Chicago Marathon Weekend

It’s that time of year when you need to unpack your fall fashion collection, Bears football jersey, and grab yourself a pumpkin spice latte, because it is officially fall in Chicago.  It is also that time of year thousands of people from 50 states and over 100 countries have dedicated their blood, sweat, and tears in preparation for the Chicago Marathon.

The race starts at Grant Park and loops through the beautiful downtown neighborhoods. If you have friends or family running in the race, the course map will help you navigate through the city.

Times of each wave are as follows:

Location- Grant Park, Columbus Dr. & Monroe St.
Marathon Wheelchair Start – 7:20am
Marathon Hand-cycle Start – 7:21am
Wave 1 Start- 7:30am
Wave 2 Start – 8:00am
Spectator Access to Grant Park- 8:30am

If you are staying with us at the Hampton Inn & Suites Chicago Downtown this weekend, to either run in the Marathon or to cheer someone on, we will have a station set up in the lobby filled with bananas and Gatorade. This will be available starting at 5:30am. While you are there, check out each poster every department of the hotel staff created to root on the runners. We also have a complimentary full American breakfast starting at 6am in our Daniel Burnham room on the second floor of the hotel. If you have any questions or need any information regarding the Marathon, please don’t hesitate to ask a front desk representative.

Good luck runners as you concur 26.2 miles on Sunday. You are an inspiration to us all!

For those of you who didn’t run the Marathon this year, but are determined to try it in 2013, download Nike’s 15-week Bank of America Chicago Marathon Training Program to get you started. As my General Manager, Andrew Scarlett always says when we are working our way toward a certain goal “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

 

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Hampton to host charitable event this evening

Today, Thursday September 20th, 2012, the Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly Young Professionals Advisory Board will host an event at the Hampton Inn & Suites Chicago Downtown from 6:00pm to 9:00pm.  The event titled “engAge,” is a fundraising event benefiting Chicagoland Seniors. The mission of the Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly is to provide services and companionship for the Elderly that may not have close social connections, i.e. family or friends, due to death or distance.

A silent raffle, along with refreshments and music will be enjoyed by all patrons this evening. If you would like to learn more about the event, please click here. engAge is open to people 21+ years of age.

We hope to see you at the Hampton Inn & Suites Chicago Downtown! The event will be on the 2nd floor in the Daniel Burnham Room. 100% of the proceeds go directly to Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly.

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Upcoming Summer Events

June 20th was the official date that we could say it was “summer” in Chicago. Of course with the change of season come temperatures over 100 degrees and humidity so thick you could cut it with a knife.  If you want to beat the heat, there are many places you can visit that will be blasting their air conditioning. However, for those who are willing to defeat the heat check out some of the “cool” outdoor events going on in this sweltering City.

Taste of Chicago offers a variety of Chicago cuisine to be sampled

Taste of Chicago. This epic food festival brings in over 1.2 million people to the Chicago to experience all the amazing food and entertainment this city has to offer. This year, Huffington Post said that “attendees consumed 17,600 slices of deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s, 15,000 funnel cakes from the Churro Factory, and 30,000 rainbow cones.” Along with the food, there were many performances at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park that hosted bands like Death Cab for Cutie, Jennifer Hudson, Dierks Bentley, and Chaka Khan. If you ended up missing the Taste of Chicago this year, don’t worry it will be back in full force next year.

Lollapalooza, 2010
Lollapalooza, 2010. Image courtesy of PBS

Lollapalooza. This 3 day music festival turns Chicago into a mini Woodstock. This event started back in 1991 and established its territory in Chicago’s Grant Park in 2005. Lollapalooza means “an extraordinary or unusual thing, person, or event.” Over 16,000 people of all ages come to Chicago to take park of this wondrous music event to check out their favorite bands and to discover new ones.  You have the option to purchase a 1 day pass for $95 or a 3 day pass for $230. With 8 stages and over 100 bands to choose from, each day you will be exposed to a different type of music from Rock, Indie, Punk, and Techno.  This year you will see performances from The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Black Sabbath, Avicii, The Black Keys, Florence and the Machine, Jack White, and Kaskade. For more information on Lollapalooza and the lineup, check out their website at http://www.lollapalooza.com. If you need hotel accommodations, please contact the Hampton Inn & Suites Chicago Downtown direct at 312-832-0330.

