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So, being from a small town in the first place, I always crumble under the stress of big cities. Right now me and my girlfriend are on our 50 state journey currently in Minneapolis Minnesota, on our way to Wisconsin and will soon face huge Chicago.

The stress of it being so huge, practically having to pay to breath, not knowing my way around, dangerous and ghetto people, are the things that get to me personally. I feel like there is nowhere to catch my breath.

Can we make a City Thread with tips for small towners? Smile

P.S We just had our laptop stolen right out of our van, goes to show that one stupid lack of security precaution can cost you something that literally has your life on it.. Yes it was my fault :/

Also sorry to always be asking for info rather than providing it, I'm still new to this and have little advice to give others.
Chicago is a great city to visit but it is expensive. We parked at Jackson Park where the Museum of Science and Industry is located and wandered around that area for while. I think it was free but it looks like they charge now. We also parked at Soldier Field which is closer to the city center. Chicago is very walkable with lots of parks and paths. There are even sandy beaches right in the city where you can go swimming!

Sorry about your laptop. The only time that we have had anything stolen was when we left our RV door unlocked. We were lucky because the only thing that was taken was a case of CDs. We didn't have any problems in Chicago.

We spent the night at a Walmart, a super store not the neighborhood ones, so you may have to drive a bit out of the city.

Good luck and enjoy your visit!
Here's a parking tip. Most downtown areas in large cities have signs posted for NO parking between commuter hours of usually 3pm to 7pm. Heed these warning signs as your vehicle will get ticketed and towed. Trying to retrieve a towed vehicle will be expensive and frustrating. Also, always lock your doors and NEVER show possessions that can be seen outside the windows. Thieves will break your windows if you show any valuables.

Another tip: Don't park near schools as too many juvenile thieves will break in to steal your car stereo.
Yeah I have no clue how people can live paying for every single thing they do including parking. Most of the city Walmarts seem to not allow over night parking. One that we stopped at didn't even have a sign warning us and we were told to leave by a Sheriff early that morning (luckily no ticket). Now I generally go in and ask customer service if they are a 24/h parking area.

How do you guys find out cool places to check out in cities? Looking up "What to do in __" only helps so much but I feel like we're missing stuff.

In Minneapolis we decided to check if they had any good pizza places and discovered "Lola Pizzeria" Which is a small pizza joint that is now famous thanks to a TV show and has won an award for best independent pizza joint in the USA. That place was packed but the pizza was probably the best I've had.

What does one do in Wisconsin? Besides look at cows, talk strange, and eat cheese curds? Lol
You've been in popular tourist areas so that might be why the Walmarts haven't been allowing overnight parking. Most of them do. Try this site - It's not always accurate but it's a start.

I know what you mean about feeling like you're missing stuff. I got a little carried away and started making maps with placemarks for everything that I think we'll want to see as we're traveling around. I hate finding out about some cool spot only to realize that we drove right past it a week ago.

This is one of my favorite sites for things to do, also good for places to eat -
(08-30-2014, 06:24 PM)gsfish Wrote: [ -> ]HA!! I still owe a ticket from that situation in Toronto back in '75. I was from a small town and had no concept of that happening, the signs were on the far ends of the block saying "between signs".


Wow Guy, that thing's probably "matured" to about $25,000, you'd better never go back there again, lol.
Course that was before the digital age really took off so if your lucky it's in a box in some basement...

Op, big cities aren't as bad as their reputations generally, although there are always places you should steer clear of, you just have to use your head, use the internet and look for local source info, and understand that old maxim, there's nothing to fear but fear itself. All that nervous tension and fear is just going to make the whole experience feel more frightening than it needs to. But that said, you have to use your head, getting your shit stolen was a dumb move, anyone should know better, so write it off as the cost of learning.
Having a good GPS unit is well worth the cost, and I always make sure I figure out what I want to do and where I want to go BEFORE I even hit the city limits. Trying to figure it out as you go once you're there can add to the confusion and also going to add to your stress levels, imho. Good luck though, Chicago is a big and interesting city, lots of good food, bars, nightclubs and musical venues, not to mention art galleries, museums, the Lincoln Zoo (free btw) and the Shedd Aquarium (took my daughter there last time we visited, it was nice). Also there's these city passes you can buy online fairly affordable (depending on your budget) which makes visiting multiple attractions much more affordable. It's all online, just gotta do your homework ;?D
Cities? Those things I'll drive extra miles to avoid? Yuck. If we have to drive through them, early Sunday morning is my favorite time.
If you want to visit the entire big Northeast cites drive to Newport News, Virginia. Put your van in storage for a month near the Amtrak station. At the Amtrak station buy a monthly regional pass with Boston as the final destination.
Hehehe...... in the Navy stationed at NorVa, we had a saying.....

"Norfolk is the suburb of Boston and Washington."

That takes into account that area of Maryland bordering close to DC too. One massively huge metroplex, with "rush days" rather than rush hours. I am very happy to be clear of it. And that was thirty years ago! I shudder to think what it has become now!
But there is a LOT of history to see in that area. Military and Early American History have always been keen interests of mine.
If you get into Virginia, you MUST check into Old Williamsburg. That is one majorly cool place!
I can see the logic in using the bus & rail system. It's an extension of the system service people use in jampacked foreign ports - Japan, Asia, etc. Get on a train and see the sights. Let the locals do the driving. Wink
When in Chicago if you want to try really good pizza check out Lou Malnati's or Gino's. Still the best pizza I've ever had!
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