I'm sharing this map of downtown Chicago based on a forum question from October, 2012 where the person wanted to see a map of Chicago. They were going to be on a quick 4 hour tour of Chicago from a layover on connecting flights out of O'Hare.
A quick orientation of Chicago from this map shows Lake Michigan on the left hand side. On the left toward the top is Navy Pier. The Chicago River is in the middle and branches off a few blocks in to the North Branch and South Branch. North of the Chicago River is the main fancy shopping area of Chicago, North Michigan Avenue. A couple of blocks South of the Chicago River also fronting Michigan Avenue is Millennium Park.
If you're visiting Chicago for 2 days or more and you're planning to travel a lot, it's advisable to get Day passes.
There are 1-Day Fun Pass and 2, 3, or 5-day Visitor Passes.
More than a week and you can get a concession pass.
You can buy these passes from the vending machines at airports CTA stations, Visitor Information Centers downtown Jewel food stores and online.
One can reach Chicaho from Milwaukee either by Bus or by Train.
Amtrak operates 7 daily trains on weekdays.
The downtown Milwaukee Amtrak station is at the Milwaukee Intermodal Terminal, located on the south side of downtown at 433 St Paul Ave. Tickets are available and the cost was about 16 USD in 2007.
The Chicago station is at 225 S Canal St.
There is a local Greyhound bus terminus within walking distance of the Train Terminal.
Greyhound also operates Bus services to Chicago , with late evening and early morning services. Time taken is about half an hour more than the train.
Chicago is well served by mass transit but we were traveling around the US for six months with all our camping/backpacking gear so our car was the best option. We hit Chicago on our way "back east" after touring the National Parks of the western US.
We drove in from New Glarus after visiting the brewery there and having a big lunch at the Glarner Stube. This 150 mile trip should take about 3 hours but we hit major traffic in town due to a White Sox playoff game so it took more like 4.5 hours. Since we left New Glarus after lunch, it was nearly dark by the time we got to Chicago so the brewpub was our only “sight.”
After dinner and our beers, D was nice to drive and surely I was in no condition after trying even small samples of nearly all the Goose Island beers. To make matters worse, we hit some rain once we got into Indiana and it was tough finding a room for the night though eventually did just that about halfway across the state. Thanks for driving D. I promise a much better look at Chicago next time. But the Stilton burger was great, wasn't it? :)
Until Chicago gets casinos of their own, the closest casinos are in Indiana and the various suburbs of Chicago. Horseshoe Casino in Hammond is the closest to downtown followed by the casinos in East Chicago, IN and Buffington Harbor (aka Gary, IN). Four Winds in New Buffalo, MI is the farthest by quite a bit. I don't know of any shuttles that go to the casinos in Joliet and Aurora.
Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, IN Check the Horseshoe website for a variety of shuttles leaving from downtown, northside, southside, Hyatt near McCormick Place, Chinatown, Wrigleyville
Majestic Star Casino in Gary, IN Asia Tours charters starts at their office at 6152 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-478-5893, cost is $15 which you can get back in the form of a voucher if you gamble enough at the casino.
Resorts Casino and Hotel in East Chicago, IN Casino Cruise Lines, you can see the schedule and pickup times here or call 800-254-3423, leaves from Crestwood, Homewood, Countryside/Hodgkins, Skokie, N. Lincoln Avenue, Chinatown, the Hilton on South Michigan and two locations on the South Side, cost is $5 to get on the bus and you receive $10 cash upon arrival (cost $1/$5 voucher from Chinatown and from the Hilton).
Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, MI Casino Shuttle service,you can see the schedule and pickup times here or call 866-711-1997, leaves from Chinatown, the South Side, Crestwood, Homewood and Countryside, cost is generally free with some restrictions
Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee WI Casino Cruise Lines, 800-254-3423, from the north suburbs only, Lincolnwood, Buffalo Grove, Niles, Skokie, Libertyville, Norridge, Vernon Hills, Gurnee, Waukegan, Wheeling, cost is $12, which includes a free lunch, $5 coupon toward table games and a $5 coupon to use on your next visit.
According to information I've found "Goroo (pronounced "go-ru") is a mix of the words "go" and "kangaroo," which is meant to hint at speedy travel. It's the latest online tool provided by the Regional Transportation Agency."
"Goroo.com offers step-by-step instructions on how to get from Point A to Point B in the Chicago region. While there are other websites that do this, Goroo provides users with travel options that consider not just time and speed, but also convenience, cost, and environmental implications." For instance if you want to go from the Chicago suburbs into the city it will show you how many pounds of carbon dioxide by car or SUV will be used compared to public transportation.
