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Personal trip to Chicago...

Personal trip to Chicago...

Old Feb 23, 16, 9:02 am
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Personal trip to Chicago...

Hey Guys,

Unfortunately, I've rarely had a chance to visit the Midwest, since my work rarely takes me there. I've long since wanted to visit Chicago (aside from being at ORD!) and looking for some tips for a first-timer.

Some general questions:

1. Taking the Blue Line from ORD to Downtown Chicago generally safe? Or, only best to take it at certain hours?

2. Love steak and can't wait to have a Chicago style ribeye in Chicago! How does it compare to NY's? And, what are some of the best steakhouses to visit.

3. Will be staying in the Downtown (Chicago River) area and any recommendations to visit (aside from the obvious top 10 Trip Advisor suggestions)?

Thanks in advance!
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Old Feb 23, 16, 11:28 am
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Originally Posted by Visconti View Post
1. Taking the Blue Line from ORD to Downtown Chicago generally safe? Or, only best to take it at certain hours?
The Blue Line runs 24-7. It's generally safe, but I probably wouldn't get off in the Loop and walk several blocks to my hotel at 3 am. Then again, I wouldn't walk alone at night in most major cities. No obvious safety issues, but I'd use common sense. Also, the first train car contains the conductor's booth and if you're worried about being on the train with sketchy people you should choose that car.

2. Love steak and can't wait to have a Chicago style ribeye in Chicago! How does it compare to NY's? And, what are some of the best steakhouses to visit.
I'm not a serious steakeater, but my fiance is and Bavette's is our favorite. Make a reservation far in advance on Open Table. I believe you can sit at the bar to eat without a reservation, but you might want to double check that.

3. Will be staying in the Downtown (Chicago River) area and any recommendations to visit (aside from the obvious top 10 Trip Advisor suggestions)?
Interests? We could suggest a thousand things. You might want to peruse the other threads in this forum because it's a question often asked and answered.
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Old Feb 23, 16, 11:36 am
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1. Blue line is very safe between ORD and downtown. In fact, the L in general is pretty safe for visitors.

2. Tough question. Both cities have so many variations that you will probably find similarities and differences at every place. If you want a good steak, and an authentic experience, I suggest Gene & Georgetti's. I've sent co-workers there and they've loved it. Otherwise, there are of course all the fancier places. Another unique Chicago steakhouse experience is Gibson's.

3. What are your interests? Also, I assume you're going soon, when it could still be cold. You're in a central location for all the museums, aquarium (which may be the best in the country), planetarium, Lincoln Park Zoo, the Hancock, Willis (Sears) Tower. If it's nice, rent one of the Divvy bikes and bike along the lake from your hotel up to Lincoln Park. For restaurants, go to the West Loop. Also, my #1 recommendation for visitors is to take the river architectural tour. There are a couple locations right around River North.

I and others will be happy to give recommendations if you can be a little more specific.
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Old Feb 23, 16, 11:37 am
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[QUOTE=chgoeditor;26232152

I'm not a serious steakeater, but my fiance is and Bavette's is our favorite. Make a reservation far in advance on Open Table. I believe you can sit at the bar to eat without a reservation, but you might want to double check that.
[/QUOTE]

Bavette's is another great choice!
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Old Feb 23, 16, 11:58 am
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Steakhouses here in Chicago match up really well to those in NY and can be priced similarly. I second both Gibsons and Bavette's. I would also suggest Prime and Provisions especially for lunch. Portions are huge and pricing is more reasonable. Any visit to Chicago should incorporate the architectural tour - especially since you are staying by the river - as well as the Art institute. And a sporting event if you are a fan.
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Old Feb 23, 16, 1:25 pm
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Thanks for the insights so far!

On my initial visits to a city, I generally prefer the following:

1. Love to walk around a city, assuming the area is relatively safe.
2. Interested in visiting Museums and experience the city's history.
3. Would like to attend a Symphony and/or Opera, if in season.
4. Experience some aspects (food and/or culture) that is unique to Chicago.

Of course, would love to check out a game at Wrigley's, but would have to wait to return during baseball season.

Will definitely try all the recommended steakhouses!
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Old Feb 23, 16, 4:12 pm
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Bavette's is very good with excellent cocktails. Gibson's is old school but excellent. Chicago Cut, David Burke Primehouse, Gene and Georgetti, Smith & Wollensky, Michael Jordan's, and all the chains are also possibilities.

You might want to read some of the Eater and Chicago Magazine articles.

Two new places that I haven't had an opportunity to try yet are Swift & Sons and Maple & Ash.
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Old Feb 23, 16, 5:17 pm
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Anywhere you're likely to go in Chicago as a tourist is pretty safe. Common sense is required of course, such as don't walk through a dark alley late at night, and there's no reason to do something like that.

I would suggest walking through Millennium Park, then the Art Museum, right next to each other. The architectural tour will give you some history, and it's fun.

