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Amateur Reader (Tom)

Chicago is safe, except for some specific neighborhoods that you will not get anywhere near.

The public transit is good and easy to use.

Bookshops are a problem. Seminary Co-op, the best bookshop in, let's say, America is in Chicago but so far south that it is probably too much trouble. But some other commenters may be more helpful. I lived in Chicago during the Great Bookstore Massacre of the 1990s, so at this point I mostly just a nostalgist.

As for restaurants, the great guide is at LTHForum ( Other cities should be so lucky to have such a site. Few do.


I lived outside of Chicago in the 1990s. It is such a fantastic city. I hope you enjoy your visit. I don't really have any recommendations since it is so long since I lived there and because when we have gone back in recent years we have done kid-friendly activities. The museums are wonderful though. I hope you write a post about any bookstores you find so next time I go I can insist on incorporating a bookshop tour. Oh, and I don't know if it is your kind of thing but the Chicago Botanic Gardens are beautiful.

Joan Kyler

I've never been to Chicago, but everyone tells me that the architecture is amazing. I'm a vegan, so I'm always looking for vegetarian / vegan restaurants. The site Happy Cow ( has been helpful when travelling.
I hope you have a terrific little vacation!

Joan Kyler

The Happy Cow website link doesn't work if you click onit because I accidentally included the parentheses. Just use the link inside them or just Google Happy Cow. Sorry.


I visit downtown Chicago for business several times a year - so I walk and walk and walk. If you are looking to stay near Art Institute, Driehaus Museum, etc. staying on or near E. Wacker gets you pretty central - good range of hotels and even a few AirBnBs that are safe, clean and easy. I love book tourism so be sure to check out AfterWords on E. Illinois. A cab ride/uber will get you to Wicker Park for Quimby's and Myopic Books - head for N. Milwaukee. And I've always wanted to go to Read It and Eat It on N. Halsted but haven't made it there yet. Have a great time, great city!


It's been a long time since we've been there but we loved Myopic Books at 1564 N Milwaukee Ave. Chicago is one of my favorite places to visit. The Art Institute is wonderful.

On another note, do you have suggestions for bookstores in your city?

Amateur Reader (Tom)

Myopic is an excellent used bookstore. Quimby's is fun, too - alternative and avant garde comics. The Blue line will take you straight to them from downtown. They are in a good restaurant neighborhood (Wicker Park and Bucktown). After-Words I have found most impressive in that it continues to exist.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is quite far north and not really accessible by public transport.

Karen Abruzzi

Check out the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel on East Walton.


I visited Chicago once for a weekend a long time ago but was with someone with a car, so if I am on my own this time was wondering how comfortable I would be walking about--good to know it is safe and I am sure I can find out from travel books where to avoid. I am surprised that Chicago lost so many bookstores--we went through the same thing here--I worked at an indie that closed--sound like at the same time you went through all the closings there! Thanks for the link--looks like a great resource so I will enjoy looking through the pages!


I think it will be a fun place to visit and close enough so that traveling there will be easy. The museums are my main draw. I love the Art Institute and look forward to spending time there again--will check out some other places and thanks for the heads up on the Botanical Gardens--indeed I love them almost as much! It will be interesting to see what I come up with in terms of bookstores!


From what I recall it felt like a proper big city (as compared to Omaha--but then most places do--lol). Thanks for the link. I do eat some dairy but not meat (and am happy with vegan options, too!). I really need something to plan for and look forward to. It has been almost two years now since I had any sort of vacation at all.


Thanks--I will google them!


Hi Kelkie--thanks so much for the advice--I was looking for just that--an area to look for a place to stay that would be reasonably central. I am an enthusiastic walker so I am cool with being able to explore neighborhoods that way. And thanks for the heads up on bookstores--I will be looking them up tonight! Oh, and in my meanderings online I came across the Driehaus and it is definitely on my list! :)


Omaha doesn't have loads of indie bookstores anymore, but the few we have are good ones. In the Old Market you have to check out Jackson Street Booksellers--they are a literary used bookstore and have a Wonderful selection of books. It is crammed with books and you can lose yourself there for an afternoon (I often do). Also in the Passageway in the Old Market is a quaint (very British leaning) store called Our Bookstore. Further out west you have to also hit The Bookworm--it has been far too long since I have been there-something to do soon I think. They always have loads of events. There is at least one comic book store (actually I think there are more but one I have been to close by the university). Thanks for the heads up about Myopic Books.


