Posts tagged - parks

Guest Post by Gail Hendler – Chicago on a Shoestring

Thank you to Gail Hendler, Chair, Publicity and Promotion Committee and Associate Provost and Library director of Loyola University Health Sciences Library, for contributing this great post! 

Chicago on a Shoestring
Chicago is a beautiful, diverse, and exciting city with world- class shopping, music, dance, and theater for every taste and every budget. The frugal librarian’s guide to experiencing the best for less offers recommendations for visiting must-see attractions a budget.

Theater and Entertainment
The Second City offers first-rate theater downtown (the Loop) and in various locations around the Chicagoland area. The League of Chicago Theaters offers half-price tickets for same-day performance at three locations in town and online via Hot Tix . For those who prefer advance planning, Goldstar offers deep discounts on plays and other attractions including dance, concerts, comedy clubs, and walking and architecture tours. Check Goldstar for tickets to the Joffrey Ballet’s performance of Romeo and Juliet. Other hot ticket recommendations for May include a visit to Chicago’s most famous and oldest theater, the Goodman, to see White Snake, and a trip uptown to catch Russian Transport at the Steppenwolf. If you’ve never attended a staged reading, come to Shaw Chicago to see it done right. The superb cast will read Man and Superman from April 26 – May 19, 2014. Round out your theater experience with a trip to Chicago’s waterside entertainment hub, Navy Pier. After taking in the Ferris wheel and free admission to the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows be sure to catch Henry V at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

Chicago’s Miracle Mile offers some of the best shopping in the city world, but bargain hunters will appreciate a trip to State and Lake in the heart of the Loop to spy sales in the stores where natives go to shop. State Street is lined with historic buildings, vibrant art installations, and hosts the annual Spring Flower Show. Macy’s on State Street is the former home of Marshall Fields and is the second largest department store in the world and offers a 10% discount pass to visitors that can be applied to a purchase of Frangos mints – a must-have souvenir and a tradition continued from the Marshall Field days

Lincoln Park Zoo is always free and is a quick bus or subway (“L”) ride uptown from the Hotel. Meet hundreds of species from around the world, visit the beautiful gardens, and enjoy beer or wine while taking in spectacular views of the Chicago skyline.

Back downtown, Millennium Park and nearby Grant Park offer visitors an urban sanctuary that combines green space with art and architecture. You must see and be photographed in front of the “Bean” or Cloud Gate.

For librarians that love to discover new neighborhoods on foot, the Chicago Greeter Program offers free walking tours by knowledgeable, native guides: Tours are scheduled by location or by interest. Walkers can explore Chicago’s incredible art and architecture in Wicker Park, Hyde Park or Ukrainian Village. Foodies can tour the Logan Square, West Loop, Albany Park or Lincoln Square neighborhoods. History buffs can learn about Bronzeville, Lincoln Park, and Old Town. All this and more and for free!

Chicago beaches are staffed with lifeguards from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but open all year round. Jog, walk or stroll up to Oak Street Beach (Lakeshore Drive and Oak) to visit the Lake that resembles an ocean.

Some of Chicago’s museums offer free admission days. The Art Institute of Chicago is free on Thursday evenings and the Museum of Contemporary Art is free on Tuesdays. The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art charges no admission to view works of visionary art by self-taught artists and the National Museum of Mexican Art is also free. The Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, and the Adler Planetarium do offer resident discounts and free admission to select exhibits. If you’d like to visit many of Chicago’s world-famous museums, then the official City Pass will provide significant savings:

Explore, enjoy and save. Chicago offers visitors substantial savings on so many attractions you will have to return again and again. Welcome to the Windy City, home of great art, architecture, entertainment and hospitable Chicagoans.

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Parks and Gardens in Chicago

A Colorful Evening by Sandeep Pawar. This photo is licensed under creative commons (

A Colorful Evening by Sandeep Pawar. This photo is licensed under creative commons (

May is a great time to take advantage of Chicago’s parks and gardens.


Chicago Park District

The Chicago Park District ( maintains parks throughout the Chicago area. Take in some natural beauty in busy downtown by visiting any of the Chicago Park District’s parks and facilities. Some of the closest green areas to the Hyatt include the Lake Shore East Park, which is east of the hotel toward the lake. Grant Park is also a short walk away, located on the south side of the Chicago River. A walk through Grant Park includes Millennium Park, the Lurie Gardens, and a large variety sculptural art.

North of the Hyatt is another large park, Lincoln Park, which includes the Lincoln Park Conservatory and the Lincoln Park Zoo. The Lincoln Park Conservatory is a truly unique destination. The Conservatory is home to tropical plants, such as palms and orchids, as well as grows thousands of local plants for Chicago parks. The Conservatory borders on the Lincoln Park Zoo, so make that your next stop. Also make a point to visit the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (, which is located practically across the street from the Lincoln Park Zoo. While this museum is most known for its unique butterfly collection, it is dedicated to providing experiences that expand our knowledge of nature and science.


