Whats So Special About Chicago
If youre fortunate enough to find yourself among the other 55 million annual tourists to the U.S. city of Chicago, there are several things that you should know ahead of time.
Well-recognized for its vibrant city life, upscale shopping, music and arts scene, futuristic architecture, and miles of sandy beaches along Lake Michigan, Chicago is a city rich in both history and modernism.
The entire city of Chicago burned down in what is now known as the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The massive, state-of-the-art rebuilding effort that took place after that, helped transform the city into the innovative metropolitan Second City that it is today.
World-famous for its plethora of unique architectural styles, Chicago skyscrapers include an eclectic mix of 1920s Art Deco, 1960s Postmodern, and 20th century Second Empire architectural designs. Chicagos skyscrapers have been built by some of the worlds leading architects. Chicago is now often referred to as The City of Architecture.
Along with being situated on Lake Michigan, Chicago is well-known for the beautiful Chicago River that winds its way through the heart of downtown. There are lots of sightseeing excursions that take place along the Chicago River, as well as a 1.25-mile Riverwalk to enjoy. The bustling Riverwalk offers visitors and guests a wide assortment of spaces to eat, drink, and play.
Frequently Asked Questions About Chicago
The best location to stay in Chicago, especially for first-time visitors, is the Loop, popularly referred to as Chicago Downtown or Chicago Loop. Located at the center of town, the Loop is where everything happens, and you can easily navigate your way to other parts of the city from there.
There are several safe places to stay in Chicago, especially since all the districts downtown are very safe. However, the safest area in Chicago is Edison Park, with a 77 percent lower crime rate than Chicagos average. The reason might probably be because many Chicago police officers live in the district.
Chicagos reputation has been greatly affected due to conflict and violence. Thus people tend to perceive it as a dangerous town.
However, the dangerous spots are the poorest and are off the tourist path. Once you stick to the best neighborhoods mentioned beforehand, youre less likely to be robbed. Ensure you avoid the following districts:
Best Location To Stay In Chicago For Weekend Trip
I am coming to Chicago next week from Friday to Sunday, and am wondering what the best location for me to stay would be.
Basically, I am looking to see the city, but don’t really have all that much in mind, just yet. The ideal place would give me a “feel” for the city and its history and be close to the most important tourist attractions.
What specific area would you recommend?
A hotel in the Mag Mile or River North area is best from a visitor’s perspective. Good transit and dining options.
Thanks for the reply!
Which would you recommend more Mag Mile or River North. What is the main difference in your mind?
I’ll be doing airbnb.com so I can pretty much stay whereever I want!
All the best,
Downtown is fairly compact and easy to get around. The areas are next to each other. River North has a bit more residential/commercial mix of properties.
Take a look at this map –
Magnificent Mile is the nickname for Michigan Ave in River North. “Mag Mile” is a street in the River North neighborhood.
You’ll want to be near a convenient bus or train line, so don’t get too far out into the neighborhoods unless public transportation is available.
Tripadvisor staff removed this post at the original author’s request.
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Save Money With The Go Chicago Pass
Visiting Chicago for the first time can be stressful. Its a big city and theres lots of fun things to do in Chicago. This can make it challenging to plan an itinerary and determine which attractions to spend your money on.
Theyre also recommended by Expedia and GO Pass currently has a TrustScore rating of 4.1/5 on Trust Pilot. Many people have already used the GO Chicago Pass for their Chicago trip and posted happy reviews.
With the GO Chicago Pass, you can save time, money, and enjoy stress-free sightseeing. But dont just take my word for it. Check out these TripAdvisor reviews.
PRO TIP: Buy the pass online to save time and hassle. To buy the GO Chicago PASS, to go to the official website.
Where To Stay In Chicago: 10 Best Areas
Wondering where to stay in Chicago? From Chicago Loop to the Magnificent Mile, discover the neighborhoods with the best restaurants, hotels, bars and attractions in the entire city.
Chicago is a city of irresistible contrasts, with a vibrant pulse to match that of any major American metropolis. Whether youre a history and art lover, foodie, expert on architecture, sports enthusiast, or shopaholic, Chicago is truly a city that offers an abundance of options for every traveler.
Even the citys many nicknames, from its earliest origin meaning onion field to The White City, Windy City, and Second City, speak volumes about Chicagos ever-evolving identity.
Set against the backdrop of Lake Michigan, one of Americas 5 Great Lakes, Chicago is a place where old world charm meets the modern worlds marvels.
