29 Mar

We’re Moving To…

Posted by Jenna, Under Adventures

Once, back in college, I flew out to Chicago with 15 other BYU students where we shopped and played for several days…

and I cried my way through Wicked for the first time with my favorite girls ever…

and this August I’ll be packing up everything I own and moving to that very city with my favorite guy ever.

WE’RE MOVING TO CHICAGO!

And rather excited about it, in case all of those capital letters didn’t convey things properly. The MBA program at University of Chicago will start on September 7th of this year so we’re hoping to move sometime around mid-August. I have already made it clear that I plan on flying up with baby, as 15 1/2 hours in the car with a 4 month old does not sound like something either of us want to endure.

I know a lot of you have lived or visited there before, and now is your chance to unload all of your wisdom upon us. We would love to know:

1. Based on our rather anti-social lifestyle (we really don’t get out that much so being close to the excitement is not that important) and the fact that TH will be attending the University of Chicago, where would you recommend we live? Right now we are leaning toward the student housing buildings based on the recommendation of a family member who attended Chicago with her husband.

2. As you may know from reading this blog, we are save and splurge once-a-month type foodies, focusing on restaurants that provide an experience you can’t have anywhere else (so no chains!). It doesn’t have to be expensive, but I do want it to be original. If you had to choose one place to eat while you were in Chicago (let’s say up to $100/person excluding alcohol), where would you go?

3. In the year and a half that we have lived in Dallas as a married couple we have done 5 “things” together, other than attending the temple (that we can remember). We went bowling, we celebrated New Years Eve at the top of Reunion tower, have gone to the movie theatre four times, biked to a nature preserve, went on a safari in Fort Worth and… we think that’s about it. I tell you this to really attempt to drive home the fact that we do very little, partly because we don’t budget much for entertainment/adventures (preferringĀ to put that money toward food) and in part because of TH’s insane work schedule. If you were us, what is the one thing you would consider a “must-do” during our time in Chicago?


93 Comments


  1. My brother was in Chicago for medical school, and I can ask him about housing but I know they lived North of the city their first year and it was a disaster because of the traffic and then they moved to the city. We went to a bunch of really nice fab restaurants but all I really remember is that they have a really amazing H&M.

    I would recommend doing the architectural tour. I loved it.

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  2. Oh and mazal tov. It’s such an amazing school. Grad school in an amazing adventure. At moments it sucks the life out of you but the opportunities at the end make every moment worth it.

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  3. There a lot of great things to do in Chicago and YOU’RE GOING TO BE SO CLOSE TO ME! You holla when you’re finally there and we shall hang out!

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  4. No help on what to do in Chicago, although our 8th graders take a trip there everywhere. I ADORE Wicked though – I definitely am considering making a trip to see it again!

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  5. I’ve never posted before, but felt the need to since I’m from the Chicagoland area! I don’t have recomendations for lwhere you might live, as I’m more familiar with Chicago suburbs than with city living. (Although if you’re up for suburban living I would suggest North Riverside or Forest Park. Forest Park being my favorite as it’s an up and coming neighborhood with great local shopping, close to the highway and public transportation and great apartment pricing.) Basically, I want to suggest things you must do while in the Chicago area:
    1. Visit the Christmas decorated store windows of Marshall Fields (now Macy’s) on State Street
    2. Visit the Museum of Science and Industry and nearby Shedd Aquarium
    3. Catch a ballgame. My team of choice? The White Sox at US Cellular Field!
    4. Visit the Lincoln Park Zoo with That 1. It’s free!
    (Sorry, just realized you only wanted one suggestion.)

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  6. I lived in Chicago for a year and a half, and my fiance and I are also the “antisocial” type, as you describe it. We didn’t live in the city (but nor did we work there) and didn’t feel any the worse for it – way too expensive! I would just recommend living near the university to cut down on travel time.
    My favorite place to eat is TECHNICALLY a chain, but there are only 10 or so locations – and it’s way cheaper than $100 a person! It’s a stir-fry restaurant where you pick out what you want from a huge array and they stir-fry it up for you – and you can go back for more! (Go with small portions because you’ll want to try lots of different combos!). It’s probably not very sophisticated or “foodie”, but I love it. http://www.flattopgrill.com

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    Hannah Reply:

    That’s one of my favorite places too…

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  7. 1. Unfortunately, I don’t know the University of Chicago area all that well, so I can’t help with someone very close BUT if you are looking to live off campus a bit, I really like the South Loop. Lots of young professionals and nice condos for rent. I think it would be a (relatively) short drive down Lakeshore Drive to the University. And best of all, you are right by the lake, Grant Park, etc.! I would steer away from the northside considering that would put you further away from U of C and that’s where all the younger crowd lives to party it up.

