With oodles of glowing reviews for this Chicago 2nd edition, I'm clearly the odd one out and slightly confused as to its popularity. I really should have paid more attention to the publication date, though it doesn't seem to have reduced the asking price.
Though I'm no authority, in a world swimming with travel guide choices, I found this title to be overpriced, outdated, and ultimately unhelpful. With less than an hour of online research the average traveler can suss out 90% of the info provided and then separately purchase a MUCH more thorough and easy-to-read foldable/pullout map. I recognize in a scant pocket guide like this, some out-of-date info (like museum hrs/admission prices) and lack of super specific details is to be expected. However...
- Double check an online map, app, or another guide for essential addresses; Frommer's had my hotel, the poular Homewood Suites, on the wrong block. If you relied solely on this guide for accurate hotel/destinations, better have a savvy cabbie or be willing to walk in a few circles.
- Randolph Station, a major downtown hub was renamed Millennium Station long enough ago that this change NEEDS clarification on all their maps...as this could be quite confusing to some tourists thrown by public transport. Specific info on the busiest stations, like 'enter on the SW corner' is always appreciated. Frommer's glosses over simple, practical info.
-The sections aren't put together in a user-friendly way and are utterly random; additionally, a Table of Contents is always helpful but ommited here. Guess we're stuck only with a slim index and murky colored coded pages to determine broad sections of info. This is annoying for immediate, on the street aid.
-Frommers dining recommendations are overhyped and pricey; when they do offer a casual alternative, be prepared for entries pointing you to popular national franchises like a Potbelly (really?!) that most of us could visit in our own hometown! In a city abundant with flavor-packed gems and one-of-kind spots, listing a mere 10 pgs of Chicago eateries--out of 180 pgs- is a true headscratcher. Internationally known for pizza, Italian beef, and hotdogs, don't bother looking in the index as there's no section included for the guilty pleasures Chicago is loved for-- and that most tourists want to try at least once.
-Any traveler who desires a few outside the box destinations is going have to overlook all the super predictable 'suggestions' of Navy Pier, Mag Mile, and Sears Tower--named Willis now, regardless of what locals may refuse to acknowledge, Frommer's fails to alert us--info that's already abundant online and, if that's your bag, highlighted MUCH more accurately in other guides. If you're not of the giant camera and fanny pack ilk, these sections are unhelpful at best.
-Numerous oversights/omissions/typos abound, yet they find room for 'info' even the least savvy are more than aware of! I've already mentioned incorrect maps and murky division of info. Another glaring example: stuck in the rain and need a quick number for a taxi? Don't hunt for a 'Transportation' section, it doesn't exist. Rather, turn to the index and find the entry for taxis (p 157, 159, 168) which takes you to a 'Savvy Traveler' header, then see 'Getting Around'. After frantically searching for the #s of a taxi company, ANY taxi co, you'll eventually find a few numbers on a page NOT listed in the index for taxis, p 160! Turns out, p 157 is general airport info (You mean there's cabs at an airport!? Shocking!) while p 159 is devoted to CTA info, not cabs, and p 168 takes up space for how to tip. Meanwhile, you're drenched and have waded through 3 separate pages only to find what you need on a page not listed in the index for taxis. Confused yet? Yep.
Bottom line: if you prefer scant, fill-in-the-blank manuals (plug in NYC/SF/Chicago and it's essentially the same book w/ only address changes) with little uniqueness or you are accustomed to Frommer's mainstream 'Best of' style w/ simple maps, this guide will do. But any person hoping for a slightly more mom and pop angle for 'day to day' (since locating a Nordstrom or a 4 star hotel restaurant doesn't warrant Frommer's asking price and most domestic travelers know to tip a hairdresser 15%) then by all means skip this is favor of a concisely written, truly helpful guide to one America's greatest cities.