With first-class museums and eateries, a bustling nightlife culture, and all the outdoor festivals and activities one could ask for, its safe to say yourstay in Chicago will be anything but dull.
From the many sites around Grant Park, such as the Art Institute of Chicago and Field Museum, to the enticing shops of The Magnificent Mile, here are the 10 best places to explore and stay in Chicago.
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River North & Magnificent Mile
The most exclusive area of the city is, undoubtedly, the River North and Magnificent Mile, located north of the Chicago Loop and across the Chicago River.
Magnificent Mile, in particular, is the unofficial name given to Michigan Avenue, an important commercial area of Chicago with stores of globally renowned brands.
On the other hand, River North is one of the best areas to stay in Chicago for foodies, thanks to its high-end restaurants that offer all kinds of international cuisine.
River North and Magnificent Mile also stand out for having luxury-type hotels. As a result, it is not the cheapest area to stay in Chicago.
This area connects with the rest of Chicago through public transport and is also a good area to stay in Chicago for nightlife.
Accommodation in this area
Best Place To Stay In Chicago With Family
As a family visiting any city, your priorities when looking for a place to stay should be space, security and proximity to attractions.
With this criterion in mind, the best places to stay in Chicago with family are Gold Coast and Lincoln Park.
There are numerous hotels in all budget brackets for you to choose from.
You could also choose to rent one of the many beautiful homes whether it is a waterfront highrise apartment or a townhouse in the more old-school part of the community.
So what is there to see or do in this place?
For food adventures, Third Coast Café is a family-friendly restaurant open from 7am to 11pm.
It serves American cuisine and caters to all your meal needs from breakfast to late evening cravings.
The Original Pancake House is a popular breakfast-all-day spot for locals and tourists alike. They serve artisanal breakfast items with unique twists that your family will definitely enjoy.
The Lincoln Park Zoo is great fun for kids. It is one of the oldest zoos in America and is home to some pretty magnificent beasts.
The zoo also offers access to numerous souvenir shops and eateries. The best part: the entrance is FREE.
Another great family activity is the Painted Penguin. This is a center that allows your kids to tap into their inner Picasso.
They get to work on everything from painting landscapes to decorating blank sculptures.
Suggested accommodations in this area:
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Best Months To Visit Chicago
The winters in Chicago are rough, with snowstorms, blizzards and routinely minus-zero temperatures. For this reason, the warmer months of the year are better for planning a trip, unless a charming and snowy Christmas is what is on your bucket list. April through October are the best times to visit Chicago.
Do keep in mind that the peak summer season, i.e. June to August, means throngs of tourists from all over the world flocking to this city. This usually drives up hotel and activity prices. However, summer time also means more brilliant festivals and activities for you to enjoy.
If you want to avoid the crazy rush, spring and early fall are perfect. The weather is pleasant and you can get by on a light jacket at most times. However, always be wary of the wind chill it is the windy city, after all.
Things Not To Do In Chicago
Beyond deep-dish pizza and Navy Pier: heres how to see and experience the real Chicago.
As a mecca for architecture and the leading cultural capital of the Midwest, if Chicago is not on your radar than it definitely should be. Lake Michigans ribbon of blue rims the far eastern edge of this city , including in the Loop, and neighborhoodsfrom Chicago Cubs fever in Wrigleyville to River Norths trendy eateriesare destinations all on their own.
Dont miss more helpful Fodors Chicago Travel Tips online, or with the indispensable Fodors Chicago guidebook, or with Fodors Ultimate Things to Do in Chicago Guide. Need a place to stay while youre in town? Here are some Chicago hotels great for proximity to historic landmarks or featuring design-centric architecture.
Top Picks for You
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As A Tourist W/ No Car Best Area To Stay
Looking for a hotel on Hotwire/Priceline. Will not have a car. What’s the best area to select for a hotel?
River North, Gold Coast, Mag Mile. The Loop is not a bad area, it is a little farther to most bars and restaurants, to stay and has the best deals on the weekends.
Water Tower Place& Streeterville also work with Hotwire.
All depends on what you like to do. Museums? Shopping? Clubbing? Architecture? My suggestions figure out what you want to do then pick your hotel.
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Best Area To Stay In Chicago For Shopping The Magnificent Mile
When you have an itching for that spending, the Magnificent Mile is the place to stay or at least visit.
It is Chicagos very own Rodeo Drive and has it all from luxury designer boutiques to discount stores.
