Omega Shuttle is one of the few shuttles that will take you to O'Hare and pick you up from locations outside of downtown, like the South Side. The van drivers are courteous and there are many pickup locations, including some on the university of Chicago Campus. The vans come about every hour and to get to O'Hare from the South Side, it's only $30 per person. You couldn't usually take a cab for that! The vehicles are as clean as can be expected and the drivers are safe. They will get you to your flight on time and will help you load luggage. If you need to get to the airport from the South Side, Omega is the best.
This small boutique has a great selection of medium to high end clothes, including brands such as Le Tigre, Fred Perry, Seven, Hudson, etc. They sell both women's and men's clothes and accessories. They have a lot of fun t-shirts that aren't the standard "novelty tees" from urban outfitters. Their prices are comparable to other specialty boutiques, so if you're looking for a sale or a good deal, you probably want to go somewhere else! This is an intimate store where you can find an unusual, high-quality piece of clothing.
Cilmate is a great little shop to buy out of the ordinary gifts for people who already have everything. They have a nice selection of cards and stationery as well as other fun gift items you won't find anywhere else. They store clerks are friendly and can help you find the perfect gift you're looking for. Their prices vary depending on the item, and they carry some things made by local crafters. I recommend this store for its unique style.
Pastoral is a small gourmet food shop that offers a variety of artisanal goods. They only sell products from the people who actually make them. From honey from Georgia to wines from Spain and cheeses from good old Winconsin, Pastoral has an excellent selection of small batch products. Everything is really high quality and their prices are fair for what you're getting. They let you sample any cheese before buying it and can make some great recommendations based on what you like. Check this store out! Everyone who works there is really friendly and helpful. Support this local business.
If you're looking for a great local place to buy plants, try Roscoe Blooms. They are a small store in Roscoe Village, and their prices can be somewhat high, but their selection is great and the quality can't be beat. Everything is always fresh, and the store is clean and comfortable. The owners are helpful in recommending plants and will help you pick out what you're looking for and can give advice on how to care for plants. They have a nice selection of gift items as well as plants. We are lucky to have such a nice boutique plant store in our area. Make a stop to pick up some new plants and support this local business. They have some unusual plants and high quality you won't find at some other plant shops.
The Swedish Bakery retains its high quality throughout the years. They offer a great selection of freshly baked cookies and pastries. Everyone can find something they like there. Sometimes the wait is long, but it's worth it to get exactly what you want. They counter staff is helpful and patient as you pick out your sweets. Everything is impeccibly made and displayed, and the store is very clean. They will wrap up your choices for you to take home, even if it's just a few cookies. I've bought cakes here for special occasions and was proud to serve them. It's in a fun part of Andersonville where you can walk around and visit shops and restaurants. Make a special trip to the Swedish Bakery for some wonderful pastries.
Maybe it's because my sweet tooth isn't as strong any more, but I loved Dinkles when I first tried it, but the last few times I've had cake or pastries from Dinkles, they just haven't been as good. Maybe they weren't fresh, but they tasted a bit dry and not as good as I remember. Dinkles is good for everyday occasions, but I wouldn't go there for special occasions. Sometimes I think a cake from Costco is better or if you really want to splurge, go to a higher-priced bakery with better ingredients and better selection. It's good to support this local institution and its heritage, but as a bakery, I can't say it's outstanding. Their prices are reasonable and their selection is good, but not good enough. Their stuff is sometimes bare bones and basic--gourmet it's not.
The Blick store in Evanston is very nice, large, and has a great selection. The location is great, near other shopping such as World Market and Urban Outfitters and Borders. They have art supplies such as paint and brushes and easels as well as creative projects for beading and mosaics and sculpting. You can find anything you need to be creative here. They also have a nice selection of cards and gift items such as scrapbooks and photo albums. Their prices are on par with other stores, but if they are a bit higher, it's worth it to pay for better quality and better selections.
You will find some of the most unusual, exotic and delicious candies at Vosges. They specialize in handmade truffles. Some ingredients include curry powder, paprika, edible gold leaf, ginger, wasabi, sesame seeds, Cointreau, candied violets, and peppercorns. Some of these might not sound so good, but once you taste their flavor combinations, they are out of this world. They are so different and delicious. You usually only want just one and can savor the flavors. They come in pretty gift packs at different prices and are perfect gifts for the women in your life. My wife loved getting some last Valentine's Day. Their prices can be steep ($3-$5 per piece) but it is well worth it to get such imaginative and wonderful chocolate creations.
Although on any given day you can find a lot of kids at the aquarium, it's fun for adults too! There are so many different kinds of animals that you won't see anywhere else. And because the museum is geared toward kids, it's educational too! You can take it all at your own pace. There is so much to look at and do. I would skip the dolphin show because it's too crowded with kids and it's kind of sad to see the dolphins have to perform for people like that. The museum is a wonderful place for education and conservation.