By far the largest city in Illinois, Chicago is a boisterous, busy urban hotspot located in the northernmost region of the state. Spanning approximately twenty-two miles in an area that is southwest of Lake Michigan, this metropolis is also the largest city in all of the Midwest, making Chicago a major hub for financial, commercial, industrial and agricultural markets in areas of both manufacturing and trade. The largest agricultural futures market in the world is located in this thriving city, known as the Chicago Board of Trade. Another world renowned building is the 108 story Willis Towel, once the tallest skyscraper in the world.
When to visit
Due to the enormous size and population of this diverse urban city, there are always festivals, events and traditions being celebrated and enjoyed within its streets, neighborhoods and communities throughout the year. Hard working Chicagoans know how to have some fun, participating in several main events that are held year round.
Some of the more popular events and celebrations occur during the peak seasons of April through May, including the C2E2 Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, Chicago Improv Festival and Mayfest. Peak season begins again from September through October, bringing with it the Chicago Fringe Festival, Oktoberfest Chicago, Hyde Park Jazz Festival, Chicago International Film Festival and the Chicago Marathon.
Chicago temperatures are most enjoyable during the spring and fall, averaging between 50°F (10°C) and 70°F (21°C), and it is during these months that overnight accommodations become most affordable.
If you love sunshine and hot summer temperatures, Chicago may be your heaven on earth as temperatures from June through August often climb above 90°F (32°C) approximately fourteen days annually.
Winter in Chicago brings freezing temperatures for an average of forty-three days annually from November through March; the cold is often paired with precipitation of ice and/or snow. You can expect the temperature to drop below zero degrees Fahrenheit (-18 °C) for at least seven days each winter.
The city of Chicago abounds with cultural affairs and special events but there are also numerous museums, parks, markets, malls, zoos and other attractions that are available for you to visit and explore any time of year. Here are some of the more popular destinations that should be considered when visiting Chicago. Attractions:
• Lincoln Park Zoo – 35 acre zoo with 1200 animals and free admission
• Grant Park - 319 acres of Chicago landmarks and home of many festivals
Shopping and Dining:
• 360 Chicago – Dinner with a view in the tower formerly known as the John Hancock Observatory
• Navy Pier – Crowded and kid friendly with dining options, Imax Theatre, Mini-Golf and a 150 foot Ferris Wheel, to name a few
• Water Tower Place – Seven story shopping experience located downtown
• Adler Planetarium – Museum and Sky Theatre run by famous researchers
• Museum of Contemporary Art – See one of the largest collections of modern art in the U.S.
• Chicago History Museum – See the Chicago: Crossroads of America exhibit and other fascinating historical treasures
• Chicago Cultural Museum – Former public library now holds free classical concerts year round
Tours and Excursions:
• Wrigley Field – Enjoy a tour if you cannot visit during baseball season
• Chicago Riverwalk – Water taxis, boat tours and enjoy beautiful architecture
• Millennium Park – Over 24 acres which includes Frank Gehry's Pritzker Pavilion and Serpentine Bridge as well as sculptor Anish Kapoor's 110 ton Cloud Gate, often called 'The Bean' by locals
With so many interesting things to see and do in Chicago, this should serve as a great 'starter list' for you to build from, making adjustments that reflect your own personal interests. This is especially true in the area of art and history museums as there are so many to explore and enjoy in the area.
Tips & Recommendations
• While the weather can sometimes be an issue when traveling to Chicago, don't let unpleasant temperatures keep you from enjoying this vast city. There are plenty of great deals available when the weather is bad.
• When packing for a trip to Chicago, you should be mindful of the season and dress in layers for maximum comfort and enjoyment. In the winter months, bring boots and a hat. In the summertime, bring headwear, eyewear and sunblock.
• Be sure to ride the El before you leave Chicago, loading at the Brown Line and taking it over the Chicago River. The ride is affordable and picturesque, and you will want to bring your camera along. Ride as far north as you like to get a unique feel for this industrial city and its nearly two hundred neighborhoods from its second story loop. It's also a great way to sightsee while resting weary feet instead of calling it a day.
