Chicago Travel Guide

  • The giant ferris wheel at night.
    The giant ferris wheel at night.
    by paulcalle
  • Chicago River Cruise
    Chicago River Cruise
    by riorich55
  • The Bean in Millennium Park
    The Bean in Millennium Park
    by riorich55

Chicago Things to Do

  • Michigan Avenue

    4.5 out of 5 stars

    Walking along Michigan Avenue you can see Water Tower Plaza - a huge shopping mall that has a Disney store and other stores. "Filenes Bargain Basement" is supposed to be discount name-brands. You will see the Old Water Tower that is one of only two buildings to have survived the great Chicago Fire. There is a nice bookstore on the corner called...

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  • John Hancock Center

    4.5 out of 5 stars

    The voice in the lift up the 314 meters to the Hancock Center's observation deck boasted that the skyscraper was the "most recognizable building in the world". Now I think the Hancock Tower is a fantastic looking building, but if they think it is more recognizable than the Taj Mahal, the Empire State Building, or the Eiffel Tower, to name a few,...

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  • Willis Tower (Formerly Sears Tower)

    4.5 out of 5 stars

    Visit the observation platform at Sears Tower/ now Willis Tower (starting with July 16, 2009). The building is 110 storeys above ground. There is a wonderful view of the city and neighborhood from the observation platform here. We were surprised by the quick and effective elevator and the wonderful views from the observation platform. We only had...

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Chicago Hotels

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Chicago Restaurants

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  • Pizzeria Uno/Pizzeria Due

    4 out of 5 stars

    This venerable pizza place in the North Loop/River North area just west of Michigan Ave and founded in the 1940s is generally considered to be the place that created Chicago deep dish pizza. It has become touristy and has spawned a second branch nearby (Pizzeria Due) as well as numerous imitations, but it is a good place with good food, especially...

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  • Berghoff Bar & Restaurant

    4 out of 5 stars

    The main restaurant of Berghoffs is closed. The bar will reopen under another name and the cafe will remain open, but the old panelled dining room will become a space for private catered parties. ------------------ You miss German food and beer? You want to get service on the grumpy side? This is the place. The pictured salmon dish was typically...

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  • Signature Room at the 95th

    4.5 out of 5 stars

    part two of my Signature Room tips with more pictures inside the luxe signature room! While in Chicago One Should Have to experience dinner at the 95th floor of Hancock Tower to experience to panoramic views and vistas of the magnificent chicago sklyine and lake michigan with views up to 60 miles away and that is my saying! hence dinner here at...

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Chicago Nightlife

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  • Signature Lounge-Hancock

    located in the 96th floor of the john Hancock Center in the Magnificent Mile and is one of the most spectacular and romantic views around the city of chicago and lake michigan aroundso it is ideal for romantic dates or proposal but even for just chit chat and hanging around. For the price of a trip to the John Hancock tower observatory ($15, two...

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  • Comedy Clubs

    The UP Comedy Club is in the same building as Second City. I had been seeing discounted tickets for "What the Tour Guide Didn't Tell You" for months and we finally booked tickets through Hottix for a Thursday night. The space holds 285 people, on a Thursday night it was not crowded but there was a decent size crowd of people considering it wasn't...

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  • Green Mill

    If you want to feel Al Capone's spirit, then The Green Mill is where you want to go! The Green Mill is one of Chicago's oldest jazz clubs (opened in 1907). It used to be own by "Machine Gun", Al Capone's right-hand man. Al Capone used to hang out there all the time, too! I had an amazing time there. As soon as you enter, it's as if you're back...

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Chicago Transportation

  • CTA (city trains & buses, the EL)

    Chicago has a great public transport system with the famous El (Elevated Train), tied-in underground/subway/metro lines, and buses. One can get individual rides or buy tickets for extended periods of time such as several days giving unlimited rides. This makes getting around town easy and enjoyable. The El in particular is a fun way to get around...

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  • O'Hare International Airport

    A common question for travelers coming into O'Hare from overseas when transferring through Chicago is how long immigration and customs takes. I personally wouldn't contemplate a layover with anything less than 2 hours especially if you are coming in on a visa or ESTA and after the line I saw on September 8, 2013, I probably wouldn't do it with...

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  • METRA and South Shore Line (suburban...

    Here's an idea to save some $$ - particularly if you are coming to the city on a busy summer or fall weekend and the downtown hotels are booked up. In that case, Priceline or Hotwire or any other internets booking service is not going to be much help. In that case - and especially on weekends - great deals can be found in some of the northland...

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Chicago Shopping

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  • Magnificent Mile/Michigan Avenue

    North Michigan Avenue, the Magnificent Mile, is one of the world's best shopping destinations, rivaling US streets like 5th Ave. in New York and Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Shopping centers such as Water Tower Place and 900 N. Michigan offer hundreds of stores, along with plenty of other stores on the street, including: Hugo Boss, Armani, Louis...

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  • Marshall Fields - 111 N State St -...

    I do not find anything especially unique or interesting about Water Tower Place. It's a big mall, that is about it. I would have you go to State and Washington for the 'original' department store (now a Macys)...Marshall Fields...This is truly one of the orginal dept stores in the country. There is a beautiful domed cieling with cermaic design by...

