Spend Labor Day Weekend in the Heart of Chicago

August 24th, 2012

Chicago has a rich history when it comes to Labor Day. The city led the labor movement with Haymarket and May Day back on May 1, 1886, when Chicago unionists, reformers, socialists, anarchists, and workers combined to demand an eight-hour work day. Thirty-five thousand workers walked off their jobs. Thousands more joined them in the following days, and Chicago became the center of a national movement.

With a history like that, there’s simply no better place to spend Labor Day weekend than Chicago. Check out the variety of events taking place that weekend and make Springhill Suites Chicago Downtown/River North your home base.

Cubs Baseball: August 30-September 3
Baseball fans can head out to Wrigley Field to watch the Cubs take on the San Francisco Giants. On the south side, the White Sox start a three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field on September 3 against the Minnesota Twins. Get tickets at http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com.

34th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival: August 31-September 2
The Chicago Jazz Festival is a long-standing Labor Day weekend favorite. Roy Haynes performs Friday evening at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park and then the festival moves to its longtime home in Grant Park with its four stages of free performances. Call 312.744.3315 for more information.

North Coast Music Festival: August 31-September 2
This outdoor festival, which takes place at Union Park, brings a variety of top names in electronic music, jam bands and hip-hop, including Pretty Lights and Modestep. Email info@northcoastfestival.com for more information.

African Festival of the Arts: August 31-Septeptember 4
See Chicago’s Washington Park get transformed into an authentic African Village, complete with multiple stages of music entertainment and a marketplace of art and culture, family fun and African cuisine. Call 773.955.7742 for more information.

Navy Pier Fireworks: September 1
Watch as Chicago’s skies light up with a fireworks show overlooking the lakefront from historic Navy Pier, which encompasses 50 acres of parks, promenades, gardens, shops, restaurants and attractions. Call 312.595.7437 for more information.

Ravenswood Remix: September 1-2
Go green this Labor Day weekend! Chicago’s “Recycled Art Fair” is a two-day green festival celebrating artists who incorporate used or recycled items in creating original, handmade art and crafts, clothing, household items, jewelry, and collectibles. Call 773.433.8048 for more information.

8th Annual Pullman Labor Day Bike Ride: September 3
Historic Pullman, the original company town built in the 1880s to house workers at Palace Car factory, is a significant part of Chicago’s southside labor history. This annual bicycle tour is held on Labor Day and honors the role labor unions have played in Pullman and the Calumet, Indiana region. Email info@pullmanlaborride.com for more information.

Walk to Lollapalooza from Chicago Downtown River North

August 3rd, 2012

This weekend, Lollapalooza returns to Grant Park with an all-star lineup that includes Passion Pit, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Black Keys, Jack White, Florence + The Machine, Sigur Ros, Black Sabbath, and many others. The three day festival boasts more than 100 artists of various genres, from hip hop to electronica to heavy metal, and our Downtown Chicago hotels are next to the action.

Lollapalooza was founded in 1991 as a traveling concert by Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell, and is in its 16th year, having taken brief hiatuses along the way. Now, it has made a home in Grant Park, with smaller variations occurring annually in Santiago, Chile, and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

After a few turbulent years, Lollapalooza caught a second wind and is once again regarded as one of the world’s top festivals for alternative rock, hip-hop, heavy metal, punk, and dance music.

The term “lollapalooza” means “an extraordinary or unusual thing, person, or event,” and the festival deserves the moniker. Top-tier names have played throughout the years, including Rage Against the Machine, Pearl Jam, Kanye West, The Beastie Boys, Alice in Chains, Tool, Coolio, The Smashing Pumpkins, Eminem, Radiohead, Green Day, Lady Gaga, and Coldplay.

This year, Lollapalooza features seven different stages or venues and runs Friday, August 3 through Sunday, August 5, from 11:30am ‘til 10pm daily. The celebration has partnered with various Chicago nightlife venues for after-show revelry as well. Our hotels near Grant Park are the perfect place to recoup after long days in the sun—or rain!—or between your favorite acts. From both of our hotels—SpringHill Suites or Residence Inn—, you can head out on foot to Lollapalooza and avoid the inconvenience of public transportation. Enjoy relaxing, sumptuous accommodations to escape the crowds.

Check availability and book your reservation today for our hotels near Lollapalooza. Calming rooms and suites are just a short walk from the festival.

For more information on Lollapalooza, visit the festival homepage.

Celebrate the Fourth of July the Chicago Way

July 3rd, 2012

It’s the Fourth of July, and the country’s third biggest city gives you too many reasons not to celebrate  this wonderful occasion. We hope you’ll indulge in some of the city’s finest eateries and pubs, chasing down your deep dish pizza with a delicious pint before you take in the day’s best offerings.

