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April 28, 2008

Parachuting Into Flyover Country

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Next Wednesday (7 May) we fly to Chicago for 11 days in the Midwest. Nancy hasn't been there other than airport stopovers, so this trip is for her to get to know that part of the country better.

My parents were born in Illinois and Ohio and I've visited the area many times while driving through or when consulting for A.C. Nielsen, General Motors and Chrysler back in the 80s and 90s. But I haven't been there since 2000 or thereabouts and am not up-to-date regarding what's worth seeing.

For example, I haven't been to Chicago in about 15 years. I plan to visit the Art Institute. Friends say that a boat tour of the architecture is worth taking. And we'll of course check out the Loop and Michigan Avenue and perhaps one of the zoos. Nancy isn't that hot on technology so we might skip the Museum of Science and Industry and other Midway area attractions. Plus, we don't really want to spend all our time in museums anyway -- my attention span in them ranges between 60 and 90 minutes.

Elsewhere, I plan to visit Ford's Greenfield Village and Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn and perhaps take a peek at the Air Force Museum in Dayton to see what's new. Other than that, nothing very definite. We plan to be in: Madison, WI; Springfield, IL; Indianapolis, IN; Columbus, OH and perhaps South Bend, IN in addition to places previously noted.

We probably don't have a large enough time budget for spending hours and hours in one place, but if any of you have suggestions regarding interesting places to see along the route I just sketched, let me know.

I plan to pack a computer and will try to post when I can en route.



posted by Donald at April 28, 2008


Be sure to visit the Intercontinental Hotel on Michigan Ave. It's a splendid example of an art deco skyscraper. Forget the new addition, just walk into the old lobby and ask them what floor the swimming pool is on. It's higher than you think. Go up and take a look at this gorgeous Greco-Roman swim area, complete with viewers seats. An amazing hotel. More info here:

If you have time, visit the Union League Club and prepare to be amazed at all the art work the members collected over the decades. This is Chicago's answer to San Francisco's Bohemian Club, which I have also visited. The ULC has more and better art work, though. And you can stay there! Find out more here:

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on April 28, 2008 9:17 PM

Millennium Park in Chicago might be the best public park in America.

Also, I know 2 Blowhards isn't a site that loves modern architecture, but Columbus, Indiana is certainly worth checking out. It's a whole city as a museum.

Last, I think we undervalue rural tourism. Go tour a farm! Visit a grange! Visit an ethanol plant, or a small town festival, or an old factory.

Posted by: cure on April 28, 2008 10:51 PM

Go here for Pizza:

It's on Wacker right along the river.

Posted by: AP on April 29, 2008 12:57 PM

Please don't call Chicago "fly over zone" when you are in town. People there do not like it. Chicago is a city that is the same size as Paris and has a considerable, albeit one not pounded in the media as New York's or Los Angeles's, influnce on this country and it is a world class city. Sometimes I think that Chicago gets no benefit at all from being part of the United States. If it were in Europe it would be one of the capitols here it is fly over zone.

Posted by: Robert on April 30, 2008 12:27 PM

In Chicago:

Stop by Hot Doug's for a corn dog. Be warned: on Saturday there's an hour wait to get in.

Up in Wilmette, the Bahai Temple is an amazing sight, with beautiful formal gardens around it.

Millenium Park on Michigan Avenue cost far too much money to build, so you might as well enjoy it. The Bean (officially, "Cloudgate") is great fun to look from various angles and distances.

The architectural boat trip is worth while, but one can see even more on land. If you don't feel like walking, there's a tour by Segway. (And yes, almost anyone can learn to ride one in a few minutes. They're that simple and user-friendly.)

I second the Union League Club and the Intercontinental's swimming pool. (It was built as the Medinah Athletic Club.)

If you feel like some jazz, the Green Mill is outstanding. Check the Chicago Reader for truly exhaustive music listings; also art and theater.

Posted by: Rich Rostrom on April 30, 2008 10:29 PM

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