Chicago is a world-class city that offers many attractions with local flavors such as an afternoon attending a ball game at Wrigley Field or at U.S. Cellular Field, formerly known as Comisky Park.
For FMI attendees who have time away from the convention floor, there is much to do and see in this city fronting a Great Lake. Here is an eclectic list of suggestions for fun around town this week.
RELAXATION AND INVIGORATION
Just because you are going to a convention doesn't mean you should be thinking about work all the time. In fact, the free time between seminars is the perfect opportunity to check out some of the spa and gym selections Chicago has to offer. For those of you who can't stand to let your muscles stagnate and prefer not to use hotel gyms, a variety of gyms around the city will allot you single-day or single-class passes for a nominal fee.
Hidden Peak Climbing Gym, 937 W. Chestnut St. in Ukrainian Village, grants the public access to its various boulder-focused rock-climbing walls for $10 per visit, with optional lessons for $35. None of the walls go higher than 15 feet, so your fear of heights need not be a concern. For more information, call (312) 563-9400.
If you would prefer a more traditional workout in an intimate setting, Know No Limits, 5121 N. Clark St. in Andersonville, offers single visits to its workout facilities and classes for $12. To inquire about times and openings, call (773) 334-4728.
For an avant-garde workout, check out Crunch at 350 N. State St. Besides the usual workout equipment, this gym offers a variety of interesting classes, including striptease aerobics and Disco Yoga, designed to amuse and to get your heart rate up. Complete with a juice bar, sauna and boxing ring, this gym will help you go beyond your regular bench-press routine. For $24 a day, you can use their equipment as well as take any class that interests you. Crunch may be reached at (312) 527-8100.
If the idea of doing anything strenuous in your free time freaks you out, you might want to consider the Flow Inc. Pilates & Yoga Studio at 2248 N. Clark St. This studio allows you to participate in hour-long group yoga or Pilates classes for $15, or choose to have private lessons for $65. There is a plethora of classes to choose from, so just call (773) 975-7540 to find one that's compatible with your schedule.
For those of you seeking another way to squelch stress, there are a number of spas throughout Chicago just waiting to pamper you. Urban Oasis, 12 W. Maple St., is known for its selection of massages, ranging from basic Swedish to the more decadent hot-stone option. Prices range from $55 for a half hour to $115 for an hour and a half. Salt-glow facials and body polishes are also available ($50 for 25 minutes). To make an appointment, call (312) 587-3500.
At $170 a pop, Kurr Chicago spa offers Kurr's Moment of Peace package, which includes a manicure, Swedish massage and customized facial to relax your worries right out of you. It also offers a series of other facials, waxing and body wraps for your calming pleasure. Just call (773) 935-7470 to set up your session.
Honey Child Salon and Spa offers the ultimate massage, incorporating two sets of hands to knead your weary body. This sweet $160 treatment, called the Brown Sugar Duo, rubs you down with a brown sugar scrub, coats you in cocoa butter, then wraps you in warm blankets until you are as relaxed as possible. This trendy three-floored spa also offers an assortment of facials, manicures and pedicures guaranteed to make you feel extra special. This spa can also accommodate groups of up to six people. For more information, call (312) 573-1300.
SPORTS AND RECREATION
For sports-minded folks, numerous events are at your disposal the weekend of the convention. As far as baseball goes, the Chicago White Sox are battling the Toronto Blue Jays at the U.S. Cellular Field Saturday, May 1, at 6:05 p.m., and Sunday, May 2, at 2:05 p.m. Tickets may be purchased online at www.chicago.whitesox. mlb.com, by phone at (866) SOX-GAME, in person at any Chicagoland Ticketmaster outlet, or at Cellular Field itself. Also, if you're staying around after the FMI Show ends Tuesday, the Chicago Cubs return to Wrigley Field for a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at 7:05 p.m. Tickets may be purchased online at www.chicago.cubs.mlb.com, by phone at (800) 843-2827, or at the Wrigley Field box office.
For soccer fans, the Chicago Fire will butt heads with the Metrostars at Soldier Field on Saturday, May 1, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available by phone at (312) 559-1212, or in person at TicketMaster outlets. Have a need for speed? Then check out the Route 66 Raceway 2004 Season Opener, which will be held on May 1, at 6:05 p.m. in Joliet, Ill. Tickets can be purchased by phone at (815) 727-RACE, in person at the Route 66 Raceway box office, 500 Speedway Blvd., Joliet, or by fax at (815) 727-7895.