Our location by the Chicago River lends itself to a day of relaxation and outdoor leisure. On top of that, there are events and merriment all around Chicago, so take note of the following to ensure a memorable day of toasting the Red, White, and Blue.

First and foremost, let’s talk fireworks. The big show takes places at Navy Pier at 9pm. It’s a visual feast of colors and pyrotechnics. If you miss it, then come back on Saturday, July 7 at 10:15pm—there will be another show! If you want to see the Independence Day celebration by boat, check out the Seadog or Wendella Boats cruises. If you want a dinner cruise, you might check out the Odyssey, the Spirit of Chicago, or the Mystic Blue. You can even rent a kayak at Navy Pier and catch the dazzling show as you paddle at twilight.

Besides the Red, White, and Blue, you can also root for the boys in Black and White all week. On July 4, the Chicago White Sox take on the Texas Rangers at U.S. Cellular Field at 6:10pm. They also play on July 5, before hosting the Toronto Blue Jays through the weekend. Cheer on the Sox as they look to increase their lead in the American League Central Division. The Cubs are away this week, playing first against the Atlanta Braves and then the New York Mets.

The Grant Park Music Festival in Millennium Park is a fun and free way to pass the evening. Beginning at 6:30pm, this Christopher Bell-directed concert will feature arrangements by Gershwin, Copland, Sousa, Bernstein, and more!

Take the kids to the Family Fun Festival, also at Millennium Park. From 10am-3pm, the Family Fun Tent is set up at the Chase Promenade North corner of the park. The festival features a 10am Wiggleworms lesson—this includes sing-alongs, circle dances, finger games and more—plus an 11am reading circle and 1pm live music and dance performances.

When the day is done, retire to the Residence Inn or SpringHill Suites for a soothing night’s sleep as you prepare for the weekend—which is sure to pack as much excitement as Independence Day itself.

Do You Know Your Chicago Baseball History?

May 14th, 2012

We at Chicago Downtown River North are thrilled for the spring! Sure, the tulips return to Chicago, the birds start chirping, and we’re able to abandon our heavy winter parkas, but that’s not what gets us really revved up for the vernal equinox. Baseball season is here! While we love looking forward to the future (maybe… eventually the Cubs will win a World Series, maybe?), it’s important to also look to Chicago baseball’s past.

 

The earliest recorded game of baseball in the Chicago area was played in August 1851 and took off like a rocket through the city. By 1867, there were a reported 45 teams playing ball in the area, and the city’s eight best clubs organized together in 1887 to form the Chicago City League. Though continuing to grow in popularity, the Chicago City League was disbanded in 1895 for a more lucrative option of playing and running teams independently. Though not yet professional, baseball was becoming a business.

 

Semi-pro play grew from 1900 to 1910 as some of the most famous Chicago teams of that era—the Logan Squares, the Gunthers, and the West Ends—were first organized. After this, the Chicago City League returned, larger with three “professional” clubs. August 27, 1910 brought the first successful night game against the Logan Squares and Rogers Park under the lights at Comiskey.

 

A discussion of Chicago baseball would not be complete without mention of the “Black Sox” scandal of the 1919 World Series, in which eight players from the Chicago White Sox were accused of throwing the World Series game against the Cincinnati Reds. Though Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Eddie Cicotte, Claude “Lefty” Williams, Buck Weaver, Arnold “Chick” Gandil, Fred McMullin, Charles “Swede” Risberg, and Oscar “Happy” Felsch were eventually acquitted of criminal charges, they were banned from professional baseball for life.

 

The White Sox carried on after the scandal, with the first perfect game in White Sox history thrown by Charlie Robertson on April 30, 1922. In 1927, Comiskey Park finished its expansion, adding over 23,000 new seats for spectators. The first All-Star Game was played at Comiskey on July 6, 1933 as part of the World’s Fair. Legend Babe Ruth hit a three-run home run to push the American League to win, 4-2.  After World War II’s pause of professional baseball, the White Sox picked up where they left off, barreling through opponents and eventually winning the 1959 World Series against the Cleveland Indians. The 1983 White Sox stopped a losing skid to win 99 games and capture the AL Western Pennant by an unheard of 20 games above their competitors. New Comiskey Park was introduced in 1991, housing a sell-out crowd of over 42,000 fans ready for baseball. In the new millennium, the White Sox have made playoff appearances in 2000 and 2008 with a 2005 World Series win under manager Ozzie Guillen. In 2011, Guillen left to coach the Miami Marlins, replaced by former White Sox, Mets, and Yankees player Robin Ventura.

