Cheap Chicago Weekend Getaways
Sara's cheap travel tips: activities
Shop North Side neighborhoods. The Magnificent Mile is great for splurging but doesn't offer many steals, so Julie and I took the train to Lincoln Park to browse eclectic vintage shops and discount clothing boutiques. Best bet for the budget-minded fashionista: Chicago-based Akira (left), which sells runway-inspired dresses (from $20) and flirty accessories (from $10). I scored a $14 fitted tee.
Cash in on free tours. Many art museums offer free daily tours of featured exhibits, after you pay general admission. We took advantage of a 40-minute Jeff Koons tour at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art. Our guide explained how Koons' kitschy sculptures (stainless-steel balloon dogs and other everyday objects) are metaphors for American culture -- insights we might have missed otherwise.
Befriend your concierge. Ours gave great advice on affordable restaurants and free events, such as a dance festival in Grant Park, plus directions to nearby train stations. We tipped $10 to say thanks.