Along with what Mai said, you should also check out the Reader. www.chicagoreader.com It’s the free weekly paper, and it’s absolutely to die for as far as covering cool restaurants and things to do.
I know this isn’t food-related, but I would also suggest seeing Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. www.neofuturists.org It’s $7 plus the roll of a die to get in, and it’s basically a half-improv, half-prewritten show. 30 plays in 60 minutes… Yeah, I just suggest checking it out. : )
There’s a kickass Best Western in Lincoln Park, which is right near the El and Boystown and Lakeview and all sorts of awesomeness. It’s about $100/night, which is pretty damn cheap for in the city. [Though admittedly not as cheap as, say, $67…]
What band is your boyfriend in…?
If you want hot dogs, SuperDawg on the northside is fabulous. Bit tricky to get there on public transport, though.
With the tapas, if you’re closer to Evanston than the Loop, head to Tapas Barcelona. Fabulous. Get their fig things. Amazing.
And if you’re into Indian food, any place on Devon is GREAT. You want to head a bit west of Clark and you’ll hit all of these amazing Indian places. Viceroy is my favorite because the price is right, the options are endless, and the portions are HUGE. But you know… there are plenty of other choices that I haven’t tried.
Oh, one thing — Medieval Times is about an hour outside of the city. It’s actually in Schaumburg/Hoffman Estates, so it could be a bit of a trek…
I just got back from 12 days in England. I flew into Heathrow with no further plans than that, ended up in an inexpensive hotel in Earls Court for a few days, and just wandered around. If you’re up for walking, this city is one of the best to do it in. The shady neighborhoods are further out, and it seems like each side street has some little hidden gem of a store or restaurant.
And, girl, all of the museums are free! Also, if you want to do the play culture thing, you can get cheap standby tickets for any shows. [I saw “God of Carnage” with Ralph Fiennes because I didn’t want to see one of the “big” productions.]
If you want to get out of the city, York is a lovely little town about two and a half hours north [by train]. It’s a college town now, but it has this fabulous old wall running through it with little nooks and crannies, beautiful views, the whole shebang. Less touristy than the more known towns, and really really worth a trip. Kings Cross is going to be your favorite station for day trips. : )
Also! If you end up sleeping anywhere outside of London, B&B’s are the way to go. SO cheap for the solo traveler compared to a hotel [and smaller towns don’t have hostels].
Oh, I honestly don’t recommend the London Eye. It’s an expensive tourist trap. Unless you’re into seeing the tops of buildings, it’s just not worth it.
[I have so much I could suggest… Try Flat White in Soho. Pick a random place on the TransPenne and go. Find a quiet pub. Head up to Highgate Cemetery [beautiful place!].]
Oh, and if you DO travel outside of London, pre-planning [unfortunately] comes in handy — day-of tickets are astronomically higher than tickets purchased even one day in advance.
Depends on how accustomed you are to travelling for a few hours at a time. Most any Londoner would tell you that’s really far and you’re crazy to even think it, but actually did something very similar when I was there. My trip was very spontaneous – I decided to leave London on a Sunday and everything was closed except for the airport rental places, so I took the train. It takes about 4.5 hours via train (Kings Cross station to Edinburgh Waverley, which is the main station in Edinburgh; Kings Cross is pretty much the main hub for trains going north or west of London).
I will say Edinburgh is a cool enough town that you might want to make it a two-night stay there so you have a full day. There’s some really lovely hiking with awesome views on the city limits, and great museums and the castle and a lot of jacket potato places. ; )
Check out www.nationalrail.co.uk — if you can figure out your dates beforehand, it helps. I paid a LOT more just going to the station the day of.
Agree with others: Zoolights is free and fun, even if you don’t have kids (my boyfriend and I go and get coffee while walking around…). Botanic Garden is quite a hike from the city. Brookfield is also a bit far from the downtown area (and I don’t know about their holiday thing).
If you like mulled wine or Glogg, go to Andersonville — Simon’s makes their Glogg from scratch!