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Cheap Right Now gives a snapshot of a cheap weekend getaway each month.

People around the country will tell you that there’s no better place in the world to be than downtown Chicago in the summertime. It’s true, Chicago summers are enticing and overflowing with festivals, free activities and restaurant patios. But Chicago in November (and all of fall) is just as captivating. The leaves are losing their grip on the trees and the city is beginning to illuminate with that magical holiday glow. The lights glisten longer amid an early nightfall, and the warmth of city’s impeccable food and drink scene warms that November chill.

Find our promo code of the week and Chicago hotel deals

Courtesy of Steven Vance.

Courtesy of Steven Vance.

Plane, train or automobile — Take your pick. Chicago is a major transportation hub with main veins leading to it from all over the country. It has two international airports, O’Hare and Midway, with trains providing easy access downtown, and marks a crossroads for several interstates, making travel by car easy as well. It’s also accessible by bus, Amtrak and even boat, if you are feeling really adventurous.

 

Courtesy of Ron Cogswell.

Courtesy of Ron Cogswell.

Cheap local transit — Most Chicagoans don’t own cars, so getting around town is a piece of cake. Take the Chicago Transit Authority buses or trains, also known as the L, anywhere in the city for $2.25 a ride. If you want to go to the suburbs, Metra trains can take you there. Chicago is walkable though, so for the cheapest form of transit, use your feet and see the sights. Divvy, Chicago’s bikeshare program, is another good option if the weather holds up, but prices just went up to $9.95 for a 24-hour pass, and it will charge you a fee if you don’t dock the bike every 30 minutes. 

Thanksgiving Day Parade. Courtesy of Randy Escalada

Thanksgiving Day Parade. Courtesy of Randy Escalada

Stare on State Street — Chicago’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade is not to be missed if you are in town for the holiday. It starts at 8 a.m. and takes over State Street from Congress Parkway to Randolph Street. Watch floats, giant balloons, marching bands and local celebrities traverse downtown. If your neck starts to hurt from looking up, there will be plenty of people watching to do as well. And all that entertainment won’t cost youa dime.

 

Courtesy of Ryan Dickey.

Courtesy of Ryan Dickey.

Taste fall in the alcohol — Revolution Brewing, one of Chicago’s premier breweries, makes a mean Oktoberfest. And fortunate for fellow beer lovers, Revolution offers free tours of its production facility at 3340 N. Kedzie on a first-come, first-serve basis. The tours fill up fast, especially on the weekends, so get there early. It comes with a tasting and is connected to its tap room, which serves many brews that never get bottled and distributed to the public. Revolution brews very seasonally, so you should be able to appreciate fall with every sip.

Find discounted tickets for Chicago Bulls games

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Dine on doughnuts — The fierce doughnut competition in the city has raised the bar quite high for the delicious treats, far above and beyond what you could get at any run-of-the-mill doughnut joint. Specialty doughnut shops pepper the city and are worth waiting in line for. Try Firecakes Donuts, Stan’s Donuts, Do-Rite Donuts, the Doughnut Vault or Glazed and Infused. Although prices at these shops are higher than most, getting one doughnut as breakfast is a cheaper option than an elaborate brunch elsewhere, and these things are undoubtedly gourmet. If you want to cut costs even further, stop at any of the dozens of Dunkin’ Donuts.

 

View of Chicago from the water taxi. Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

View of Chicago from the water taxi. Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Take in the views by sea — Chicago’s geography lends itself quite nicely to boat rides, and the options for those longing to set sail are many. There are architecture tours, sunset cruises and other passenger barges. But those options can cost upwards of $40 a person. Take a water taxi from Navy Pier to the museum campus through Chicago Harbor for a mere $8 (which would likely be cheaper than if a normal taxi drove you that distance), and take in sweeping views of the skyline. Go on a warmer day since passengers are exposed to the elements during the trip. Rides are short, though, so you won’t be bitten too hard by that November chill. Pro tip: If you aren’t into the boat thing, walk out to the Adler Planetarium for more great views of the city.

 

Courtesy of Daniel X. O'Neil.

Courtesy of Daniel X. O’Neil.

Take your kinder to Christkindlmarket — The city sets up a traditional German Christmas market in Daley Plaza in the heart of the city, opening on Nov. 20. Try some German mulled wine or shop around and get a head start on some of your Christmas shopping. Visiting the Christkindlmarket is a sacred holiday tradition to most Chicagoans, so make yourself at home and stop by.