    2. One restaurant? Oh man, there are soooo many great ones it’s hard to pick just one. One of my most memorable meals was at Province. Delicious food and cool atmosphere.

    3. A must is Millenium Park to see the “Bean”!

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  8. Chicago is wonderful! I moved out to the Chicago suburbs almost 5 years ago and it is a wonderful area with a million and one things to do!!

    Your idea for living at the student housing is probably going to be best and cheapest. It will allow TH to be super close to school and limit the city driving (and more importantly parking!) he’ll have to do. Driving and parking in Chicago are two of the worst things about the city, so the more you can avoid them the better.

    For food, I highly recommend The Italian Village (It is in the theatre district). There are actually 3 restaurants (with varying pricing) and everything we’ve had there was wonderful. I recently had my post-wedding luncheon there (we did just a very small wedding with family and friends and did lunch afterwards) and everyone loved it. Although it is a chain (however, only a local one) I suggest a visit to Giordano’s Pizza for anyone. Great Chicago deepdish pizza, just don’t even think about the calories.

    For things to do… wow… where to start. The museums are great (I recommend the Shed Aquarium the most, but the Field Museum is nice too) I think they have free days for city residents too, but I imagine they will be super crowded! You’ll need to go see some theatre too for sure, given that you’ve already seen Wicked, you know how great that can be. Go visit Navy Pier, visit Grant Park (Free!), see the 4th of July fireworks at the lake front (Free!), go to Taste of Chicago… the possibilities are endless! I second someone else’s suggestion of the Architetural Tour too, I haven’t been yet but it is definitely on my list of To Dos. Chicago is really a wonderful city!!

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  9. There are too many options to even consider answering #2. You will never eat at a chain, and there will be several you never get to. I would go to NAHA, Graham Elliot, (Cafe) Spiaggia, Veerasway if you like fusion-y Indian, Hot Chocolate for great food and AMAZING desserts, Mercadito for tasty Mexican, plus all of the Rick Bayless restaurants for that experience, Mercat for tapas, Le Colonial for French-Vietnamese… honestly, this city is a foodie heaven.

    With respect to #3, you probably should go on an architectural boat tour of the Chicago River on a sunny and warm weekend day. I can’t wait for it to be this warm again. I take almost every visitor–and have therefore been several times–and it never gets old.

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  10. Congrats to both of you! Great school! Great great news and YOU KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING TO LIVE! Such a relief. Now we have three reasons to come and visit!

    Our friends live there: http://njlawler.blogspot.com/

    We also have some friends here that will be starting at Booth or Kellogg (probably Kellogg, but he’s still deciding.

    Good luck with everything! So so exciting!

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  11. that sounds so exciting jenna! that was the one of my favorite college memories, i must say. a highlight was approx 15 single file walking about 5 blocks be with suitcases trailing behind us because we got off the metro too early! I can’t wait to see this little baby of yours!

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  12. Horray for the midwest! (I live in Grand Rapids Michigan, about 2 hours away from Chicago)Bring your coats and sweaters, they don’t call it the windy city for nothing. :)

    Congrats!

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  13. I live a few hours south of Chicago, but we visit often. For restaurants, I would recommend Rose Angelis (http://www.roseangelis.com/) – best authentic Italian food! And do not leave without trying some dessert.

    Also, from one frugal wife to another, the library has free day passes for the museums and sometimes other attractions like the aquarium, so all you have to do is check them out and ta-da – free day of fun without having to visit on the actual crazy busy free days for all! :)

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    Teale Reply:

    Kristin, Just out of curiosity, where do you live? I’m in the Champaign area, also a couple hours south of Chicago:)

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    Kristin Reply:

    Hey…. I live in Champaign too! I just moved here from New Mexico about 18 months ago for a job at the University so it’s been a transition but I really like it. I’ve survived two winters so I figure that is an accomplishment in itself.

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  14. I don’t know much at all about chicago but I would certainly love to see Oprah! although I hear those tickets are nearly impossible to get.

    Also I would LOVE to attend “the ulimate french pastry experience” at the French Pastry School in Chicago.
    http://www.frenchpastryschool.com/guest_chef_classes/fpe.html

    From a baker who attended school there- she said that Chicago had the most amazing bakeries!

