We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

SMART museum instead of Art Institute/General itinerary help

Which Chicago hotels are on sale?
dd/mm/yyyy dd/mm/yyyy
See hotels
Springdale, Arkansas
Level Contributor
180 posts
147 reviews
Save Topic
SMART museum instead of Art Institute/General itinerary help

Coming to Chicago for a couple days this month while doing college visits. I know my daughter has more things on her 'to do' list than we will be able to fit in. The top 2 were the Art Institute and Adler Planetarium. (Though some of the TA reviews had her rethinking Adler...) Anyway, while we're not doing a full-on campus visit at the University of Chicago, we had thought about walking around there just to see. If we do that, should we maybe visit the SMART museum and skip the Art Institute? I know, it's probably comparing apples and oranges...

Here's our (very) rough schedule:

Tuesday night stay in Evanston

Wednesday Northwestern tour til 1130am

Lunch in Evanston

Gross Pointe Lighthouse? Walk through Loyola campus?

drive to downtown (hotel still up in the air)

Millennium Park? U of C campus?

dinner

Navy Pier fireworks?

Thursday DePaul visit til noon

lunch

Urban Outfitters surplus store

Shopping

Adler

dinner

Millennium park Jazz concert or Art Institute (open til 8pm)

I think she would like the views from the Skydeck or 360 Chicago, they are open late, so perhaps we could squeeze that in Wednesday night. Planning to leave Chicago around 8 or so Thursday night to get on the road towards our next destination. Thanks in advance for any advice/insight!

Rensselaer, Indiana
Level Contributor
6,745 posts
Save Reply
1. Re: SMART museum instead of Art Institute/General itinerary help

"If we do that, should we maybe visit the SMART museum and skip the Art Institute? I know, it's probably comparing apples and oranges..." Now there's an understatement! Just take a look at their websites and you'll see. They just aren't in the same class at all.

You have too full of an itinerary. Cut out 1/2 of what you have shown and maybe you can make it.

You aren't allowing even 1/2 enough time for the museums. For example, the Art Institute, 3-4 hours is the norm - 2 hours wouldn't even cover the highlights and I doubt you even have 1.5 hours in your itinerary for this world-class museum. The Adler 1.5-2 hours.

Chicago
Level Contributor
7,423 posts
64 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: SMART museum instead of Art Institute/General itinerary help

Should we go to Alinea or Al's Beef? LOL. The Art Institute is a world class institution with art and antiquities from all over the world from all time periods and a half or even a full day would be recommended. SMART is free on the U of C campus and is fun and great, depending on what the exhibit is and will take you about an hour. Go to SMART while you are on the campus, but it's not worth an extra trip (unless you go to the nearby Oriental Museum). And yes, go to Loyola--why not and UC--why not. If you are considering Northwestern anyway, UC is a peer. And if you are considering DePaul, Loyola is a peer.

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
13,551 posts
117 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: SMART museum instead of Art Institute/General itinerary help

Your itinerary is too full

Wednesday

By the time you're done with Evanston, it'll be mid to late afternoon and rush hour, and about an hour drive to Hyde Park where U of C is. You won't have time to go there that day. Maybe you have time to walk around Loyola on the way downtown. You could do one of the Skydecks that night instead of Navy Pier, which really is not that interesting.

On Thursday, if you are busy at DePaul until noon and then have lunch and then go shopping, you don't have time for any museums that day, especially if you are leaving that evening..

Springdale, Arkansas
Level Contributor
180 posts
147 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: SMART museum instead of Art Institute/General itinerary help

Thank you. It's one of those things where, right as I hit 'post', I realized my question about the museums was probably silly. Perhaps my daughter will be shopped out after the Mall of America (LOL) and we can cut shopping out of this trip. I'll just send her back to the drawing board to figure out what's really most important on her sightseeing list.

Chicago
Level Contributor
1,318 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: SMART museum instead of Art Institute/General itinerary help

I will sound like a fuddy duddy but I'd skip the shopping and add in the museums/beaches/anything else that makes Chicago unique. Especially if you are going to Mall of America. There is going to be relatively no difference at the Chicago Forever 21/Urban/etc vs. the Minnesota Forever 21/Urban/etc. Go and use those extra hours to get a real feel of the neighborhood of which your daughter may be living in for the next 4 years.

pgo
Chicago
Destination Expert
for Chicago
Level Contributor
7,151 posts
17 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: SMART museum instead of Art Institute/General itinerary help

Consider the Hilton Chicago (720 S. Michigan Avenue) as a convenient resting place halfway between DePaul and the U of C. It has an arrangement with the U of C with special rates and a shuttle to and from campus. DePaul can be easily reached via the Red Line train.

Edited: 09 July 2014, 20:51
Springdale, Arkansas
Level Contributor
180 posts
147 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: SMART museum instead of Art Institute/General itinerary help

"Consider the Hilton Chicago (720 S. Michigan Avenue) as a convenient resting place halfway between DePaul and the U of C." Thank you! I had checked with them awhile back, they are all booked up the day we are there. I'm thinking maybe the Talbott or the MileNorth as a placeholder while I see if I can find a deal on Priceline or Hotwire. Though, the Talbott looks pretty nice and DePaul has a special rate with them. I figured we'd be taking the train instead of trying to drive around.

Chicago
Level Contributor
7,423 posts
64 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: SMART museum instead of Art Institute/General itinerary help

Talbott would be the hotel I'd choose over MileNorth.

Springdale, Arkansas
Level Contributor
180 posts
147 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: SMART museum instead of Art Institute/General itinerary help

Thanks, I think my daughter would enjoy the Talbott. Not that we'll be spending much time there. Now, to decide how much I would have to save on a 'mystery hotel' to give up this sure thing. I feel like I'm on Let's Make a Deal! ;o)

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
1,067 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: SMART museum instead of Art Institute/General itinerary help

I agree with most of the posters. Skip all museums, maybe save if she goes to a Chicago school.

Red line/purple line Subway/El train connects Northwestern in Evanston, Loyola both campuses, Depaul both campuses. Staying at the Talbott is a fabulous location but might be pricey, Steps from Loyola Lewis Towers campus and a block or two from Red Line.

Probably do not take the Red line South of Chinatown as the neighborhoods get dicey. Therefore driving to U of Chicago (Hyde Park) might be a good recommentation or a bus. It is not to safe especially at night in neighborhoods surrounding Hyde Park U of Chicago. All the other Univ's are in either Super Safe areas or at least ok.