Museum Campus

The Museum Campus, located at Lake Shore Drive and Roosevelt, is connected to a beautiful lakefront walk. Take a long stroll south to wander among the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, Adler Planetarium and Soldier Field. You are welcome to explore any of the museums, but the campus itself is an invigorating walk with beautiful views of Lake Michigan.


Chicago Botanic Gardens

The Chicago Botanic Gardens ( are located in a northern suburb of Chicago. The Botanic Gardens include 26 unique gardens, 4 natural areas and 6 miles of lake shore line for you to explore. You can see what’s in bloom in May by checking out their “In Bloom” page at The greenhouses will be full of exotic tropical plants regardless of the time of year.  Directions to the Chicago Botanic Gardens, by car or public transportation, are available on their website at

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Chicago Destinations

Happy New Year everyone! Over the next few months I will be posting more about Chicago. I plan on some guest posts for some unique perspectives and suggestions for what to do while visiting. There’s something in Chicago for everyone.
For this post, I’m going to focus on some unique landmarks in downtown Chicago, within easy distance of the hotel.

Millennium Park and Cloud Gate

Chicagoans call Cloud Gate “the Bean” due to its shape, but it’s an awesome piece. The Bean is favorite photo spot among locals and visitors and it’s worth the short trip from the hotel. it’s a completely stainless steel structure with great views of the city skyline, both reflecting in the Bean and as the backdrop.
Millennium park was part of a revitalization project that resulted in a wonderful public space. Besides Cloud Gate, you can wander through lots of outdoor art including the “face towers” which spout water during the summer. You can also hang out at the Pritzker Pavillion during the summer. The Lurie Gardens are also open to the public and should be bursting with local native wild flowers in May.

Art Institute

Right across from Millennium Park is the Art Institute of Chicago, a well-known and beloved destination. They have an incredible collection of art, ranging from the ancient to the modern. There is something for every artistic taste. It was a wonderful impressionist collection and impressively new modern wing. Hours are 10:30 am to 5:00 pm all week except Thursdays when the hours are 10:30 am to 8:00 pm. General admission is $23.00 but there can be discounted prices for Chicago and Illinois residents.

Shedd Aquarium 

The Shedd is one of my favorite destinations in Chicago. It has a great conservation program and the aquarium’s first priority is the well-being of the animals. Visit with tropical fish, dolphins, beluga whales, penguins and sharks! If you’re an animals aquatic fan, I would recommend the full pass. It includes pretty much everything you’ll want to see. Ticket prices vary depending on the type of pass. The hours are 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday and 9am – 6pm Saturday and Sunday during the conference

Adler Planetarium 

The Adler has a prime location as the landmark farthest east on the museum campus peninsula. It has great views of the cityscape, but more importantly, has interesting exhibits on the solar system, the milkyway and other astronomical phenomena. Their skyshows are one the best ways to get a good look at the Chicago’s night sky, any time of the year. The Adler’s hours are 9:30 am to 4 pm Monday to Friday and 9:30 am to 4:30 pm Saturday and Sunday. General Admission is $28.00.

The Field Museum

Have you ever seen “The Night at the Museum” with Ben Stiller? The enthusiastic t-rex who likes to play fetch is the Field Museum’s one and only Sue. She proudly guards the entrance of the Field Museum. In addition to Sue, the Field Museum has lots of unique exhibits. Some exhibits are permanent while others rotate. Check the Field’s website for information on current exhibits.The Field is open 9 am to 5 pm everyday and ticket prices vary depending on package.

Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo is located a little north of the hotel, a short EL ride, in Lincoln Park. The Zoo is a well-known destination in Chicago. Another great perk is free admission. During April and May, the Lincoln Park Zoo is open 10 am to 5 pm.

Museum of Broadcast Communications

A unique museum north of the hotel but reasonably close. A great place for those interested in journalism and broadcasting. Fun fact: National Public Radio’s local station WBEZ, home station of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me and This American Life, broadcasts from Navy Pier. General admission is $12 and the museum’s hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10 am to 5 pm.

International Museum of Surgical Science

An interesting museum that presents exhibits on the history and development of surgery and related health and medical subjects. General admission is $15 and the museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 4 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm.

Magnificent Mile

Michighan Ave, dubbed as the Magnificent Mile, is practically right outside the Hyatt’s doors. Michigan Ave is the place for beautiful storefront windows, great architecture and a chance to pick some famous Garrett’s popcorn.

There are plenty of more destinations and attractions in Chicago that I haven’t had a chance to mention. Check out Chicago’s landmarks, attractions and more at Choose Chicago. It’s a great resource with itinerary, event and destination suggestions for your visit.

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