Surely before traveling to Chicago there are some questions that will keep you awake. Will I be cold ? How am I going to get around the city ? Will I have time to see everything? Will I locate myself with the street names? In the same way, you should also be thinking about recommendations and tricks to see the interesting places to visit and, if it can be, at a good price .
The advice in this section is aimed at resolving any questions that may arise before your trip to Chicago, as well as revealing some information that will make your trip even better. Reading the following list of questions and answers will help you organize and travel prepared . If you have other questions, do not hesitate to contact us . We will answer them. And if the questions you send us are interesting for the page, we will add them to the list, so that you will be of help to other users.
WHEN TO TRAVEL TO CHICAGO?
Without a doubt, the best time to travel to Chicago is from April to October , as winters in the Windy City can be extremely cold . Anyway, if you go in spring, you should know that there may be frequent rainfall , and if you decide to travel in summer, you will have to deal with the heat ; the temperatures in Chicago during the months of July and August can be stifling.
HOW MANY DAYS TO TRAVEL TO CHICAGO?
Being a large city with many places to visit, our recommendation is that your visit to Chicago has a minimum duration of three days . However, if you want to combine your trip to Chicago with an excursion around the area , your stay would have to be a minimum of one week . With less time, it is almost impossible to get to know any of the natural parks or the famous Lake Michigan. You have more information on the itineraries page .
WHAT CLOTHES DO YOU NEED?
It is important to check the weather forecast at any time of the year . And it is that in Chicago there is a very changeable climate during the day and suddenly it can rain or the temperatures can drop . Even if the weather is nice, you have to prepare for the wind , especially in the center: the streets of the Loop are windy because the skyscrapers suck the breeze from the lake. So in terms of what to wear , the advice is: always have something warm and some waterproof clothing . Also consider comfortable shoes : the walk to the blocks is long and your destination may be a good distance from the train station.
DO YOU NEED THE SWIMSUIT?
Well of course! Despite the heat, summer is a good time to travel to the city and enjoy its more than 20 beaches on the shores of Lake Michigan . The bathing season runs from the end of May to the beginning of September . Chicago can also enjoy other outdoor spaces like the rides The Riverwalk, The 606 and the Lakefront Trail, where you have good views. Don’t miss the many parks and the countless displays of public art either .
DO YOU EAT WELL IN CHICAGO?
The typical dishes of the Windy City are a reflection of its multiculturalism . From the jibarito, a sandwich with a Puerto Rican touch, to the Italian Beef Sandwich, the Deep Dish pizza, the veal hot dog with ingredients that come from the different communities that emigrated to the city … Steakhouses and barbecues are also typical . In addition, Chicago is known for its creative and fusion cuisine , to the point that quite a few restaurants have been awarded Michelin stars .
WHAT ARE THE LOOP AND THE “L” SYSTEM?
Knowing these concepts will guide you . The Loop is what the business district and heart of the city is called . There you will find theaters, shops, restaurants, the famous Millennium Park … On the other hand, “L” System refers to Chicago’s public trains , managed by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). “L” is the abbreviation for “elevated”, as this is how various sections of this transport are. Without a doubt, one of the best ways to get around the city .
WHAT IS THE GRID SYSTEM?
This is how the streets are distributed in Chicago and it is interesting to take it into account when moving around. The Madison Street divides the city into north and south, and State Street , east and west. The intersection between the two, in the heart of the Loop, marks the zero point of the grid . So the number of directions, accompanied by a cardinal point, marks the number of blocks with respect to the center . For example, “3600 N. Clark Street” means the street is 36 blocks north of Madison Street.
ARE THERE SKYSCRAPERS WITH FREE ADMISSION?
Chicago is not only the Windy City but also the city of skyscrapers. Knowing its architecture and skyline , every tourist will want to take views at one point or another during the trip. And it is possible to do it without paying ! The trick is to go up to the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor of the John Hancock Tower : it has free admission. Have a drink and enjoy the views.
DO YOU HAVE TO LEAVE A TIP IN CHICAGO?
Tipping is common in the United States and, in Chicago, these can be higher than in other parts of the country. In restaurants and taxis , you have to tip 20% of the total bill for good service. If you go for drinks, the tip will be $ 1 per drink (or more for elaborate cocktails). Valets receive $ 2, bellboys $ 2 per bag, and room service $ 2-5 per day, which you can drop off when you check out.
IS THERE LIFE BEYOND THE CITY CENTER?
Downtown, the Loop and the Magnificent Mile shopping street are central and tourist attractions. However, Chicago is a city of cities . Our advice is to visit their neighborhoods , which have different identities and ethnic diversity . From Chinatown to Little Italy passing through the hipster Wicker Park, which is a good place to go shopping , the restaurants of Logan Square, the tacos and the murals of the Pilsen neighborhood …
IS IT TRUE THAT CHICAGO DOESN’T HAVE KETCHUP?
Asking ketchup to dress your hot dog can be sacrilege . What’s more, in many places they won’t even have this sauce. The classic Chicago hot dog , which is beef, does not have ketchup but does have tomato slices, mustard, chopped onion, pickle and celery salt. As for typical food , another example is Deep Dish pizza , which is shaped like a cake. Of course: it may be that with a single portion you will already feel full and, on the other hand, as it takes time to cook it, the wait can be long.
CAN YOU TRAVEL ALONE IN CHICAGO?
It will be easy for you to meet people in this cosmopolitan city that receives tourists throughout the year. Especially if you stay in hostels or hotels with shared rooms. When it comes to safety , Chicago is no more dangerous than other cities in the United States; But like everywhere, whether you travel alone or with someone, our advice is to be careful . Outlying neighborhoods can be more troubled .
HOW IS MOBILITY IN CHICAGO?
The city is well served and has the second largest public transportation system in the country. However, with its nearly 3 million people, there are likely to be delays , both on the highway and on the train. Or that public transport is very busy . So, if for example you have a dinner reservation or theater tickets, the recommendation is: leave with more time than you need. This way you avoid possible complications.
ARE THERE TRANSPORT PASSES?
The buses and trains public managed by Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is the best way to move around the city. A tip: it will pay you to buy an unlimited travel pass with a duration of one, three or seven days (for $ 10, 20 or 28, respectively). In addition, you can monitor arrivals and departures in real time with the Transit app . If your trip focuses on the city, it is not advisable to rent a car. Still, if you do, download the ParkChicago app.
HOW MUCH MONEY IS SPENT ON AVERAGE?
It is difficult to say how much money you can spend in Chicago , since it depends a little on each person . Taking into account that you will have already paid for the hotel and the plane and you will only have transportation, food and visits, you have to calculate that you will spend about $ 100 a day . Even so, it is relative: the figure will vary depending on the type of transport, restaurants and visits. But keep in mind that the United States is not exactly cheap.
HOW TO GO FROM THE AIRPORT TO THE CITY?
Public transportation in Chicago works quite well , which is why we recommend taking the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) public train or bus . The train is the cheapest and fastest way. Another option is to call an Uber or Lyft driver to pick you up. If you want more information, go to airport transfers .
IS IT ADVISABLE TO TRAVEL WITH CHILDREN?
The city of Chicago is very well prepared for family tourism and it is easy for the trip to be pleasant for both adults and children. There are many things to do in Chicago for all types of audiences, from amusement parks to museums of various themes. You will find them in the section on traveling with children to Chicago.