Where to Go, What to Know

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Travel staffer Christina Talcott visited the beaches in Chicago. Here is her reporter's notebook.


Fly into O'Hare and take the Blue Line train to the Loop, where you can transfer to any other line. You can also take a cab or the Airport Express ($27 one way) to your hotel -- or straight to the beach. Buses run from downtown to the 57th Street Beach.


Check Hotwire.com, Priceline.com and Hotels.com for lodging; look at the El and bus map at http://www.transitchicago.com to determine whether your hotel is near a train stop. For the best beach-hopping, plan to be near the Red Line, which links 75th Street's Rainbow Beach in the south to the Rogers Avenue Beach in the north.


Chicago is full of incredible restaurants, whether authentic eateries in ethnic neighborhoods or experimental haute cookery at famous kitchens. The hot dog, pizza and Mexican food routes are fail-safe, too. At most beaches, you'll find chicken wings, nachos, sodas and other snacks.

A couple of beach-side restaurants: North Avenue Beach's Castaways Bar & Grill (1603 N. Lake Shore Dr., 773-281-1200, http://www.stefanirestaurants.com/castaways.htm) serves sandwiches, cocktails and beer. At Oak Street Beach, the Beachstro (312-915-4100, http://www.oakstreetbeachstro.com) serves breakfast starting at 8 a.m. on weekends, and lunch and dinner daily, plus beer, wine and cocktails.


Here is a list of hot spots near the beaches:

Museum of Science and Industry:57th Street and Lake Shore Drive, 773-684-1414, http://www.msichicago.org; admission starts at $13 for adults, $9 ages 3 to 11, $12 seniors.

Adler Planetarium:1300 S. Lake Shore Dr., 312-922-7827, http://www.adlerplanetarium.org; admission $10 adults, $6 ages 4 to 17, $8 seniors.

Field Museum:1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., 312-922-9410, http://www.fieldmuseum.org; admission $22 adults, $12 ages 4 to 11, $19 students and seniors.

John G. Shedd Aquarium:1200 S. Lake Shore Dr., 312-939-2438, http://www.sheddaquarium.org; tickets start at $24.95 adults, $17.95 ages 2 to 11 and seniors.

Chicago Children's Museum:700 E. Grand Ave. on Navy Pier, 312-527-1000, http://www.chicagochildrensmuseum.org; admission $9 adults and children, $8 seniors.

Museum of Contemporary Art:220 E. Chicago Ave., 312-280-2660, http://www.mcachicago.org; admission $10 adults, $6 students and seniors, free for ages 12 and younger and military personnel.

Lincoln Park Zoo:2001 N. Clark St., 312-742-2000, http://www.lpzoo.org. Free.


For more on beaches, including any water quality advisories, call the Chicago Park District at 312-742-3224 or visit http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/resources/beaches.

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