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Chicago Travel Tips

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The cultural hub of the Midwest, Chicago’s a buzzing metropolis swathed in blues and soul, arty enclaves, and sports mania. It’s where you can eat deep pan pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and still have time to hang out on the shores of Lake Michigan. No matter when you visit, you’ll discover a city of museums, galleries, and some of the coolest live music venues in America.

 

Best Time to Travel

 

Summer in the city’s a time to soak up the sun on upbeat North Avenue Beach, enjoy open-air jazz and blues shows in Millennium or Grant Parks, and sup on local craft beers in packed-out carnival-like beer gardens. If you’re around at the beginning of August, get tickets for Lollapalooza. This colorful festival fills Grant Park with music from big name rock, hip hop, and punk acts.

 

Not to Miss

 

If you’re a sports fan, check out a Chicago Cubs baseball game at Wrigley Field – one of America’s oldest national league ballparks. That is unless you support the White Sox, in which case you should head to U.S. Cellular Field, known as Comiskey Park. Chicago’s passion for sport doesn’t end there though. If you love football seek out Soldier Field – home to the Chicago Bears from September to January – while hockey and basketball nuts can watch the Blackhawks or Bulls at the United Center.

 

Getting around

 

Chicago O’Hare International Airport’s one of America’s busiest transit hubs, serving domestic and international flights from all over the world. Midway Airport is smaller but avoids the hustle of O’Hare for those on domestic visits. From Midway it’s just a 25-minute ride on the CTA Orange Line to The Loop. CTA Blue Line trains from O’Hare take approximately 50 minutes to The Loop. If you’re going by train to Chicago, Union Station’s connected to most U.S. cities via Amtrak. Once in Chicago it’s really easy to get around by bus or train. Think twice about driving downtown as traffic and parking expenses can be a headache.

 

Cuisine

 

Who doesn’t love a gooey Chicago-style deep dish pizza? Head to a local pizza joint – some have been around since the 30s – to tuck into a cheesy slice. If you’re looking for something a bit more upmarket, Chicago’s swanky upscale restaurants have plenty of award-winning chefs in their kitchens, who constantly stir up new delectable dishes for you to try. Alternatively, check out the city’s multicultural neighborhoods for some seriously good international cuisine - Caribbean, Chinese, and Polish are just some of what’s on offer.

 

Customs and etiquette

 

Chicago’s often depicted as unsafe, but in reality it’s just a big, bustling metropolis with all the good and bad that brings. Some areas do have high crime rates, but no more so than certain districts of New York, Los Angeles, or any other big city. Do keep an eye out for pickpockets and purse snatchers in crowded areas as you would anywhere, and make sure not to walk in quiet areas alone at night. It’s best not to head to parks or the lakefront at after hours as these are particularly isolated. The Loop, Near North, Lake View, Lincoln Park, Old Town, Gold Coast, and Bucktown are all bustling neighborhoods night and day.

Fast Facts

 

Population: 2.72 million

Spoken languages: English

Electrical: The USA runs on 120V, 60 Hz current

Phone Calling Code: +1 312911