Chicago - Anniversary Night

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Stonebr
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Chicago - Anniversary Night

Post by Stonebr » Mon Jul 25, 2011 3:54 pm

My wife and I are going to Illinois to visit family, but one of the nights is our anniversary(Friday, August 12), and we are breaking away on our own in Chicago. I've already booked a hotel room near Wabash and Wacker.

Any suggestions of things to do downtown in the afternoon and evening?

Things we did last time we were there:
1. Navy Pier
2. "Architecture" Boat Tour
3. Buddy Guy's

We both like blues and jazz, but we are not big sports fans. Thanks for any suggestions...
"have more than thou showest, | speak less than thou knowest" -- The Fool in King Lear

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JupiterJones
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Post by JupiterJones » Mon Jul 25, 2011 4:18 pm

How about a visit to the Green Mill?

JJ
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orlandoguy
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Post by orlandoguy » Mon Jul 25, 2011 4:55 pm

...or how about some blues at either Kingston Mines http://www.kingstonmines.com/flash/main.html or B.L.U.E.S. http://www.chicagobluesbar.com/.

Hearing great things about the Jellyfish exhibit at the Shedd Aquarium this summer.

If you let us know what kind of food you enjoy, we can probably come up with more than a few suggestions.

All the best!

DTSC
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Post by DTSC » Mon Jul 25, 2011 5:02 pm

Are you into improv? Second City is excellent!

Triple digit golfer
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Post by Triple digit golfer » Mon Jul 25, 2011 6:10 pm

Museum of Science and Industry (see the body exhibit)

Also, I second Second City.

Stonebr
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Post by Stonebr » Mon Jul 25, 2011 6:21 pm

Super ideas. Thanks!
"have more than thou showest, | speak less than thou knowest" -- The Fool in King Lear

gkaplan
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Post by gkaplan » Mon Jul 25, 2011 7:25 pm

Buckingham Fountain
Art Institute
Museum of Science and Industry
Brookfield Zoo (or Lincoln Park Zoo)
Shedd Aquarium
Planetarium
Gordon

mikepru
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Post by mikepru » Mon Jul 25, 2011 7:36 pm

How old are you and your wife? What to do at night can be somewhat age-dependant. Mid-20s versus late 40s versus whatever.

e5116
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Post by e5116 » Mon Jul 25, 2011 10:30 pm

I've lived in Chicago for more than 20 years and personally my favorite site is the Art Institute. Its Impressionism collection is simply amazing and they have a great new modern wing (all the good stuff is on the top level). I'd recommend also walking around Millennium Park as well as the Magnificent Mile (unless you hate crowds and shopping).

For a great view of the city, I recommend getting a cocktail at the Signature Room on the 95th floor of the Hancock. The view from the Hancock is better than the view from the Sears (I refuse to call it Willis), although the Sears has new glass balconies that are supposed to be cool. The Signature Room has cocktails that will set you back $12 or so, but the ride up/view is free, while you have to pay $15 or something around there to get to the observatory level (I think maybe three floors higher), so you might as well get a free drink in a more swanky atmosphere. Supposedly, the best view of the city is from the women's bathroom, but I haven't confirmed that. ;)

Frankly, I find the two most overrated Chicago tourist sites are Navy Pier and the Shedd Aquarium, but some people enjoy them. The Shedd is also quite expensive - like $30. Second City is good and always fun - note that there are three different theaters at different prices. Obviously, the most expensive is the main stage and has acts that have been more tested as well as the top actors. The etc. stage and Piper's Alley are more test ones with more "green" improv artists and material that hasn't been as tested, but I've seen good shows in those two stages as well. They're all located within a half block radius. There are a lot of good Broadway shows in the theater district to check out if that interests you, but I'm not sure your taste. Those are definitely more impressive productions than Second City (and cost more), so it depends if you're more in the mood for sketch comedy or a fancy Broadway production.

As for food/restaurants, there are a LOT of great choices. If it's your anniversary and you want a nice fancy dinner, there are some great options although most of them will already be booked for a Friday night in August by now. Rick Bayless (winner of Top Chef masters) has two great Mexican places - Topolobampo and Frontera Grill. Neither of them take many reservations so you probably have to show up at 5 pm or after 10 pm to get a seat, but sometimes you can get lucky. As an alternative, I'd recommend his sandwich shop for lunch - Xoco. It's amazing and costs a lot less. You'll still have to wait probably 15-30 minutes to get to the counter which may seem overkill for a "sandwich shop" without waiters, but this isn't your typical joint. Get the upside down pork sandwich in the spicy soup - really authentic high-class Mexican cuisine for like $10.

Other great fancier restaurants for an anniversary dinner that I'd recommend include (although probably booked by now, so might need to show up early) include Blackbird, Avec (no reservations), Girl & the Goat (HUGE new hit in Chicago by Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard; quite an amazing meal though), and The Purple Pig (no reservations). The most decorated Chicago restaurant is Alinea (ranked top 3 in the US consistently), but it will set you back $1000 for a dinner for two and is booked for the next several months. Charlie Trotter's is also in that same category. Haven't tried either of those as they are a bit out of my price range.