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  15. oh yay Chicago! I loved living there (and kind of wish I still did!)

    the area around U Chicago is nice, (and admittedly I only went there for work when I was recruiting so never lived there) but I have to put in a plug for the north side because it is so beautiful for walking around – small parks and residential streets and of course Lincoln Park and the lakeshore. I used to walk miles there instead of going to the gym! and so many cute shops and restaurants. I lived in Lakeview and Old Town – Lakeview is cheaper further north, Old Town is super cute, and Lincoln Park is great but can be expensive in areas. the north side is just beautiful for picture taking. while I think parts of the south side are too, I don’t know it as well.

    my favorite eating places are not that expensive – I love Adobo Grill (which might be a chain of a few restaurants) – ate at the one in Old Town a lot. Ann Sather in Lakeview has the BEST cinnamon rolls ever. another Lincoln Park / Old Town favorite is Nookies, a really quality diner, pretty reasonable. Gino’s East for deep dish is good. but honestly there are SO many tasty places I would save all your entertainment $ for food!

    which is not so bad because at least in warm weather, there is so much free stuff to do. the parks and the lake and beach to start with, then all the wonderful street fairs all over the city, and of course the Lincoln Park zoo! it’s free, open year round, and actually very nice (I loved the primate house). I see someone mentioned that and the Marshall Field windows – that is Christmas to me.

    and that’s just the free stuff – all the museums and botanical gardens and such are wonderful, there’s good theater and Second City is not too expensive if you like comedy (and so many famous people started there).

    ok that’s way more than 1 choice, it’s too hard to pick!

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  16. HOW EXCITING!! You’ll love living here! If U of C is your central point, I’d recommend living in either Hyde Park or the South Loop. They’re both very up-and-coming neighborhoods with fairly affordable rent and great little shops and restaurants.
    Food Wise: you must go to Frontera grill, and for a pricier night out there’s dozens of places depending on what you feel like eating. Wildfire is another favorite!
    Must-Do: the aquarium, field museum, sears tower, millennium park, second city comedy club.
    Also, you probably already know this, but there’s an LDS temple (and a couple smaller churches too) in the northern suburbs, about a half hour from downtown.

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  17. Places to live:
    I would consider the ‘burbs if TH doesn’t mind a 30 minute train ride into work. there is plenty of transportation from all the burbs into the city, especially if you only plan to go there socially occasionally.

    Otherwise, i love the neighborhoods near U of C…I just personally would rather live in the burbs if I had a baby!

    Things to do:(i have so many, but I’m picking things I haven’t seen in comments so far)

    1. Ravinia music festival (check out the schedule at ravinia.org) you can even sometimes find free tickets to mid-weeks shows at the library. Bring a picnic!
    or
    Free concerts and symphonies at Millenium park milleniumpark.org/parkevents. same deal–bring a picnic and some sparkling cider :-)

    2. (because you’ll have a baby) Lincoln Park Zoo

    To Eat:
    you must, must, must experience Gino’s East at least once!

    It’s a one of a kind experience and certainly not expensive or couture dining but it’s a Chicago deep dish classic!

    I’m so excited you’re moving to my favorite big city and maybe, just maybe we can meet up when I’m home visiting my family!

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  18. 1.) I live in MD so I don’t know the answer to this. Student housing, if it won’t be a problem with Baby.
    2.) We went to the Weber Grille, which is run by the company that makes the Weber Kettles, and it was awesome. It’s not that expensive, or terribly fancy, but it was neat. I think you should revisit your date night strategy, and go out for 2 $50 meals a month instead of 1 $100 meal, because there is so much fun but not crazy expensive food in Chicago.
    3.) The Shedd aquarium. I also recommend the Museum of Science and Industry, but the Shedd tops it if you had to pick one.

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  19. I didn’t read the previous comments, so I may be reiterating something that was already said…. my favorite things in Chicago:
    1. Milennium Park (this includes “The Bean”)
    2. Shedd Aquarium
    3. Navy Pier for shopping & to ride the giant ferris wheel (this is also where I got engaged!)
    4. Lincoln Park Zoo (it’s free!)
    5. Giordano’s Pizza
    6. Garret’s Popcorn (seriously the BEST popcorn on the face of the earth)

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  20. The architectural boat tour is a great thing to do when you first move there…you’ll get a great view of the skyline from the lake, and overview of Chicago history…it’s a really well done tour.

    And I second the Gino’s East rec…you must try deep dish pizza, and Gino’s East is the best!

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  21. I sent you an e-mail before I saw this post, so this is in addition to that.

