Chicago Travel Guide – Tips And Recommendations

When you go on a trip, you always hope to find activities at a reasonable price, find the right luggage, eat well, find the best transport option. That is why we offer you Chicago Travel Guide tips and tricks to avoid unforeseen events and make the most of your trip one hundred percent.

25 PLACES TO VISIT IN CHICAGO

Chicago Travel Guide

The City of Winds, or Second City, as they still call it, is a tourist destination that you have to consider. You will not only be impressed by its skyscraper roof and modern architecture. You can also stroll through large parks and original spaces for pedestrians, visit museums that have an international level, and even sunbathe and bathe in its more than 20 beaches on the shores of Lake Michigan. Discover its emblematic neighborhoods, in addition to shopping areas, restaurants, renowned theaters, and extensive sports and event stadiums. Here we list and describe them for you. And at the bottom of the page, we show you the best places to visit on a map.

1. WILLIS TOWER

If you want to have a breathtaking view of the city, don’t miss the Skydeck space of the Willis Tower. It is located on the 103rd floor of the building, and its four glass viewpoints will allow you to see Chicago from one of the highest points. Of course, you will have to step on the glass floor. Do you dare?

2. MILLENNIUM PARK

Created on the occasion of the new millennium, it is known as the front garden of ChicagoLocated between downtown and Lake Michigan, it is one of the most popular places to spend time abroad. You will be struck by its innovative architecture and art, such as the Cloud Gate, popularly known as “La Judía” and one of the most photographed sculptures in Chicago. Here you will find more information to visit Millennium Park.

3. THE FIELD MUSEUM

You don’t have to be passionate about natural history to be fascinated by the collections of this museum founded in 1893. It is located on the Museum Campus, has a neoclassical style, and houses the largest, most complete. Best-preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton in the world. It also stands out for its fossils, Egyptian mummies, and precious stones. It is one of the largest and most prominent natural history museums on the planet!

4. 360 CHICAGO

Located on the 94th floor of one of the tallest buildings on Michigan Avenue, at 300 meters high, it offers you one of the city’s best views. On a clear day, visitors can glimpse up to four different states. It takes less than 40 seconds to climb, and its main attraction is the Tilt glass capsule, which tilts forward for a unique and striking view of the streets. It is one of the most recommended skyscrapers in Chicago to visit.

5. THE RIVERWALK

Do you like to walk? Chicago is a fantastic city to do it. Spaces like The Riverwalk will enchant you. It is a pleasant pedestrian walkway that runs along part of the shore of the Chicago River and is full of seating spaces, restaurants, bars, and terraces near the water. Enjoy the architectural sights and hop on a cruise ship or water taxi.

6. GRANT PARK

An urban park in the center of the city, next to Lake Michigan. Its 129 hectares form the main outdoor space of the city. In it, you will find Millennium Park, the Museum Campus, the Art Institute of ChicagoMaggie Daley Park, ideal for families traveling to Chicago with children, baseball, and tennis fields. In the center of the park, the Buckingham Fountain is one of the largest in the world.

7. MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART

Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon, and René Magritte. They are some of the artists whose works can be seen in the Museum of Contemporary Art. The center has one of the largest collections of contemporary art in the United States. It houses pieces of styles such as surrealism, concept art, pop art, and minimalism. It also has a creative restaurant.

8. MAGNIFICENT MILE

It is the nerve center of the city. Big brands, luxury stores, boutiques, restaurants, skyscrapers, entertainment. Many of Chicago’s tourist attractions are located in this area of ​​Michigan Avenue or very close. Among the myriad of activities you can do, is the Water Tower, which is shaped like a castle and is the second oldest water tower in the United States. Learn more about the Magnificent Mile here.

9. L SYSTEM

If you want to move around the city differently, we recommend this elevated train, which does not require a large budget. Can you think of a better way to visit the Loop, the famous heart of the city? Highlights such as Millennium Park and the Riverwalk are located in this area, where you can also find theaters, restaurants, shops.

10. NAVY PIER

tourist place, ideal for visiting with the family and full of attractions. Get on the Ferris wheel, renovated in 2019, for new views of the city, stop by the Children’s Museum, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, the Crystal Gardens Botanical Garden, a cinema with an IMAX screen … In addition, it can serve as a point of Depart for cruises on the river or Lake Michigan. More information about Navy Pier here.

