From the Saturday, Jan. 24, editions of The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.) …
By Dave Wischnowsky
Chicago can be a tricky place to navigate.
When I moved to the city nearly a decade ago, I quickly discovered that I didn’t know what I didn’t know about living there until, well, I knew it.
For example, during my first week in town I learned about parking. When the city sweeps one side of the street on one day ($50 fine), it’s going to sweep the other side of the street on the following day ($50 fine).
No, I was not fine.
Since then, however, I’ve learned a few things. And last week, Timeout Chicago shared many of the Windy City’s best shortcuts and tricks in an article entitled “27 Chicago hacks to make your life easier.”
Some are particularly helpful for visitors, which I thought I’d share with you today along with my own two cents.
Timeout says to use the Pedway system. When slush, bitter cold or rain plagues Chicago, the underground system of tunnels allows pedestrians to move between CTA stations, City Hall, Macy’s, the Aon Center and more – all without going outdoors.
I add: Chicago’s Pedway is largely unknown to outsiders. You can actually take a tour of the 40 blocks of subterranean corridors through chicagopedwaytour.com.
Timeout says to download the vital Transit app. Designed in Montreal, this public-transportation tracker works in many cities around the globe. In Chicago, it reliably follows all buses and trains near you, as well as taxis and Divvy bikes.
I add: I only now discovered this app myself, and it’s far superior to the Transit Stop app I had been using. It truly is a transit game-changer.
Timeout says to use Northwestern Hospital for affordable parking near the Mag Mile. The garage is at 222 E. Huron Street and you can get your ticket validated at one of the customer service desks in the hospital.
I add: Don’t bother to explain to the desk attendant that you’re not actually visiting the hospital. Just act like you belong, and you belong. That goes for many places in Chicago.
Timeout says you can find better food at Cubs, White Sox games. At Wrigley Field, head to the small outside upper deck, where you can get freshly cooked Polish sausages with grilled onions, unlike the pre-wrapped hot dogs you’ll find inside. At the Cell, zero in on the elotes, a really good version of the Mexican corn dish, or the bacon on a stick.
I add: Beer lines often are shorter on that outside upper deck at Wrigley. In the back of the bleachers, there’s also a grill where you can get a freshly cooked Polish and grilled onions. Seek it out.
Timeout says to be like George Costanza and know the first-class downtown public restrooms. There’s a clean restroom in the basement of Block 37, some easily accessible and luxurious toilets in the Hotel Allegro lobby (near the Theater District) and plenty of stalls situated below the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.
I add: When nature calls while downtown, seek out the nearest hotel lobby – any hotel lobby. And once again, if you act like you belong, you belong.
Timeout says to score free museum passes at the library. With a valid ID, Chicago residents can visit their local library and check out a pass to the Field Museum, Art Institute, Adler Planetarium and more. Each pass provides a family of four (two children and up to two adults) with free general admission during regular hours.
I add: For larger groups, Chicago residents can check out passes from multiple libraries. So buddy up to a local and have them take you out on the town for some free culture.