Where to Stay, What to Do in Oak Park, Ill.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Travel writer Laura Stassi Jeffrey recently spent time in Oak Park, Ill. Here's her reporter's notebook.


Nonstop flights from BWI Marshall to Chicago's O'Hare are less than $200 round trip. Nonstops out of Reagan National to O'Hare start at $225. From either O'Hare or Midway, Oak Park is accessible on the CTA Green Line, but travelers must first take a train from the airport to the Loop and then transfer. The trip costs just $2.25, but it takes about an hour. I took a cab for about $28.


The Carleton Hotel and Motor Inn (1110 Pleasant St., 708-848-5000, http://www.carletonhotel.com) is within walking district of Oak Park's downtown, and its Philander's Restaurant offers jazz. Rooms in the hotel from about $180 per night on weekends. The other major hotel in Oak Park is the Write Inn (211 N. Oak Park Ave., 708-383-4800) in the Historic District. Rooms from about $160.


Maybe it's not too tricky to get Mexican food right, but what other eatery besides Lalo's (804 S. Oak Park Ave., 708-386-3386) offers that plus spontaneous karaoke and dancing? Prices are reasonable, and the atmosphere was festive. For other ethnic fare, try Mama Thai (1112 Madison St., 708-386-0100) or Maya Del Sol (144 S. Oak Park Ave., 708-358-9800). Other options include Puree's Pizza (1023 Lake St., 708-386-4949) and that Chicago-area staple, Giordano's (1115 W. Chicago Ave., 708-386-2223).


The Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio (951 Chicago Ave., http://www.gowright.org, then click on "Home & Studio") offers tours about every 20 minutes on weekends, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Ticket prices vary; the cost of a tour combined with a self-guided, exterior audio walking tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie School of Architecture National Historic District is $25 for adults, $20 for ages 4-17, and free for seniors and age 3 and younger. (Audio tours must be taken before the home and studio tour.)

The Ernest Hemingway Birthplace and Museum (339 N. Oak Park Ave. and 200 N. Oak Park Ave., 708-848-2222, http://www.hemingway.org) is open Sunday-Friday 1-5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults; $6 for seniors and age 18 and younger.

Barbara's Bookstore (1100 Lake St., 708-848-9140, http://www.barbarasbookstore.com), an almost 50-year-old institution, is at the University of Illinois at Chicago, with two additional outlets in Macy's in Chicago and Minneapolis (and smaller branches at various airports). The Book Table (1045 Lake St., 708-386-9800, http://www.thebooktable.com) is a discount and used-book store across from the Lake Movie Theater.

FLYING TIME About 2 hours COST $433 Flight: $225 Taxi: $28 Lodging: $180

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