Chicago is huge! We are talking about the third most populous city in the United States. We know Chicago for its stunning skyscrapers, its architecture, its Universities, its cosmopolitan inhabitants, its public art, etc. The city is so beautiful and so rich in every way. Whether it is your first trip in Chi-Town or your 100th, these tips may help your planning!
What to know and to do before the trip?
The first thing to do if you can is to choose the right moment to travel to Chicago. You should bear in mind that summer is the peak tourist and festival season: Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends are really crowded. It is not necessarily bad because people celebrate and you can do so as well.
For more tranquility and cheap fare, like cheap flight to Chicago, cheap accommodation, the best times are April through May and September to October. Remember that winter is very harsh in here! During spring and fall, the temperature is warm and there are few conventions in town.
For your peace of mind, book your trip via the Airport Corner online platform or mobile application. You will be able to compose your own all-inclusive vacation or round trip, including flight, hotel and car rental.
Do not forget your VISA except if you are a citizen from a country under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)!
Where to stay and how to get around?
If you have consulted a travel guide, you should know that it is very nice to stay in the River North and Loop areas and also in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, close to the lakeshore. Anyway, you have to book your room as early as possible, especially if your trip takes place in summer. Hotels, hostels, B&B and any kind of accommodation get sold out quickly during this period.
If you have business travel planned in June, July or August, use the Airport Corner application and book at least in May. Think also about your means of transport!
If you cannot do without car rental, you can rent your car from the O’Hare International Airport and the other airports. Cabs and car rental are however a bit expensive. Be assured that wherever you stay, you can easily get around via public transportation, namely Transit Chicago trains and buses. For an unlimited train and bus rides for a 24-hour period, purchase the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) Visitor Pass. They can get you anywhere in town!
What to visit and where to eat?
You can create itineraries depending on trains and buses, but you absolutely have to try the Chicago Architecture River Cruise! This is the best way to admire Chicago’s skyscrapers: the Willis Tower, the Tribune Tower and so many others. If you want a look from above after looking from under, get on the Willis Tower’s Skydeck or the John Hancock Center’s 360 Chicago Observation Deck.
Whatever your trip ideas, a half-day stay or a one-week stay, you will always have to include in your itinerary the Magnificent Mile, the Chicago Theatre, the Navy Pier, the Pritzker Pavilion, the Art Institute of Chicago and The Field Museum. These are the most emblematic sites in Chicago.
And what would be these big American cities be without greenspaces? New York has the Central Park, while Chicago has Portage Park on the Northwest Side and Washington Square Park on the Near North Side. You can have a picnic there, but you can also experience the pizza, hot dogs or steak on the Loop or the North Side or the Italian beef sandwich on West Ontario Street or West Taylor Street.