    1) I’d highly recommend the grad student housing, honestly. The buildings are well-maintained (we puffy heart love our maintenance guy, and he lives in our building with his family) and the rents are slightly below market rate. LOTS of grad students have kids, and the buildings have play lots and things for the kiddos.

    2) My restaurant list might have to be another e-mail for you. So, so, so many choices in Chi-town. :-) However, there’s a little Italian spot in Lincoln Square called La Bocca della Verita that is lovely. Hyde Park, if you live there, has Piccolo Mondo, which is also very tasty – a nice date spot.

    3) Someone else said an architectural tour, and I’d second that – there’s a boat tour that we took which is fun (though a lot of the “history” is made up!) and a walking tour that’s supposed to be great… we’re planning on doing one of those this summer.

    Also: the Art Institute is free on Thursday evenings. A perfect date any time of year.

    This is exciting!!

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  22. I live an hour south of the city! I love Chicago!!!

    I would recommend Shedd Aquarium like many others have mentioned and Museum of Science and Industry. And as for food, I love Maggiano’s family style dinner. It’s kind of a chain I guess, but the food is delicious!!!

    I think you’ll really enjoy Chicago!

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  23. I also recommend the Italian Village. I haven’t been in about 6 years but I liked it, it was pretty nice and had good Italian. I’m not a foodie, but I would actually recommend getting to know the less expensive but just as fantastic ethnic food! They are sooo many good Thai restaurants in Chicago, it’s ridiculous. It’s one of the #1 things I miss about my hometown!

    I also agree with the Gino’s East, I like it much more than Giordano’s pizza. Gino’s is not a classy place to eat (you can write on the walls) but the crust is a delicious cornmeal type crust and it’s very satisfying.

    The museums are great. If you’re living on the cheap there are a lot of free days if you just look online. Another small museum that I like is the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago. It’s free (though they take donations) and if you’re big on Biblical architecture, they focus on Palestine and Babylon and Persia. You can actually see things from King Nebuchenezzar’s temple. I loved it.

    Someone else mentioned Ravinia and I agree, it’s great. I think they still give out free tickets to see the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to students, so TH would get in free.

    The Chicago Botanic gardens are also beautiful. If you drive you pay an amount per car, but if you take the train or walk or bike it’s free. I love the gardens.

    Chicago is a great, great city. I wouldn’t move back, but that’s just because I lived there for 18 years and I like trying out new places. I do think you will love it, however, and will find lots of inspiration for your photography.

    Oh, the temple is also very close to the Botanic gardens. I would ride my bike past it on my way to the gardens.

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  24. NEIGHBORHOODS: Lincoln Park (crowded and expensive, impossible to park, lots to do), Lakeview (slightly less crowded than Lincoln Park), Wrigleyville (don’t do it – crowded, tons of traffic, people drunk from April through October), Uptown (lots of crime, I lived there for a year and hated it – cheap for a nice apartment though), Andersonville (A+ loved it. Easy to park, small places to eat and get coffee), Lincoln Square (my fave place I’ve ever lived and where I live now. movie theatre, coffee, shops, restaurants and bars (which I’m sure don’t interest you, but so you know they’re there!) easy to park, a good mix of young families and singletons). I’d imagine you’ll want to live in Hyde Park, which is beautiful – the most beautiful architecture in the city, I think, with a great grocery co-op and lots of places to hang out with friends. I’d advise against the suburbs – the traffic into the city is really bad, and then you don’t get nearly as much out of your Chicago experience! The culture in the burbs is also completely different than in the city.

    FOOD: I cannot name any one awesome restaurant as Chicago is a food-lover’s paradise – and you can easily get away with $75-$120 for dinner for two. A few of my faves… A Tavola, 160 Blue, Table 52, Sprout, Spiaggia, Topolobambo (An absolutle MUST), Carnivale…. really, this list could be endless.

    THINGS TO DO: Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Science and Industry, Baseball and football games, architectural river tours, Lookingglass, Goodman and Steppenwolf Theatres. Most events in Chicago revolve around food, which is fun. :)

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  25. I love eating in Chicago! I highly recommend Blackbird, Naha, Topolobampo (plus that name is just fun to say!)

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  26. Chicago, my kind of town.

    1-Depends on what you are looking for, if you want reasonable rents and a very family area but close to the city, I recommend Oak Park, it is a 20 minute EL ride to downtown. It was the home of Hemingway and Frank Lloyd Wright. The area around the U of C is not a great area, it has a lot of crime. While it is undergoing gentrification it is still not there yet. I live in the northern most part of Chicago and it is very residential and a bit out of the way so it is quiet and away from the night life the problem is that it is quite a hike from the U of C.