Chicago Air and Water Show

Chicago Air and Water Show, Image courtesy of the CCTB

Air and Water Show. Pack your lawn chair, a cooler, some sunscreen, and ear plugs if you plan on heading to Chicago’s Lakefront to watch the Air and Water show.  This show attracts millions of prospectors each year to check out the amazing tricks performed by aerobatic teams and the U.S military. A cool factoid about the show is that most of the planes fly to and from Gary Jet Center in Gary, Indiana. They have to time their flight down to the second so they can fly over the show at an exact moment. The show is from 10am-3pm on Saturday August 18th and Sunday August 19th at North Avenue Beach. Since it is free to the public, if you have trouble finding seating at the show center then head to Ohio Street beach or Oak Street Beach and bring your binoculars. You can also check out more information about the Chicago Air and Water Show on Explore Chicago’s website at http://www.chicagoairshow.com.

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Lincoln Park Zoo

As a tourist coming from outside of Illinois the most common idea of sight seeing is the main Chicago sights: Willis Tower, Hancock building, Magnificent Mile, the Lakefront, etc. The last thing that one thinks about is going to see something that you can do back home, like going to the Zoo.

Every city has their own unique Zoo, where the residents are able to escape reality and spend some time with our furry friends from all over the world. Over the 4th of July holiday I spent the day at the Lincoln park Zoo. After living in the city of Chicago for the last 6 years I thought that it might be about time that I visit this magical place. I don’t know about most of you, but I turn into a 5 year old when I get past the gate. I literally drug my boyfriend around the park going “ooohhhh and awwweeee”. It was a very hot day, I recommend that when you visit you try to go around September. Or if you do decide to venture during our hot Chicago summers, take a lot of water!!

I have to say that my first Zoo experience at the Lincoln Park Zoo was great! We took the red line up to the Zoo as parking is generally a little pricy for my taste. For those of you staying with us at the Hampton Inn & Suites, it is so easy to get there, just take the Red Line at the Grand Stop headed North and get off at Fullerton. Then walk east until you reach the Zoo. Very accessible and easy route from the downtown location. When you get there, no need to take out your wallet as the Zoo is completely free!!! Not a bad deal, huh? But of course they always accept donations, so feel free to give a little back as it goes toward making the Zoo a better home for the animals. They are just too cute to refuse! So…my first stop was  the Pygmy hippopotamus. He was such a cute little guy, check out my photo:

Hippo at Lincoln Park Zoo

He was so excited to see us there, that he kept trying to push his way through the glass. He would swim up and down trying to find a way out. But aside from his cuteness, I did find out some information about this type of Hippo. It seems that due to habitat loss, the Pygmy Hippo is endangered. This particular species is solitary and a nocturnal mammal. The population has dwindled and we don’t know the exact numbers, but from the information provided by the Zoo, scientists estimate that 3,000 of the animals may live in the wild. At this time, The Lincoln Park Zoo cooperatively manages Pygmy Hippopotamus populations with other institutions in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Some cool facts about this species that I was able to find out, courtesy of the Zoo webpage: Special Adaptations

  • The pygmy hippo’s skin secretes a red substance, giving rise to the legend that the species “sweats blood.” The substance isn’t blood, but its function is unknown. Scientists believe it may serve as an antibiotic or help block excessive sunlight.
  • The eyes, ears and nose are located on the top of the head, enabling the species to see, smell and hear while the rest of its body is underwater.
  • The pygmy hippos’ ears and nostrils pinch tightly shut when the animal dives underwater, making it easier for them to stay submerged.

You don’t have to be so excited about the animals to go to the Zoo, just enjoy the nice walk and the fact that you get a chance to explore a different side of the city. It is a nice break from being around so many people when walking down the Magnificent Mile or when seeing the amazing sites the Willis Tower has to offer. Check out the Zoo next time you are in Chicago, you won’t be disappointed!!

