The Sun Center is above a flower shop in an "antique" buildling,
1818 N. Wells Street, 3rd floor
Chicago, IL 60614
Mapquest for directions.
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Parking for The Sun Center: Old Town is a popular neighborhood. Free, all day on-street parking is challenging to find on Lincoln Avenue, Wells Street. West of Wells Street there is residential parking, no permit (free) needed until 6pm. Metered praking on Clark Street has expanded to eight hours. Pay at a box, use quarters or a credit or debit card.
Parking rates at lots in the area are mostly reasonable. In brief, there are two lots at the corner of Northpark and North Avenue, which is about four to five blocks from the center. Try the lot at the SW corner (usually a good deal) or the Self-Park at the NE corner (above XSport). Conveniently closer, more lovely and more costly is the History Museum lot in the park at the NE intersection of Clark and LaSalle; enter from Stockton Drive, just east of the intersection of LaSalle and Clark Street. When you go to mapquest, you can type in parking and the map will include them.
Short-term parking: For $10 you can park for three hours behind the grocery store Treasure Island, on the west side of Wells, just north of North Avenue. Meters in the area take quarters and credit cards for a max of two hours on Clark Street and Wells Street.
Public Transportation: You can plan your trip online: http://www.transitchicago.com/
The closest train stop is Sedgwick (brown line), 5 blocks. Fullerton (red line) is 8 blocks, walk down Lincoln Avenue (or transfer to Lincoln bus). Clark/Division (red line) is about 8 blocks (you can transfer to 22 or 36 bus.). If you take the red line you can get a transfer and bus it to the Center. The buses that stop 1/2 block away include the 22-Clark Street or 36-Broadway bus. Other buses include 11-Lincoln Avenue; the fastest routes are the 156, travels the Lake Shore and La Salle Street, and the 151, which travels the Lake Shore and Michigan Ave, and another bus also called 151 goes to and from Union Station. Check the web for more information.
Trains from larger Chicago area, out of town:
From Union Station, of course, you can take a taxi; it's pretty much a straight shot north, and a few blocks east of Union Station. You can catch the 151 and get off at the 2nd stop in the park, which is close to the lagoon and before the "farm" in the zoo; considerably slower than a taxi. Print out the map so you'll know where you are. You'll walk away from the lagoon, cross Clark Street at the stoplight, cross another stoplight at Wells and you're standing in front of the flower shop. Check the routes for additional stops between Chicago and the end station.
NORTH of Chicago:
The Union Pacific North travels north along the lake, ending in Kenosha.
Milwaukee District North travels northwest from Chicago, through Northbrook, Libertyville, Grayslake and ends in Fox Lake (curiously, no where near Milwaukee).
North Central Service travels farther west through Des Plaines, Buffalo Grove and ends in Antioch, IL.
Union Pacific Northwest goes farther west, through Crystal Lake.
Milwaukee District West goes through Franklin Park, Roselle and ends just north of Elgin (wow, clearly no one at Metrarail knows where Milwaukee is!)
WEST of Chicago:
Union Pacific straight west, ending past Geneva in Elburn, IL.
BNSF Railway travels slightly south and west through Naperville, ending in Aurora.
Heritage Corridor travels throgh LaGrange, ends at Joliet.
Southwest Service travels slightly east of Heritage Corridor, through Orland Park.
SOUTHERLY: These trains end at a different station in Chicago.
Rock Island Line travels more southerly but swings west and ends in Joliet.
Metra Electric District has three branches so check it out on the MetraRail website for details.
AMTRAK from all over the U.S. also stops in Union Station.
Illinois Services has 5 lines: Illinois Zephyr and the Carl Sandburg to Quincy, IL.
Lincoln Service to St. Louis, MO.
Illini Service and The Saluki to Carbondale, IL.
Texas Eagle travels from Dallas, through St. Louis.
City of New Orleans goes through Memphis.
Hiawatha ends in Milwaukee (ah, someone knows where Milwaukee is).