 

The Cubs began the 20th Century with big wins, setting a major league record for wins during the 1906 season and earning a pennant in 1906 and World Series wins in 1907 against the Detroit Tigers and 1908 again against Detroit. In 1916, what is now Wrigley Field, then dubbed “Weeghman Field”, became the Cubs’ official home, and seating was increased in 1926 to accommodate 40,000 cheering fans. After pennant wins in 1929, 1932, and 1938, more renovations were made on Wrigley Field, and the Cubs became the first team to play organ music in the ballpark in 1941. Interestingly, the Cubs would have been among the first teams to install lights at Wrigley for night games, but following the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on December 7, 1941, P.K. Wrigley donated the recently-purchased lighting equipment to the War Department instead of installing them in his stadium. In 1947, Jackie Robinson made his Chicago debut before a largest single-game paid attendance in Cubs’ history of 46,572.

 

The Cold War period proved to be cold to the Cubs, with no postseason appearances from the later 1950s to 1984. The time was not without individual merits, though—in 1965, pitcher Bob Hendley tosses a one hitter while Sandy Koufax arms a perfect game, and in 1969, pitcher Ken Holtzman threw his first of two no-hitters, shutting out the Atlanta Braves. The Cubs clinched NL East titles in 1984 and 1989, as well as a NL Wild Card in 1998. In 1999, Cubs right fielder Sammy Sosa became the first player in MLB history to hit more than 60 home runs in back-to-back seasons. 2003 marked an upset win against the Atlanta Braves, nabbing the Cubs their first postseason series win since 1908, but lost their quest for a ring, eliminated by the Florida Marlins. After winning NL Central Titles in 2003, 2007, and 2008, the Cubs finished second in the 2009 season.

 

Chicago baseball is rich with the history of the highs, lows, scandals, and growth of two different teams. Come by Wrigley Field or Comiskey Park this summer and check them out!

Design Your Perfect Chicago Day

February 29th, 2012

Packed with great dining destinations, historic sites, a stunning waterfront, lively music and sports scenes, and sightseeing attractions galore, Chicago is a visitors’ dream. It would take years to tackle every activity offered in the Windy City, but you can fit plenty of fun into just one day, thanks to the city’s phenomenal downtown core.

Chicago at Night

The Ideal Day of Chicago Travel:

  • Start your day by stopping by Einstein Bros. Bagels, located onsite at the Chicago River North Hotels. Grab a hot coffee and a hearty breakfast – you’ll need the energy for your day of Windy City exploration.
  • From your Downtown Chicago hotel, walk east on Illinois Street between the city’s shimmering skyscrapers. Take a left on Michigan Avenue, pausing long enough to check out the 462-foot neo-Gothic architectural wonder that is the Tribune Tower.
  • Beat the crowds to all the best sales at the world-renowned retailers that line Michigan Avenue (also known as the Magnificent Mile). From Nordstrom to Barney’s New York to the giant new Topshop store, the city’s best shopping resides on Michigan Avenue.
  • Grab a bite of lunch in the River North neighborhood, where you can choose from Chicago favorites like Potbelly Sandwich Works, Portillo’s Hot Dogs and Frontera Grill.
  • After lunch, head east across Lake Shore Drive to the Lake Michigan waterfront, where Navy Pier provides a great place for kids and adults alike to shop, explore and take in the beauty of the lake’s deep blue water. Be sure to turn around and admire the Chicago skyline, which stretches for miles on either side of the pier.
  • Walk south along the Lakefront Trail, bordered on either side by the symmetric green lawns of Grant Park and the sailboat-strewn waters of Lake Michigan. Follow the path or take a cab to Chicago’s Museum Center, which boasts Shedd Aquarium (the world’s largest indoor aquarium), the Field Museum, and Adler Planetarium. Spend several hours in one – or all – of the museums.
  • Hop in a cab or take the El back to your River North hotel, where you can rest up for a while before enjoying an adventurous evening in the Windy City. HUB 51 restaurant, onsite at Chicago Downtown River North, is a great place to enjoy a delicious dinner – savor a two-handed sandwich or a fresh fish platter.
  • Make the short trip west to the United Center to cheer on the pride of the city, the Chicago Bulls. Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng have returned the franchise to glory and made Bulls seats a hot commodity once more.
  • Grab post-game beverages at a bar or lounge in Downtown Chicago. There are plenty to choose from, including the upscale Signature Room at the 95th or a more relaxed establishment like the Rock Bottom Brewery.
  • Be sure to get some quality rest and recuperation back at Chicago Downtown River North, because there are plenty more Chicago attractions to get to tomorrow!

Make Chicago Your Winter Wonderland

February 21st, 2012

Chicago is well-known for its summer attractions, from baseball to Lake Michigan’s beaches. But winter in the Windy City also provides a wealth of entertainment opportunities, ranging from live music to family-friendly events to sophisticated cultural experiences and art exhibits. Within just a few blocks of our River North hotels, you can find winter entertainment for all ages.