    2-My recommendation is Bistro Campanaga in Lincoln Square. French fare at its finest! I would also recommend a good steak house like Smith and Wollensky!

    3-So of my favorite ones have been mentioned but are worth mentioning again. I love LOVE the Shedd aquarium, the Art Institute, the Lincoln Park Zoo, Navy pier is perfect for a summer day. Of course all the summer festivals and Ravina in the summer.

    Let me know if you have any questions, I know what it is like to pick up and move to Chicago.

    Good luck.

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  27. Congratulations!!!! Chicago is a second home and if you did nothing else go to a Cubs game at Wrigley field, even if you dont like baseball, the atmosphere and the REALLY cool park with the ivy is just the best!

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  28. Jennifer says:

    Hello there,

    I follow you on Twitter (love your tweets), so when you asked for Chicago advice, I thought this could be my chance to share with you and chime in with some recommendations as a native.

    1. My favorite neighborhood in the city, by far, is Lincoln Square. It’s about 6 miles northwest of downtown, with tree-lined streets and attractive, affordable homes/apartments. It’s quiet and low-key, but not dull. And it’s not terribly far from the expressway if you’re husband is driving to school. Another great neighborhood option is the South Loop, which is closer to the University of Chicago. This neighborhood is more urban, but still has a nice vibe.
    2. For restaurants – let me just say, Chicago is a great town for both high-end and budget food. For a romantic evening, you can’t beat North Pond. Definitely more of a splurge, but totally doable at under $100/person w/o alcohol. Also, the chef uses local ingredients and supports sustainable farming. Old Jerusalem in the Old Town neighborhood is a great, affordable option for Middle Eastern food, and Quartino’s in River North is fun for out of town visitors with rustic, small plate Italian. And every neighborhood I’ve ever lived in has had a great sandwich place. I’m not into trendy breakfast places, which is why for breakfast/brunch, I love Uncle Mike’s Place. Only accessible by car, but much cheaper and just good food, which an awesome fruit plate. Oh – and if deep dish pizza isn’t your thing (even as a Chicago girl, I just can’t stomach that much cheese) I highly recommend Coalfire Pizza. It’s like a cross between NY Style and Neopolitan pizza and super baby and family friendly. (Sorry to overwhelm, but I LOVE eating in Chicago :) )
    3. I’m going to have to repeat some above comments and highly recommend the architecture river tour. I’d reserve through the Chicago Architecture Foundation, as they’re super savvy and knowledgeable – you learn so much! In the summer and fall, there’s a number of great music festivals – usually all free in Grant Park. There’s also Summer Dance – if you’re here in the summer – which are totally free dancing lessons and music in Grant Park too. Millennium Park also has lots of free activities and concerts in both the winter and summer. Ice skating at the ice rink there is a must.

    Sorry to go on at length, but there’s just so many great things in Chicago. I really hope you enjoy your time here. It’s such a joy to discover all of its character. Each neighborhood is so unique, you’ll totally be able to find what complements your lifestyle. If you ever need an overly enthusiastic tour-guide, feel free to drop me a note :) GOOD LUCK and lots of happy wishes to you and your family!

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  29. I currently live in Chicago (have been here for seven years now) and I love it. I am happy to answer any questions you have — feel free to email me privately!

    (1) It really depends on which BLOCK you’re living on, but I would be VERY CAREFUL about living in Hyde Park. The area right around the University (literally within a block) is reasonably safe, but outside of that it is a dangerous neighborhood. A graduate student was murdered on the street in Hyde Park a few years ago, and violence and theft are not uncommon. If TH doesn’t mind a commute, there are tons of good neighborhoods to live in. Ukrainian Village is fairly cheap, and very cute once you get off the main drags. Lincoln Park, Lakeview, the South and West Loops are nice too.

    (2) Chicago is a total foodie destination. I would recommend trying Frontera Grill, Merlo on Maple (not well known but AMAZING), and Gibsons for a classic Chicago steakhouse.

    (3) In the winter, ice-skating in Millenium Park is free except fro skate-rentals (which are $10). Biking the lakeshore is a must-do. So beautiful, especially on the south side (and it’s free). Movies and concerts in Grant and Millenium Park are free and fun in the summer. There are also free days at the museums at least once a month. (The Art Institute is a must see!)

    So glad to welcome you to the windy city, the city of big shoulders, the “city that works.” It’s a great place!

    (But watch out for that 10.75% sales tax….)

