Conference Excursions and other Chicago Diversions

ISIT 2004, through its tour company PGI, is sponsoring two excursions for Wednesday afternoon (the other excursions originally planned were cancelled due to limited interest, and full refunds will go to registrants):

Tickets for these two excursions are available, while they last, at the ISIT2004 registration area on Sunday (3-8 p.m.), Monday (9:30 a.m. -2:30 p.m.) and Tuesday (9:30 a.m. -2:30 p.m.).

An informal companions' program is planned for ISIT2004.

The remainder of this webpage describes many diversions and excursions you can take advantage of on your own. While ISIT 2004 has tried to provide accurate information on this page, it is suggestion only, and those following the advice do so at their own risk.

Here is a current Chicago Museum listing. The website of the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau provides much excellent information on things to do and see. Also see Yahoo' s Chicago city guide , , or click
here for an encyclopedic treatment.

The following provides a brief orientation, relative to the location of the conference hotel, the Chicago Downtown Marriott. The Marriott is in the "North Michigan Avenue" part of downtown Chicago, in the middle of the magnificent mile of Michigan Avenue, home to many fine stores (such as the Apple Store ) and hotels. Navy Pier on Lake Michigan is 0.7 miles east of the Marriott. The area between the Marriott and the pier includes upscale residential highrises, hotels, restaurants, and fine grocers including Fox & Obel.Navy Pier contains many shops and amusements, the Thursday night ISIT banquet takes place in the ballroom at the tip of the pier, and free fireworks shows are presented at the pier on summer Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 10:15 p.m. The Chicago River runs directly in from the Lake, passing 0.2 miles south of the Marriott. The River North entertainment area runs west from the Marriott. After walking a half mile south from the Marriott along Michigan Avenue, one finds The Loop area to the west and Grant Park (a big, open lakefront park) to the east.

The world renowned Art Institute of Chicago is 0.9 miles south of the Marriott, on Michigan Avenue and on the edge of Grant Park. The Art Institute's collection includes the masterpieces A Sunday Afternoon on La Grand Jatte--1884 by Georges Seurat, American Gothic by Grant Wood, Nighthawks by Edward Hopper, and 33 paintings by Claude Monet. The Taste of Chicago will take place in Grant Park during the period of ISIT2004. The Taste offers much food for sale and free entertainment. At the south end of Grant Park lies a Museum campus, housing the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium, and the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum. A regular attraction at the Field Museum is Sue, the world's largest, most complete and best preserved Tyrannosaurus rex.

Navy Pier can be reached by walking 0.7 mile towards the lake from the Marriott, or by catching the blue free trolley along Illinois street (crossing UNDER Michigan Avenue a block south of the Marriott). The Loop can be reached by walking 0.5 miles south and a little west from the Marriott, or by catching the red free trolley that runs along Michigan Avenue and has a stop a block south of the Marriott. The museum campus is 2.2 miles from the Marriott and is at the south east corner of Grant Park. It can be reached on foot or by taking the red free trolley south along Michigan, and then changing for the free green trolley at Canal street. There is also a yellow free trolley connecting the Navy Pier to the loop shopping area. The free trolleys come by every 20 minutes, though in The Loop and Museum Campus there may be a bit of a line due to the Taste of Chicago crowd.

Another museum sure to please many ISIT attendees is the Museum of Science and Industry, beyond walking range, about eight miles south of the Marriott. The Museum of Science and Industry is housed in one of the few remaining buildings from the 1893 World's Fair, the Columbian Exposition. To get there from the Marriott, walk a half mile south on Michigan Avenue to Randolf Street. Just east of the Michigan/Randolph intersection, looking like a simple subway entrance, is the main entrance to the Metra Electric Line Randolph Street station. Take a Metra Electric Line train to the 55th-56th-57th St station (make sure you board a train that stops at that station). Turn left as you exit the station, and walk two blocks to the Museum of Science and Industry. The one-way fare for the 16 minute ride is $2.05 (as of January 2003). Regular museum admission is $9, and an Omnimax show is $6 extra.

The Loop contains five large theaters and the opera house, and is also a shopping district with highlights such as the flagship location of Marshall Fields Department Store , the Chagall "Four Seasons" mural at Dearborn and Monroe, the Picasso sculpture at Daley Plaza, and the Sears Tower . Roughly forty smaller theaters are scattered through the Chicago area, with many two to three miles north of the Marriott in the Lincoln Park area. Excellent theater is also available at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier.

