There are two airports, O'Hare and Midway. Public transit runs from both airports to downtown Chicago. If you prefer to drive, good luck. Once you get within 30 miles of Chicago traffic slows down to a crawl. There is also an Amtrak station downtown - as long as the trains are still running! Greyhound has a station here as well and it is within walking distance of an 'El' station.
Chicago has a pretty decent public transportation system. The trains run every 7 - 10 minutes, 24 hours a day. Buses are more infrequent, depending on time of day and traffic. Some buses do not run 24 hours, so if you are relying on a bus for transportation after the bars close, make sure it will still be running!
They have a website where anyone can put in their starting point and destination and it will tell you what to take to get there.
Grant Park garage offers good discounts.
Cheap airlines for Chicago typically fly into Midway. Great fares can be found on American or united which fly to O'Hare. Spirit airlinse offers really cheap fares to O'Hare as well.
Both airports are connected to the city by CTA subway. Midway= Orange Line and O'Hare= Blue Line
Buses are the most common method of public transport. The #151 is very useful for tourists. It goes from Union Station, to State Street, to Michigan Avenue to Water Tower Place to Lincoln Park. Downtown Chicago is easily and best viewed on foot.
For a Lake Shore Drive ride, you can take the 145 or 146 express bus (picks up on State St or Michigan Ave) and it goes on the outer drive to Belmont. Get off at Belmont and you can walk to Lincoln Park or catch the same bus or the slower 151 back downtown to your hotel.
The subway can be confusing because stops do not have unique names. 'Chicago Ave' on the blue line is entirely different station from 'Chicago Ave' on the red line. Be certain which stop you want on what train line.
If your coming in from a suburb a must is the Chicago Transit Authority, go to their webpage. They have the RTA, CTA, PACE and Metra, 7 days a week including holidays. Or call (312) 836-4949 for information.
A real plus is that on the weekends it is only $5.00 to ride all day!
Use the FREE TROLLEYS! In the summer they are free and during certain times of the years.
I flew from Heathrow in London to the O'Hare Airport. The only thing I didn't like was the length of the flight! (and it was my one and only time in an aeroplane!
Most definitely the Loop. I bought a cheap map and used the Loop every day. I felt very safe although I only went out on my own during the day so I don't know what it's like in the evenings
1. Plane. Chicago has two airports - O'Hare international located in the NW part of the metro area. It is accesible through the EL (take the Blue Line which stops exactly at the bottom of O'Hare). The other airport located in the South part of the Metro area is Midway. It is also accesible through the EL (Orange Line).
2. Greyhound buses. The Greyhound bus is located in the downtown area of the city. Intracity buses are available at the front (see getting around for tips on how to get a particular route using public transportation).
3. Car - Chicago is aound 90 miles away from Milwaukee; 240 miles away from Detroit; approximately 400 miles away from Minneapolis. It is accessbile through interstate 90/94. Warnoing: Prepare a lot of coins if you are using IS 90 since there are numerous tollways along the way.
1. the EL (short for elevated) train and the bus. Chicago has a comprehensive metro system. Since parking in the downtown area (called the Loop)is so expensive, it is advisable that you take public transportation if most of your visit is located around chicago. The transportation authority even has its own website (tripsweb.rtachicago.com) where you just need to put the address you came from and the address you are going to and the whole public transportaion route will be printed out. In riding the EL, just remember the color of the line you need to take and the final destination of the line (so that you do not go the opposite way!!!). It costs $1.50 and $.30 for the first transfer and the second transfer (within the next two hours) is free.
2. FREE TROLLEYS are another reason why renting a car is not needed if you are based in the downtown. THere is a shopping trolley (along the Magnificent Mile), a cultural trolley (takes you to the different Chicago museums), etc. For trolley route maps, schedules, etc., check out http://www.ci.chi.il.us/transportation/trolleys.
3, Another way to get around chicago are the water taxis (http://www.chicagotours.com). It stops at Sears Tower, the Museum Campus (Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium and Field Museum) and Navy Pier. This is helpful because there are no EL Stations near the Museum Campus and Planetarium. Additionally, the water taxis gives a different perspective of the architectural marvels that could be seen in shoreline of Chicago.
Chicago two major airports. For the international flights this is O'hare Airport and for the domestic flights this is Midway Airport. From O'Hare you can take the blue line rapid train to the downtown area and from Midway the Orange line to downtown.
If you travel with Amtrak you can arrive at Chicago's Central station, which is famous of the movie 'The untouchables'.
In the three and a half month I was in Chicago, I only walked, used the train/subway, taxis or rented a car for transportation.
Chicago is not that big of city if travelling by taxi or subway. Both are cheap compared to NYC and Washington DC.
I would not recommend taking a taxi from or to O'Hare due to traffic on the Kennedy.
Chicago is about the easiest place in the U.S. to get to. By air, O'Hare is a major hub for both United and American Airlines as well as a major connection spot for many other carriers, including international carriers. By train, Union Station is possibly Amtrak's biggest hub station. By car, I-94 from Detroit or points north and west, I-90 and I-80 from points east and west, I-65 from points southeast (via Indianapolis), I-57 from points south (via Memphis), and I-55 from points south (via St. Louis). Take your pick.
