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Insider Tips for the Chicago Auto Show

Posted by: Jackie Carey

Truthfully, the Chicago Auto Show is not complicated.  If you want to get inside vehicles, snap an album full of photos and hear answers to questions, it’s the place to be.  Every way you turn there is an engaging display.  Simple enough, right?  

Sure, but there is so much to see and do, hitting every one of your must-sees and making sure you are in the right place at the right time for our fun celebrity appearances and interactive events can get tricky.  Am I right?  Of course I am!  

So let’s talk about some insider tips and facts about the show so that you can be sure to have the best experience possible at the show this week.  

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North vs. South Hall

If you find yourself standing in the Grand Concourse without out a clue where to go, don’t worry. We’ve all been there, but just remember two things. One, the show guide has a full map of the show floor.  With that little book, you’ll never get lost.  Two, generally speaking, the high end and luxury vehicles are in the North Hall.  You can find Jaguar/Land Rover, BMW, Mercedes and Saab here. The South Hall is the home of Ford, Toyota, Dodge, Nissan and Kia, among others.  Here you will find more activities for the whole family—the Jeep track and climbing wall as well at the Chevy Blackhawks Family Zone. 

Product Specialist and Local experts

This is such a subtle difference you may not have noticed, but it is interesting none the less.  At each exhibit, there will be a number of people staffing the booths.  It is their job to answer your questions, share information and make sure your experience at the auto show is the best it can be. 

However, you may notice that some of the staff are all dressed identically—same suit, same shoes, same shirt and, very possibly, same hair.  These are the product specialists.  They are walking, talking brand ambassadors straight from the manufacturer’s training program. It is their job to talk specifically about the product and to get up on the displays and introduce the vehicles you are looking at.  

In each booth there will also be a set of people from local dealerships and associations.  They are the ones to talk to about where your closest dealer is located and perhaps to get information that is more geographically orientated.  For example, if you want to talk to someone who has personally driven the latest Ford all-wheel drive system, or has run a diesel truck through a Chicago snow storm, they are your best bet.  They’ll be wearing professional attire, but these threads will have come straight from their own closet.  

Food Courts 

A common complaint we hear from visitors to the show is that there is not enough seating options—especially for families.  So while in some ways our show is designed to give you the opportunity to sit in cars and walk around booths it’s also important to us that you have places to rest while grabbing a bit to eat.  That being said, let me clue you into to some of my favorite options.  

Tailgate Alley –
This is a fun area in the back corner of the South Hall.  With tables set up and food carts aplenty, this is a great place to go without leaving the exhibition hall. Kids can be kids here.

Food Court –
Located on level 2.5 of McCormick place, the food court offers a few dining options, from pizza and burgers to pre-prepared salads.  You can load up a tray and sit in a nice area overlooking the entrance into the building.  Plenty of seating to accommodate large groups.  

Shore –
Shore is a small, intimate and calming restaurant located right outside the lobby of the Hyatt.  If you are looking to sit back for a while and relax, this place has good food, a bar and nice low lighting. Better for small groups and adults.

Fine Print –
Right next to the food court is a restaurant called Fine Print.  It’s has a great steak sandwich and comfy seating.  The food here won’t cost about the same as the food court, but it might get a bit crampled is strollers are blocking the aisle.

Text2Drive

If you’ve been to the show, you know that what happens on one end of the floor doesn’t even register on the other.  With one million square feet of display, it understandable that keeping track of everything going on can be tricky.  To help you out, the show has a program to get real-time information over to your cell phone.  By texting "at the show" to 37483 (D-R-I-V-E), for the entire day, you will get the latest news and contest opportunities sent directly to you.  This way, you will never miss the chance to get your favorite Chicago athlete’s autograph or to win a prize from the show.  

As you explore the floor this weekend, make sure to keep these tips in mind.  Anything else I can help you out with?

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