Subject: Re: Help wanted - Chicago trip
Hi there Sybil,

As a Chicagoan, I wanted to offer some additional advice for your trip.

First, someone mentioned the Metra. You won't need to take that -- it's a commuter train. The bus system here is excellent and extensive, but I imagine you'll want to experience the elevated trains...(the El). It's our version of the subway.

While downtown Chicago has wonderful shopping and tourist attractions (the Art Institute and the Museum of Contemporary Art are two excellent options), I would encourage you to venture outside the Loop/Downtown. For instance, you should take the Blue Line to the Damen stop and spend a few hours walking around Wicker Park/Bucktown. I happen to live in this neighborhood...and I can say it's the most enjoyable part of Chicago. You should try Bongo Room (on Milwaukee Ave) for the best Sunday brunch you've ever had. Or Spring (on North Ave) is excellent, slightly upscale dining. Also if you like books, there is an excellent (and huge) used bookstore called Myopic Books. If you like bars, there's the Artful Dodger on Wabansia. Also, if you're into vegan/vegetarian cuisine, I can't say better things about Handlebar Restaurant on North Ave at Oakley.

Other wonderful things to do in Chicago that are a bit off the beaten path: someone mentionen the Lincoln Park Zoo -- that's a great choice, especially since it's right by the Lake and it's free. Plus nearby, there's good boutique shopping around Armitage/Halsted.

Millennium Park was recently opened. It's just south of the Magnificent Mile on Michigan Ave. I was floored by everything the new park has to to offer. Definitely not to be missed.

I would encourage you to venture outside the typical Chicago areas (downtown and nearby areas)...the city's best features lie in its diverse neighborhoods. Feel feel to ask if you have any other questions. :)

Have a great trip! Erik in Chicago

P.S. The Allegro downtown is supposed to have excellent rates for a pretty cool hotel.