Chicago Travel guide: get the most out of the city
The heart of the United States is here. Chicago is the biggest city in Mid-Western US, and it’s been in the center of America’s history since the early 20th century. You could say that Chicago’s progress and improvement has gone along with the country, being one of the hippest and most diverse cities in the country.
Amazing food, incredible outdoor activities, different things to do according to the season and both modern and historical places collide in this beautiful city, and we want to help you narrow down your bucket list with our ultimate guide to explore the Windy City.
Things to do in Chicago
- Visit the Millennium Park, where the Cloud Gate is located, the most famous landmark in the city.
- Take astounding pictures of Chicago’s skyline from Willis Tower’s observation deck.
- Live Chicago’s unique music scene offering jazz, hip hop, R&B, blues, house and much more.
- Go try the famous Chicago’s deep-dish pizza, along with other local famous dishes as the hot dogs and the Polish sausage.
- Take a walk tour at the South Loop, one of Chicago’s most iconic neighborhoods, where you can experience the city’s rebirth.
Arriving at Chicago
Chicago has 2 major airports connecting the city with over 240 destinations all over the United States and the world.
O’Hare International Airport (ORD) is one of the largest airports in the world. Located 16 miles from downtown Chicago, this hub is the main gateway to Chicago for international travelers, while Midway (MDW), 11 miles from downtown Chicago, is one of US main point-to-point hubs, connecting the city with over 60 destinations all over the country and abroad.
Whether you arrive to Chicago by any of its main airports, Elife can provide comprehensive airport transportation, regardless of your arriving/departure time, group size and specific requirements.
Chicago’s central location and its position as a hub for the nation’s major interstates make it a convenient drive from anywhere in the country. If you decide to visit the city through a road trip, you can be sure it will be an unforgettable one.
A road trip is an excellent choice to spend some quality time while enjoying the road views. Get on the road without getting worn out and book an intercity ride to Chicago with the most complete set of vehicles that Elife puts at your service with professional drivers.
What to do in Chicago.
Visit the Millennium Park
The definitive MUST spot in Chicago, Millennium Park is the most complete approach at the city’s vibe. Located in the heart of downtown Chicago, the park is home of some of the hippest landmarks in the city:
- Jay Pritzker Pavillion. Designed by the innovative Frank Gehry, this avant-garde hall hosts some of Chicago’s largest open air music festivals such as the Grant Park Music Festival, the Chicago Blues Festival, and the Chicago Jazz Festival.
- Crown fountain. A fountain like you have never seen. Designed by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa, this art installation consists of two LED towers that show faces of local people “spitting” water as if they were one of the iconic water-spitting gargoyles you can see in many other fountains around the world.
- The Bean. Well, this is the place for you to take THE picture to state you visited Chicago. Created by world-renowned British artist Anish Kapoor in 2005, it is one of the largest sculptures of its kind you can see in the world, and it has become the most iconic landmark not only in the park but in the whole city. The effect of Chicago’s skyline reflected over the sculpture’s surface is a view you don’t want to miss.
- Lurie garden. A favorite among locals, this garden/art installation created by famous landscapers offers tranquil spaces where you will be surrounded by Illinois’ endemic vegetation. It is an excellent choice to explore the city’s history in the most natural way.
Chicago from above
Chicago has one of the most iconic skylines not only in the United States but worldwide. And you can get the best view of it at 2 great spots:
- Skydeck at Willis Tower. You have seen many pictures of visitors surrounded in a glass platform with Chicago’s magnificent view at their backs. Located in what once was the tallest building in the world, Willis tower is home of The Ledge, a deck that rises 1,353 feet (about the height of the Empire State Building) above the city and from where you can contemplate most of the city’s famous landmarks: the Chicago River, Lake Michigan, and many of Chicago’s most iconic buildings. The view’s so good you can even see up to four different states on a sunny day. Willis Tower is at 233 S. Wacker Drive.
- 360 Chicago. This one is for the bold. The place hosts The Tilt, a unique observation experience in the world, where you are tilted in and out Michigan Avenue in an enclosed platform that soars 1,030 feet over the city. If you are looking for a less daring experience, the place hosts the highest bar in the city, as well as a permanent exhibition of the city’s history and evolution. You will find 360 Chicago at 875 N. Michigan Ave.
Dance, sing and listen in Chicago
The best way to explore the Windy City is through its vast music heritage. Birthplace of house music and its own jazz style, you will find plenty of places to go listen some of local’s greatest musical performances. Whether you are looking for a speakeasy, a nice jazz bar or a cool House Music Club, the city knows its way around the best beats in the country.
to give Chicago’s renowned nightlife a try? Comedy clubs, game day sports bars, burlesque shows, patio bars and much more are scattered all over the city, so the main question will be “where to go now in Chicago at night?”
Explore Chicago’s hip neighborhoods.
A city reinventing itself every day is better experienced by visiting its neighborhoods.
- Chinatown. Necessary if you are into the Asian culture and cuisine. Home to over 65 thousand Chinese residents, it is one of the largest neighborhoods of its kind in the country. Explore its multiple shops, restaurants, and alleys.
- Boystown. One of the largest and more active LGBT communities in the country, where you will find hip coffee shops and restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.
- The Loop. Home of the iconic places we already talked about as the Willis Tower, The Loop allows you to get a closer look at Chicago’s downtown: amazing architecture, a vibrant mood and one of the best food places in the city are located here.
- Wrigleyville. Home of the second oldest baseball stadium in the world, the neighborhood is full of proud Cubs fans, and it’s one of the best places to be on game days and to go do some bar crawling.
- Hyde Park. Here is one for the ones looking for cultural exploration. Among the main spots in this neighborhood are the home of former president Barack Obama, the University of Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry, the largest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.