Blues clubs abound in Chicago. The clubs range from small, smoky bars to large staged performance clubs. Performances often start rather late (9:30 p.m. or later) and continue into the morning hours. The Chicago House of Blues is about a half mile from the Marriott, and is a reasonable place to experience your first blue's club experience. The Chicago Reader is a free alternative weekly paper, which is widely distributed throughout the city on Thursdays and is known not only for its features, but also its guides to films, arts, and music.

The Chicago Architecture Foundation offers many tours including its River Cruise (90 minutes), which departs from a dock down by the south side of the river, next to Michigan Avenue, a quarter mile south of the Marriott. River cruises are offered by seven other companies, but the Chicago Architecture Foundation cruise is our favorite.

Chicago is well known for its many ethnic neighborhoods . Two of the larger and more accessible ethnic neighborhoods are Chinatown, at the Cermak China-town station of the CTA Red Line train, and Devon Avenue (take the Red Line to the Loyola station of the Red Line CTA, and transfer to the CTA Bus #155 Devon Westbound for twelve minutes, total one-way fare $2.00 if you purchase a transfer when you get your Red Line ticket). Devon Avenue is well known for its mixture of Indian, Pakistani, Jewish, Russian, and South Asian cultures.

The Oak Street beach is 0.8 miles north of the Marriott. Although the water is too cold for comfortable swimming before August, there's sand, volleyball nets, and miles of lakeshore path for hikers, bikers, and rollerbladers.


Baseball fans would enjoy seeing the Chicago Cubs or White Sox. The Cubs play Houston in a night game (7:05 p.m. start) on Tuesday, June 29, and in an afternoon game (1:20 p.m. start) on Wednesday, June 30. The Cubs and Sox play each other June 25-27 at Sox Park and July 1-4 in the Cub's Wrigley Field, but tickets for those games will be hard to obtain. A convenient way to get to a baseball game is to take a CTA Red Line train directly to the ballpark. For Cubs games at Wrigley Field, exit at Addison station, six stations north of Grand Station. For Sox games at U.S. Cellular Field, exit at the Sox-35th St. Station, eight stations south of Grand Station. The CTA Red Line Grand Station entrances (subway entrances) are 1/6 mile west of the Marriott at Grand Avenue and State Street, and the one-way CTA fare is $1.75. Although extra trains typically run before and after the games, the trains can become crowded.


Public Transportation The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is the public transportation system in Chicago. The subways and elevated trains (known as the El) are generally safe and reliable forms of transportation. The fares for the bus, subway, and El are $1.75 and .25 extra for up to two transfers within a two-hour period. The CTA operates using a credit-card type fare card that can be purchased at train stations with preset values or desired amounts can be added with a minimum of $3.00. For questions regarding the CTA system refer to or call (312) 836-4949 or (888) YOUR-CTA.

Taxi Services Key traffic and tourist areas of Chicago have an ample amount of taxis available in the area. The meters in Chicago taxi cabs start at $1.90 for the first mile and $1.60 for each additional mile, with a .50 surcharge for each additional rider aged 13 to 64 years. The following are reliable taxi companies in the Chicago area: Flash Cab (773) 561-1444, Yellow Cab (312) TAXI-CAB, and Checker Cab (312) 243-2537.


The Symposium is organizing an informal program for companions (such as spouses, family, and friends) of attendees of ISIT. Companions are invited to meet each weekday morning of the Symposium from 9:00-10:00 a.m. in the Water Toweer Room on the tenth floor of the Marriott, over coffee, in order to chat and plan outings.


Cheap eats near the Marriott The following places near the Marriott offer food at the LOW END of the price range, around $5 per meal.
Offering local color for breakfast or lunch are: Billy Goat Tavern (Descend stairs on Michigan Avenue in front of Walgreens, two blocks south of Marriott) and Mary's Cafe (along Grand, a block east of where Grand crosses under Michigan Avenue)
North Bridge Shopping, including the Nordstroms store, is a block south of the Marriott on the same side of Michigan Avenue. It has a food court on the third floor, offering, for example Potbelly Sandwiches.
Chicago Place, 700 N. Michigan Avenue has the Skylight food court on the eighth floor (with fast food places, more standard than at North Bridge Shopping), and a small upscale grocery store in the basement.
Grand Plaza Market (Jewel-Osco), on the corner of Ohio and State street (take the Rush street exit from the Marriott) is a full size grocery store.
Jimmy Johns Subs, just west of the Marriott, on Grand between Rush and Wabash, is a chain store selling sandwiches.

Nice Dining Near the Marriott Here's a listing of restaurants withing walking distance of the Marriott.

Chicago's Finest Dining Click here for a listing of Chicago's finest dining establishments (also among the most expensive).