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Planning a trip to Chicago

HadjiQuestHadjiQuest Registered User regular
edited March 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
On a somewhat limited budget.

It looks like it's far, far cheaper to stay by the airport than it is to stay in the city. I know about the hostel, but I want to keep trying for a hotel/motel. My worry is that it'll be extremely inconvenient to go back and forth between the city and the airport.

Do most of the hotel/motels by O'Hare or Midway have shuttles or some form of mass transit into the city? Do these services stop at a certain time of night, and how much will they run me? I'm not expecting to be out past midnight.

Also, does anyone know which hotels will allow 19 year olds to check in? From all the travel sites I've checked, alot of places only accept those who are 21 or older.

I'm considering taking a train from here in Detroit, as well (since it's actually cheaper than gas will be). Is there any way I can get this to spit me out near O'Hare, or is the only station around those parts Union Station? How would I even get near O'Hare from there?

HadjiQuest on

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    HlubockyHlubocky Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    The CTA orange line runs between Midway and the loop, and the blue line runs between O'Hare and the loop. The orange line probably takes 30-40 minutes to get downtown from Midway and I'm guessing about an hour for the blue from O'Hare. Each one-way trip on the el costs $2.00 no matter how far you are going. That said, I would definitely look into finding a hotel in the city? What is your budget like? Are you going anywhere in particular (visiting friends on the north side, seeing sites downtown, etc)? I can't really speak to the hotel/age problem. Your best bet is to just call.

    Hlubocky on
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    MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Yeah, let us more detials on what you'd like to do/see.

    As far as going between O'Hare and the city, it's not really innconvienienet. just a big waste of time. As Hlubocky said, the Blue Line runs from downtown to the airport (actually inside the airport), but takes like an hour. Now, you can get off anytime, but there's really nothing worth seeing in the suburbs.

    Take a look at Rosemont for hotels; it's a little closer to the city, and has a crap-load of hotels.

    Go to Transit Authority's site and look at some of the 'burbs the L (or Metra) stops in. See if you can find a hotel near one of the stations.

    MichaelLC on
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    saint2esaint2e Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    I've been to Chicago a couple times now, and here are my highlights:

    1) Jazz clubs. It's what Chicago is known for! Some clubs will charge you an entrance fee, some will not. Just be prepared to pay an entry fee if you want to check out some of the good jazz clubs

    2) I have yet to go up to the Sears tower, however, I have been up the John Hancock tower twice, (once during the day and once at night). It's an impressive alternate to the Sears Tower. The good thing about the Sears tower is it's right next to the train station, and right by the river. Unfortunately it was closed the time I went at night (Hancock is open later), and the other time my hotel was right next to the John Hancock (Westin), so it made sense.

    Also, in the base of the John Hancock, there's the Cheesecake factory. Cheesecake is my kryptonite, so I had a very lovely time there. It is, however, more expensive than your usual cafe.

    3) Navy pier is just cool to walk around, let alone partake of the activities. It's right on the waterfront, so it's a pleasant evening activity and will be cheap to do.

    4) Just walk down Michigan Avenue, really. You'll pass the John Hancock Building, Navy Pier is a short side trip away, you'll see NBC Studios, the river, "The Bean", Buckingham Fountain, that weird building that looks like someone's sliced off a piece of it at the top. It's a good walk.

    5) Shedd Aquarium. It's pricey, but it's freakin' amazing.

    6) The Museum of Holography Chicago - Kinda off the beaten path, but really neat.

    saint2e on
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    ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    So, you're going to spend more money to stay in a motel where you'll be spending a couple hours a day riding the El just to get to the city and back, rather than spending less to stay in a hostel in the middle of the city? o_O

    And you say you're trying to keep to a lmited budget, too?

    Thanatos on
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    TaximesTaximes Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    There was this from a couple weeks ago, too, for things to do.

    Taximes on
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    bigpandabigpanda Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    If you're going to be there for St. Paddy's day, plan on bringing a good coat, hat and gloves because it can get VERY cold. We went a couple years back (I'm originally from Detroit so I'm pretty used to cold weather) and it was absolutely freezing. Despite that, we still had a fantastic time.

    I'd also recommend asking some of the locals about the bars, but plan on going early and staying late and finding a good Irish pub with live music/dancing. Can't remember the one we went to but I got completely wasted, gorged on food, had a blast and woke up the next morning feeling like a million bucks, go figure.

    If the weather breaks and ends up being reasonably warm, spend an hour on the waterfront park. It was a nice to slow down for a bit before heading back into the city.

    bigpanda on
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    unilateralunilateral Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    A friend of mine is in Chicago right now with her mom for a few days. They got some sort of sight-seeing pass for $49. It lets you into the aquarium, the field museum, the museum of science and industry, the hancock building and something else that I can't remember. Seems like a pretty good deal, because the aquarium is like $20 to get in to by itself.

    EDIT: Also, the weather is wonderful right now, in case you plan on going today or tomorrow :).

    unilateral on
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    HadjiQuestHadjiQuest Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    I'm not going until July, for the Pitchfork Music Festival, but last year by the time I went to plan, all the hostels and hotels were filled and we ended up just flying by the seat of our pants because the friend I brought was extremely irresponsible and kind of fucked us.