 

Courtesy of Thomas Hawk.

Courtesy of Thomas Hawk.

BYOB — A spectacular way to save money but still experience Chicago’s world-renowned culinary scene are restaurants that allow patrons to bring their own alcohol. You’ll savebig on avoiding paying the premiums restaurants charge for a glass of wine, and these places usually have the best vibes. Dozens of sushi places across the city are BYOB. Other favorites include 90 Miles Cuban Cafe, which has a couple locations throughout the city, and Chilam Balam, a Mexican restaurant in Lakeview that is constantly changing its menu.

 

Views from the Signature Lounge. Courtesy of Salil Wadhavkar.

Views from the Signature Lounge. Courtesy of Salil Wadhavkar.

On top of the world — If seeing the city from above is a privilege reserved for those in planes and penthouses, the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor of the John Hancock building is a loop hole. This place sells drinks and appetizers that are slightly overpriced, but the views are stunning, allegedly allowing vistas of three states. Other observation decks in skyscrapers offer similar views, but most charge an entry fee of at least $20 per person. The Signature Lounge is free, besides, of course, the drink you’ll likely have there.

CTIXblog CTA _ cheap of the week

Tagged: Cheap of the Month, Food & drink, Holidays, Off-season, Seasonal, Uncategorized

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Blogger Val Moloney met U2 hotness Larry Mullen Jr. in Chicago's Gold Coast 10 years ago. Credit: Clancy3434.

By Valerie Moloney

In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, let’s talk random run-ins. Continue reading

Tagged: City

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Chicago hotels
By Kate Schwartz

Ring in the New Year in the Windy City with CheapTickets’ cheap Chicago hotels. Known for its breathtaking architecture and delectable cuisine, Chicago has something for everyone. With CheapTickets’ hotel deals, plus tips on cheap New Year’s Eve fun, you’ll be able to start the New Year with some cash in your pocket. Check out CheapTickets cheap guide to New Year’s Eve in Chicago.

Hotel Allegro: Located in Chicago’s Loop, Hotel Allegro is surrounded by the Windy City’s most astounding architecture and steps from the famous Chicago River. CheapTickets is teaming up with Hotel Allegro to offer 20% off your stay between now and February 15, 2009. For a cheap New Year’s Eve celebration, walk across the street for a drink at the Encore Liquid Lounge, or take a short cab ride to see the free fireworks show at Navy Pier.

Hotel Burnham: Pair cheap travel with cheap shopping, and you’ll be bringing in the New Year in style. Hotel Burnham is located across the street from Chicago’s flagship Macy’s store on State Street, so you’ll be in position to take advantage of any New Year’s sales. Hotel Burnham also is offering 20% off your stay through February 15. And for cheap New Year’s Eve options, take a romantic midnight stroll through Millennium Park or catch the lights on Michigan Avenue.

Hotel Monaco: Stay at Hotel Monaco this New Year’s Eve and you’ll be in position no matter how you decide to celebrate. Hotel Monaco is just steps from Michigan Avenue and Millenium Park, in the heart of downtown, so you’re close to great clubs, restaurants and attractions. Book with CheapTickets and save 20% on your stay.

The Windy City is where it’s at, so get the party started for less when you book your cheap Chicago hotel on CheapTickets.

CheapTickets resources:

Kate Schwartz is a marketing coordinator for CheapTickets. When
she’s not searching for the best travel deals, she’s out taking
advantage of them!  From hiking the Rockies to lounging on the beaches
of Barcelona, Kate is always looking for adventure.

Tagged: City

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Tasteblog1
By Polly Fitz

Taste of Chicago is known as a food fest — and for good reason: pizza, cheesecake, ribs and lots of "food on a stick" make for an almost overwhelming smorgasbord. But you may not know that Taste is also a music festival — with free concerts every day. Here are some details for this year’s festival.

Taste of Chicago runs June 27 through July 6 in Grant Park. Admission is FREE, but food tickets are $8 for 12 tickets (plus a $2 surcharge). Specialties from more than 65 restaurants are on the menu. Not surprisingly, there’s pizza (from at least 7 restaurants), and some of the other highlights include:

  • Gyros and baklava from Costa’s restaurant
  • Polish sausage sandwich with sauerkraut from Polka Sausage & Deli
  • Fried dough, toasted cheese ravioli from Harry Caray’s
  • Rainbow ice cream from the Original Rainbow Cone
  • Guacamole and chips, pork tacos from Adobo Grill

Tasteblog3
Every night, Taste of Chicago offers free concerts in the Petrillo Music Shell. Here’s a partial lineup:

  • Friday, June 27 — Chaka Khan
  • Saturday June 28 — Stevie Wonder
  • Sunday, June 29 — Josh Kelley
  • Tuesday, July 1 — Joss Stone
  • Friday, July 4 — Gomez

Here’s a tip: Chicago celebrates the Fourth of July early — with a concert and fireworks show on July 3. (There are more fireworks on the 4th.)