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Free fun with Movies in the Park

All too often the Hampton Inn & Suites Chicago Downtown has families looking for activities to do in the evening. One of my personal favorites is FREE… Movies in the park. From classic movies like “The Wizard of Oz” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day off” to new movies like “Puss in Boots” or “Iron Man 2” play in park venues all over the city from June 11th to October 24th. Bring a picnic basket and a blanket and have a nice enjoyable relaxing evening watching a movie in one of Chicago’s 125 parks.

 Click here to find a list of dates and times that fit your trip into Chicago.

“New” releases this summer that will be available:

  • The Dark Knight (shot in Chicago) – June 23 at Churchill Field, 1825 N Damen
  • Grown Ups – July 1 at LaFollette, 1333 N. Laramie Ave
  • Inception – July 1 at Margate Park, 4921 N. Marine Dr.
  • Iron Man 2 – June 20 at Jackson Park, 6401 S. Stony Island Ave.
  • Salt – July 19 at Montgomery Ward Park, 630 N. Kingsbury St.
  • The Social Network – July 5 at Montgomery Ward Park, 630 N. Kingsbury St.
  • True Grit – July 28 at Amundsen Park, 6200 W. Bloomingdale Ave.
  • Twilight: Eclipse – July 22 at Meyering Park, 7140 S. Martin Luther King Dr.

Animation for the Kids:

  • Despicable Me – June 17 at Winnemac 5100 N. Leavitt St
  • How to Train Your Dragon – Aug 9 at Touhy Park,  7348 N. Paulina St.
  • Megamind – June 23 at Graver Park, 1518 W. 102nd Pl.
  • Shrek Forever After – June 17 at Shedd Park, 3660 W. 23rd St.
  • Tangled – Sep. 9 at Athletic Field Park, 3546 W. Addison St.
  • The Princess and the Frog – Aug. 9 at Fulton River Park, 601 W. Kinzie St.
  • Toy Story 3 – Sep 16 at Independence Park, 3945 N. Springfield Ave.
  • Up – Aug. 2 at Montgomery Ward Park, 630 N. Kingsbury St.
  • Wall-E – Aug.31 at Willye White Park, 1610 W Howard St.

Classic Movies:

  • Airplane! – June 14 at Montgomery Ward Park, 630 N. Kingsbury St.
  • Back to the Future with Michael J Fox – Aug. 6 at Harold Washington Park, 5200 S. Hyde Park Blvd.
  • E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial – July 12 at Fulton River Park, 601 W. Kinzie St.
  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – July 13 at The Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St.
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – July 16 at Jonquil Park, 1023 W. Wrightwood Ave.
  • JAWS – July 12 at 63rd Street Beach, 6300 S lake Shore Drive
  • The Karate Kid – Aug 30 at DuSable Museum, 740 E. 56th Pl.
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark – Aug. 25 at Lake Shore Park, 808 N. Lake Shore Dr.
  • Sixteen Candles – Aug. 17 at The Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St.
  • Top Gun – Aug. 18 at Mary Bartelme Park, 115 S. Sangamon St.

 

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Memorial Day Weekend things to do in Chicago

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And no, I am not referencing winter, since us city dwellers find nothing wonderful about the cold, snow, and everything in between. I’m talking about summer in Chicago! Now that the weather gods have finally stopped torturing us with the rollercoaster weather changes, we can now enjoy everything that this beautiful City has to offer.

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the 80 degree and sunny weather, like a 3 day weekend for Memorial Day. Since the NATO Summit has left the building, the City is now a favorable place to visit. So for those who are not skipping town or coming in from out of town, check out all the great things going on that will keep you busy this weekend.

