"It is wonderful to be here today in the great state of Chicago" - Dan Quayle
Poor Dan Quayle, an innocent slip-up, forever in our sardonic memories.Â Thing is, he wasnâ€™t all that wrong with his mistake.Â Chicago dominates its location in the Midwest.Â It is a powerhouse of activities, cultural wealth, and hot politics such that it takes on the persona of an entire state.Â
All of my travel tips today come from friends who speak out of first-hand experience so you can depend on their and my word.Â
Travel easy ... park your car at the Milwaukee airport Amtrak station for $5 overnight. Buy a round trip train ticket and skip driving. Take the El everywhere. You can also take the Metra trains in from the suburbs or head in the suburban direction, but you can't park overnight in the lots. (You can find trip planners, maps, fares, and schedules at these links.)
One of my favorite restaurants is in Water Tower Place, which is kind of a skip-it place if you're not into shopping.
Head three blocks west of Lake Michigan,Â visit Water Tower Place on Michigan Avenue and stop atÂ foodlife, whichÂ takes you back to aÂ really fabulous cafeteria. With nearly a dozenÂ different lines of foodsÂ such as Chinese, Thai, BBQ, Mexican, soups, desserts, comfort food, etc. you'll be hard pressed not toÂ satisfy every palate.Â
This is how it works:Â You stand in line for a table and get a loadable plastic card as your currency, which you hand to the cashier at each station and your purchases get added to it. Then you pay once when you check out. Great food, something from everyone from extreme macrobiotic vegan to total meat-and-potatoes person.
And if you drove your car, take in the drive-in at Superdawg!
Shopping, Sight-Seeing, Absorbing Chicago
Take yourself with your child to the American Girl Place also at Water Tower Place. Here's what my friend had to say: Everything was beautiful. The employees were friendly, the luncheon was perfect and presented beautifully. The stage show was cute andÂ my childÂ loved every moment of it.Â It wasÂ perfect to the last detail.
Wander through Millennium Park, a center for art, music, architecture and landscape design.Â My pastor recommended this spot.Â Â Â
If the intensity of the City makes you yearn for a little breather, youÂ might like toÂ take in Wicker Park in West Town.Â
My friend describedÂ Wicker Park, which she loved.Â "It's gentrified to the point of really great restaurants, cheap eats, cool funky shops, thriving little edgy arts community, and fun great small music venues. ItÂ¹s not gentrified to the point of pretentiousness...yet." She acknowledged that via gentrification, it displaced many Puerto Ricans. Not something to boast about.Â
Another friend raved about the culture.Â "I love, love, love the museums in Chicago, especially the science and natural history museum.Â Â Next to Washington, D.C.,Â Chicago hostsÂ some of the best science museums."Â
Even if baseball isnâ€™t your number one fancy, youâ€™ll still be glad you toured Soldier Field Stadium, home to the Cubs.Â The venue also hosts many charity walks and concerts. The tour includes a look at the field, South Courtyard, Doughboy Statue, Grand Concourse, the United Club, Colonnades, Skyline Suite and Visitors Locker Room.Â
"Sunrise along lake Michigan. Never miss it when I'm there."Â This pal also goes on to say, "I went to Frontera Grill last time just to see why people line up for restaurants. It wasn't too bad and the decor was extra weird which is a plus." And he strongly endorses a ride on the el.Â Â Â
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