25 April 2006

one day in Chicago

so. if you had one day, a Sunday, this Sunday, in Chicago--what would you do? thoughts, Chicago types out there?


Ruth said...

I'd be inclined to rent a bike from one of the places on the lakefront downtown, and spend some time pedalling up and down the lakefront. Just north of the rentals (by Buckingham Fountain, I believe), traffic on the path is kind of hairy going under a bridge, but then it clears up and you get a beautiful view. About 20 blocks gets you to Lincoln Park Zoo, which is a very pleasant, free place to ramble around. Don't miss the river otters -- they're great to watch playing.

Of course, this itinerary sort of assumes you have something resembling biking gear, which you may not. Walking up and down is also fun -- and you can easily hit both the ferris wheel on Navy Pier and the Oceanarium at the southern end of the downtown stretch without walking more than a mile or two. The oceanarium (an extra fee on top of the aquarium admission price) is worth it not only for the belugas in their tank the size of Rhode Island, but also for the Pacific rainforest motif and the endless views out over the lake, which make it seem like the tank's more the size of, say, Nebraska. But much, much prettier.

Can you tell I just towed a car all the way from ocean to ocean? If I never see Kansas again, I think it might be too soon.

For more indoorsy things, the Museum of Contemporary Art is good -- and relatively close to the American Girls store and ampitheatre, in case you wish to peer, horrified and fascinated, at the churning of the Pleasant Company's pseudo-historical narrative gears. It's right smack in the middle of the glitzy shopping district on Michigan Avenue.

I'm always inclined to recommend a trip to Hyde Park, and the Seminary Co-op -- although I realize that bookshopping might not be on your agenda. There's also great lakefront there, though, as well as several more good museums. And Powell's. The other one. I just spent three days in Portland....

Depending on how much you want to get around, there are lots of other cool neighborhoods to hit. On a Sunday morning, you'll be pretty close to Chinatown (I'm assuming), and could visit 3 Happiness (the big pink building across the street from the El stop) for dim sum. UIC butchered the original Maxwell Street Market, and I haven't been to the relocated one, but if you like the flea market thing, that's also a Sunday activity not too far away. Taking the train up north, Armitage is a nice street to wander down (Clybourn-Halstead, roughly). Southport Ave. south from Irving Park (4000 N.) for maybe 8 blocks is also good. Depending on your timing, the Music Box Theatre, which is a beautiful old cinema that shows the more obscure art and foreign films that the multiplexes don't touch, is at about 3600 N.

Enough. I'm going to go wander the streets of Sandpoint, ID. Bonus points to anyone who can name the novel that's sort of set here.

p.s. The CTA now sells transit cards, including all-you-can-ride tourist cards. These latter are only available at the airports, so far as I know -- so if you want to buy one, do it on your way in.

Ryan McIntyre said...

As cheesy and touristy as it sounds, I'd recommend doing an architectural boat tour. You get to see Chicago from the river and the tour guides give you a bit of Chicago history mixed in with a discussion of the major buildings of interest in the city. Well worth the time.

Transient Gadfly said...

I hear that some people, when they have some free time in Chicago, like to fly to Seattle for the day.

Rebecca said...

ohmigod I'm totally going to Seattle for the day.

actually I'm waiting on this call, as the biking sounds good, as does the architecture tour--although I will say that as an architectural historian it's not that I know everything about Chicago (quite the contrary) but it's the whole pride thing, you know? but I can easily get over that.

the weather looks like it might rain on Sunday, so I'll make the call then. and if it's rain, I'm spending the day at the American Girl museum and store. for sure.

john said...

It depends on how much you like to drink. The best thing about Chicago is the bars. I recommend hiring a driver and doing a tour of Chicago bars getting soused. I am happy to provide a list of recommendations if you plan to go in this direction, which is an alternative healthy option to the lakefront bike ride.

I also love Wrigley, and if the weather is decent and the Cubbies in town, there is nothing quite like the idyllic afternoon in Wrigleyville. BTW, they also serve beer.

Of course there are art museums and architecture and all that, but they have that everywhere.