A July 1999 trip
to Chicago by Scubabartek
Quote: The Windy City is a great place to visit if you like architecture, history or like eating out. This city seems to have an obsession with large things as you will find out by reading this journal.
Sears Tower is a must as well. What used to be the tallest building in the world, is now the 2nd, but it is still the tallest building in the United States. There is a view deck here from which on a clear day you can see for hundreds of miles away.
There are tons of museums in Chicago, some of the more interesting ones to see include the Art Institute of Chicago and the Field's Museum. And for lovers of tall buildings and interesting architectural structures, Chicago is a dream. It has the three of the world's top 20 tallest buildings in Sears Tower, Amoco Building and John Hancock building. It also has some of the most interesting looking ones.
As far as the city goes, I've been warned to avoid the south side of Chicago after dark. Apparently the level of criminal activity there is much higher than in the other parts of the city. So, I'm just passing on the information.
Hotel | "Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites - Chicago Downtown"
Hotel is very near the Sears Tower (a few blocks away) and next to the Clinton train station. It's location was the main draw for me, as I didn't want to stay too far away from the city center. O'Hare airport is accessible from the Clinton station (with a transfer), or by a taxi for about $25.
There is a hotel restaurant downstairs: overpriced as usual ($10 per person for breakfast), but serving all the basic necessities. I recommend getting breakfast in the hotel, but going out for lunch and dinner. After all, this is Chicago and there are so many good restaurants around.
In general I think this hotel represents a good value: you can get a one-bedroom suite, in the city center for about hundred dollars. If I could afford it, I would prefer to book a room in a Hilton or Hyatt, but for a mid-budget traveler this is a good choice. The hotel has a web-site run by the
Holiday Inn chain.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 7, 2000
Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites Downtown
506 WEST HARRISON
Chicago, Illinois 60607
Now to food... The restaurant serves...PIZZA, but also good soups, salads and a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. At first when you look at the menu, the pizzas seem very expensive: abot $10 for small, $20 and up for medium and large. But when the waiter brings the pizza to the table you'll understand why: they are HUGE! These are Chicago style, thick crust pizza which weight several pounds each. That's what I call eating (They are really good cold as well!) In fact, to explain how big these pizzas are: the waitress told us that usually a couple orders a small pizza to share. We ordered a medium... and took half of it back to the hotel.
Another thing worth trying on the menu is their Minestrone soup. Spicy, hot, a perfect companion to a thick slice of pizza.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 7, 2000
633 N Wells St
Chicago, Illinois 60610
This is one great place! For lunch, the choices are almost endless: several types of dumplings: with cheese, potatoes, meat or sauerkraut; cabbage rolls, roasted duck with apples, several types of sausage, pork chops... everything you'd expect from a Polish restaurant.
I don't remember exactly the buffet price, but it's definitely under $10 per person, probably closer to $6 or $7. For an extra buck you can get the rotating soup of the day. They also serve a variety of Polish beers (Zywiec and Okocim among others), and have rather delicious cheesecakes for dessert.
Restaurant is simply decorated, and does have a bar if you need something stronger to wash down those sausages. You can read up more about it from their
web-site which comes in English and Polish.
5249 W. Belmont Avenue
Atmosphere of this place is to put mildly... strange, but bizzare would be a more fitting description. Fake palms, elephants, gorillas and various wildcats inhabit the area (they're all stuffed robots, capable of movement and making sounds so don't be surprised). Restaurant is filled with rainbow colored lights, and tables are covered with rather weird looking tablecloths. Every few minutes the restaurant puts on sounds of a tropical storm, waterfalls or some other jungle event. It's all rather amazing, although it takes you away from your food a bit.
The food itself is really rather good. Being a steak man myself, I devoured a piece of meat the size of a cow itself (it's my slick way of pointing out the huge portion size in this place), which was absolutely fantastic (maybe they carved up one their famous Cows on Parade). Menu is very varied: from asian-fusion dishes like Thai burritos, to seafood, steak and all the chicken dishes. I wish I had something sensible add about the desserts, but we simply didn't have any room left for it.
If you're looking for something quiet and romantic, stay FAR away. This place is more like Disneyland, and I suppose it is a big draw with kids and teens, and... crazy adults willing to be amused.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 8, 2000
605 N. Clark Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610
Restaurant | "Orbit Restaurant & Lounge"
Dishes here are phenomenal. I cannot really recommend anything, because everything I've tried on the menu was fantastic. Kaszanka (Barley sausage) is a great choice to try something really different: it's a mixture of barley, meat, giblets and blood, in a natural casing, boiled than lightly fried. Food of the kings I tell you! Breaded pork chops are divine, veal steaks: wonderful. And scrap the potatoes! Pick the potatoe dumplings as your side dish instead, for a slightly different take on your everyday 'taters. Every dish comes with warm (and/or cold) saurkraut. For dessert there are kolacki, a crunchy turnover with fruit inside. And of course for those of age, there is a variety of Polish beers available, from Zywiec to Okocim.
Just keep in mind, in this age of health-conscious folks, whose idea of dinner is a salad with a glass of non-fat milk: this is NOT your average health-food store. Dining here daily will induce your veins to dance Polka with the cholesterol! But once in a while... it's SOOOOOO worth it!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 8, 2001
Orbit Restaurant & Lounge
2954 North Milwaukee
Chicago, Illinois 60618
Attraction | "Sears Tower"
I personally enjoy tall buildings so I whole-heartedly recommend taking the elevator to the view-deck on the top floor (or near it), unless you have a fear of heights. On a sunny day, you can clearly see hundreds of miles away into the neighboring states. And this is the only place in Chicago where you can see it's complete skyline, albeit from the bird's view. There are gift shops here, as well as photographers to take your picture next to the 6 foot photo replica of the tower (which makes you look like Godzilla standing next to it). There was quite a queue for the tickets to the skydeck on my visit there, but it was the midst of tourist season AND 4th of July weekend.
Sears Tower has a web-site www.sears-tower.com if you want to find out more information about it.
Willis Tower (Sears Tower)
233 South Wacker Drive
A good photo-spot is the Water Tower which is located at Chicago and Michigan avenues. It was one of the few buildings to survive the great Chicago fire of 1871. Inside there is an interesting mosaic floor inside. The Water Tower is shown on the picture below.
As you're walking through Chicago's downtown, you will undoubtedly run into some strange looking cows. That's that 'Cows on Parade' exhibit. Each one of these cows was painted by a different person (Chicago's artists I believe) and appear in truly unusual places sometimes. I believe there is around 300 of them scattered around the city.
Sooner or later you will end up at Navy Pier. It's a great place to spend a summer afternoon at. There is a Ferris Wheel and carousels for kids here, souvenir shops, ice cream, fast food etc. Also, this is a place to take a dinner cruise, or a boat tour if you so desire.
This was a fantastic place to watch the 4th of July fireworks show at. We grabbed some lemonades and ice-cream and sat on the stairs watching the show overhead. Fantastic!