11. CHICAGO PEDWAY

tourist place, ideal for visiting with the family and full of attractions. Get on the Ferris wheel, renovated in 2019, for new views of the city, stop by the Children’s Museum, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, the Crystal Gardens Botanical Garden, a cinema with an IMAX screen … In addition, it can serve as a point of Depart for cruises on the river or Lake Michigan. More information about Navy Pier here.

12. CHINATOWN

A way to get to know Chinese culture and gastronomy without leaving Chicago. The Chinatown (or Chinatown) is a typical neighborhood of several US cities where you will find restaurants, bakeries, groceries, and souvenirs … Visit the door emblematic of the neighborhood. Try dim sum, a typical meatball dish. Marvel at its Asian décor and multiculturalism.

13. LITTLE ITALY

Do you want to know a place where Al Capone and the Italian mafia were? The Little Italy neighborhood, with its homes, restaurants, shops, and churches like Saint Basil and Holy Family, is a living reminder of the Italian communities that settled in Chicago. It is one of the best-known Italian neighborhoods in the United States, retaining its original charm with new multicultural shops and restaurants.

14. UNITED CENTER (CHICAGO BULLS)

If you are a sports fan, this is the largest stadium in the country. It houses the Chicago Blackhawks ice hockey team and the Chicago Bulls basketball teamMichael Jordan himself played at the United Center and has a statue there called The Spirit. In addition to sporting events, the stadium also hosts major events and entertainment, more than 200 a year. Artists like Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones have performed in it. Watch the live match of the Chicago Bulls or Hawks can be a great idea to enjoy Chicago.

15. CHICAGO THEATER

It’s interesting whether you decide to enter for a guided tour, see a work, or admire its façade. The Chicago Theater is one of the city’s must-sees in the field of performing arts. Awarded by the renowned Tony Awards, it offers concerts, dance or comic performances, and cultural conferences. It has a colossal 3,600-seat capacity and has been operating since the 1920s when it was a movie theater. The marquee and the vertical poster, full of lights, make its emblematic façade.

16. ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO

It houses works by Monet, Van Gogh, Dalí, and Picasso, among others. It is not surprising that it is one of the most important cultural institutions in Chicago. In fact, among its more than 300,000 pieces on display, it contains the most extensive collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings outside of Paris. In the collection of modern art, Pollock and Warhol stand out, and Le Corbusier’s architecture, drawings, and models.

17. GARFIELD PARK CONSERVATORY

It is not just a giant greenhouse with around 600 species of plants; it also represents the third-largest garden under glass in the world. This botanical conservatory comprises eight gardens, and in summer, it is a busy place. As soon as you enter, you will find more than 80 varieties of palm trees. You can also visit one of the most varied collections of cacti and a representation of the ancient vegetation of Illinois.

18. THE 606

This old industrial rail line has been converted into an original park and elevated trail that reaches 2.7 miles. With its pavilions, parkland, and public art installations, it is an ideal place to walk, run, bike, and even move quickly through some of the North Side’s most popular neighborhoods. For the curious, its name comes from the zip codes on the west side of Chicago.

19. HOLY NAME CATHEDRAL

The contrast of its neo-Gothic style with the modernity of the buildings that surround it offers an unforgettable picture. It is the only cathedral in Chicago, as it replaced the old one after the Great Fire of the city in 1871. Its cast bronze doors, which weigh more than 500 kilos each, or the Stations of the Cross in marble are outstanding. Red.

20. TRIBUNE TOWER

Among the skyscrapers to visit in Chicago, don’t miss the Tribune Tower. Built in the neo-Gothic style and completed in 1925, it is striking for its octagonal tower and the entrance arch, high as three stories and representations of Aesop’s fables. It was created to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Chicago Tribune newspaper. As a curiosity, its walls are embedded with stones from famous monuments worldwide, such as the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, or the Great Pyramid.

21. MICHIGAN AVENUE BRIDGE

Like many of Chicago’s bridges, it is a bascule bridge built in 1920 as part of the Burnham Plan to shape the city’s urban landscape. If you approach its two towers, you will see that they have sculptural reliefs representing moments in the city’s history. The commercial area that today is the Magnificent Mile was favored precisely by the construction of this bridge.

22. BEST BEACHES

As incredible as it may sound, you can also swim, sunbathe, and play volleyball in Chicago. And the city contains 24 accessible public beaches along the shore of Lake Michigan. Among the best downtown beaches, one could highlight North Avenue Beach and Oak Street Beach. Attention: the beach season lasts about four months, from May to the beginning of September. Find out more about Chicago’s weather here.

