Illinois, United States
Lakefront breezes made Chicago's reputation as the Windy City. But now Chicago is having a moment with celebrated West Loop restaurants and authentic Bridgeport ethnic eateries, Bucktown blues bars and Millennium Park concerts, downtown's awe-inspiring Art Institute and Wrigleyville's gut-busting Improv Olympics. White Sox, Cubs, Bulls, and Bears games are not far from President Obama's Hyde Park home.
Getting Around Chicago
The best way to get around Chicago is on the elevated "L" train. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Orange Line "L" runs from Midway to downtown Chicago from 4:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. every day. Fare starts at $2.25. The Blue Line "L" runs from O'Hare to downtown Chicago 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Most CTA "L" lines run from 4 a.m. until 1 a.m. every day.
Nearby Airports
  • Midway International Airport-MDW
  • O'Hare International Airport-ORD
Airport Taxis
  • $30 (from Midway) $40 (from O'Hare)
Things to Do and See in Chicago
  • Navy Pier
  • Willis Tower
  • Art Institute of Chicago
  • Field Museum of Natural History
  • Wrigley Field
  • Chicago Theater
  • Lincoln Park
  • Michigan Avenue
  • Millennium Park
  • Cloud Gate
  • Museum of Science and Industry
  • Holy Name Cathedral
  • Steppenwolf Theatre Company
  • John Hancock Center
  • United Center
  • Magnificent Mile
  • Joffrey Ballet
  • Shedd Aquarium
  • Millennium Park
  • Northwestern University
ChinatownBridgeportLoopBoystownBucktownLincoln ParkHyde ParkWest LoopMuseum CampusRoscoe VillageGold CoastRiver WestWrigleyvilleOld Town
For an immersion experience in Chinese culture, just take the Red line train to Cermak stop and dive into Chinatown. Enter through Chinatown gate, pay respects to the ancestors at Buddhist Enlightenment Temple, dine on dim sum at Phoenix Restaurant, and use an abacus to count the tiled dragons on the falsely modest Nine Dragon Wall (hint: there are more than 500). For a taste of Italy in the heart of Chinatown, try the pies at Connie's Pizza or enjoy pasta and jukebox opera at Bertucci's Corner. Nearby, catch White Sox baseball games at U.S. Cellular Field.
Bridgeport is a haven for foodies interested in tasting the many cultures that call Chicago home. Thanks to the neighborhood's immigrant population and blue-collar roots, Bridgeport offers something for everyone at every budget: Gio's Cafe for Italian deli sandwiches, Carbon for serious Mexican tacos, and Ed's Pot Sticker House for Chinese dumplings. Swing by Schaller's Pump, the oldest pub in Chicago (opened in 1881), and find non-touristy souvenirs at Let's Boogie Records and Tapes.
West Loop is a neighborhood exploding with new construction. With shiny new condominium buildings, independent boutiques, and galleries galore, West Loop is the go-to place for professionals looking for downtown living at a more reasonable cost. Visitors come for food at celebrated restaurants Girl & the Goat, The Publican, and Wishbone. Opening nights at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on 20 N. Wacker are also lively scenes.
Boystown is really a pocket of Lakeview, but it's better known as Chicago's premier LGBT community. Marked by pride flags and rainbow pylons lining Broadway, Boystown is the hotspot for LGBT businesses and clubs like Spin and Hydrate. The annual Chicago Pride Parade brings thousands of onlookers and participants to the neighborhood every July. Boystown also has plenty to offer the non-LGBT crowd, including independent bookstores, upscale bars, and clothing retailers. It's home to comedy clubs including Chicago's Laugh Factory Chicago, which draws national talents. Chicago once housed America's biggest meatpacking district, but now local crowds pack into Boystown's Chicago Diner, a vegan eatery that makes everything on the menu from scratch (expect at least an hour wait at night).
What was once an off-the-beaten-path blue-collar neighborhood has become a hub for Chicago's art scene. Bucktown is packed with cool bars, vegan-friendly eateries, attractive hipsters, and live music, not to mention notable galleries and hybrid art studio/living spaces. The neighborhood boasts a thriving nightlife fueled by micro-brewed beer, cheap drink specials, and plenty of late-night grub. Bucktown is easily accessible from downtown, and the Damen Blue line stop is the center of the neighborhood action. Stop by Piece for some gourmet pizza, or hop into Subterranean to get a taste of Chicago's famous indie music scene. Fair warning: parking is near-impossible on weekend nights, so take the train.