Many Chicago hotels are within walking distance of the Taste of Chicago, so you can be close to all the action. Hotel Burnham, Club Quarters Wacker at Michigan and Hotel Blake  are just a few of the hotels close to Grant Park.

CheapTickets resources:

Polly Fitz is an editor for CheapTickets.

Tagged: City, Events, FREE!

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Chicagoblog
By Polly Fitz

During the summer in Chicago, you can get expensive-feeling entertainment for FREE. Here’s a look at just some of the free things you can do on your Chicago vacation:

Music: Blues Fest (June 5-8), Latin Music Fest (August 23-24) and Jazz Fest (August 28-31) are the biggies. And they’re great if you like crowds. But if you just want to relax with some music at the end of the day, The Grant Park Music Festival (in Millennium Park) is your ticket. Free concerts under the Frank Gehry-designed pavilion run Wednesdays and Fridays at 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. (times subject to change) from June 11 through August 16. FYI: There are plenty of Chicago hotels close to Millennium Park, including the Hard Rock Hotel and The Hyatt Regency.

Dance: Learn how to polka, belly dance, salsa… You name it, they’ve got it at Chicago SummerDance. From June 12 – August 24 the Spirit of Music Garden (between Harrison Street and Balbo Avenue) in Grant Park is transformed into an outdoor dance floor. Free lessons and live music run 6 – 9:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 4 – 7 p.m. Sundays. FYI: The Hilton Chicago is one of the closest Chicago hotels to the Spirit of Music Garden.

Movies: The Chicago Outdoor Film Festival is like a drive-in without the cars. Spread out on the lawn at Grant Park, take in views of the lake and skyline, and enjoy the movie. Movies start at dusk Tuesdays, July 15 – August 26. For movies with a foreign flair, check out the International Summer Screenings Program at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., Wednesdays, June 4 – September 10. Movies start at 6:30 or 7 p.m.

Events: Chicago’s lakefront shines in the summer, so it’s no surprise that many big events take place on the water. The Chicago Air and Water Show, featuring the spectacular Blue Angels, takes place August 15-17. This year, for the event’s 50th anniversary, the show starts Friday at 3 p.m., with the Blue Angels and Golden Knights Parachute Team, followed by a concert and fireworks show. The best place to watch is at North Avenue Beach.

Venetian Night July 26 is like a festival of lights. Decorated boats parade along the water just north of the Shedd Aquarium. When the parade is over, there’s a fireworks show set to music.

There is so much to see and do — and so much of it is FREE. So book your Chicago vacation now, and enjoy summer in the city.

CheapTickets resources:

Polly Fitz is an editor for CheapTickets.

Tagged: City, FREE!

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If you want to travel this Memorial Day weekend, CheapTickets has a deal for you. First, check out our Memorial Day Cheapometer for 2008 — a list of some popular travel destinations and alternatives where you can stretch your dollar with cheap flights and cheap hotels. Whether you want to travel to the beach, the mountains or the big city, CheapTickets’ alternative summer travel destinations can save you as much as 60 percent!

Then take advantage of the CheapTickets Summer Sale, where you can save $50 on qualifying vacation packages of three nights or more. Just book your trip by July 6 and travel by August 31.

The Cheapometer reveals the average daily rates for top travel destinations and CheapTickets’ alternative picks.

Memorial Day Cheapometer for 2008
Destination & average daily rate
Alternative
Sedona, AZ – $208.64 Tuscon, AZ – $80.17 (62% savings)
Jackson Hole, WY – $164.94 Denver, CO – $76.23 (52% savings)
Los Angeles, CA – $148 Orange County, CA – $83 (45% savings)
New York City – $207.58 Chicago, IL – $124.29 (40% savings)
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – $116.32 Mazatlan, Mexico – $69.24 (40% savings)
Myrtle Beach, SC – $154.61 Virginia Beach, VA – $122.80 (20% savings)

CheapTickets resources:

Tagged: City, Flights, FREE!, Limited-time Offers, Vacation packages

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Macysflowershow
By Samantha Chapnick

Apparently February showers bring March flowers, at least if you’re at Macy’s in Minneapolis, Chicago, San Francisco or New York, where the annual Macy’s Flower Show runs from March 16 through the end of the month.