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  30. Congrats! You must be so happy to finally know where you are going! (I’ll be honest, I’m jealous! ;D)

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  31. Christina says:

    I’ve never commented before, but was so excited since I live in the Chicago area!

    As for where to live, suburbs are mostly cheaper but maybe on campus would be better for you as far as price and convenience.

    Eating – I also recomment Italian Village…it’s where my husband and I went the night we got engaged and I love it :)

    Things to do – summers are the most fun. Go to Navy Pier, do a boat tour (though they are expensive), Museum of Science & Industry, Shedd Aquarium, White Sox game, hang out at Millenium Park and check out the bean (I bet you would take some awesome pics there). So many things!

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  32. My hometown! I’ll second Oak Park being an idea for a good place to live that’s family friendly… the U of C campus is gorgeous, but the surrounding neighborhood is still unsafe, despite seeing some changes in recent years (although Obama lived there with his family while he was a professor there!).

    There are some nice areas you could live in the Loop, but I don’t know about it being super family-friendly (not a lot of green space…), and since I don’t know how far TH is willing to commute to get to school, the north side is probably out. Are you bringing a car/ using it regularly to get around? Having a car downtown is a serious, serious pain in the rear. I got rid of mine when I moved into the city, and my stepbrother and other friends hasve had their windows smashed in and things stolen out of them a few times. Plus the bumps and scratches and high cost of insurance…

    I just wanted to correct two things, essential things that you must know (and develop opinions about!) before moving to the city:

    1. The correct answer to “what is the best deep dish in Chicago?” is LOU MALNATI’S. Not Gino’s East. They’ll hit you hard and fast with their propaganda, but trust me ;)

    2. The correct answer to “which is the better baseball team?” (and no copping out by saying you don’t care about baseball; even if you don’t, you’re required to choose a team!) is THE CUBS.

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    JessicaMayBe Reply:

    Okay, I’m going to say Gino’s East and Lou Malnati’s are tied in my mind. Both are INFINITELY better than Giordano’s, however. I probably had Lou’s more often because we had one so close to us growing up.

    And the Cubs? OBVS.

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  33. My hometown as well, and I’ll second Katie in saying that Lou’s is the better deep dish. :) You’ve gotten a lot of great recommendations for stuff to do downtown, but don’t forget the ‘burbs. There’s one of the largest shopping malls in America–Woodfield, in Schaumburg. A fantastic botanical garden (definitely don’t leave the camera at home!)–in Glencoe. And my favorite antique mall is in Volo–Volo Antique Mall and Auto Museum. A lot of the furniture in our house has come from there. For another blast from the past, take in a drive-in movie at the McHenry outdoor theatre during the summer!

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  34. As someone who came to Chicago for school, I definitely recommend living on campus. Traffic in Chicago is a pain and I think that living on campus maximizes the time that you spend together as a family. The area around UofC is beautiful and I’m sure you’ll find something great. There are many great neighborhoods and suburbs to the city, but I think if your husband is commuting daily for school, living on campus is best.

    Food-wise, there is so much culture here in the city and you can find many great and unique places to eat that are not expensive. Personally, I think many of the very spendy places are just over-rated. There is a show/ website that has Chicagoans featuring their favorite local restaurants. http://www.wttw.com/main.taf?p=1,5

    A few of my favorite places: Smoque (A fantastic BBQ place. They have the best to die for brisket and ribs), Grand Lux Cafe (it’s owned by Cheesecake factory, but they have the best desserts, ever, plus it’s on Michigan Ave).

    Things you must do: Visit Shedd Aquarium, it is absolutely fantastic, If you like biking, take advantage of the lakefront bike trails, go to at least one festival (Celtic Fest, Blues Festival, Rib Fest). They are mostly all free entrance. You pay for the food, etc. Catch at least one sports game…….Baseball is probably the cheapest to catch and the White Sox are closer to UofC, however, a Bulls game is great too. As for the absolute favorite thing to do, for me: Visit Michigan Avenue when it is lit up for Christmas, take a stroll to the Water Tower and stop by Ghirardelli’s Chocolate Ship for the best hot chocolate you have ever had and finish off the night with some ice skating in downtown Chicago. Or stop by there in the summer for the best ice cream sundaes ever.

    I’m so excited to hear you are moving to Chicago. I’d love to meet you if you are ever looking for making new friends. (I’m not a stalker I promise).