23. LINCOLN PARK

central neighborhood, north of the Loop, with a young atmosphere and full of green spaces facing Lake Michigan. In this quaint neighborhood, you’ll find a splendid overview of the iconic Chicago skyline, as well as the Vosges Haut-Chocolat chocolate boutique and one of the world’s best restaurantsAlinea. There is also a zoo with more than 1,100 animals: it is one of the oldest in the country, and few remain with free admission.

24. BAHÁ’Í TEMPLE

Just a few miles from Chicago, you can visit this house of worship in Wilmette, one of the first of the Bahamas to be created in the Western Hemisphere. Look at its architecture. Near the temple, you can visit Winnetka, where you will find the house of the mythical film Home Alone.

25. START OF ROUTE 66

If you visit Grant Park or the Art Institute of Chicago, you can get your photo taken with the sign to start Route 66 (on Adams Street). The mythical Route 66, which reached Santa Monica in California, was one of the first highways in the United States. Created in 1926, it was also known as Main Street of America (the main street of America).

CHICAGO TRAVEL TIPS AND FAQ

Indeed before traveling to Chicago, some questions will keep you awake. Will I be cold? How am I going to get around the city? Will I have time to see everything? Will I locate myself with the names of the streets? In the same way, you should also be thinking about recommendations and tricks to see the exciting places to visit and, if they can be, at a reasonable price.

The advice in this section aims to solve any questions that may arise before your trip to Chicago and reveal some information that will make your trip even better. Reading the following list of questions and answers will help you organize yourself and travel prepared. We will answer them. And if the questions you send us are interesting for the page, we will add them to the list to help other users.

WHEN TO TRAVEL TO CHICAGO?

Without a doubt, the best time to travel to Chicago is from April to October, as winters in the Windy City can be frigid. Anyway, if you go in spring, you should know that there may be frequent rainfall, and if you decide to travel in summer, you will have to deal with the heat; the temperatures in Chicago during July and August can be stifling.

HOW MANY DAYS TO TRAVEL TO CHICAGO?

Being a large city with many places to visit, we recommend that your visit to Chicago has a minimum duration of three days. However, if you want to combine your trip to Chicago with an excursion around the area, your stay should be a minimum of one week. It is almost impossible to get to know any natural parks or the famous Lake Michigan with less time. You have more information on the itineraries page.

WHAT CLOTHES DO YOU NEED?

It is essential to check the weather forecast at any time of the year. And it is that in Chicago, there is a very changeable climate during the day, and suddenly it can rain, or the temperatures can drop. Even if the weather is good, you have to prepare for the wind, especially in the centre: the streets of the Loop are windy because the skyscrapers suck the breeze from the lake. So in terms of what to wear, the advice is: always have something warm and some waterproof clothing. Also, think about comfortable shoes: the walk around the blocks is long, and your destination may be a reasonable distance from the train station.

DO YOU NEED A SWIMSUIT?

Well, of course! Despite the heat, summer is an excellent time to travel to the city and enjoy its more than 20 beaches on the shores of Lake Michigan. The bathing season runs from the end of May to the beginning of September. Chicago can also enjoy other outdoor spaces like The Riverwalk, The 606 and the Lakefront Trail, where you have good views. Don’t miss out on the many parks and the countless displays of public art.

DO YOU EAT WELL IN CHICAGO?

The typical dishes of the Windy City are a reflection of its multiculturalism. From the jibarito, a sandwich with a Puerto Rican touch, to the Italian Beef Sandwich, the Deep Dish pizza, the veal hot dog with ingredients from the different communities that emigrated to the city … Steakhouses and barbecues are also typical. In addition, Chicago is known for its creative and fusion cuisine, to the point that quite a few restaurants have been awarded Michelin stars.

WHAT ARE THE LOOP AND THE “L” SYSTEM?

Knowing these concepts will guide you. The Loop is what the business district and heart of the city is called. There you will find theatres, shops, restaurants, the famous Millennium Park … On the other hand, the “L” System refers to Chicago’s public trains, managed by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). “L” is the abbreviation for “elevated” since this is how different sections of this transport are. Without a doubt, one of the best ways to get around the city.

WHAT IS THE GRID SYSTEM?

This is how the streets are distributed in Chicago, and it is interesting to take it into account when moving around. Madison Street divides the city into north and south, and State Street, east and west. In the heart of the Loop, the intersection between the two marks the zero point of the grid. So the number of directions, accompanied by a cardinal point, marks the number of blocks concerning the centre. For example, “3600 N. Clark Street” means 36 blocks north of Madison Street.