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  • Maxwell Street Market

    Last visit May 2013 The new Maxwell Street market is a misnomer as it's not on Maxwell Street at all. And for that matter, doesn't even resemble the market I remember being on Maxwell Street. The original market area, which was on Maxwell Street, was taken over by the expansion of the University of Illinois-Chicago campus so the market was moved...

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Chicago Local Customs

  • Festivals & Holidays

    Christkindlmarket is a German Christmas market at Daley Plaza that runs from around Thanksgiving to Christmas each year. If you are in Chicago around this time, be sure to stop by. Sample a variety of food and drink from Germany, including bratwurst, schnitzel, leberkaese, potato pancake, stollen, and gluehwein. There are also a variety of vendors...

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  • People

    Chicago lies in the midwest of the US and is considered an almost exemplary city of this region. As such, it tends to carry those midwestern values such as being helpful. Of course, you'll still find rude people in Chicago (some taxi drivers, some bus drivers) but you'll find rude people anywhere you go. For the most part, I found people were...

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  • Eating & Drinking

    Beginning on Thanksgiving Day, and continuing until Christmas Day, there is an old world outdoor German Winter Market in Daley Plaza. It's so much fun, I go there every year, and am always bringing new friends! The Christkindlmarket is full of booths of special gifts to buy, and German foods and drinks! There are hot pretzels, German holiday...

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Chicago Warnings and Dangers

  • Common Sense Advice / Sketchy...

    I've lived in Chicago for most of my life and know the city well. Down town area is fairly safe but watch out for groups of teenagers as they have been jumping and mugging people the last few years. Put your IPhone away in transit stops. If someone comes up to you and starts to talk to you at a bus stop etc watch around you for others. Do not go...

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  • Beggars & Scam Artists

    We were near Buckingham Fountain at Dusk (to see the lighted fountain). A thin, black woman about 5'4" approached us (four women). Scam woman had Chicago postcards in her hand and started on her story of how she is collecting money for a shelter for battered women (of course appealing to four women). She gave us her so-called story of abuse and...

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  • Parking

    Updated 9/16/13 Parking in Chicago is expensive, especially during the week. Sometimes you can get early bird specials on the weekdays if you come early enough. If you are coming in by plane, you should not need to have a car. If you are lucky enough to find a free or metered spot on the street, check all the signs very carefully. There are...

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Chicago Tourist Traps

  • Navy Pier

    I want to start with the notion that I absolutely understand why tourists would visit Navy Pier, Chicago's #1 tourist draw, but I am sticking under tourist traps for three reasons: 1) 90% of the people you encounter here are tourists 2) Restaurants and shops are overpriced and not the best in the city 3) Parking is obnoxiously priced, currently...

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  • Sears Tower or John Hancock Building

    Getting up there is not all too cheap. And before you get on the elevator, they force you to pose for a picture with a fake background. On your way out, they try to sell you that picture for nearly $30. Then they force you to pass through a long hall of gift shops instead of walking straight out. Take in the views at the top though. That's one...

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  • Restaurants

    I cannot take credit for the name - I read it in a recent article about the new McDonalds. Boy is it accurate though. I hate this strip of Ohio/LaSalle/Clark. It is NOT at all representative of Chicago as a city. This includes the Rain Forest Cafe (jungle theme- good for little kiddies with limited attention spans), The Hard Rock Cafe (basically a...

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Chicago What to Pack

  • Clothing - Winter

    It gets really cold in Chicago in the winter, and I mean *really cold*! You will need a good coat, a hat, gloves, a scarf and anything else to keep wam and out of the wind. During the weekend in December 2008 we visited a bar in downtown Chicago and left around midnight, when we left the bar it was around -15 Celcius, which in itself is pretty cold...

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  • Combined Suggestions

    I like luggage with many pockets, but you can use about anything. When I get to a new place, I usually buy a bag from that place to carry around and put in all the miscellaneous maps, brochures and postcards inside. In Summer, it's generally warm, so I would suggest some light clothing and swimsuit for the beach, but beware! In Chicago, you never...

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  • Footwear

    If you are just here for a holiday then a suitcase will be fine, if you are going to be travelling on then a backpack is probably better. Also bring a small back or rucksack to carry your day things in ie. down at the lake or park. Two seasons - freezing cold or boiling hot. Generally October-April is the time that you will need very warm clothes...

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Chicago Off The Beaten Path

  • Suburban delights

    Willowbrook Park, a unit of the Forest Preserves of DuPage County is a wonderful oasis in this urban area. The rehabilitation center houses numerous animals For more pictures see my marsh, and rehab center.

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  • Museums

    Last visit January 2015, found a Groupon for 1/2 off Located at the south end of Lincoln Park, the Chicago History Museum, formerly the Chicago Historical Society, is a great place to visit if you are interested in Chicago history. The 2nd floor is where most of the museum is located, the permanent galleries cover the famous events and topics of...

