Chicago’s 2.7 million residents make it the most populous city in Illinois and the third-most populous city in the United States. It’s home to educational institutions, theater, cultural events and 25 miles of public beaches in the city. Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods are each in North, West, South or Downtown areas of the city. Also known as the “Windy City”, Chicago can be both very hot and very cold (sometimes even in the same day). Residents say the key to weathering Chicago’s climate is layering. Depending on what time of year you’re there, be sure to pack either sunscreen or ice-worthy boots.
There are two major international airports serving Chicago: O’Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport. O’Hare is 17 miles outside of downtown, and it’s one of the world’s largest airports. Midway is about 10 miles outside of downtown and is the nation’s premier point-to-point airport.
Though public transportation is plentiful in Chicago, it’s not always easy. Likewise, if you’re heading somewhere that’s not directly on a public transportation line, the driving can be tricky, which is why Metropolitan Shuttle’s charter buses, shuttle vans or other ground transportation vehicles are so convenient. What makes Chicago more difficult to navigate than other cities? For one thing, the traffic. It goes without saying that the larger the city, the more traffic there will be. However, in Chicago, it can take up to an hour to drive 10 miles in the city. Second, unless you have a city parking permit, you would have to pay steep prices for a parking spot, and the parking spots (even expensive ones) are few and far between. Nearly all of Chicago’s expressways are also interstate highways (with the exception of Lake Shore Drive). There are two distinct sets of expressways/interstates:
- Inbound/outbound (to downtown), which become very congested during rush hour (rush hour is described as 6am to about 9am, and 3pm to 6pm); and
- Bypass routes, which go around the city instead of through it – these are I-294 and I-355, both of which have tolls. They are not as congested as the inbound routes at rush hour, though they are still pretty clogged by commuters to/from the suburban communities.
Once you arrive in Chicago, there are lots of things to do and see, regardless of whether you’re in town for work, school or leisure. Here’s just a snapshot of what Chicago has to offer:
Meeting & Convention Centers
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center (Rosemont)
Tinley Park Convention Center
Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel by Marriott
Hyatt Regency McCormick Place
The Congress Plaza Hotel
Chicago Marriott O’Hare
North: Includes Wrigleyville baseball, boutique shopping in Wicker Park/Bucktown, live jazz and theater, range of ethnic cuisines.
West: Includes Puerto Rican, Hellenic and Mexican communities; lots of authentic ethnic neighborhoods with restaurants, grocers and specialty shops.
Downtown: Home to many of Chicago’s most popular attractions, historic theater district, galleries, lounges, Michigan Avenue shopping and fine dining.
South: Monuments and public art, diversity of cultures with art centers, galleries and shows.
- Navy Pier
- Willis Tower
- Shedd Aquarium
- The Art Institute of Chicago
- Jane Addams Hull-House Museum
- The Field Museum
- Millennium Park
- Museum of Science and Industry
- Wrigley Field
- Lincoln Park Zoo
- The Chicago Theatre
- Brookfield Zoo
- Adler Planetarium
- Soldier Field
- Grant Park
- John Hancock Center
- Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
- Clarence F. Buckingham Memorial Fountain
- Goodman Theatre
- Dominator roller coaster at Kings Dominion
- Chicago Cultural Center
- Riviera Theatre
- Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust Robie House
- Richard J. Daley Center
- Oak Street Beach
- Steppenwolf Theater Company
- Old Town School of Folk Music
- The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
- Chicago Yacht Club
- Gilmore Car Museum
- The Moody Church
- Marina City
- Holy Name Cathedral
- DuSable Museum of African American History
- Farnsworth House