Chicago has the best public transportation system of any city within a thousand miles. Find routes and schedules at http://www.transitchicago.com/ and http://www.metrarail.com/. Chicago also has lots and lots of taxis. They generally have fixed rates between the airports and downtown, and fares are generally in the $1/mile range plus a fixed value of just over a dollar per passenger. Personally, I also like to get around by bike.
Fly into Midway (usually cheaper) or O'hare. You'll be able to get flights from virtually anywhere in the world, many direct. O'hare is a huge, busy airport. Midway is not so much. ;)
Take Amtrak into the city... Chicago is the hub!
Take Greyhound in. Drive in yourself, just know what you're doing before you find yourself stuck in traffic and lost.
Speaking of trains... if you're outside the city, the best bet is to take the El or Metra train into the city instead of trying to find a parking space. I think it works best, at any rate.
Avoid the car downtown. Avoid it other places if you can. Most of the day there's some sort of congestion, and oftentimes you'll find yourself in gridlock, whether it be downtown or on a nearby expressway. So, avoid rush hour (which is like 7-10 and then 3-7).
In the city, buses work well, but fare is $1.50. The El is an option for a few locations, as is the subway, both of which I reccommend if you're going long distances in the city. If you're not going really long distances, just walk. It's good for you and you'll get to see more of the city close-up.
Chicago is a big transportation hub. O'Hare is the main airport, actually one othe busiest in the world. Big American Airlines base. All the mayor domestic and international airlines fly there too. Midway Airport is the hub for Southwest and many economic, regional and conmmuter airlines.
From O'Hare you can take the 'El', the Chicago equivalent of the Subway. A trip downtown will cost you a mere $1.50. Taxis are plentiful but a trip will be $25-35 depending of your destination.
Union Station is a hub for both regional and AMTRACK railroads. Trains leave here to the Nothwest, California, The South and the East Coast.
Avoid driving. Parking space downtown is very expensive. An evening in town may cost you over $15 just in parking space. Depending of where you are staying, the 'El' may be enough for you. Stations are not as closely together as in Europe. Buses are quite reliable specially to places as Union Station or Soldier's Field. Taxis are also available. Prices are basically the usual ones in the US
Arrived by BA 747 into Chicago O'Hare. Took the train to town. It's so cheap - US$ 1.50 each. Not much room for luggage though. Trains get quite packed given the volume of travellers into the airport and numbers of people who work there. Don't forget to take Dollar bills and quarter coins if you can. There's no ticket booths just automatic machines. The turnstiles are not as big as European ones so be careful not to get a case stuck. We found the staff on duty to be apathetic to tourists. If there's two of you then you pay three Dollars into the machine and travel on one ticket. Put it in twice before you go through the gate. Best of luck.
We found downtown Chicago to be quite small. It's easy to walk from place to place. The buses are fine but the distance between stops is very short and if the traffic is bad you won't get far very quickly.
Chicago is the transportation hub of the Midwest. You can get a direct flight to Chicago from almost any gateway city around the world, and it's easily accessible with both Amtrak or Greyhound. Of course, driving is always an option, but don't plan on using your car once you get here.
The public transportation system in Chicago is top-notch. There is absolutely no reason for you to use a car here. Just get a map of the city and take the 'L' wherever you want to go. There are also reliable buses, but if you aren't going far it's a good idea to walk. This is a great way to see and enjoy the city.
Busiest airport in the whole world-wide world, (or so they say, although Atlanta's Hartsfield---during and a few years after the 1996 Atlanta Olympics---surpassed it in passenger traffic), O'Hare International (ORD) can be reached non-stop from just about anywhere in the nation, including smaller cities like Oakland, CA, Fort Lauderdale, FL or Hartford, CT. This is so because it is a hub for the nation's biggest air carriers, United and American.
Chicago, like Miami, is a flat town, making it fairly easy to walk around. In addition, it has fairly good taxis and bus mass transit. Ride the city's EL at your own risk, however---while the rumble of the trains is as much an aural trademark of Chicago as the clang of a cable car bell is of San Francisco, its structure ain't exactly in the best shape---when last I was there, I saw some of the struts tied together with steel ropes. I wouldn't wanna be on the EL if the New Madrid (an earthquake fault in Missouri potentaly more dangerous than California's infamous San Andreas) goes off big time....
You can fly into O'Hare, then take a cab to Chicago. I advise to call American Taxi when you arrive at the airport, they are much cheaper than the taxis at the curb; they arrive in minutes too!
Once downtown use a cab, using a rental car is not neccessary, and expensive to park from $10-$50 depending on where, when and how long you park.
On the weekends there is a great free city service called the Chicago Trolley. It runs 10-6pm Sat. and 12-6 Sun. It will take you all around the city from Navy Pier, to the museums, to the train station, to the shopping areas. It comes every 30 mins. or less, and you stand by the trolley signs. P.S. Do not confuse the free trolley for the pay sightseeing trolley. The stops and more info. are at this website: (www.cityofchicago.org/Transportation/trolleys/)
The easiest way to get to Chicago is flying into O'hare Airport though you can also fly into Midway (which is smaller but where more of the discount airlines fly into).
Chicago is one of the few American cities that has a great transit system, CTA. I would recommend picking up one of their handy maps that has the schedule for every train and bus. Most of the major lines run late or 24 hours.
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