"The new website, still under development, consolidates travel information from several sources, including the CTA, Metra, Pace, Standard Parking, the Illinois Bureau of Tourism, and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) even offers weather info (since walking to the train station may not be a good idea in the rain), and the Center for Neighborhood Technology determines the impact on the environment."
I did several tests to determine the accuracy of the information being given out, for example Union Station to Brookfield Zoo and Union Station to the Museum of Science and Industry and it did a good job there. Where they still have some bugs is suburban travel and buses to take from my house to the train station. But all in all a good site to consider for out of town visitors.
"Goroo.com allows Chicagoans to choose between commuting only by car or driving to a nearby commuter train station. Drivers can avoid highways, toll roads, and/or traffic jams, as the website will soon provide real-time traffic data."
"In about a month, the site will also feature walking and bicycling routes, so commuters will have a broad range of options when choosing their itinerary."
Limousines are commonly used to get to and around Chicago. For longer journeys they can work out cheaper than a taxi, and are certainly more comfortable. Limousines generally have to be reserved before travelling. Some limousines are stretched, but some are just towncars. All the limousines I have used have had very friendly and polite drivers. The limousine companies are also very conciencious and helpful about getting you to your destination safely and on time, for example they will give you advice about travelling in inclement weather.
I have used GNT Limousine Service several times and have been very pleased with their service.
GNT Limousine Service
14 Prosper Court, Suite 8
Lake in the Hills, Illinois 60014
I used taxis in Chicago four times during my stay in the downtown area and, in all cases, there was no trouble at all in quickly finding an available cab and being delivered where I wanted to go without undue traffic delays. My first experience was in getting the few blocks from where I exited the CTA train to my hotel - it only cost about $6 with a tip (the meter starts off at about $2.50).
On a couple of the rides after that, I was able to have some good conversations with two of the drivers after I initiated things. One guy was from Senegal (he sounded West African) and the other from Somalia (he looked like he was from the Horn of Africa). Once they found out that I had worked in Africa for 3 years the talk was flowing freely both ways and the trips were over in no time at all! I was impressed by the taxi system in Chicago. The only hitch a group of us had was in getting to the baseball game at Cellular Field, because the Somali driver 'heard' our instructions as Solders Field! However, it didn't take to long to set things right!
When leaving Chicago, I took an early morning cab from my hotel to O'Hare - costing $40 with a tip, a much more pleasant ride than my earlier train experience.
For my first ride into Chicago, I decided to use the Chicago Transit Authority train from O'Hare, instead of taking a more expensive taxi. However, after following the signs to the CTA departure area and paying $2 to obtain a ticket from a vending machine, things seemed to go a bit wrong from there.
A string of cars was sitting in the departure area and they had a few people already sitting in them. Despite this, the doors did not open when several of we new passengers walked up to them, so we did not know for sure what was going on. In the end, the doors did open on one of the cars so we all hustled down to it and boarded. It was so crowded that I had to make my way through a couple of heavy doors to the next car, all the while manhandling my suitcase, laptop and carry-on bag! I found a spot and had to use a second seat as a place for my suitcase because there really is not any free space except the aisles themselves.
Finally, we were underway but only went past two stations before the train came to a halt and we were told to disembark and to board a bus because track work was taking place - no mention had been made of this when I obtained my ticket. The first bus filled quickly but another came along not too much later and this one took us on a 20-30 minute ride to another station as we bypassed the work area. Once again, it was a crowd on the platform struggling to get in the next train while I man-handled my three pieces of luggage! From there on it was a nice ride as we made our way past several more stops before reaching the downtown Loop area. I didn't know exactly where my hotel was located but figured this was close enough and left the train - I took a taxi from there for the short ride to my hotel. After this experience, I decided to take a taxi back to the airport at the end of the trip!
Overall, the CTA seemed to be a cheap and efficient way to get around Chicago - but it would be quite a hassle if you are dealing with luggage!