THEATRE, EXHIBITS AND OTHER ARTY OUTINGS
Chicago is a wonderful place to absorb a little culture. So if you find yourself with some free time, why not explore the many art happenings around the city? Ever been to a classic Italian wedding? If not, you have the perfect chance to uncover the fun at the off-Broadway hit, "Tony N' Tina's Wedding." For $49 to $65, you become part of the ceremony, complete with a trip to the chapel, and dinner and dancing at the reception afterward. Set at Piper's Alley, 230 W. North Ave., the long-running comedy guarantees a good time. For tickets and more information, visit www.TonyLovesTina.com, or call (312) 664-6969.
If a wedding is a bit much to handle after a long day of learning labs, you may want to visit "Flanagan's Wake," where you can take part in a traditional, yet funny, Irish wake. It incorporates the same audience-participation premise as "Tony N' Tina's Wedding," with mournful singing and remembrances of the deceased in place of a champagne toast and reception dancing. There is also a buffet that takes place right before the "wake" begins at Pheasant Run, 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles. For tickets and additional information, call (312) 902-1500.
For those wishing to pursue more contemplative matters, there is always the Art Institute of Chicago. Located at 111 S. Michigan Ave., it currently houses "Rembrandt's Journey: Painter, Draftsman, Etcher," an exhibition that includes more than 200 of the master's greatest works. General admission is from $12 to $15, with the option of calling the box office at (312) 930-4040 to reserve tickets.
Featured at the Art Institute of Chicago is "On Paper: New Acquisitions of American Art," an exhibit that includes the works of many 19th and 20th century artists like Mary Cassat, George Bellows and James McNeil Whistler. To view this exhibit, a $6 to $10 general admission fee is required.
Taking a look at more recent art, the "Strange Days" exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art focuses on the more unsettling aspects of modern life. The museum is located at 220 E. Chicago Ave., and charges $6 to $10 to enter, with the exhibit included in the general admission fee. For hours and additional information, call (312) 280-2660.
Fresh-air enthusiasts should head over to Lincoln Park at 600-5800 N. Lakeshore Dr. This is the largest metropolitan park in the United States, offering scenic paths for walking, skating or biking, and ample room to relax in the shade of a tree. You can also take advantage of multiple playing fields, driving ranges and tennis courts, to work off some steam.
Included in the confines of the park, at 2200 N. Cannon Dr., lies the impressive Lincoln Park Zoo, complete with rain forests, deserts and savannahs, which house a vast array of animals and foliage. The many animal-specific habitats allow visitors to view multiple animals without having to walk far. Sitting near Chicago's lakefront, the zoo offers a relaxing, and free, way to spend a few hours.
Once the hustle and bustle of the day is over and you have the chance to unwind, there are a multitude of nightspots to satisfy any mood. Here is a sampling of the many bars, clubs and general nighttime relaxation spots in the city.
If you're into Irish music, what better way to spend your evening than to listen to traditional and contemporary Irish music? You can relish the sounds while feasting on stew and nursing a Guinness in a darkened corner of this traditional Irish pub. The Irish Oak, 3511 N. Clark St., draws locals and tourists alike with its cheerful staff, sturdy Irish fare, and charming mix of traditional Irish music and tunes by contemporary Irish artists, such as U2 and Van Morrison. You can inhabit a table, booth or banquette, depending on your mood and group size. For more information, call (773) 935-6669.
For something a bit more polished and modern, Sonotheque, 1444 W. Chicago Ave., offers an auditory and visually stimulating arena for nighttime enjoyment. Futuristic decorations, sleek DJs, and reasonably priced drinks lure people to enter and enjoy a night of relaxation and eclectic music. For more information, call (312) 226-7600.
Sometimes, you just need a good laugh to let go of the day's trials and tribulations. Zanies Comedy Club, 1548 N. Wells St., offers a cozy environment reminiscent of the comedy clubs of the 1970s. With a two-drink minimum and relaxed atmosphere, Zanies is the perfect place to come for comedic excitement. Big names like Gilbert Gottfried, often make appearances, joining local favorites. For times and reservations, call (312) 337-4027.
If you just want to enjoy a little happy-hour action, the Martini Ranch bar, 311 W. Chicago Ave., offers a full array of vodkas, small-batch bourbons, single-malt scotches, and many micro-brews on tap, on top of a colorful variety of martinis. The decor is dark, yet inviting. Boasting Chicago's best quesadillas, the Martini Ranch provides a mixture of Mexican and American appetizers. If you choose to stay beyond happy hour, there is usually a DJ to liven up the scene. For more information, call (312) 335-9500.