ARE THERE SKYSCRAPERS WITH FREE ADMISSION?

Chicago is not only a Windy City but also a city ​​of skyscrapers. Knowing its architecture and skyline, every tourist will want to take views at one point or another during the trip. And it is possible to do it without paying! The trick is to go up to the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor of the John Hancock Tower: it has free admission. Have a drink and enjoy the views.

DO YOU HAVE TO LEAVE A TIP IN CHICAGO?

Tipping is expected in the United States and, in Chicago, these can be higher than in other parts of the country. In restaurants and taxis, you have to tip 20% of the total bill for good service. The tip will be $ 1 per drink (or more for elaborate cocktails) if you go for drinks. Valets receive $ 2, bellboys $ 2 per bag, and room service $ 2-5 per day, which you can drop off when you check out.

IS THERE LIFE BEYOND THE CITY CENTER?

Downtown, the Loop, and the Magnificent Mile shopping street are central and tourist attractions. However, Chicago is a city ​​of cities. Our advice is to visit their neighborhoods, which have different identities and ethnic diversity. From Chinatown to Little Italy, passing through the hipster Wicker Park, which is an excellent place to go shopping, the restaurants of Logan Square, the tacos, and the murals of the Pilsen neighborhood.

IS IT TRUE THAT CHICAGO DOESN’T HAVE KETCHUP?

Asking ketchup to dress your hot dog can be sacrilege. What’s more, in many places, they won’t even have this sauce. The classic Chicago hot dog, which is beef, does not have ketchup but does have tomato slices, mustard, chopped onion, pickle, and celery salt. As for typical food, another example is Deep Dish pizza, which is shaped like a cake. Of course: it may be that with a single portion you will already feel full and, on the other hand, as it takes time to cook it, the wait can belong.

CAN YOU TRAVEL ALONE TO CHICAGO?

It will be easy for you to meet people in this cosmopolitan city that receives tourists throughout the year, especially if you stay in hostels or hotels with shared rooms. When it comes to safety, Chicago is no more dangerous than other cities in the United States; But like everywhere, whether you travel alone or with someone, our advice is to be carefulOutlying neighborhoods can be more troubled.

HOW IS MOBILITY IN CHICAGO?

The city is well served and has the second-largest public transportation system in the country. However, there will likely be delays with its nearly 3 million people, both on the highway and train. Or that public transport is very busy. So, if, for example, you have a reservation for dinner or theatre tickets, the recommendation is: leave with more time than you need. This way, you avoid possible complications.

ARE THERE TRANSPORT PASSES?

The buses and trains managed by Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) are the best way to move around. A trick: it will pay you to buy an unlimited travel pass with a duration of one, three, or seven days (for $ 10, 20, or 28, respectively). In addition, you can monitor arrivals and departures in real-time with the Transit app. If your trip focuses on the city, it is not advisable to rent a car. Still, if you do, download the ParkChicago app.

HOW MUCH MONEY IS SPENT ON AVERAGE?

It is difficult to say how much money you can spend in Chicago since it depends a little on each person. Considering that you will have already paid for the hotel and the plane and only have transportation, food, and visits, you must calculate that you will spend about $ 100 a day. It is relative: the figure will vary depending on the type of transport, restaurants, and visits. But keep in mind that the United States is not exactly cheap.

HOW TO GO FROM THE AIRPORT TO THE CITY?

Public transportation in Chicago works quite well, which is why we recommend taking the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) public train or bus. The train is the cheapest and fastest way. Another option is to call an Uber or Lyft driver to pick you up. If you want more information, go to airport transfers.

IS IT ADVISABLE TO TRAVEL WITH CHILDREN?

Chicago is very well prepared for family tourism, and it is easy for the trip to be pleasant for both adults and children. There are many things to do in Chicago for all audiences, from amusement parks to museums of various themes. You will find them in the section on traveling with children to Chicago.

ARE CREDIT CARDS ALWAYS ACCEPTED?

Although it is less and less frequent, it may be that the more informal pubs (clubs) or cheap food places do not allow you to pay with a credit card. So as a trick, keep loose change on hand. The same will happen to you if you want to buy the ticket on the bus (take the exact amount because the driver will not have change) if you visit a summer festival or buy products at a craft fair. However, hotels, restaurants, bars, shops, and taxis accept credit cards without a problem. For more information, see the section on currency exchange.

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