Chicago or Toronto


Old May 12, 19, 1:26 pm
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Originally Posted by Tobias-UK View Post

That is exactly what my dear (now departed) father said to me the first time I took him! If thatís not a scene that pleases perhaps choose a hotel in the Fallsview area and avoid Clifton Hill, or a day trip from Toronto.
i do remember the blackpoolesque feel from 30 years ago. Weíd probably go for a day trip, or stretch to a night around Niagara on the Lake
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Old May 12, 19, 1:30 pm
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Toronto is a very nice city. Chicago is a great one. I am confident that Toronto would be a nicer place to live but Chicago is more interesting to visit. Would agree that deep dish pizza is vile and totally missable!

Niagara Falls is ghastly but if combined with the wineries and a stopover at Niagara in the Lake it can make a nice trip, traffic on the QEW permitting.

if you do hit Chicago and have an interest in the modern world, some time spent learning about architecture and then touring when you there will be rewarding. I did a couple of tours and found it fascinating.
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Old May 12, 19, 1:34 pm
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Not because it is my home town, but Chicago is a place not to miss visiting once in a life time
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Old May 12, 19, 1:48 pm
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Chicago as a city has the edge for me personally i visit once a year minimum for business and always stay the weekend, was there last month. more interesting architecture, cultural institutions but Toronto still a great city you wont go wring with either
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Old May 12, 19, 2:11 pm
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Originally Posted by trvllvr123 View Post
The A350 in club could be tempting too, at least if first isnít available on the later flight we can try that instead. What are the general thoughts on taking new CW over first? We donít have status and due to the Amex changes are unlikely to make any more avios trips, so the avios difference isnít a factor. Weíre also flying from Ncl, so will have the lounge experience both ways.

Gastrocnemius - Iíll look forward to your feedback, given it will be a similar time of year I expect it will be very useful.
If youíre not going to have the Avios again, if you can, Iíd suggest going First at least for the outbound daytime flight so you can say youíve done it.

At Heathrow, youíll get CCR access on your connection which is nice. If you can, for me, nothing will beat the F cabin on a 747 as an experience. Iím not talking about technically the best product, but as a Ďholiday treatí / something totally different, I think it is unique & wonít be around forever.

New Club will be nice I am sure but it is Club, not First - and as a one off, if you have the Avios, why not try F?
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Old May 12, 19, 2:32 pm
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There is also a cultural difference. In Toronto you will find references to the Crown and the UK on a regular basis (QE II is even on the dollar coin). Coming from the UK it will be more familiar. Chicago is distinctly American with buildings that chronicle the history -- Wrigley, Sears, etc. Depends on what you want.

When I visit Chicago, I usually take the El (subway) from the airport. It is cheap, $5, but it is a bumpy ride. If you can afford the $50 or so for a taxi, it will be more comfortable for sure, especially if you have a quantity of luggage.

Don't forget about Chicago neighborhoods -- the Greeks, Poles, etc. Also Hyde Park, the neighborhood around the University of Chicago and where the Obamas live.

I do like Toronto and will be going again this July, but I think Chicago dominates Toronto tourist-wise.
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Old May 12, 19, 3:07 pm
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I have lived in and around Chicago since 1994. Never been to Toronto, so cannot comment there.

Chicago is a great place to visit. Fantastic museums, maybe better than NYC in some ways. People travel here from all over the world to see Millennium Park and the Art Institute. Museum of Science and Industry and the Field Museum are also world-class.

Great food, theater, shopping. Terrific craft beer scene, some of the best in the world. Lake Michigan is gorgeous. Architectural River Cruise. Frank Lloyd Wright houses. Festivals. Chicago-style electric blues. Jazz. Symphony. Professional sports. Half-price theater through Hottix.

Easy to get around. Winter and summer are sometimes not that great for walking about. Can get uncomfortably hot/cold/windy. Spring/fall might be preferable. You mention June, which is when the Blues Festival and Gospel Festival are held. Others such as the huge Printers Row Book Fair.

Radisson Blu is I think the best Radisson property in the US for cashing in free nights (3 per year with $30k spend on credit card). Hyatt/Hilton/Marriott well-represented. If you check the convention calendar and come during slower times, hotels can be quite reasonable. Also check Hotwire/Priceline.

Cleaner and cheaper than NYC and people are friendlier Iíd say.

Check the Community Buzz forum here. Us FT locals often get together for dinner and other activities.

Last edited by toomanybooks; May 12, 19 at 3:20 pm
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Old May 12, 19, 3:14 pm
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I've been to BOTH cities at least a dozen times over the past 20 years. I was in Toronto last fall and in Chicago this Spring. They are obviously both large metropolitan cities offering everything you would expect from a large city like fine dining, cultural diversity, and large city touring excitement. However, they are also different in many ways. As stated by earlier posters, Chicago is a deeply AMERICAN city with a distinctive "Hog Butcher to the World" sort of vibe. Toronto has a more Euro-Metro feel to me and has more of a "relaxed" vibe, although it is catching up to Chicago in intensity lately.

