Category: Loop

Summer in Chi Town: Don’t Miss Out on These Experiences!

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By , June 3, 2015 11:00 am

With brutally cold winters that seem to last a little longer each year, Chicago is a city that lives for its beautiful summer season. So now that summer is here (finally!) why not try something new to soak up the sun and make the most of it?

Chicago Jet Boat Experience

One of the best ways to see Chicago is from the water, so kick back and feel the wind in your hair on a Chicago Jet Boat Experience. This is a half-hour tour that combines an adventurous ride with the beautiful view of Lake Michigan and the sprawling Chicago skyline. The boat leaves from Navy Pier, and the captain will tell you all about the city’s landmarks, architecture, and hot spots. Jet boats run daily between 11 am and 7 pm, May through October.

Photo credit: acuestareig via Flickr

Photo credit: acuestareig via Flickr

Introduction to Kayaking

To get a little more active on the water, take our Introduction to Kayaking class with the experienced guides of Kayak Chicago. This is a beginner-friendly class that’ll teach you everything you need to know about paddling, boat types, proper gear, safety techniques, and rescue strategies. This expereince lasts about four hours and runs on Saturdays and Sundays from June through September.

Sailing 101 Chicago

Another great water activity to try in Chicago is sailing! Our Sailing 101 Chicago class is beginner-friendly, yet challenging and comprehensive. To complete the course, you’ll need to take four sessions, and each lesson last four hours. So this is a great experience for locals living in the city! Sessions run daily between April and September.

Chicago Shopping Tour: Bucktown and Wicker Park

If you’re more in the mood for a little retail therapy, why not let a shopping expert help you focus and guide you through the city’s trendiest shopping district? Our Chicago Shopping Tour: Bucktown and Wicker Park experience will take you to unique boutiques and introduce you to fashion trends and the creations of top designers. You’ll meet your guide and fellow shoppers at a cafe and then head out to receive VIP treatment and the guidance of a personal shopping stylist. The experience lasts about two hours and starts at 1:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Devil’s Lake Day Rock Climb

If you’re willing to venture outside of the city to explore the surrounding area a bit, check out our Devil’s Lake Day Rock Climb experience in southern Wisconsin. This is an ideal climbing destination for beginner climbers, and experienced guides will provide you with all the gear you need. The day begins around 9:00 am and runs until about 4:00 pm. There are more than 2,000 climbing routes here along the picturesque cliffs that overlook Devil’s Lake – perfect for taking a summertime dip after a day of climbing!

Photo credit: stewie811 via Flickr

Photo credit: stewie811 via Flickr

These are a few of the other summer-centric attractions that are must-dos in the city of Chicago:

  • Lollapalooza
  • Cubs game at Wrigley Field
  • Sox game at US Cellular Field
  • North Avenue Beach
  • Lincoln Park Zoo
  • Chicago Air & Water Show
  • Navy Pier Fireworks

For a list of Chicago’s exciting 2015 festivals, take a look at TimeOut’s 2015 Summer Festival Guide and browse through FunSherpa’s Chicago experiences to find one that’ll make your summer unforgettable!

Navigating Chicago’s Transport Network with Mike Doyle

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By , October 26, 2009 4:23 pm
Carless Mike Doyle

Carless Mike Doyle

While living without a car may seem like an undreamed of foreign concept to some urbanites, local Chicagoan Mike Doyle actually cherishes life without the polluting metal structured behemoth.  A native New Yorker christened a “born-again Chicagoan”, Mike is the scribe behind Chicago Carless, and has used his popularity to help win the removal of ill-conceived cameras atop the Millenium Park fountains, improve street signs, and challenge the CTA’s judgment.  Funsherpa sits down with carless Mike and discovers urban secrets of Chicago and the beauty of Chicago’s railcars.