The Water Tower Place in specific is a must-visit for some of that wholesome retail therapy.
It is an indoor vertical mall with all sorts of shops for you to go wild in.
Its the place to be on Christmas time with its fabulous night lights and unlimited inspiration for gifts to take back home
Suggested accommodations in this area:
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Chicago Itinerary: 3 Days In Chicago For First
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Planning a trip to Chicago? Find out how to spend the perfect 3 days in Chicago with this weekend itinerary.
With nearly 55 million visitors in 2017, its easy to see why Chicago is becoming a hot spot for domestic and international tourists alike. If youre visiting for the first time, this Chicago itinerary will show you how to spend the perfect 3 days in Chicago.
Whether youre celebrating a birthday trip or a romantic weekend in Chicago, there is something for everyone in this itinerary.
Is Uber Safe In Chicago
Uber is available in Chicago as are other popular ride-hailing apps, such as Lyft.
Drivers are plentiful and the apps themselves are easy to use. It is advised for people to use things like Lyft or Uber if they are out late in the city and need to get home when they are by themselves. However, there are some safety concerns regarding ride-hailing apps in Chicago.
There have been several instances in Chicago of people being assaulted by fake drivers. Though the apps are particularly useful to use late at night, it is crucial if you do use decide to use Uber that you make 100% sure that the car you are getting into is the one for you.
While official Uber is safe in Chicago , it is a good tip to make sure that you get into a legitimate car when you do use it much like licensed and unlicensed taxis.
Sleep safe! Choose your hotel, hostel or Airbnb ahead of time so youre not last-minute booking a less-secure place.
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Near South Side / South Loop
Map of Near South Side, Chicago | Source:
Located to the south of The Loop and to the east of Lower West Side and Chinatown, South Loop and Near South Side is one of the older parts of Chicago.
Many of the old warehouses and railroad buildings have now been converted into hotels, businesses, and trendy accommodation.
South Side South Loop | Photo by David B. Gleason via Flickr
The area is known for its theaters and arts, and it is also close to many of the landmarks and tourist attractions such as Shedd Aquarium and several museums. Therefore, youll have plenty of options when it comes to daytime activities during your stay right on your doorstep.
This neighborhood sits next to Lake Michigan, which is another factor that appeals to visitors who enjoy water views, want to spend time at the lake, or intend to take boat trips to the nearby islands.
Dont Visit Only The Art Institute Of Chicago
This revered art museum on South Michigan Avenue, flanked by two stone lions out front, gets all the credit for Chicagos rise as an arts destinationbut few shows feature local artists. To witness homegrown talent thats more edgy and experimental, spread your wings a bit and check out Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in the Streeterville neighborhood just north of downtown Chicago or Chicago Cultural Center, just four blocks north of the Art Institute along North Michigan Avenue.
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Best Apartments In Chicago
If youre the type of traveler that prefers some comfort during their travels, I know how you feel, as Im exactly the same! This is why, at times, booking an apartment instead of a hotel might be one of the best choices that you can make!
Luckily for you, there are plenty of Airbnb options in Chicago for all tastes and budgets! Below you can find my selection with some of the best apartments I could find, all of them in the city center:
South Loop Best Chicago Neighborhood For Museums
Just south of the Loop is another Chicago neighborhood that has been totally overhauled in recent years. As high-rise apartments pop up south of Roosevelt, more restaurants and other attractions move into the South Loop. This is the area closest to some of Chicagos best museums. From the South Loop, you can walk to the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, and Adler Planetarium. The Museum of Science and Industry is not far, either. I think this may be the second-best place to stay in Chicago with kids, as there is a ton of green space around Grant Park, perfect to let kids run around and play.
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Old Town Nice Area Where To Stay In Chicago
Settled by German immigrants in 1850, Old Town feels like stepping back in time. With its beautiful Victorian architecture, quiet tree-lined streets, and lively goings-on, Old Town frequently ranks high among must-see areas during a stay in Chicago.
The famous Second City Theater, where such comedic legends as John Belushi, Tina Fey, and Stephen Colbert got their start, is a landmark attraction while the edgier Zanies, whose alumni includes the likes of Aziz Anzari, offers adults-only humor.
Just around the corner from Second City is the Old Town Pour House, which on any given day offers at least 90 beers on tap, while the areas surrounding shops and eateries leave nothing to be desired on the food aficionado front.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN CHICAGO IN OLD TOWN