Lincoln Park is a neighborhood with two personalities: devoted parent and party animal. During the day, families and residents visit attractions like the Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago History Museum, and the neighborhood's many upscale retailers and restaurants. At night, Lincoln Park becomes a playground for 20-somethings packed into bars that stretch along Lincoln Avenue. Must-see attractions include the Biograph Theater (where famous bank robber John Dillinger was gunned down), the Lincoln Park Conservatory, and the immense lakefront park for which the neighborhood is named.
Hyde Park is one of the hidden jewels of Chicago, featuring Barack Obama's Kenwood home, the Court Theatre, and the DuSable Museum of African American History. The University of Chicago's youthful, diverse student population has helped turn Hyde Park into a center for entertainment, food, and special events. Enjoy brunch at Valois Restaurant or Asian fusion fare at Chant, both favorites of the U of C scene. Hyde Park is serviced by the Red Line, so visitors staying downtown can easily access this southern suburb.
West Loop is a neighborhood exploding with new construction. With shiny new condominium buildings, independent boutiques and galleries galore, West Loop is the go-to place for professionals looking for downtown living at a more reasonable cost. Visitors come for the food at celebrated restaurants Girl & the Goat, The Publican and Wishbone, and opening nights at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on 20 N. Wacker.
Museum Campus isn't a residential neighborhood, but rather a collection of some of Chicago's most respected and popular institutions. Scattered around the southern end of Grant Park, Museum Campus boasts the Field Museum of Natural History, the Adler Planetarium, and the Shedd Aquarium. All are within walking distance of one another, as well as Chicago Bears home stadium, Soldier Field. This area is best accessed by walking from downtown or via free shuttles and public buses that service its attractions.
Roscoe Village is a neighborhood on the rise with young families that maintains its mellow, community-minded character. Sunday brunches are worth the wait at Victory's Banner and Orange on Roscoe, and Northdown Cafe and Taproom offers a veggie-friendly menu with a variety of draft beers. For nightly comedy, music, and variety shows from local and touring acts, head to Beat Kitchen. Roscoe Village is accessible by bus, and has relatively easy parking.
Gold Coast is the home of Chicago's new rich and old money alike, with sumptuous mansions and history on every block. Oak Street provides some of the most high-end shopping in the city, and restaurants like Le Colonial (French/Vietnamese) and Spiagga (Italian) serve upscale meals for big date nights. Like a socialite gone astray, the neighborhood intersection of Rush and Division becomes the pulsing center of Chicago's club scene by night.
River West may be a bit off the beaten path, but it's worth the trip for local flair, delicious grub, and some of Chicago's finest pubs, including Emmit's Irish Pub, Delux Bar & Grill, and Aberdeen Tap. The neighborhood is right off the Blue line, making it a quick 10-minute trip from downtown. Commuters who came for a drink have ended up staying in River West, and the local population explosion has brought interesting cafes and independent boutiques into the area.
For baseball lovers, no place beats Wrigleyville. Home to the Cubs at Wrigley Field, Wrigleyville has long been a mecca of bars (check out The CubbyBear), restaurants and sports-themed revelry. Just down the block from the stadium, laugh until it hurts at world-famous Improv Olympic comedy theater, and discover your new favorite band at tiny, terminally hip Metro. During Cubs season, take the Red line train to avoid the trials of parking in this area.
Home to Chicago's comedy jewel, the Second City theater, Old Town keeps the culture coming to Chicago's north side. Visitors will find top-notch dining at Twin Anchors and Perennial Virant, and brew enthusiasts will get a liquid education at Old Town Ale House. After weekend Second City showsâ headliners like Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz and Sarah Silverman have been known to stop in for a drink at Corcoran's. The Old Town shopping district is also known for its collection of independent, upscale boutiques, where local shop owners offer the very coolest in Chicago-made goods.
Our friends at pick the city's best restaurants each quarter, and we trust their opinion. See full list »
Little Market Brasserie
After an extensive soft opening period, Mercadito's Little Market Brasserie fully opened recently and continues to pack them in. The classy-yet-affordable French-inspired concept is dishing out everything from sandwiches to pastas to steaks to charged cocktails.
Bavette's Bar and Boeuf
Brendan Sodikoff's new European-style steakhouse is sexy and swanky and did we mention sexy? With red leather booths, prime steaks, a raw bar, a dark and intimate lower-level lounge and great bourbon list, this is the perfect spot to warm up as the weather cools down.
Frontera Grill & Topolobampo
Rick Bayless' mexican haven is a Chicago institution spawning spinoffs around the globe of south of the border fare from street food to high end.
GT Fish and Oyster
If it were just fish and chips and chowdah, we'd still be won over. But everything—the hamachi crudo, lobster roll, the ponzu mignonette for the oysters, plump mussels in a steaming red sauce, brandade croquettes—is so incredibly fresh, you'd think you're on one of the coasts.