If you are looking for a little R&R and to soak up some sun, head over to one of Chicago’s 23 beaches along the lakefront. Beaches open this Friday and lifeguards are on duty from 11am-7pm daily. The best part, they’re free!  One of the main hot spots if you are spending the day at the beach is Castaways Bar and Grill. This giant shipwrecked boat, looking North Avenue beach, serves lunch and dinner every day from 11a.m. to 11p.m. Drinks from noon to 11p.m. All weekend Castaways offers live music from noon to 6p.m.

For all you music lovers and foodies out there, go check out the Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival in Wrigleyville and/or the Randolph Street Market Festival in the Loop this Saturday and Sunday. Spend your day jamming out to tribute bands, eating some delicious food from local vendors, shopping for vintage treasures, while enjoying a refreshing beverage on a hot summer day!

Now, let’s not forget the true essence of why we celebrate Memorial Day. To show remembrance for loved ones we have or for those who have served our country, head over to Daley Plaza to watch the Chicago Memorial Day Wreath Laying Ceremony and Parade. This will be on May 26th starting at 11am. After the parade, head over to Navy Pier to watch the free firework show starting at 10:15pm.

However you decide to celebrate, everyone at the Hampton Inn & Suites Chicago wishes you a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day!

 

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What to do while in Chicago

As we gear into the wonderful Chicago Summer there are certain attractions that everyone must try at least once! The most common things to do in Chicago are going to Navy Pier, Millennium Park, city tours, The Art Institute, the Museum of Science and Industry, the architectural cruise plus many more.

My personal favorite activity is the architectural cruise; the tour is 90 minutes and it will make you think twice about our beautiful city of Chicago. At first when I agreed to go on this cruise (took much persuasion from my friend who was visiting from out of town) I was hesitant about going. To spend $35 to ride around in a boat when I already live in the city seemed like money I didn’t want to spend. Eventually I put myself in my friend’s shoes about coming to a city she had not been before and I agreed to go on the cruise.

Cruise on the Chicago River
Cruise on the Chicago River

The tour will take you from the aftermath of the great Chicago fire in the late 1800s, to how the city chose to rebuild itself using the surrounding water to their advantage. From there you will see some amazing buildings, the Merchandise Mart; you will go under several of Chicago’s movable bridges and to Navy Pier. After I got off of the cruise I was really glad that I had decided to go. It made me have a different type of appreciation for Chicago.

View Chicago by water with an architectural boat tour!

My recommendations for the tour; go on a sunny and warm day, make sure that you wear a hat if you are going to sit on the part of the boat that is not covered, make sure you grab a beverage and watch out for the shooting fountain, you just may get more than you bargained for! The best way to book this would be to do it on line (as it is cheaper), if you are staying here at the Hampton Inn & Suites Chicago Downtown, just ask one of our Front Desk Associates to book the tour for you and they will be happy to give you all the details and just let you know where it is that you need to show up! You’re here on vacation; let someone else do the work for you.

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One of the most beautiful views in the city

It doesn’t matter what time of year you visit us, if you have a clear day, you need to take the time and visit the Willis (formerly “Sears”) tower Skydeck. On a clear day you can see Indiana, Michigan, Illinois (of course) and Wisconsin.  Sitting 108 stories in the air, at the time it was completed it was the tallest building in the world.

The Skydeck is located on the 103rd floor and has 360 degree views of the city. In 2009 they added “The Ledge” which is a retractable glass box. You can stand out over the edge of the building in these glass boxes looking south and west. It is a bit of a rush with your head saying you should be falling and your feet staying right where they are.

Prices are reasonable for standard admission

  • Adults 12 and up is $17.50
  • Children 3 – 11 is $11
  • The Hampton Inn & Suites also offers a Skydeck Package for an all inclusive option!

If you are here from Labor Day to Memorial Day, go when the sun is starting to set. If you are here during the summer months, go and watch the fireworks. It is a spectacular site.

Another tip: if you are looking for a romantic date night, try going to the Skydeck then hitting the Metropolitan Club on the 67th floor. The only catch is that you have to make your reservations through opentable.com.  Either way it’s a good time.

Enjoy!

The fomer Sears Tower, also known as Willis Tower

The former Sears Tower, also known as Willis Tower

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