Empire Builder travels north to Milwakee, St. Paul, MN (Minneapolis area) and all the way to Seattle, WA.
Michigan Services has 3 lines: Pere Marquette to Grand Rapids; Wolverine to Detroit and Pontiac; Blue Water to Port Huron, MI.
WEST: California Zephyr goes through Omaha, Denver all the way to Emeryville, CA (San Francisco).
Capitol Limited starts in Washington, D.C. through Pittsburgh and Cleveland.
Cardinal/Hoosier State starts in New York, through Philadephia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C. Charleston, Cincinnati and Indianapolis.
Other lines connect along the coast to Washington, D.C. where you could switch trains to Chicago; for example from Virginia Beach, VA or Richmond to Washington, D.C.
SOUTHWEST: Southwest Chief goes to Kansas City, Albuquerque and Los Angeles, CA.
MEGABUS: Check this out. Very inexpensive. Here's a routemap. The bus stops near Union Station on the East side of Canal Street; one block south of Untion Station, I think. Phone 1-877-462-6342.
Airports: ORD / O'Hare International Airport and Midway are equally convenient. Southwest has some good fares, "bags fly free," and if you cancel a flight you have the full fare as a credit to use at another time. Also has Rapid Rewards, frequent flyer program to get a free trip.
CTA: Chicago Transit Authority trains can be found at both airports. It's a hike to the train, a bit of an adventure to switch trains to get downtown or to the Gold Coast area from Midway, but convenient and do-able, especially if your lodging is close to a train stop. Cost $2.50.
Airport Shuttles: Airport Express. Check with them for pick-up and drop-off locations. Some hotels have or may recommend the best way to get there. This shuttle stops at many hotels. If travelling in a group, this is a good way to go.
Alternate locations in Chicago : Most workshops are held at The Sun Center. All weekday workshops and study groups are at The Sun Center. We have found several alternate locations nearby when the need arises for a larger space. Workshops are typicaly limited to 10 participants. Register early to secure your space and help us all plan.
Lodging: We have found several alternatives to expensive hotels! We continue to gather information for nearby lodging from students who stay at these places. Chicago offers a wide range of possibilities for lodging, entertainment and overall enjoyment. Be sure to ask hotels for weekend packages or check for last minute specials at some of the downtown hotels (not far)--these vary greatly. When making reservations, I always ask about the cancellation policy; just in case plans change. For most, there is no charge if cancelled by 6pm same day.
The first time around, I'd check out what's on Southwest.com to get an overview of some good rates. Then look around a bit further (see below). If you're enrolled, you get Rapid Reward credit. Checking as I write this (Jan 2011) there are several at about $70, Red Roof Inn, west of downton on Ontario Street with a great rate; Howard Johnson, even closer; Travelodge, farther south but downtown; the Days Inn Lincoln Park North was listed at a reduced rate; and two three star hotels about $85, The Ambassador East Hotel and The Tremont both in Gold Coast area and closer to The Sun Center! (You may need to return to home page and type in the specifications for the link given here.) If staying downtown, buses are very convenient to and fro; trains are about 5 blocks from The Sun Center. Taxis always an option and if sharing a ride, quite close, thus quite affordable.
The least expensive and closest to The Sun Center and our alternate locations: Chicago Getaway Hostel, 773-929-5380, is about 10 blocks from The Sun Center. They have dorm rooms AND private rooms with private baths at very reasonable rates, if you are up for less modern accomodations. Best would be to share a room with a friend. There is a large lobby, computer room, dining room with free coffee and kitchen. Lots of young travelers from all over the world standing around, reading, eating, talking, at the computer and sitting out front on a beautiful night. Eclectic. Parking nearby at the Lincoln Park Market (grocery store) is $18/night, also a good price. One block away is Clark Street where restaurants of all kinds abound. I have visited the place and feel comfortable recommending it; it was clean but an old building, so it doesn't look exactly pristine. So, old buildling, single beds, all rooms have a desk, bring your own hangers. (At the time I visited, Louis is the manager and Josh at the desk, both quite personable.)