Macy’s Herald Square — a short walk from many New York hotels — features 30,000 exotic trees and flowering plants divided into five enchanted gardens, including one showcasing purple flowers and one emulating a typical Spanish jardin.

Every half hour between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. there’s a 20-minute guided tour, and the work of numerous celebrities will be showcased. Martha Stewart will be at the opening, and Ralph Lauren, Kate Spade and others have been charged with setting a table as they would for an enchanted garden dinner party. Be sure not to miss the centerpiece of the show: a highly detailed reproduction of Macy’s historic Herald Square building assembled entirely from organic plant materials by the renowned artist Paul Busse.

If you travel to San Francisco, Macy’s Union Square store is zeroing in on just one theme: Spain. It expands on the Spanish garden theme by featuring Romanesque patio vistas, Moorish-inspired Persian gardens and striking floral landscapes, including the famed Gomes azaleas.

At Macy’s on State Street — near several major Chicago hotels — and at Macy’s in Minneapolis, the theme is Floranova. The plants, events and displays take inspiration from Latin-infused cultures including Miami’s South Beach, Mexico, Cuba and Brazil. There are guided tours by master gardeners, cooking demonstrations, family fun activities, and music and art as well.

New York Herald Square Show Gardens:

  • Spring Garden: Features a vibrant array of tulips, daffodils, primroses and flowering trees and shrubs. Be sure to check out our newest addition to the show, Rhododendron trees.
  • Conservatory Garden: Showcases whimsical plant topiaries and exotic and tropical plants, including citrus, coffee and cacao trees.
  • Royal Purple Garden: Shows off plants in the purple and lavender color palette, including rare Chinese redbuds, a flowering shrub with hundreds of magnificent purple flowers along the branches of the plant.
  • Cherry Hill Garden: Features a breathtaking variety of trees from the cherry, or Prunus, family, including tall Kwansan and contorted Okame cherry trees and flowering almond shrubs.
  • Spanish Garden: Reflects the look and feel of a luxurious garden in Spain. Stroll through fountains, grapevines, blooming Spanish bluebells and citrus and Monkey Puzzle trees.

CheapTickets resources:

Tagged: City, FREE!

Sam Chapnick

Sam Chapnick

Sam Chapnick

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Chicago_overview_brandxpictures By Thurston Hatcher

Every Tuesday is CheapTickets’ Day of Deals, where we bring you a few of the very best travel deals available on CheapTickets.

Our first edition focuses on The James Hotel in downtown Chicago.

The best deals I found at this 4-star property:
• Valentine’s weekend: Price dropped from $228/night to $185/night.
• Plus, get free breakfast and free valet parking, valued at more than $40/day.

And with our Big City Getaways sale, you can save another $75 if you book your flight and hotel together and stay for three or more nights. To sweeten the deal further, a number of Chicago museums also are offering free admission in February.

Watch the video to see why this hotel deserves the title "Deal of the Day."

CheapTickets resources

Thurston Hatcher is the CheapTickets Travel News Editor.

Tagged: City, Limited-time Offers

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SheddTravelers can explore Chicago’s great museums for free throughout February. All are easily accessible from Chicago hotels in the Loop and along Michigan Avenue.

Here’s a look at the deals:

  • Admission to the Field Museum, home of the world-famous Sue dinosaur, is free all month.
  • The Field’s neighbors, the Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium, will have free admission on February 4, 5, 11 and 12, February 18-22, and February 25 & 26. There’s an additional fee for aquarium and planetarium shows.
  • The Art Institute of Chicago — famed for its vast collection of impressionist paintings — also will have free admission all month, along with special prices for its new Edward Hopper and Winslow Homer exhibitions.
  • And next to the Art Institute, Millennium Park will be transformed into the Museum of Modern Ice throughout February. The centerpiece is "Paintings Below Zero," a giant, site-specific installation by artist Gordon Halloran. Many other free programs and activities will be offered all month at the American Express Heated Tent and across

    Michigan Avenue at the Chicago Cultural Center.

  • The Museum of Contemporary Art, meanwhile, offers free admission all day on Tuesdays.

CheapTickets resources:

Tagged: City, FREE!, Last minute travel