What benefits do you see in not owning a car? Have you been able to convert people to give up their cars?
I managed that conversion pretty recently, actually. But there’s no question about owning a car for me–like a million other hard-core New Yorkers, I have no idea how to drive one. I never learned how to drive a car as a teenager, have never had a license, and can count the number of times I’ve pumped gas–for others–on one hand. And I have no intention of learning. Ever. Have you experienced the soul-sucking nature of neighborhoods solely accessible by automobile? Sure you have. How eager are you to live in Schaumburg? Or Bolingbrook? Give me a transit-connected city or near-suburban address any day. Life is short. Why be bored by the place you live?

Are there ever times when you wish you had a car? Why or why not?
As a native New Yorker, my motto has always been that I was born to take public transit or be driven around by cute guys. There are plenty of cute guys in Chicago (especially the wonderful Texas-expat I’m dating right now), so I’m always able to get out to Ikea when I need to. Otherwise, I abide by my longstanding life choice to maintain an urban lifestyle in a major city. Chicago fits the bill perfectly.

You seem very knowledgeable and interested in urban details.  How did that interest begin?
Before I could read I would spend hours at a time sitting at my grandmother’s windowsill in Richmond Hill, Queens, watching the elevated rumble by on Jamaica Avenue. My grandmother would take me into “the city” (NYC code for Manhattan) on weekends to visit her friends working in major Midtown department stores, so I got hooked on the subway and dense urbanity pretty fast. In the late 90s, I began working at the New York City Transit Riders Council, where I was eventually named Associate Director. So by the time I left New York, it was my job to know all I could about public transit there.

What 3 aspects of New York’s public transportation system would you bring over to Chicago?
I far prefer living in Chicago to living in New York City–my adopted home is a much friendlier, more humanizing place. That extends to transit. Chicago has many things NYC doesn’t: systemwide automated announcements; windows that aren’t etched beyond all recognition; buses that actually get where they’re going without getting bogged down in traffic. The only thing this town needs–and it needs it badly–is a state government that truly understands the importance of funding for public transportation. Annual transit-funding “doomsdays” are ridiculous–and make Chicago look penny-wise but pound-foolish to outsiders.

In our humble opinion, public transportation seems to wrestle against optimizing convenience versus coverage.  Where do you think Chicago’s transportation system stands in the tradeoff between these two factors and what can be done to improve it?
You don’t take transit much in this town, do you? The great majority of Chicagoans live within a half-mile walk of a bus or L train (usually a bus.) Most of the major gaps in service are temporal, not geographic. Some key bus lines stop running too early on weeknights and weekend evenings (examples: the Addison bus in Lakeview, the 40-series buses in Bronzeville, and route extension on Milwaukee and Western avenues), and the ridership would probably support running a 24-hour Brown Line service now. Unfortunately, given our latest funding crisis, those temporal gaps will likely grow larger.

What does Mayor Daley think of you?
Mayor Daley’s office knows my name, so he–or his staffers, more likely–either loves me or hates me. Considering the questions about bone-headed mayoral decisions I’ve raised on my various local bylines over the years (a missing Red Line stop at Washington/State? covered-up violence at the 2009 Independence Eve fireworks?), my money’s on the latter.

What are your thoughts about the dormant Chicago Post Office?  What would you rather see in its place?
A post office. Have you seen the building the USPS replaced it with? Fug-Lee.

What neighborhood do you live in?  Can you name us some of your favorite things to do in your neighborhood without a car?
I live downtown and consider the entire area from Roosevelt north to Chicago and the Kennedy east to the lakefront my neighborhood. From my apartment at Marina City, the Loop is a 40-floor elevator ride and 60-second stroll across the State Street Bridge away, so I walk most places down here. I think people who drive in downtown Chicago are idiots and deserve the stress and expense of trying to find parking in the most transit-connected downtown between NYC and San Francisco.

What are your favorite CTA stops?  Why?
I have favorite railcars. I’m going to miss the old, blinker-door 2200s still running on the Blue Line when they start getting replaced by new cars next year. They’re not the classic, old green-and-cream cars, but they’re as close as anyone can get to feeling like they’re Bob Newhart wending his way home to Emily at the end of a Windy City workday.

