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Yes, Sir, It Can Be Done!

By Laura Oppenheimer in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 5, 2007 3:12PM

We always appreciate when the New York Times Travel Section takes time out of its busy day to come and visit our little Midwestern city. The last time they stopped by they discovered that the West Loop is cool! 2007_11_NYT.jpgThis time, they send "the frugal traveler" to answer one of life's big questions: Is it possible to spend a weekend in Chicago and spend less than $500?

The answer, of course, is not only that it's possible, but that it isn't all that difficult. Frugal traveler Matt Gross spends his weekend mixing the touristy with the local. He does the obligatory trip to Millennium Park and takes an architecture tour from the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Gross also seeks out local friends to show him the way, and thusly ends up eating out at La Pasadita (the 1132 N. Ashland location) and grabbing a beer at Rainbo Club. Though we can appreciate both of these hotspots — and even have been known to frequent both — we wondered if most NYT readers would really want to spend their vacation weekend eating burritos and drinking at a smoky hipster bar. Food for thought: The average age of a NYT print edition reader is 42, average age of an online reader is 37.

In the end, even after a dinner at the delicious May Street Market, Gross finds himself $130 under budget. Perplexed, he queries, "What was this city, then, if such as myself, on a low budget, could essentially see, do and eat whatever I wanted without straining my wallet? Were the skyscrapers merely a prairie mirage, a veil for the cheap, accessible delights hidden at their feet?" Matt, we'll let you figure that out on your return visit.

Image via Swanksalot.