    So this won't be for a long time, but I want to get a super head start. As for what I do in the city, it depends how long I stay and when I can grab train tickets, which I haven't planned out yet. I'd like to go for 3 nights (4 days), but I am shit-broke and may only be able to afford 2 nights (which would carry me through only the three days of the festival).

    Last year, we drove, and we ended up staying with someone I met on a website at the last minute, which was damn strange.

    HadjiQuest on
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    MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited March 2007
    I had to look that one up.

    That be downtown, man.

    Definiely would try to find something in the city if that concert is so far south.

    Yeah, we cram a year's worth of festivals and activities into June, July, and sometimes August, as it's too hot or cold the rest of the year. Yes, we're whinny bitches, but damnit, we have a The Bean!

    MichaelLC on
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    MuddBuddMuddBudd Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    I went to college downtown at Columbia College Chicago, and they turn most of the dorms into a hostel during the summer. It may only be for foreign students, I am not sure, but look into it.

    And if you use it, for gods sake don't make a mess and be polite to the other people in the building, because people will have to live in those rooms come fall, and there is usually one whole floor of summer class students.

    As for stuff to do, check out all the museums and such, the aquarium is fantastic. Just walking along the lakeshore is really nice.

    Boystown is nice too, even if you are straight, the area around it is really kind of trendy and cool (or was when I lived there) with lots of interesting music shops and stuff. The actual main drag of Halsted is kind of a neat touristy thing too, given that it's the only officially recognized (as in, by the city govt.) gay street in the country.

    Crows Nest was a cool music shop downtown, and I second walking down Michigan ave. Also, go get you some deep dish at Pizzaria Uno. It's near Watertower Place.

    MuddBudd on
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    mcpmcp Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    MuddBudd wrote: »
    I went to college downtown at Columbia College Chicago, and they turn most of the dorms into a hostel during the summer. It may only be for foreign students, I am not sure, but look into it.

    And if you use it, for gods sake don't make a mess and be polite to the other people in the building, because people will have to live in those rooms come fall, and there is usually one whole floor of summer class students.

    As for stuff to do, check out all the museums and such, the aquarium is fantastic. Just walking along the lakeshore is really nice.

    Boystown is nice too, even if you are straight, the area around it is really kind of trendy and cool (or was when I lived there) with lots of interesting music shops and stuff. The actual main drag of Halsted is kind of a neat touristy thing too, given that it's the only officially recognized (as in, by the city govt.) gay street in the country.

    Crows Nest was a cool music shop downtown, and I second walking down Michigan ave. Also, go get you some deep dish at Pizzaria Uno. It's near Watertower Place.
    Speaking of pizza, there's a little pizza place on Dearborn and Division called Edwardo's Natural Pizza.

    Hands down my favorite place to get pizza in the city.

    So good.

    mcp on
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    mcpmcp Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    Also:

    When you're in town, drop by the Twisted Spoke at midnight on a Saturday for some Smut and Eggs.

    mcp on
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    HadjiQuestHadjiQuest Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    You dudes are awesome.

    I just found a potential third to go with, so hopefully I may be able to extract a little cash from these guys to help pay for a room in the city.

    HadjiQuest on
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    MuridenMuriden Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    I went to Chicago for a week last summer with some college friends and had a great time.
    We stayed at a La Quinta that was just north of O'Hare and I was able to bargain with the receptionist to give me a single rate for a double room. The hotel provided a shuttle to and from O'Hare where we took the Blue Line to Downtown. Using the CTA is nice because you get train and bus fair on one card. The Blue Line to O'Hare is a LONG trip (30-45 min) so we had to plan time accordingly.

    Visit the Museums of Natural History, Science and Industry and the Shedd Aquarium. All worth the tickets. Six Flags was fun as well, but you have to drive up north to go there.
    http://wikitravel.org/en/Chicago

    One of the cool things that I filled my camera's mem card with was The Bean in Millennium Park. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bean

    Do a bit of research into things and do a lot of time planning. We didn't do nearly all that we wanted to. Driving is a big pain with traffic, plan where you want to go and schedule days that are to specific areas. I found it was very easy and effective to take the CTA. This took out the problem of having to split gas and driving time in the city.

    Figure out what train stop you get off of and what bus will take you to what, the CTA is one system for trains and buses so you can buy transit cards at a train station that will save you time fumbling for change on buses.

    If you start narrowing down places to stay at and they have shuttles, call ahead and ask for shuttle times so you can take that into consideration when doing time planning. We had to make sure we took the Blue Line back to O'Hare in time to catch the 2nd to last shuttle so we weren't stranded. Also it doesn't hurt to have the Hotel's front desk number and/or the shuttle driver's number in case you think you missed it.

    Also make sure you have a good idea of what you're going to see beforehand and discuss with everyone that's going. We planned a day for Six Flags and when we were driving I found out one of my friends hates rides so he ended up spending a day in the hotel watching TV while we were enjoying the theme park.

    Other than that, have a good time.

    Muriden on
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