Chicago offers plenty of options for any type of traveler. With arts, sports and sight-seeing, the "Windy City" has become a year-round destination for travelers from around the country. The city is also notorious for its numerous food specialties, including Chicago-style pizza and cheesecake.
Must-see in Chicago
Of all the landmarks, the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) is a must for any visitor to the city. Another must-see is the Museum Campus, which includes the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium. Finish off with a walk in Grant Park, with views of Lake Michigan to the east and the downtown skyscrapers to the west.
Where to stay in Chicago
Being one of the largest cities in the USA, Chicago has plenty of lodging options. For families, the best options are in the north side of the city, which is in close proximity to downtown. Similarly, the North Side and downtown is the best locale for those looking for nightlife, as there is a bevy of clubs, bars and other hangouts almost everywhere — particularly in the Wrigleyville neighborhood. For those looking for a more cost-effective alternative, staying in the northern or western suburbs is much less expensive than staying downtown.
Best and worst time go to Chicago
Summer is a great time to visit Chicago, as the temperatures are just right for walking in downtown or along the lakeshore. If the weather cooperates, late spring (mid-April through May) and early fall (September through mid-October) is equally as nice. Conversely, winter (mid-November through mid-February) can be brutal weather-wise, as heavy snow and bitter winds make driving and walking a hassle.
Where to get lost in Chicago
For a combination of unique shops, restaurants and sites, head to Lakeview. While the main attraction in this big neighborhood is Wrigley Field, there are plenty of small shops and restaurants that are worth a visit. Be sure to get a cinnamon roll at one of the three Ann Sather's restaurants.
The best deal in Chicago
There are plenty of good free places to visit in Chicago, like Grant Park and Navy Pier, but the best deal is one of the boat tours on the Chicago River. For just a few dollars, the tour goes the entire length of the river with good views of every major landmark in downtown.
Transportation in Chicago
Traffic is very congested in the city, so plan on using public transportation. Before you head into Chicago be sure to study the CTA bus and train route map, as you can get most anywhere on these routes. For a more direct route, walking is the most cost-effective way to get around.
Getting In from O'Hare or Midway
There are direct train routes from both O'Hare and Midway into downtown, while buses also run from both airports into downtown. Much like in downtown, there are also multiple taxi services that offer reasonable prices from the airports to downtown.
Local tip for visitors to Chicago
Traffic can be a nightmare if you plan on driving into downtown. For the least amount of stress, plan on trying to get into the city around 9:30 or 10 a.m. local time and stay until after 5:30 or 6 p.m. You'll save yourself plenty of time and stress.
Planning a trip to Chicago? Find out how to blend in like a local with our travel tips by clicking here.
Author's bio: Michael Benson is a life-long Illinois resident and an avid traveler throughout the Midwest.