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Old 05-10-2012, 08:34 AM
 
18 posts, read 31,240 times
Reputation: 12

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Hello eveyone, I am hoping to take my kids to Chicago for 3-5 days in June, but I am overwhelmed by the # of hotels, places to stay, COST, etc.

There will be 5 of us (2 adults & 3 kids) and we have a budget of ~ $1000, so trying to pay detailed attention to any savings we can find.

Currently trying to compare staying downtown vs staying near O'Hare (looks to be ~ $100 - $200 / night cost savings to stay outside downtown) and riding the blue line downtown and back each day (looks like a 3 day CTA pass is $70 / 7 day $115).

We would like to visit the following locations:
Museum of Science and Industry
Shedd Aquarium
Navy Pier
Lincoln Park Zoo
LEGOLAND
American Girl Store


We are the standard middle-class family, so 2-3 star-style hotels (Holiday Inn, Ramada, etc) as long as the service at the hotel is good, rooms are clean, etc.

Any ideas on the best way to start comparing the thousands of options?

Any recommendations on places to stay, how to save $$, etc. for a 1st time visitor?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 05-10-2012, 08:50 AM
 
21 posts, read 31,077 times
Reputation: 17
How old are the kids? If they are little, then I would highly suggest staying IN the city (or closer than O'Hare) -- it will be worth the extra money to be able to go back to your hotel for a little rest and recharge. We live out in the 'burbs and my 3-year old does not yet have the stamina for the train ride and a full action-packed day in the city.

If you're looking at the LegoLand out in Schaumburg, that's not entirely convenient from public transportation and I don't know that it would be worth the time you'd spend to get there (it's also expensive); there's plenty right in the city to keep you busy.
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Old 05-10-2012, 09:14 AM
 
18 posts, read 31,240 times
Reputation: 12
Thanks for the reply!

Kids are older (10, 8, 6), so napping / rest time not an issue, good note about Legoland though! Will drop that from the list due to distance.

Is staying closer worth the cost difference with older kids?

Would there be some "middle-ground" areas that have cheaper (but decent) hotels, but aren't a long drive from teh city attractions?

Any tips on affordable parking in the city if we don't take the train?
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Old 05-10-2012, 09:22 AM
 
21,730 posts, read 37,212,462 times
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I agree that I would probably cross Legoland off the list, just not worth it.

I also would NOT recommend staying at less than a "3 star" type hotel. With "price line" there are sites that spell out which "secret" hotels people have gotten for various levels of "name your own price" and I think you will need two rooms with 5 people (unless we are talking infants that share bed with parent / have basinet..." and you will burn through a lot of time / money on the El if you don't stay right in the heart of things. There is NOTHING worth doing at ANY of the O'Hare hotels whereas if you stay downtown you can WALK to most things, hang out FOR FREE at the beaches, head to Millennium Park in the evening where the fountains and such are VERY popular. Three or four night is PLENTY as Shedd is easy one day, MSI another, LPZ maybe a morning (it is COMPACT) and Navy Pier along with American Girl in evening or AM the last day...

As to hotels you gotta realize that Chicago is NOT setup like DisenyWorld or any other "family oriented" destination -- the hotels are aiming to fill-up with BUSINESS TRAVELERS who find the prices better than NYC. It would SUCK to stay at some "airport strip" out by Midway that might as well be Branson MO with its big parking lots, smelly jet fuel and NOTHING around. O'hare ain't much better, and arguably the SPEED of the Orange Line is better than the Blue Line.. I would STRONGLY lean toward staying DOWNTOWN, maybe "near south" if you get a SWEET DEAL at the Hyatt at McCormick Place, definitely Grant Park/ Museum Campus... You ought to be able to get a deal for well under $200 a night through "name your own price" at a 3 star place -- it might be like a River North Hilton Garden or Homewood Suite or similar that is still walkable for any healthy 8 and 10 year old. The six year old might make me lean toward a CTA bus or trolley ride for at least SOME of the trip... but that is still either FREE or just a couple bucks a day NOT $70 a person. CTA pass is rip off priced.

Last edited by chet everett; 05-10-2012 at 09:44 AM..
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Old 05-10-2012, 09:33 AM
 
Location: NYC and Chicago
11,154 posts, read 7,585,158 times
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Usually hotels at the standard rate in the loop/river north/streeterville/gold coast are expensive, but you should really try and take advantage of deal sites and discount sites for hotels. Pay attention to sites like Priceline, Hotwire, Travelzoo, Expedia, Travelocity, etc because hotels down here do have discounted deals sometimes. Priceline you can do the name your own price thing too so who knows. I don't know if you have booked your trip yet (plane or driving or whatever), but I would also check an events calendar in Chicago to (a) see what's going on and (b) to see if there's any major conferences going on in town whenever you're coming that would take up hotels and cause hotel rates to increase as a result. Also if you stay "downtown" then you won't have to use the train as much as if you stayed out in the burbs near O'hare and you'd save a little money that way if you could get a similar rate down here.