If you prefer the more "traditional" Chicago experience, you can obviously go for some deep dish pizza at Uno's, Dues (it's the EXACT SAME restaurant as Uno's except across the street; do NOT wait 1.5 hrs at Uno's when there is a 30 minute wait at Due's), Gino's East, Lou Malnati's, etc. I'm partial to Gino's East or Lou Malnati's personally. Also you can try some spicy Italian beef - some great places around.

Hope that helps. Have fun!

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ualdriver
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Re: Chicago - Anniversary Night

Post by ualdriver » Mon Jul 25, 2011 11:35 pm

Stonebr wrote:My wife and I are going to Illinois to visit family, but one of the nights is our anniversary(Friday, August 12), and we are breaking away on our own in Chicago. I've already booked a hotel room near Wabash and Wacker.

Any suggestions of things to do downtown in the afternoon and evening?

Things we did last time we were there:
1. Navy Pier
2. "Architecture" Boat Tour
3. Buddy Guy's

We both like blues and jazz, but we are not big sports fans. Thanks for any suggestions...
I had a friend come to visit last week, and we did the requisite downtown visit. For something a little different I took him on a Segway tour, and he really enjoyed it as did I. There are several different tour companies to choose from, all pretty highly rated on Yelp and such except one with the owner's name "Steve" in the name of the company, but I forget the name. They all seem to be concentrated on the north end of Millenium Park and run $60-$70 for two to three hours of touring.

River North is a great neighborhood, and is where your hotel is. There are literally tons of restaurants, some with Jazz and Blues bands, but I'd ask the concierge. One of my favorite restaurants near that neighborhood is Cafe Iberico on LaSalle, about 10 blocks north of your hotel. Great tapas and sangria.

Have fun.

KyleAAA
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Post by KyleAAA » Mon Jul 25, 2011 11:36 pm

I'm in Chicago for business right now and we went to a jazz club on Hubbard (just north of the river) and it was pretty good. I'd recommend that street. Plenty of places to hang out.

Stonebr
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Post by Stonebr » Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:51 am

Again, thanks for the ideas to all, and great details -- e5116, KyleAAA,ualdriver. As I mentioned this is our anniversary, so we are looking for some atmosphere and nightlife and this is great stuff you're coming up with!
"have more than thou showest, | speak less than thou knowest" -- The Fool in King Lear

Atilla
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Post by Atilla » Tue Jul 26, 2011 10:57 am

You can rent bicycles just north of Navy Pier on the lakeshore path and then ride north to the Lincoln Park Zoo.

If I recall correctly there was a bike rental place right there on the beach.

Stonebr
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Post by Stonebr » Tue Jul 26, 2011 11:13 am

Atilla wrote:You can rent bicycles just north of Navy Pier on the lakeshore path and then ride north to the Lincoln Park Zoo.

If I recall correctly there was a bike rental place right there on the beach.
Thanks. My wife and I happen to be avid cyclists.
"have more than thou showest, | speak less than thou knowest" -- The Fool in King Lear

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jasonlitka
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Post by jasonlitka » Tue Jul 26, 2011 12:42 pm

gkaplan wrote:Buckingham Fountain
Art Institute
Museum of Science and Industry
Brookfield Zoo (or Lincoln Park Zoo)
Shedd Aquarium
Planetarium
+1 on all of these. Try and fit in a show while you're there as well, and make sure you blow WAY too much money on food. I love the restaurants in Chicago...
Jason Litka

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Midpack
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Post by Midpack » Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:34 pm

gkaplan wrote:Buckingham Fountain
Art Institute
Museum of Science and Industry
Brookfield Zoo (or Lincoln Park Zoo)
Shedd Aquarium
Planetarium
I've lived near Chicago for 18 years.

I don't have a particular interest in architecture, but I thoroughly enjoyed the architectural boat tour, and I have never heard a bad review by anyone. It's a really enjoyable 1½ hours.

Navy Pier is very touristy, I wouldn't include it among my choices.

IF you like art to begin with, the Art Institute is wonderful.

MOSI is nice, but it's a little overwhelming for a day. It would take a week to actually see the whole place IMO.

Shedd is only OK IMO, the only thing there really worth seeing is the Pacific Northwest exhibit. The view of Lake Michigan from there is breathtaking, and the dolphin/beluga show is fun. The old part of Shedd isn't that great IMO.

Planetarium only if that kind of thing interests you to begin with.

But where are you eating, the choices in Chicago are astounding, but you'll need reservations for many of them.
You only live once...

DTSC
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Post by DTSC » Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:46 pm

Go to Navy Pier - which is free, especially if you take the free shuttle down to save $20 on parking.

Then go to Fox and Obel http://www.fox-obel.com/ and buy some gourmet food for a picnic

Then catch a FREE concert at Millennium Park?

http://grantparkmusicfestival.com/the-music/2011-season


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