|Subject: Re: En route from Toronto to Chicago|
A couple of recommendations for you.
First, don't be tempted to cross at Sarnia, stick with Detroit. Even though there are many roadworks on the route through Detroit (and it's jammed at rush hours), the border crossing is much faster there (Sarnia is anywhere from 45 mins to 1.5 hours).
Also, unless you know Detroit very well, continue on the road for 45 mins and stop for a meal in Ann Arbor, which is a University town and has many restaurants in all price ranges.
If you want fast food or roadhouse fare, come off at Highway 12 towards Ypsilanti (which also has some not bad restaurants) and turn west onto Washtenaw (Highway 17). There are lots of restaurants along here, but if you don't find anything you like, keep going into Ann Arbor. The road will swing north then back west again to go around the University campus and will change its name to Huron (you'll be on Bus 23 at that point). Shortly after, you'll cross State and reach Main. Anywhere around and off Main are a huge choice of restaurants (and after eating continue on Bus 23, which I think becomes Bus 94 also, to get back onto IS 94 - Huron changes its name to Jackson somewhere too). If you're not into Roadhouse, you can reach the same point by taking the Main Exit into Ann Arbor and turning west at Huron (or turn left anywhere after you reach the main area). We always eat in Ann Arbor on our trips to Chicago.
Without doubt, as Jenni mentions, the Lighthouse Mall in Michigan City Indiana (note it's on Central Time) is the best choice - only a slight detour. It's well signed from I94, but it's faster to come off in Michigan towards New Buffalo (it's almost the last exit in Michigan), then turn west along Highway 12. It takes you into Michigan City right by the mall (which is at the north end of Michigan City - look for the two huge towers that remind me of a nuclear power station and you'll be close, then follow the signs). Go south (?hwy 421) to rejoin I 94 - every southbound road crosses 94.
In Chicago, the discount stores are scattered, usually in strip malls in the Northern suburbs (check yellow pages). There's a HUGE one right on the Wisconsin border, which I think is called Gurnee Mills. It's about an hours drive north of Chicago.
And my apologies to the men in your party (there's a Krispy Kreme just before you get to Gurnee Mills, if that works as a bribe).
Good shopping (and eating).