Some of the best in the City.

Staying in the Loop, you are within easy walking distance of Millennium Park, Willis Tower, the Art Institute of Chicago, Grant Park - and much closer to the Museum Campus (Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium).

The pros with the Magnificent Mile is that there are more luxurious hotels in that area, you are closer to a couple of the beaches, and Navy Pier (think about going to the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, for example).

I agree totally with the suggestion about The Green Mill - although their history goes back even further to when Chicago was a major player (before Hollywood) in the silent film era. Charlie Chaplin, Gloria Swanson, Ben Turpin - who also worked as Essanay Studio's janitor, Bronco Billie all made silent films in Chicago. Essanay still has a location in Chicago.

In fact, when friends or relatives used to visit me and ask to see the "real" Chicago, I would take them to Uptown and visit The Green Mill. IMHO, to see the "real" Chicago, there needs to be a sprinkling of grittiness, seediness, blue-collar worker in addition to the slick, chic, cosmopolitan atmosphere.

If you do go to The Green Mill, it's OK to take the Red Line up to Lawrence, but I do strongly urge you to take a cab back downtown.

Edited: 02 July 2014, 19:50
7. Re: 1st time visit- mag mile area better than the Loop?

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