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  35. Congrats! That is so exciting! I’ve been in Chicago for 5.5 years now. My husband and I are also more “boring” types who like quiet areas, and we live up north a bit. We really like it because our street is quiet and has lots of young couples, kids, etc, and it’s MUCH cheaper than living closer to the city. It’s just a 40 min train ride downtown for work. But this will also depend on your husband’s schedule, and how much he minds commuting. I personally like the train ride as it gives me uninterrupted time for reading fun books!

    As for specific neighborhoods, I second Penny’s northside recommendations ~ Andersonville is great, Lincoln Square is great, Edgewater is great in the right spots. If you want help finding the right neighborhood for you, I recommend checking out Chicago Apartment People for help finding a good place.

    Restaurants: There are great restaurants all over the city so it’s had to pick! But Rockit is one of my favorites; agree with the Ann Sathers recommendation for brunch. Oh and while the food is not technically the greatest, the view from the Signature Room in the John Hancock building is amazing. I recommend that as a “must-do” in Chicago – if you don’t want to eat a full meal you can go to the Signature Lounge and get appetizers. Then you don’t have to pay the charge for going up to the observatory, but you still get the great view! It’s best at sunset on a clear day.

    Otherwise – agree with the architecture tour recommendation. If you like dancing, there are free dance lessons all summer long in Grant park on Thurs/Fri/Sat nights – they make for a great date activity on a nice summer evening. (google Chicago Summer Dance for a schedule) Chicago is amazing in the summer, there are festivals every weekend, and the lakefront path is gorgeous for long walks or bike rides. (I recommend living close to the lake, for this reason!) I’m happy to share more info if you need any more help!

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  36. I was just directed to your blog today (but I do know you as Mrs. Avocado) because of your impending move and I felt that I had to comment since I have lived in Chicago almost all of my life.

    1. For convenience sake, you can’t beat living near campus; however, be forewarned that Hyde Park is not that nice an area. The campus is beautiful and there are some expensive, beautiful areas to live in, but overall it is not a particularly safe/nice neighborhood. If you want something a little safer I would recommend living north of downtown. There are a lot of family friendly areas there. Living east (near the lake) would provide an easy driving commute too.

    2. Chicago has some of the best restaurants. Hands down the best food I have ever eaten was at Blackbird. Other places worth trying: Sapori Trattoria, Frontera Grill, and Heaven on Seven. Also make sure you grab some deep dish or stuffed pizza (lots of great places) and hit up china town (I recommend Three Happiness).

    3. The list is endless, but you’ll definitely want to hit up Lincoln Park Zoo with the baby – it’s free and it’s fantastic.

    Feel free to email if you have questions…good luck!

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  37. 1. While the University of Chicago immediate area is nice enough it very quickly gets very not so nice not very far away. Just adding that. you may want to look into the safety of the area. I second whoever suggested the South Loop which is where I live. It would be easy for your husband to get to school but it’s safe and nice. the downside? it’s a little pricier than Univ. of Chicago. But it’s Chicago–everything’s pricey.

    2. We just went to Table Fifty-Two which was amazing. Topolobampo is great. Our favorite secret sushi restaurant of all time is on Rush and is called Friends Sushi. It’s tiny and awesome. Also be on the lookout for Restaurant Week when lots of really nice restaurants have fabulous prix fixe deals.

    3. I would go to a free summer concert at Millenium Park. Everyone will suggest the museums and of course they’re nice too BUT here’s a tip, the library has free museum passes you can check out to get into the museums for free (http://www.chipublib.org/eventsprog/programs/kids/grkids_museumpass.php)

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  38. p.s. several people are suggesting you live in neighborhoods to the north of the Loop like Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Old Town etc. They’re lovely areas but the commute for your husband would be a pain. I wouldn’t do it. There is definitely a lot more fun stuff going on up there but you said that’s not a priority for you guys. I’d go for convenience…

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    liv Reply:

    yeah, i ditto this. he’s going to have lots of late nights and mandatory pseudo-social obligations, and i’d want him to be as close as possible. at least that way he can sneak an hour or two of time with you.

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  39. Chicago resident of five years here, and it gets better everyday!

