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College tour - Northwestern and UChicago - where to stay

San Francisco...
2 posts
College tour - Northwestern and UChicago - where to stay

I have twin sons and our itinerary is as follows:

Wednesday evening - son A and I fly into O'Hare

Thursday morning - tour Northwestern

Thursday evening - son B flies into Midway and in the evening son A flies home from Midway

Friday - tour University of Chicago with son B

Saturday - son B and I fly home from Midway

My question is should we stay in the same place for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evening, or should we stay close to Northwestern on Wednesday evening, and then find a place near Univ. of Chicago for Thursday and Friday?

thanks in advance and thoughts on transportation options are also welcome.


10 replies to this topic
Destination Expert
for Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
57,837 posts
67 reviews
1. Re: College tour - Northwestern and UChicago - where to stay

Stay downtown for the entire visit. Both airports are easily accessible by train. www.transitchicago.com/airports has the details.

Both campuses are accessible by train from downtown. Google Maps will show you the way.

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
4,171 posts
338 reviews
2. Re: College tour - Northwestern and UChicago - where to stay

All the rapid transit lines run into the Chicago Loop, as the downtown core is known. You'd take the Blue Line in from O'Hare; the Orange Line to Midway and for Evanston, the Red Line to the Purple Line. Depending on what time you have to be in Evanston, you may be able to transfer to the Purple Line Express which runs during am and pm rush periods only.

There are a few good restaurants in the Loop, more in River North, near the Red Line Grand Ave stop and other highly regarded spots in River West which is easily accessible on the Green Line. You may as well enjoy some good meals while you're here.

For U of C, you could take Metra but as the schedule isn't as frequent as the CTA rapid transit and the campus is a fair walk west of the train line, I'd take a taxi or uber.

BTW, congrats on having 2 sons smart enough to be considering such fine universities.

Edited: 01 March 2018, 07:58
Flossmoor, Illinois
Level Contributor
282 posts
58 reviews
3. Re: College tour - Northwestern and UChicago - where to stay

Metra revised the Electric line schedule last year, so trains are every 20 minutes now. You can take that to the 59th Street station and it's a 10-15 minute walk to where the UofC tours start.

Destination Expert
for Seven Mile Beach, East End
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4. Re: College tour - Northwestern and UChicago - where to stay

Honestly as expensive as parking is and your crazy schedule I would rent a car as NWU and U of C are far apart. Arrive ORD rent a car... Stay downtown wherever you like. use www.spothero.com to park the car. Get up drive to NWU. Drive to MDW drop off son A pick up son B. Drive back to hotel. Drive to UC the next morning and then drive to MDW the next day and go home.

That is a really rough schedule but it is what it is... Better than public transportation IMO. Parking at UC and NUW is easy


Level Contributor
8,884 posts
81 reviews
5. Re: College tour - Northwestern and UChicago - where to stay

If I rented a car, I would stay up in Evanston and then drive down to UC. I think a campus visit is the neighborhood too. Evanston is a vibrant suburb with hotels, restaurants, a great downtown. UC is a historical Chicago neighborhood with amazing history. UC hotel I would stay at is Quality Inn, it has free parking. I only know of the Orrington Hotel in Evanston because a friend got married there, but I’m sure there are several others.

San Francisco...
2 posts
6. Re: College tour - Northwestern and UChicago - where to stay

great suggestions - thanks to all!

Destination Expert
for Chicago
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7,854 posts
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7. Re: College tour - Northwestern and UChicago - where to stay

I agree that you should rent a car and drive to Evanston for your first night. You want to see and stay in the college's neighborhood. There are a few hotels in Evanston, which I would recommend, but you could stay in Skokie to save a few dollars.

Hotels are limited in Hyde Park, but there is a fairly new Hyatt that would be a good choice.

Edited: 02 March 2018, 17:35
New Jersey
Level Contributor
21 posts
16 reviews
8. Re: College tour - Northwestern and UChicago - where to stay

I've studied an/or taught at both places. As others have noted, and as I did myself when my oldest was at that stage, a car is convenient for the Northwestern visit, but you can do it without, and it's a burden for the University of Chicago trip. I'd stay downtown. Congress Plaza if you're on the low end, or Blackstone if money is no object. Up to Evanston, i'd do 147 bus north on Michigan to Berwyn, half a block walk to the Red line station, and change at Howard to the Evanston train to Davis, but that's because I like the view along the lake. It's simpler to do red line directly to Howard, and then Evanston (purple) train to Davis. It's a longish walk from the Davis L station to the Northwestern campus visit building, but it's doable. Note that the Davis station is not the one you would generally use for geting to Northwestern. For University of Chicago, I'd use the Metra electric line. It's a bit more expensive, a bit more of a walk, and and a bit less frequent than CTA service, but it's faster and more comforable.

Chicago's North...
Destination Expert
for Illinois, Chicago
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9. Re: College tour - Northwestern and UChicago - where to stay

make life easy on yourselves and rent a car at ORD.... stay in evanston (or skokie--several hotels surrounding old orchard mall) for northwestern, and then maybe get a hotel in hyde park, or by midway for the UC part.... however, double check rental car drop off fees from one airport to the other---there was a recent post where the OP got ripped-off big time....

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
797 posts
41 reviews
10. Re: College tour - Northwestern and UChicago - where to stay

That’s just a brutal schedule and i honestly don’t think either son is going to get a good feeling of either school. With the expense of private school tuition, is is possible to arrange more time? Or at least have both sons at the same time? Not only would that save the backtracking to Midway, which really eats into your very limited time but both sons could bounce their feedback about the respective universities off each other.

If these plans are absolutely set in stone, then I’d agree with just driving it. It’s a long haul on the Blue, purple, and orange lines to thread this together. Getting to the Universty of Chicago is a pain in the butt by public transit anyway, it’s easy to find yourself in questionable neighborhoods and dealing with an unfamiliar CTA bus on a hectic schedule would just add to the stress.

Anyway, if at all possible, rethink this schedule and even punt some sunk airfare costs if necessary. I honestly don’t think any of your family is going to have a fond impression of Chicago with such a tight schedule. All you’ll remember is boring expressways, or if you end up using the CTA, you’ll remember the cling clong and, ‘Doors closing.’

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