I've passed through Chicago's O'Hare airport a few times, but it was not until an October, 2004 business meeting that I actually got beyond the airport! However, not very far - just to one of its surrounding hotels for a single day. This is a city that I would like to see a lot more of, so maybe another time! O'Hare was once the busiest hub in the world but has now slipped behind Atlanta and London Heathrow in the rankings. It is quite pleasant to use and I was very impressed with this life-size replica of a 'Bronotsaurus alithorax' dinousaur. This plant-eating giant lived 150 million years ago in Colorado and Utah. The actual bones that this replica was based on were found in 1900 and are housed in downtown Chicago's Field Museum. That was about it, arrived from Toronto in the dark at 8:30 PM and left the next evening in the dark at 6:30 PM - didn't even get a good look at the skyline :(
As it turned out, I had to pass through Chicago again two weeks later, going to and from a meeting in Kansas City, Missouri. That time, I at least had a good view of the downtown skyscrapers but, by the time I dug my camera out, the airplane had descended into the smog and the view was no longer so good! Finally, in April, 2008 I actually got to spend a few days downtown at a convention, but once again the haze obscured any really good view of Chicago from the air.
Driving along Chicago's Lake Shore Drive, especially on a nice spring, summer or fall day and you will see sail boats on the Lake, people running, jogging, biking and skating along the Lakefont. Do yourself a favor, after you drive the LSD get out and walk by the Lake yourself to get the true beauty of our magnificent lake front.
About the middle of March, 2008, anyone who is 65 or oder who lives in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, Will, or McHenry County is eligible to ride FREE on transportation operated by the Chicago Transit Authority [CTA], Metra, and Pace. If you already have the Reduced Fare Permit [as I do], then within a few months a transition to the new "RTA free-ride ID Card" [the new "smart card' ] will take place.
If you want to be elgible, you must sign up during normal business hours at the RTA's CUSTOMER SERVICE CENTER that is located at 165 North Jefferson Street in Chicago or a suburban site [270 of them]. For a list of the registration sites, you may call 836-7000 [from any local area code].
Once you receive your card, you are able to show it to the bus driver, the train conductor; or, you can use it at a farebox or turnstile.
This is a fabulous free service for seniors, especially low-income seniors. I personally think that this will give older people the opportunity to "get out and about" without financial burdens.
Headed for a night out and wanted to entertain a few friends to a nice dinner outside the city center so I decided that getting chauffeured around might be a good idea.
Shopping around for rates I found that Elite Chicago Limo had a really competitive one; especially compared to the prices I am more used to pay in LA.
Their rate comes to $70/hr for 10-person stretch with fully stocked complimentary bar.
The car was a relatively new Lincoln (2006 model I think) - the bar was nice with all the 'usuals': beer, wine, champagne, coolers and whisky; and the driver was a very polite and rather quiet lady.
She arrived on-time (expected) and dropped us off about 20 minutes over the reservation without any problem (also expected). Would definitely use them again should the opportunity arises.
Let's not forget that the Chicago River is a working waterway. Particularly the South Branch, which goes through some pretty gritty industrial districts on its jolly way to Joliet.
Here a well-laden barge is carrying a significant amount of gravel. In the background, under construction you can see some of the new South Loop condo towers.
One of the most popular tours that is available in Chicago is the Chicago Double Decker Company Tour. It is heated in the winter and open-air in the summer.
They take credit cards such as Discover, Diners Club, Master Card, Visa, and American Express.
This tour has a "Hop On, Hop Off" advantage where you are allowed to get off at 13 different stops, but you cannot get off between stops.
From May 26 through September 3, they have an exclusive offer that includes a bonus route of Chicago's ethnic neighborhoods; thus, you obtain two tours for the price of one! These neighborhoods include Little Italy, Chinatown, Greektown, and West Loop/Harpo Studies.
They have several service stops where you can purchase your tickets. The prices are $23.00 for adults and $20.00 for Seniors.
The stops they make are Sears Tower, Millennium Park, Wacker South [Riverwalk, Tribune Tower, Wrigley Building, Boat tours], Theater District, Art Institute, Hilton Towers & Hotel [Grant Park, Buckingham Fountain, Printer's Row], Field Museum of Natural History, [Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium], Sheraton Hotel [NBC Tower, and River East Plaza, Navy Pier, Magnificent Mile, Hancock Center, Water Tower, River North [North Bridge & River North shopping and dining.
While we were there, they were offering a Free Hershey chocolate bar and a Free Garrett popcorn Sample [these items could be redeemed at the Hershey [Water Tower stop and at the Garrett Popcorn stop [Theater District].
The Peninsula Hotel in Chicago is an absolutely wonderful hotel! Every detail is thought through and...more
Had a great time at the Monaco. We've stayed at the SF version and it was pretty much the same...more
Most visitors to Chicago will want to stay near the Magnificent Mile/River North area in Chicago....more
Visitors to Chicago that are not driving in rarely need to rent a car, parking is expensive and driving is a hassle. Much of Chicago's tourist area is walkable and for longer journeys there...