Thanks for the suggestions/and advice how to get there. I am good with public transport as long as it is not too complicated. Too bad about the botanical gardens--I may have to save that for another time as it will only be a short stay. Curiously the botanical gardens in Omaha is fantastic but also not very accessible by public transport. I can walk there, though it is bit of an undertaking (and I am a good walker!)--not a journey I like to make on a super hot day!


Thanks--I have noted it down and will check it out. I was hoping to get specific suggestions--it is so hard to tell just by looking at websites even with reviews by guests.


Thank you so much. My husband and I are hoping to make it to Omaha later this summer or in early fall. And the first thing we do in a city new to us is check out the bookstores!


Hi Danielle: I'm very envious of your upcoming trip -- I love Chicago and think you'll have a wonderful time. I wasn't, alas, terribly adventurous when I was there (last time about 2-3 years ago), so can't offer too much advice. My main focus was the Art Institute. The Silversmith hotel is very conveniently located within walking distance. There's also a wonderful restaurant, "Russian Tea Time" or something like that, very close to both. Afternoon tea there is an experience to savor!


wow Danielle, that is something to look forward to indeed. Happy for you :)


Yay! A fun trip! I live closer to Chicago than you do and I haven;t managed to get there. One of these days. Have fun planning!


I don’t have any hotel recommendations because I live here! But there are lots of good bookstores that no one has mentioned.

1) unabridged bookstore. Near the Belmont red line stop. Also located near tons of fun shops and restaurants.

2) Women and Children First is an amazing feminist bookstore. Near the Berwyn red line stop. Also near the best restaurants in the city in a very adorable Swedish neighborhood. Check out Kopi cafe for vegetarian food. A short Lyft ride from this area (also near the Western brown line stop) is Lincoln Square, where you’ll find the Book Cellar which is a dream come true with a wine shop and a book store in one. Again, in a great neighborhood with cafes and coffee shops.

3) if you stay anywhere downtown, you’ll be pretty close to the Art Institue! It’s really not too hard to get down to Hyde park and see the university as well as two of the best bookstores, the Seminary co-op and 57th street books. (Also Powell’s for used books!) you can take the #6 bus directly from downtown in 20-30 minutes. Again, Lyft can also get you there quickly and easily. If you go to Hyde park make sure to also eat at the Medici.

The bookstores that others mentioned that are off the blue line are also fine, but personally I don’t feel like they are great as the ones above, which are truly must-sees in Chicago!


Have fun! Maybe you will need to leave lots of room in your suitcase for books....


You might also check this out:

It is a pop up bookstore, which I have yet to try and find! :)


I am still agonizing over a hotel, but next up will be the bookstores coffee shops and restaurants! I will look up the Silversmith Hotel--thanks. It is so much easier to have a particular place to look for that someone else can suggest. Thanks! I am not sure how adventurous I will be--but this all helps and it will be a short stay in any case.


Fingers crossed I can do this--I really really need a break and diversion.


Planning is half the fun, isn't it? I hope I can do this since Santa Fe fell through. Three days is a pretty quick little trip!


Wow, it looks like such a fun plan! Keep us posted about what you'll do and where you'll go!


Thanks so much for the run down on all the booksores, Maire! I just bought a Chicago magazine over the weekend, too, which has been fun to peruse!


I am still in the dreaming phase of this--I need to get my ticket--I guess now that I have decided and plan on going it alone I am a little nervous about it.


I really need a break and a change of scenery. Chicago is both close and still very different so it seems a good choice for a solo venture. Fingers crossed I am not just fantasizing about it! Once I get a ticket and hotel reservation it will feel really real.

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