Chicago Makes Being Green Fashionable, but Not Spendy

Posted March 9, 2010 by Kate Hamman

Chicago With several plans in the works, including an eco-bridge, that will make the city greener, Chicago is well on its way to becoming a top environmentally friendly destination, but without the high prices. Come shop for goods made from recycled materials and grab a slice of organic pizza before saving green by going green at a eco-friendly boutique hotel.

Grasshopper 510
: If the words repurpose, recyclable, vintage, organic, sustainable, reclaimed, and all-natural speak to your greener side, then this eco-boutique is right up your alley. The name—inspired by the prosperity and wisdom of a grasshopper, as well as the color measurement of green—conjures a sense of appreciation for the natural world. Here, you will find an array of environmentally-friendly items spanning a slew of categories, such as home decor, baby necessities, jewelry, and beauty essentials. Prices vary by product.

: Don't be fooled by the name. There's more to this pizza joint than just its crust. As the first certified organic restaurant in the Midwest, Crust adheres to a strict policy of no antibiotics, no growth hormones, and no genetic engineering in any of its products. Come enjoy a flatbread pizza fresh from the wood-burning oven. Pizzas such as the wild herb and cheese start at $12.

Allerton Hotel
: After serving guests for 85 years, the Allerton Hotel recognizes the importance of preservation in all areas of life, and has become one of the city's leading green places to stay. The property started a "green team" to maintain its environmental initiatives, including using only energy-efficient lighting and equipment, as well as biodegradable and recyclable products. Plus, the hotel rewards guests who help in its cause by offering a 10 percent discount if guests forego housekeeping services during their stay. Rooms start at $80 per night during the low season.

To search for flights and compare prices to Chicago, please use our price-comparison tool.

(Photo: iStockphoto/Jim Jurica)

Dance a Jig for Low Prices in Chicago

Posted February 24, 2009 by Kate Hamman

Bar-CoupleCheers-DEF With a fairly large Irish population, Chicago doesn't dye its river green every St. Patrick's Day for the pretty color alone. However, you can visit any time of year to tap into the luck of the Irish. Come learn about Irish-American culture at a heritage museum, explore authentic pubs, and eat in a contemporary Irish bistro—all without spending a pot of gold.

Irish American Heritage Center: Pay a visit to this heritage center, where you can learn more about the literature, art, and music of the Irish in America. The center hosts many events and discussions highlighting the achievements of Irish-Americans. Check its calendar to see what's happening while you're there. Admission is free and many events are, too.

Chicago's Irish Pubs Northside Crawl: With such a high concentration of pubs in the area, it can be difficult to choose where to enjoy a pint of Guinness. However, you won't have to worry too much about where to go with this free handy-dandy map. Follow the trail, and "crawl" between several authentic Irish bars, where you will hear the brogue of native tongues and can sip on imported Irish brews. It's free to wander, but beer prices depend on the bar.

Mrs. Murphy and Sons Irish Bistro: Mrs. Murphy and Sons Irish Bistro has and added a dash of sophistication to traditional Irish dishes. The restaurant serves contemporary entrees such as bacon confit risotto or oat crusted rainbow trout. If you prefer the old standbys, you can also order shepherd's pie or beef-and-Guinness stew. Entrees start at $12.50.

To search for flights and compare prices to Chicago, please use our price-comparison tool.

(Photo: Gagne)

Swissotel Chicago a real drag for smokers

Posted February 28, 2008 by Zak Patten

Healthsafetynosmkgdef_2I’ll be the first to admit it—I’m extremely anti-smoking and always have been. So I don’t have a lot of sympathy for people who want to light up in their hotel rooms, rooms that I might have the misfortune of staying in someday. But according to USA Today, the Swissotel Chicago is now taking its anti-smoking measures a step further by turning its staff into bounty hunters who are financially rewarded for catching smokers in the act.

Employees who bag a live smoker are given $10 for their service. Perhaps my high school principal should have utilized this technique instead of spending his time sniffing outside the boys’ bathroom. Our hall monitors could have made more money catching puffers than they did slinging fries at Mickey D’s.

Swissotel Chicago general manager Jack Breisacher insists he doesn’t “want this to sound like a police state,” but "One person having one cigarette is really a big deal," as it costs around $500 to completely clean a room.

I’m with Breisacher. But I hope he expands the program so that guests can turn in other guests. I wonder how many smokers I’d have to nab to earn a free night at his hotel.

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