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Old 06-06-2008, 11:11 AM   #1
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Chicago travels

Hi everyone,
We're planning a vacation to Chicago in a couple of weeks and was hoping I could get some info on reasonable places to go with a family of 5. We'd like to dine and entertain our 3 kids (ages 14, 11 and 5) without breaking our bank. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance.

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Old 06-06-2008, 10:12 PM   #2
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The museum pass is usually a good deal, one price gets you into all the museums on the list, enough to keep you busy for a couple of days.
The Museum of Science and Industry usually rates much higher on kids fun scale than the other museums, and if you can take a bus there and avoid parking it is fairly reasonable as well.
For dining it all depends on your tastes but since you are coming here you should at least try a Chicago Hot Dog once, or a good Italian Beef. If you are staying in a hotel downtown they will usually have recommendations and menus on hand for you for suggestions and ideas. There is Jerry's Sandwiches on 1045 W. Madison, it is a neighborhood adjacent to the UIC campus (which is a great place to look for cheap eats). Chinatown is a must stop, even if just to browse the shops and try the Chinese Bakeries which are the best deals. Giant dumplings filled with meat, Bubble Teas, etc. Greek town is also next to the UIC campus and has lots of cool restaurants there.
Around Cicero some of our favorites are Tasty Dog, Scatchells, and Buffet City. In Evanston there is Herm's Palace.
In all honesty, I don't know of many places downtown that are very reasonable, even McDonalds costs more there! Unless you go to Harold's Chicken Shack.. but I am not recommending that. Then there is the Polk Street Pub, The White Palace, both on the south loop area. Basic fair good eats but nothing special to Chicago.
So, you might be better off venturing out of Chicago for eats and save your money for one specialty restaurant downtown. If you like Thai we recommend the PS Bankock on Clark St. For ice cream there is Margie's Candies on Armitage and Western.
Otherwise there is an Ethnic Food Court in Watertown Place that is pretty good and pretty reasonable.
Bottom line is that eating downtown is not very cheap but there is a ton of variety everywhere you look!
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Old 06-07-2008, 12:40 AM   #3
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I had lunch at a Thai restaurant across Michigan Ave. from the Art Institute of Chicago that was pretty reasonable. It's very close to Millennium Park, which is fun to visit, especially when it's hot. The Crown Fountain is a blast for children.
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Old 06-07-2008, 12:58 AM   #4
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I could live on Garrett's popcorn instead of a meal -- fresh, hot and dribbling down my chin! My kids love Cheesecake Factory, and the portions are gargantuous enough to share. Yes, I know it's a chain, but we don't have one in Green Bay so it's a treat for them. I thought the food at the Museum of Science & Industry was expensive, personally (from a family budget perspective). We ate at a place downtown, was it Eleven? Does that sound familiar Maverick? It was kinda fun, diner style. Didn't care for the rude place, thought it was filthy (but pretty fun for kids). I agree, you need to try a Chicago style hot dog (as served!!), and your family will likely enjoy one of the Chicago style pizza outlets like Genos or Giordano's (sp?). I know one is within walking distance downtown, but can't remember which one. We also enjoyed Bandera's, Houston's and Millenium Cafe. Warning -- the tax rate downtown is a real killer! If you aren't looking for local fare, but just a reliable sandwich or something, there are Corner Bakery outlets (like Atlanta Bread, etc.) on almost every block. And there's this darling little store downtown called Fox and Obel, which has a food counter I loved for breakfast.
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Old 06-07-2008, 02:35 AM   #5
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I am not familiar with Eleven, and yes avoid eating at the Museum of Science and Industry! We are going there tomorrow and packing a lunch. I do believe there is a Geno's East in the downtown vicinity, not sure about Giordano's. There is also Dewey's and Uno's, both great deep dish pizzas.
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Old 06-07-2008, 07:37 AM   #6
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When we travel to Chicago, we avoid the pricey hotels in the Loop and downtown areas. We stay north of the city, in the Northbrook to Skokie area. Not only are the hotels cheaper out there, we get free parking. To go into the city, we drive to the nearest El stop and hop on.

There are so many great places to eat in Chicago that are cheap. I suggest you go online and read the restaurant reviews in the Chicago Reader (Chicago Reader)

Good luck and have fun!
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Old 06-07-2008, 01:36 PM   #7
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don't forget about going to Navy Pier. lots of restaurants and fun stuff for kids
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Old 06-07-2008, 10:22 PM   #8
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Thank you all. We found a reasonable hotel in Skokie ~ about 20 minutes from the city center. It will include complimentary hot breakfast and NO parking fees. Woohoo! Thanks for the tip Toots! As far as restaurants, I'm going with Mav's tips about eating hot dogs. I'm sure we'll be having those more than once for lunch. We're hitting the navy pier, museums, zoos and parks for the kids. We are sooooooooooooooo excited! Hubby's been there on a business trip but we haven't seen Chicago yet. Thank you all for your great tips.

P.S.
Does anyone know about parking fees downtown Chicago? Is parking fairly accessible or should we just take a shuttle/subway?
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Old 06-07-2008, 10:46 PM   #9
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Since you are staying in Skokie, there are three places right on Dempster that are worth eating at. One is Herm's Palace for dogs and Italian Beefs (tell Scott Buddy sent you), they also have great chili. Then there are the Pita Inn and Grecian Delights right next door to each other, great places for Greek and Mediterranean. The Pita Inn has great falafel and Grecian Delights has really good Musaka and a cool desert (I don't know what it is called) that has a thick white cream on the bottom and what looks like orange shredded wheat on top, it is very good stuff.
When it comes to museums and zoos, don't forget there are charges for parking and for admission. Unless you go to the Lincoln Park Zoo, last time I was there it was still free but you have to search for metered parking in the area.
Also bear in mind Skokie has the Yellow Line of the L which goes to the Red Line which goes downtown.

Edit: 20 minutes to downtown does not take into account rush hour traffic, avoid going downtown during rush hour or coming back during rush hour even if taking the L.
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Old 06-08-2008, 09:16 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dina View Post
Thank you all. We found a reasonable hotel in Skokie ~ about 20 minutes from the city center. It will include complimentary hot breakfast and NO parking fees. Woohoo! Thanks for the tip Toots! As far as restaurants, I'm going with Mav's tips about eating hot dogs. I'm sure we'll be having those more than once for lunch. We're hitting the navy pier, museums, zoos and parks for the kids. We are sooooooooooooooo excited! Hubby's been there on a business trip but we haven't seen Chicago yet. Thank you all for your great tips.

P.S.
Does anyone know about parking fees downtown Chicago? Is parking fairly accessible or should we just take a shuttle/subway?
Parking fees for downtown Chicago are expensive. Avoid it if you can and use the buses and subway when possible. If you get the chance try out Home Run Inn pizza. In my opinion they have the best thin crust pizza around.
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