    1. Student housing may be your most affordable choice, so that could be a good call. Hyde Park is lovely– right near the lake and the Museum of Science and Industry plus the university obviously provides its own life. However, it is a bit of an island as the southside in general is unfortunately the poorer and less developed side of Chicago. To be closer to the central life of the city then and less cut off, I recommend the south loop/printer’s row– easily drivable or busable, bikebale to Hyde Park along the lake and the area is VERY overbuilt right now do to real estate bubble. If you look for a rental– negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. Prices are flexible.
    2. This is obviously a tough one– but check out North Pond– lovely Arts & Crafts decor, right in Lincoln Park, the park itself not the neighborhood and great organic/seasonable food.
    3. Again this is IMPOSSIBLE– but just to choose one economic thing: go to a neighborhood or musical festival– the city hosts hundreds throughout the spring/summer/fall and they are a great way to check out a new area/ethnic group or musical genre. There’s usually food and entertainment. Some of my faves include the Ukrainian festival, the Renegade Craft Fair (like Etsy outside), Jazz Fest and May Fest (german festival). Check out this website: http://www.explorechicago.org/city/en/supporting_narrative/events___special_events/special_events/mose/mayor_s_office_of.html

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  40. so exciting!

    But will TH be quitting his job to be a fulltime student? Or will he be juggling both?

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  41. Congratulations! Chicago seems like such a fun place – I’ve never been but my husband lived right outside of the city for a while shortly after college. Unfortunately, he spent most of his time working, and can only recommend the Buffalo Wild Wings (probably not your kind of place – a chain and he usually went to grab some beers with his buddies!).

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  42. Of the 20+ times I’ve moved… I’ve never lived in Chicago. But… I once stopped there on a layover to DC. Best of luck with the move, they can be stressful, but knowing how on top of things you are, I’m sure everything will go smoothly.

    To TH, congrats on getting in and best of luck!

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  43. For restaurants, definitely go to Avec. It’s delicious.

    http://www.avecrestaurant.com/

    Neighborhoods- I’m sure someone above mentioned that the U of C isn’t in a super safe neighborhood. You might feel safer living slightly further from campus, especially with a small babe.

    For your one thing, definitely the Art Institute. It’s been recently redone and it’s fabulous.

    ENJOY!

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  44. Oh- also, I second the architectural tour when you arrive. Chicago is AMAZINGLY beautiful and has GREAT architecture.

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  45. Jenna,

    That’s so exciting! I’ve followed you since wedding bee and know you’re going to absolutely LOVE chi-town. Place to live: I think Hyde Park near the university is prob. best for you if you’re not looking for too much excitement. Otherwise, while pretty far from UofC, I love living in Logan Square.

    Restaurant: 2 favorites: The Parthenon–Greek and DELICIOUS! It’s on Halsted and actually on a long block called “greek town” w/ lots of other Greek restaurants. It’s not too expensive. Also Cafe Laguardia in Bucktown–Cuban food and just really yummy food!! Also not too expensive.

    On another note, I’m starting a business as a wedding coordinator, so if you’re considering doing some photography while you’re out here I’d be happy to introduce you to some folks out here and recommend you to any brides I can.

    Congrats!

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    Jenna Reply:

    Joan,

    I would love to have you recommend me. If you’re interested in meeting up for lunch/coffee, please email me sometime this Fall. Good luck with your new business!

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  46. That’s great! I’ve only flown through Chicago, never stopped and looked around. Hope you love it!

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  47. I would recommend living in Hyde Park that way TH doesn’t have to commute to school.

    Cubbies game!!

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  48. I just looked back through my fb photo albums of Chicago, and now I want to go back. I’m sure you’ll have fun there. =)

    1. No idea on where to live.
    2. I thought Artopolis in Greektown was good and had a good atmosphere. http://www.artopolischicago.com/
    3. Millennium Park

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  49. Wow! Congrats! What an AWESOME school! Yay S!!!!!!! Nice work man!

    Tyler grew up in a quaint suburb of Chicago that is definitely a “must-visit”. It’s called Long Grove and has all these tiny little shops and some great photo ops…in particular I remember a beautiful old wooden bridge.

    I am jealous that you will live so close to an H&M! Tyler will be jealous that you can have Lou Malnati’s pizza anytime you want. A few times on special occasions I have had Lou Malnati’s shipped to us in Virginia and Texas…he loves it THAT much.

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  50. You should go to Alinea. It’s more than $100/person ($150 for the tasting menu and $225 for the tour), but it’s one of the best restaurants in the *world*, not just the country. It’s a fascinating, amazing, mind-blowing place, and well worth the price. Everything about it is fascinating — just google it and read what comes up.

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    Jenna Reply:

    I spent like an hour reading random blog posts and looking through Flickr albums with photos from Alinea. I don’t see how we will ever have enough money to go BUT, it looks like my dream restaurant. What an experience!

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      I'm a farm-raised almost-crunchy stroller-pushing picture-taking lifestyle-blog-writing gastronomy-obsessed divine-seeking thrift-store-combing cheese-inhaling pavement-pounding laughter-sprinkling lover of individuality and taking chances.
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