Both cities have spectacular dining that will most likely delight your palate. Both cities have theater and museum and shopping districts that will also delight your senses and lighten your wallet. You can go to the CN Tower and enjoy a great view of the lake and the city in Toronto. Last time I was there the BAR was closed and only the fine dining restaurant and a small snack bar were open to tourists. That was a bit of a let-down as I really enjoy a drink at 550 meters. In Chicago the John Hancock building (tower) has a great bar and a restaurant and bar and in my opinion a bit better view and vibe than the CN tower. And it's less expensive to take the elevator to the top than the CN tower.

Museums and shopping? I'd have to give the edge to Chicago. The Art Institute of Chicago is amazing. I have to take Chicago's Michigan Avenue over Yonge Street in Toronto for shopping. And for whatever reason, I prefer the subway layout of Chicago over Toronto. Millennium park has some amazing concerts you can attend and sit on the lawn doing your own picnic. Buckingham fountain is gorgeous to view and visit on a hot day. And do by all means take your time when walking past the Chicago Tribune building. This landmark building on Michigan Avenue has parts of other buildings, walls, and landmarks from all over the world built into the base of it's facade. And they re all labeled. It's really a fun and free thrill to check them all out.

All in all, I'd pick Chicago if you have never been there. It has a more delights packed into its streets than Toronto does. Some refer to Chicago as the "Little" Apple (New York City's little brother), and in a way that's true.

Have fun whatever you plan on doing.


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Old May 12, 19, 3:20 pm
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As a Brit who has now lived in Chicago for four years, but who also knows Toronto, I have to say I think Chicago wins easily - especially if photography is on the list of things to do. In addition to the Radisson Blu, I would also consider the Intercon, near the bottom of the 'Magnificent Mile' and a fairly easy walk to the Blue Line of the 'L'. The two 'classic' Hilton properties (the Drake at the top of the 'mile' and the Palmer House in the Loop) are also lovely, in a slightly faded manner!

I think you'll also find better F availability on ORD.
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Old May 12, 19, 3:32 pm
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So much to think about, slightly leaning towards Toronto. I can remember loving Niagara on the Lake when I was a child, but I also love a nice winery, so that’s tempting me. My husband generally isn’t one for architecture photography, it tends to be trekking through Northumberland finding waterfalls (obviously on a smaller scale to Niagara) and beaches. I was originally set on Chicago, then I thought I needed a back up plan if I couldn’t get first class.
I’ve got enough points for 4 nights in a standard room in Chicago or a business class room in Toronto, we’d probably try to pay for an upgrade in Chicago to get the lounge and breakfast.
It’s a good dilemma to have, thanks for all the input.
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Old May 12, 19, 3:44 pm
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As someone who lives in Toronto I do agree with the comment up thread that Toronto is probably the nicer one to live in and Chicago would have more for a tourist. I love visiting Chicago but Toronto has grown so much and become a lot more interesting in the last decade that it's not the slamdunk for Chicago that it used to be. June is a tricky month in Toronto. Like most of the Great Lakes cities it can still be chilly or you can suffer from the horrible heat and humidity that comes in July and August. September is by far the best month to visit Toronto. As far as neighbourhoods I think Toronto actually has Chicago beat these days. Other than the one Chinatown around Spadina they do tend to be just outside of the immediate core but easily reachable in 10-15 minutes on transit. Hard choice between the 2 cities. I've always thought of them as being very similar. Toronto's core is bigger than Chicago's now and much safer but Chicagoland is quite a bit bigger than the GTA. If you do pick Toronto and want to go to Niagara Falls in a rental car don't drive into the city from the airport with one. Rent it downtown for the trip.
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Old May 12, 19, 3:58 pm
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Originally Posted by trvllvr123 View Post
..... My husband generally isnít one for architecture photography, it tends to be trekking through Northumberland finding waterfalls (obviously on a smaller scale to Niagara) ....
Well, you can find some nice trekking and some smaller waterfalls on the Bruce Trail, much of which is an easy drive from Toronto and very accessible if you head to Niagara.
Personally (as a former resident and now living 1-5 hours away depending on traffic) I wouldn't say Toronto is a "world-class" city like Chicago. But the wine region in Niagara is really developing and there are some terrific (if expensive) wines available now. I'd spend more time in Niagara-on-the-Lake than Toronto if you decide on that choice. I think you'll find it a fair bit cheaper in Canada than the US too, if that's a consideration. Our dollar has had the same decline against the US as the pound!
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Old May 12, 19, 4:12 pm
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youíre going to have a great time whichever city you choose ó both are fantastic. Iíd just pick the one thatís cheaper (with the sets of hotels/activities you want) and donít look back.
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Old May 12, 19, 4:30 pm
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I hope you will consider Nashville for your holiday.
We now have a First class cabin on the 787-9 and are daily service!
4-5 days here would be a blast for you.
Here in the US we are the IT city these days!
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Old May 12, 19, 7:21 pm
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Both are great cities and it depends on your interests. We enjoy spending a couple days in the miracle mile area for some nice restaurants and a great selection of hotels. It seems to me like they make better use of their lake front area in Chicago. I have spent more time in Chicago so I am a bit biased.

Oak Park is also close by and has the largest concentration of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings anywhere. He started his career in Oak Park and the Robie House is on the campus of the University of Chicago. The Johnson Wax building and Wingspread, two of his great works are nearby in Racine WI.
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