As far as food:

- Get a real Chicago hot dog or an Italian beef sandwich for lunch.
- Gene & Georgetti's or Gibsons, as I mentioned earlier.
- Check out the West Loop (restaurant row). Chicago has become famous for having an innovative restaurant scene with diners more open to new experiences. See if you can get in for drinks at The Aviary (it's been a while but you used to be able to email them for a 6 pm reservation). Then try Girl and the Goat or Publican for dinner, which are both about a block away. Or Google any of the other West Loop restaurants. Generally much better options than most of what you'll find in River North and the Loop.
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Old Feb 23, 16, 5:25 pm
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Originally Posted by Visconti View Post
Thanks for the insights so far!

On my initial visits to a city, I generally prefer the following:

1. Love to walk around a city, assuming the area is relatively safe.
2. Interested in visiting Museums and experience the city's history.
3. Would like to attend a Symphony and/or Opera, if in season.
4. Experience some aspects (food and/or culture) that is unique to Chicago.

Of course, would love to check out a game at Wrigley's, but would have to wait to return during baseball season.

Will definitely try all the recommended steakhouses!
1. Walking: Daytime you're fine walking in any neighborhood that a tourist might find him or herself. The Chicago Greeter program offers free drop-in walking tours of the Loop area (only on weekends, last I checked) and have a location on the ground floor of the Cultural Center (Michigan & Randolph). You can also book free private tours with greeters if you have a particular neighborhood or interest.

I'd highly recommend the Chicago Architectural Foundation tours. They offer many using many modes of transportation (walking, bus, boat, etc.).

2. Museums: Whether you're interested in art, history, natural history, science, animals, surgery, you name it, we have them all. Personally, my favs are the Museum of Science and Industry, the Chicago History Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art. But all are world class. You'll also get a lot of Chicago history on many of the Chicago Architectural Foundation tours. The Cultural Center is free and open to the public, and often has mini-exhibits.

3. Symphony/Opera: Check out the Chicago Lyric Opera, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra. We also have a great selection of theater, ranging from storefront theaters to places that mount Broadway-style musicals. If you check out the Lookingglass, Steppenwolf and Goodman, you'll probably see some familiar names on the list of company members.

4. Food & culture: Chicago has some of the world's top restaurants, and you probably wouldn't be disappointed at either of Rick Bayless's restaurants (Topolombampo and Frontera), Grant Achitz's spots (Next, Alinea and Aviary) or Stephanie Izard's (Girl and the Goat, Little Goat). If your tastes run more toward ethnic spots and holes in the wall, check out the Great Neighborhood Restaurant list on LTHForum.com.

Originally Posted by jerry a. laska View Post
Bavette's is very good with excellent cocktails. Gibson's is old school but excellent. Chicago Cut, David Burke Primehouse, Gene and Georgetti, Smith & Wollensky, Michael Jordan's, and all the chains are also possibilities.

You might want to read some of the Eater and Chicago Magazine articles.

Two new places that I haven't had an opportunity to try yet are Swift & Sons and Maple & Ash.
We're doing Swift & Sons for my fiance's birthday. I'll try to remember to report back!
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Old Feb 23, 16, 5:54 pm
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Originally Posted by chgoeditor View Post
...

We're doing Swift & Sons for my fiance's birthday. I'll try to remember to report back!
I'll be looking forward to your report!

We should probably try to resurrect the steakhouse thread which hasn't had any posts for a year or two.
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Old Feb 23, 16, 6:00 pm
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Visit the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings.

Depending on where you live, Chicago can be good for upscale shopping.

It's also good for food, with some less common options such as Greektown.
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Old Feb 23, 16, 6:01 pm
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Thanks for the input!

This is extremely helpful and will give me a good idea of make the best of my trip. By the way, being from the West coast, I'm looking forward to the cold; one of the reasons I've chosen Chicago this time of year is to experience some cold weather or even some snow.
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Old Feb 23, 16, 9:31 pm
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Originally Posted by chgoeditor View Post

We're doing Swift & Sons for my fiance's birthday. I'll try to remember to report back!
Be sure to tell them you are celebrating something. My husband and I went for a promotion-related celebration, and they made it a wonderful experience!
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Old Feb 24, 16, 11:21 am
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Originally Posted by rjque View Post
Be sure to tell them you are celebrating something. My husband and I went for a promotion-related celebration, and they made it a wonderful experience!
Thanks for the tip! We love Balena and Formento's, so have high hopes for Swift & Sons.
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Old Feb 24, 16, 12:05 pm
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If you like history and wandering around, you'll probably enjoy the Architectural Boat Tour (which I am sure is on the Tripadvisor list). Very enjoyable.

Steak houses -- My favorites are Chicago Chop House

http://chicagochophouse.com/

and the afore-mentioned Gene & Georgetti. Have not tried Bavette's. Will have to do so on my next trip in April.
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