We are familiar with two moderately priced hotels on Diversey Parkway which are a block apart and 10 blocks or so from The Sun Center. Inn at Lincoln Park (773-348-2810) is older but reasonable and clean. I was told that they also have some free parking. Days Inn, Lincoln Park North (773-525-7010) is more updated, a larger hotel. They do have rooms with two queen beds, making sharing quite reasonable. Ask about parking, check to see if Southwest has a better rate.
Bed and Breakfast and full apartments in the area abound. Of course a larger space shared makes for a good deal. Ame Boutique Hotel is super convenient, a beautiul five block walk away and includes breakfast; for a single it is rather pricey. Depending on your preferences, it may be do-able financially if you share a room, or bring your sweetheart for a semi-vacation weekend. Under amenities and services check out the reservation and cancellation policies for At Home Inn Chicago (800-375-7084). If that's OK, look further. It may be best to check this out for last minute reservations, mention Special Offer. This reservation service lists a lot of apartments within blocks of The Sun Center. In perusing them, check out those listings for "Old Town," "Lincoln Park B&Bs," and "Lincoln Park". The best, super close I saw is Olita's B&B with two bedrooms at $130-145/night. Also, it seems 3 people sharing a 2 bedroom place would make for reasonable and charming accomodations. Windy City Urban Inn, is also super close and just off Clark Street, (773.248.7091 Toll Free: 877.897.7091 email@example.com). They have individual rooms and coach house-townhouses with a bedroom upstairs and sofa sleeper downstairs, potentially sleeping 2-4, which could make this super convenient and very affordable; seems to book well in advance.
Only slightly farther away, close to the lake, Rush Street and the Magnificent Mile are many "gold coast" area hotels, which often offer specials in the winter. Check them out on Southwest to comparison shop. Hotel Indigo, Omni Ambassador East, , Sutton Place Hotel are just a few.
Comfort Inn and Suites in north downtown Chicago, State and Ohio Streets, a short taxi, or bus ride from The Sun Center. Rates from $109 per night (through December 31, 2010). Although you can probably get a better deal on the web.
DOWNTOWN: Another inexpensive Hostel is Hosteling International Chicago, 312-360-0300. A bit more modern, upscale than Chicago Getaway Hostel, with a Grant Park downtown location, 24 E. Congress Parkway, near the Art Institute and Orchestra Hall, Grant Park and Milennium Park. They have several options, including a Family Hostel room, if coming with friends. Public transportation and lots of information is on the website. I have not yet seen it but have read rave reviews on their website. On the phone, the people were quite charming.
Downtown Hotels: We won't bother to list all of the well-known hotels. These are easy to find. Many offer weekend specials, and deals can be found through hotels.com, hotwire.com, priceline.com and probably other reservation services. Generally, the less expensive downtown hotels are in Grant Park area: Chicago's Essex (across from Grant Park), Congress Plaza Hotel (several blocks north of Essex and close to the Hostel). Here's a site to learn more about Grant Park and hotels. If you are driving, Ramada Lake Shore (4900 South of downtown) has free parking and is a straight drive along Lake Shore Drive all the way to The Sun Center. That said, some of the luxe hotels offer great weekend packages when you least suspect it.
To do your own search, you could link to map and, in the space after, "find other nearby," type in "hotels," also note you must select the distance from the location. You can also get a map and/or directions.
Here are a some other websites and phone numbers that may help you: 877Chicago.com;
http://877chicago.com/winterdelights/; www.bedandbreakfast.com/chicago-illinois; 800-583-7133 or
and there's always orbitz.com.
You may want to google for the hotel, get the direct phone number and call them directly to compare price and availabililty.
Nearby Hotels: Currently under construction is Park View Inn,
1816 N. Clark Street, across the street from The Sun Center. When this hotel is available, i'll put up the listing. Haven't seen renovations.