The Chicago Winter Delights Festival offers a little bit of everything. The family-friendly event, which runs through the end of February, features a diverse array of musical performances, art fairs and hands-on crafts fun. No matter if you’re a fan of blues, jazz, gospel, or even opera, the Winter Delights Festival has some tunes for you. Take the kids out to Millennium Park and catch a show in the shadow of Chicago’s skyscrapers or bundle up and head to the Navy Pier for the Winter Carnival concert. If you’re looking for a more refined way to stay warm, visit the Chicago Cultural Center for the annual Day of Opera at the end of January.

Football season may be over, but the Chicago sports scene offers plenty of excitement in the winter months. The Bulls host the star-studded Boston Celtics on February 16 at the United Center and the Atlanta Hawks visit four days later. Hockey fans can finish February on a high note by heading to the United Center for the Blackhawks’ game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on February 29.

Turn a cold day into a signature Chicago sightseeing experience by checking out one of the city’s acclaimed museums or indoor entertainment options. The Shedd Aquarium is the world’s largest indoor aquarium, featuring 8,000 animals from around the world. Art lovers will find a multitude of enthralling exhibits at the Art Institute of Chicago, where historic art from around the world is showcased alongside forward-thinking modern art installations. Be sure to take note of the ornate building itself, which was constructed in the late 19th century before skyscrapers sprung up around it.

Chicago Winter Events:

  • Chicago Symphony Orchestra – February 25 – Chicago Symphony Center
  • Chicago Winter Delights Festival 2012 – Through February 29 – Various Downtown Chicago locations
  • Chicago Blackhawks vs. Toronto Maple Leafs – February 29 – United Center

Experience the Luck of the Irish at Marriott Chicago River North

February 16th, 2012

St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, is the one day a year in which everyone’s from the Emerald Isle! Created to mark the Saint’s Day of St. Patrick, the man who brought Christianity to (and, as legend notes, drove the snakes from) Ireland, the St. Patty’s Day of today is filled with green, green, and more green. Chicago’s roots as a city with a large Irish population lends itself to many festivities on March 17!

This year’s Chicago St. Patrick’s Day parade will take place on March 17, 2012. A tradition since 1962, before the parade, the Chicago River is dyed an emerald green to match the festivities of the day. The parade starts promptly at noon, filled with floats, bagpipes, music, and more. Irish and Irish-for-a-day come together to celebrate, making St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago a party perfect for the whole family. Just be sure to wear green—you may get pinched if you don’t.

If you’re planning on visiting Chicago for St. Patrick’s Day, Marriott Chicago River North is the perfect place to be. Parking is limited along the parade route, so forget the car and jump on public transit right from the hotel! Marriott Chicago River North is blocks away from where the river is dyed for the day, and just a short ride from the parade route. Why bother to find a spot for your car when you can just walk from the hotel? After the parade is over, settle into the nearest Irish pub for Guinness, hearty lamb stew, and a few Irish songs with the locals.

So come March 17, bundle up (the parade goes on rain or shine!) and come on down for Irish-style festivities for the whole family. For more information about the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade, call the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee at (312) 942-9188.

Get Ready for the Best of the Windy City at Marriott Chicago River North

February 13th, 2012

Come experience all that Chicago has to offer with two of the city’s newest hotels: Residence Inn Chicago Downtown/River North and SpringHill Suites Chicago Downtown/River North, comprising together Marriott Chicago River North Hotel. Both all-suite hotels are fully equipped with comfortable Downtown Chicago accommodations and deluxe amenities. Before a long schedule of sightseeing or business meetings, delight in hot coffee and complimentary hot breakfast to fortify yourself for the day ahead. When you’ve completed your exploration of Chicago, settle into your plush bedding and crisp linens to rejuvenate and refresh.

Our hotels near Magnificent Mile are within walking distance of the Chicago River, Loop District, and more, providing a convenient home base for business and leisure travel alike. Explore Navy Pier, watch the pigskin fly at Soldier Field, and catch the Cubs at Wrigley Field or the White Sox at US Cellular Field. For those who are aesthetically-minded, the Art Institute of Chicago is one of a number of famed Chicago museums that offer a world-renowned art collection, and the Shedd Aquarium opens the mind to the wonders of the aquatic world.

Chicago’s culinary scene is almost as famous as the city itself, and Marriott Chicago River North is close to Chicago favorites sure to please your taste buds. The hotel offers two onsite dining options: HUB 51 restaurants offers a full menu and becomes a lively nightclub afterhours, and Einstein Bros. Bagels is great for a quick nosh any time of day. If you want to venture outside of the hotel, Brasserie Joe, Keefer’s, Ballo, and Frontera Grill are all conveniently located from our Downtown Chicago lodging.

Marriott Chicago River North offers a unique and convenient travel experience for Chicago’s frequent fliers or first-time visitors. Come and see us soon! We’d love to have you.