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  • Architecture & Public Art (outdoor)

    If you're in the University of Chicago area, have a look at this massive concrete sculpture (it was originally supposed to be carved in granite). It dates from 1915, sculptor Lorado Taft (whose workshop was nearby) and was intended to commemorate the first 100 years of peace between the US and the UK. The sculpture and its pool lie at one end of...

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Chicago Sports & Outdoors

  • MLB - Chicago Cubs

    On our last visit to Chicago, we decided to take in a Cubs game because LJ had never been to a professional baseball game. Knock another thing off the bucket list!!! Was a wonderful day with lots of sun and a cool breeze. Sets were perfect and all has a great time.

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  • Hockey - Chicago Blackhawks

    I had never seen a live ice hockey game so when my husband's cousin mentioned he had season tickets I said "hey if you are ever looking to get rid of a couple of those tickets..." and sure enough one day he dropped off a couple for April 1st (I did look in the paper to see if he was pulling an April's Fools Day joke!). The Hawks play at the United...

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  • Basketball - Chicago Bulls

    The United Center where Michael Jordan Era of the Chicago Bulls with his crew of Dennis Rodman and Scottie Pippen in the 1990's made their Chicago Bulls an NBA dynasty and worldwide fame! unfortunateley, the present mainstays of the Chicago Bulls are a ghost of their former selves. The United Center is home to both the Chicago Blackhawks of the...

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Chicago Favorites

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  • City Pass

    If you are in Chicago for longer than a few days and you are planning to cram a lot into your visit, you might consider getting a CityPass which includes the following 5 attractions: Willis (Sears) Tower Skydeck (fastpass) The Field Museum (all access pass) Shedd Aquarium (VIP pass that avoids lines to all three parts) Adler Planetarium OR Art...

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  • Local Specialities

    Chicago is really a foodie paradise and they have many native food concoctions than the new yorkers hehehe and one of this really good native invention is the Italian Beef which I watched from the Discovery Travel Channel so thanks a lot Adam Richman for the info hence I must try this delight before leaving chicago right! Italian beef is a sandwich...

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  • Walking

    If you are walking and shopping on State Street in Chicago during the holidays (November and December), be sure to stop by the Macy's on State Street (111 N. State St.) to check out their beautiful holiday window displays. Also be sure to visit inside the store itself to see Christmas decorations as well as a giant Christmas tree.

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Comments (4)

  • riorich55's Profile Photo
    Apr 17, 2013 at 6:55 PM

    If you are planning to come to Chicago let me know and I'll help you put together a personal agenda based upon your interest.

  • Dabs's Profile Photo
    Mar 26, 2013 at 9:47 AM

    Lollapalooza tickets are on sale, the lineup will be available April 9th. August 2-4, 2013 www.lollapalooza.com

  • Dabs's Profile Photo
    Jan 2, 2013 at 9:16 PM

    Is this where we are supposed to post things like the CTA rate hike that is scheduled for January 2013? Or the new block of tickets that is going on sale for the very popular "Book of Mormon"?

  • riorich55's Profile Photo
    Jan 2, 2013 at 10:37 AM

    Let me know if you are coming to Chicago! I've given several personal tours to other VTers when they have landed in our town. If I'm available I can give you a personal guided tour also.

    • giampiero6's Profile Photo
      Jan 2, 2013 at 11:53 AM

      Non commercial and just a VT member in good standing :)

    • ranger49's Profile Photo
      Jan 2, 2013 at 1:46 PM

      riorich55 -That sound fine to me and the sort of useful information I would have hoped/expected to find here!

 
Explore Deeper into Chicago
Millennium Park
Things to Do
Navy Pier
Things to Do
Shedd Aquarium
Things to Do
Field Museum of Natural History
Things to Do
Trolleys (some are FREE)
Transportation
Art Institute
Things to Do
Amtrak (U.S. train network)
Transportation
Greyhound/Megabus (U.S. bus system)
Transportation
Lake Michigan & Lincoln Park
Things to Do
Driving/Parking
Transportation
Taxis
Transportation
The EL (Elevated Train)
Warnings and Dangers
Neighborhoods-other
Off The Beaten Path
Oak Park/Frank Lloyd Wright
Off The Beaten Path
Airport Shuttles
Transportation
Giordano's
Restaurants
Ed Debevic's
Restaurants
Weather
Warnings and Dangers
Dishonest Taxi Drivers
Warnings and Dangers
Bahai Temple
Off The Beaten Path
Cheesecake Factory
Restaurants
Billy Goat Tavern
Restaurants
Lou Malnati's
Restaurants
Gino's East
Restaurants
Hyde Park/Washington Park
Off The Beaten Path
Eating & drinking
Off The Beaten Path
Beaches and Parks
Off The Beaten Path
Minor Frustrations
Warnings and Dangers
MLB - Chicago White Sox
Sports & Outdoors
Football - Chicago Bears
Sports & Outdoors
House of Blues
Nightlife
Jazz clubs
Nightlife
Underground Chicago
Nightlife
Chicago B.L.U.E.S
Nightlife
Water Tower Place
Shopping
Taste of Chicago
Tourist Traps
Buddy Guy's Legend
Nightlife
American Girl Place
Shopping
Shedd Aquarium
Tourist Traps
Other Crimes
Warnings and Dangers
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