One question though: Do you all hope to stay in one room or get two rooms?
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Old 05-10-2012, 09:40 AM
 
Location: Lake Arlington Heights, IL
5,463 posts, read 6,380,889 times
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Are you flying in or driving in? If driving, some of the suburban hotels may be an option with driving to the CTA Park n Ride or Metra to get to and from downtown. If you can find a good deal, the convenience and ambiance of downtown cannot be beat. Beware of the NATO summit and Neocon Trade show at Merchandise Mart-June 11-13- as they will fill hotel rooms and inflate room prices.
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Old 05-10-2012, 09:41 AM
 
Location: NYC and Chicago
11,154 posts, read 7,585,158 times
Reputation: 4035
Quote:
Originally Posted by cubssoxfan View Post
Are you flying in or driving in? If driving, some of the suburban hotels may be an option with driving to the CTA Park n Ride or Metra to get to and from downtown. If you can find a good deal, the convenience and ambiance of downtown cannot be beat. Beware of the NATO summit and Neocon Trade show at Merchandise Mart-June 11-13- as they will fill hotel rooms and inflate room prices.
It's true, but the NATO Summit is May 20-21st and they're coming in June. Shouldn't be a problem for them
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Old 05-10-2012, 09:59 AM
 
Location: IL
2,304 posts, read 2,167,663 times
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You will likely be able to get a good deal on a hotel near the airport, and more likely one that you can more confortably fit the 5 of you in, like a Country Inn and Suites or something like that. But, I would look for deals dowtown, as I think it would be more fun and convenient to stay in the city. The Blue Line from O'Hare to downtown will get old after taking it twice a day. Maybe reserve a room by O'Hare, then keep searching in the city for a deal...just a thought.

If most of your travel spots are in the city, I would forgo the car, as parking will be expensive, unless you drive in, park it for the day for $20-30, then take the El around all day. That eliminates part of the value of the car. That is just MY opinion, others will vary. But, without a car, just make sure you are near a station and are find walking in the city.

Also, I would probably buy the city pass:

Official Chicago CityPASS® | Visit 5 Chicago Attractions for $84

Just my ideas.
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Old 05-10-2012, 10:05 AM
 
Location: NYC and Chicago
11,154 posts, read 7,585,158 times
Reputation: 4035
Quote:
Originally Posted by almost3am View Post

If most of your travel spots are in the city, I would forgo the car, as parking will be expensive, unless you drive in, park it for the day for $20-30, then take the El around all day. That eliminates part of the value of the car. That is just MY opinion, others will vary. But, without a car, just make sure you are near a station and are find walking in the city.

Actually that reminds me. Most hotels downtown charge for parking, and will charge a lot...so if the OP plans to drive here from wherever they live, it will be another probably $30-$50 (most I've seen) tacked on per day. I think I've only seen one place downtown with included parking, but not sure if they do it anymore (Best Western River North). Not only that, but unless they find a pretty big room that has a queen/king and another bed or sofa or something... they will most likely have to get two rooms.


At $1000 total budget, it will be way more economical to stay near the airport as much as it pains me to say, especially if they're driving into town and not flying. Yeah the train ride will get old after awhile, but if you want to save money and stay within budget...then stay near O'Hare...or raise your budget if you want to stay downtown. There are hotels all around the city, but the ones on the north side are older, budget type of motels (i.e. Heart of Chicago hotel) you might not want to stay at. Not saying they're bad, just might not be what you're looking for..

Last edited by marothisu; 05-10-2012 at 10:14 AM..
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Old 05-10-2012, 10:09 AM
 
Location: Not where you ever lived
10,854 posts, read 15,191,833 times
Reputation: 5380
Lincoln Park Zoo is free. So is Millennium Park, Eli's Cheesecake Factory Tour, walking along Michigan Avenue, and Chinatown.

Here' is a discounted (9 Day) City Pass' VIP admission to 5 top tourist sites. You can chose two - of those I would pick Adler Planetarium and the Museum of Science & Industry. $168 for adults and $207 for the kids; plus tax. It is a trade-off. The VIP admission: You will bypass people waiting to enter. The tour: You will not pay for transportation to each venue or $12-$15 for parking at each venue and you get to see the City. You will pay for transportation to the pick up station on each day.

The bottom line? With three kids it might be easier.

Official Chicago CityPASS® | Visit 5 Chicago Attractions for $84

Also Grayline Tours lasting 2 to 5+ hours. If you stay downtown and take a longer tour you will be picked at the airport and be taken to your downtown hotel: Book Chicago Tours & Things to do in Chicago - View All Tours-Gray Line

Before you chose a tour be sure to ask a lot of questions.

You also might be able to get a deal downtown with pre-booking 5 guests and guarantee multiple nights. It doesn't hurt to ask.

Last edited by linicx; 05-10-2012 at 10:38 AM..
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