What is the craziest thing you’ve ever seen happen in any of Chicago’s public transport systems?
There’s a regular act of public kindness I see all the time on the L: operators holding trains for connections and re-opening doors for late-arriving customers just before the train leaves the station. Sometimes I even see operators stop a train to let latecomers on (anyone who takes the Blue Line from the CTA’s super-long Logan Square station sees this all the time.) Those are really nice things for CTA operators to do. They would get you fired from New York City Transit. I may be the one New Yorker who’s never believed NYC to be the greatest city on earth. My mark of a great city is one that doesn’t slam its transit doors in your face as you try not to be late for work in the morning.

Rubber Ducks Invade the River

By , July 29, 2009 8:00 am

Duck Derby

This Thursday (tomorrow) Chicago hosts a quirky, Ernie-endorsed fundraiser: the Windy City Rubber Ducky Derby.  Sponsored ducks will race along the Chicago river to raise money for Special Olympics.  We spoke to the people behind this ingenious campaign to inform Chicagoans about what they’ll see floating by on the river at 1:00pm tomorrow. Quack for the Cause!

Where did the idea for this kind of fundraiser come from?!

Special Olympics Illinois wanted to go ‘quackers’ over a fun summer fundraiser. And we have the perfect venue here for a duck race – the beautiful Chicago River!

Why do the ducks have sunglasses?

The ducks look very cool in their shades, plus the sunglasses complement their brightly-colored lips.

Will there be a starting line or a running – ahem, swimming – start? What is the ‘Duck Splashdown’?

The yellow Komatsu “duck truck” will pull up to the south side of the Columbus Drive bridge (after the north side has been raised) and dump 30,000+ little rubber ducks into the Chicago River.  Then it’s every duck for himself as they race to the finish-

How do teams keep track of their ducks?

It’s a little tricky to find your duck among the thousands of ducks in the River, but everyone knows their duck is in the lead.

Do participants get to keep their ducks after the race? What happens to all the ducks after the race?

All the racing ducks are scrubbed after the race and sent on to the next race in a far-away place. However, Special Olympics Illinois has duplicate souvenir ducks available for sale before the race on Michigan Avenue or on the website.

What can people do to ensure their duck wins?

Adopt lots of ducks for $5 each to benefit Special Olympics Illinois here (through July 29 at 4pm) or on Michigan Avenue starting at 6:30am on race day – July 30. You can also call to adopt ducks on race day morning by calling 1-877-9SPLASH.

Where should spectators watch? How visible is the race from Michigan Ave or the various bridges that cross the river?

Bring your lunch and camera and position yourself on either side of the river between Columbus and Michigan; it’s a great chance to experience the fabulous River Walk on the south side. The ducks will be corralled over to the north side of the river by a boom, so that river traffic can continue. A tugboat will spray water on the ducks to propel them to the finish line!

Have you caught any ducks cheating? What is the penalty for cheating?

Some ducks jump the boom and try to make a run to the finish line, but we have people in boats to scoop them up with nets and disqualify them from the race!

If ESPN were to cover this event, what highlights would they show?

No sporting event has a more dramatic start than this race. You can feel the excitement as ducks jockey for position along the edge of the boom and try to line themselves up to be the first in the duck trap halfway to Michigan Avenue.

Is there any plan to change it to a different animal anytime soon? Maybe dolphins?

Some of our Special Olympics athletes have suggested frogs, but then we would need lily pads also.

Does this fundraiser take place in other cities?

The duck race takes place in cities and towns all over the country, but we have the best one right here in Chicago.

Seems like a great fundraiser that benefits Illinois Special Olympics. Any other way people can get involved in helping the Special Olympics?

Special Olympics training and competition takes place all year round in 19 summer and winter sports, so we use lots of volunteers. There are many exciting fundraisers happening to benefit the more than 22,000 children and adults involved in the program in Illinois. Check out the website for information on getting involved and supporting Special Olympics.

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