Inn at Lincoln Park offers plenty of rooms and options. If you're looking for an affordable rate, 2-star rooms are available here. This location provides easy access to popular attractions such as Elks National Veterans Memorial and Theater on the Lake. Notebaert Nature Museum is located within walking distance of this property.
MileNorth Chicago offers 4-star service. You'll have a lot of great options here, given the large collection of rooms. In the surrounding area, John Hancock Observatory, Division Street and Harris Theatre are among the attractions you can enjoy. If you plan on visiting Old Water Tower, Lake Shore Park or John Hancock Center, this accommodation is a good choice. This area offers several museums, including the popular Museum of Contemporary Art and Art Institute. The impressive Fourth Presbyterian Church is an easy jaunt from here.
You're sure to enjoy great service and quality, at 3-star Steps to Everything GOLD COAST SUITE, ID #10. Division Street, Lincoln Park Zoo and John Hancock Observatory are all within walking distance. The famous landmark John Hancock Center is conveniently close, as are Old Water Tower and Lake Shore Park. Of particular interest for museum enthusiasts are History Museum and Museum of Contemporary Art. Abraham Lincoln Monument is one monument that you can visit when you stay here.
Navy Pier Suite, ID # 31 is rated 2 star(s). Staying here puts you within easy access of Jane Addams Memorial Park, Tribune Tower and Chicago River. Harris Theatre, Cloud Gate and John Hancock Observatory are popular destinations you can easily reach from this accommodation. Nearby Museum of Contemporary Art and Art Institute are important cultural attractions. Conference facilities nearby include Sears Tower.
Steps to Everything - Navy Pier Suite, ID #30 is modest and comfortable, with a 2-star rating. The lodging is easily reached from Millennium Station. The famous landmark Jane Addams Memorial Park is conveniently close, as are Tribune Tower and Chicago River. Harris Theatre is within easy walking distance, as are Cloud Gate and John Hancock Observatory. Of particular interest for museum enthusiasts are Museum of Contemporary Art and Art Institute.
Offering an intimate atmosphere, the small-sized The Villa Toscana is a nice place to unwind. 2-star rooms are a good value here. Nearby (and worth visiting) are Elks National Veterans Memorial and Wrigley Field.
Wicker Park Inn is a small, intimate property where you'll enjoy personalized attention. Here, great value for the money means you'll have more to spend on sightseeing, dining and other travel priorities.
The Buckingham Athletic Club & Hotel has 3 stars. From this area you can easily visit Sears Tower Deck, Cultural Center and even Buckingham Memorial Fountain. From this property you'll be close to Art Institute and Field Museum of Natural History. Temple/First United Methodist Church is within easy reach from here. This location offers easy access to Sears Tower, a popular conference and events arena.
The 1-star Hostelling International Chicago - Chicago Hostel is a smart choice for the budget traveler. You'll have a lot of great options here, given the large collection of rooms. Enjoy good connections to surrounding areas via LaSalle Street Railway Station. You'll be a short distance from Buckingham Memorial Fountain, Grant Park and Millennium Park. This property is close to Temple/First United Methodist Church. Nearby are numerous museums, including the fine Art Institute and Field Museum of Natural History collections.
Offering an intimate atmosphere, the small-sized Wrigley Hostel is a nice place to unwind. If you're looking for an affordable rate, 1-star rooms are available here. From here you can visit Elks National Veterans Memorial and Wrigley Field, which are both accessible on foot.
From Villa Celeste you can visit easily accessible John Hancock Center, Old Water Tower and Lake Shore Park. Walk to Division Street and John Hancock Observatory --just a short distance from this location. Take in the fresh sea air, Oak Street Beach is close by. Museum of Contemporary Art and History Museum are in the neighborhood of this accommodation. Just 0.4 km (0.3 miles) away, Fourth Presbyterian Church is well worth a visit.