Chicago was the first big city I had ever visited growing up as a kid. Even today I still make trips back . Although, this trip was for a conference – the American Anthropological Association Conference 2013. I was so happy to be a part of this grand consortium of anthropologists, and I really benefited from the experience. While I was there, I remembered some great travel tips to share with you!
– Avoid driving into the city. There is plenty of public transportation going into the city, which will cut costs on parking (which is expensive!) and save time in traffic. Since I come from Michigan, I take the SouthShore train in, which is a great option for anyone coming from the east of Chicago. You can leave your car at the station for free, and avoid crazy Chicago drivers and parking prices!
– Get the correct metro card. When in Chicago you will more than likely be using public transportation. They call the metro the “L” and the transportation system is called CTA. Make sure you get the correct card, otherwise it can be a rip off! You can buy a day pass for $10, which is useful if moving around the city a lot. Otherwise, you can buy the CTA cards for $2.25 each ride. BEWARE not to buy the “ventra” ticket, which is $3.00 each ride. Also, note that the machines in Chicago DO NOT GIVE YOU CHANGE! The left over balance is kept on your card, but sometimes this isn’t favorable – especially if you only have a five or ten. So, try to bring ones and maybe even some change to the CTA stations. The CTA cards are good for the “L” and the buses.
– Go to the end of the platform. This is pretty basic knowledge to anyone that has spent anytime in a city. ESPECIALLY DURING RUSH HOURS walk to the end of the platform, otherwise there A. may not be enough room on the train for you, and you will be waiting for the next one or B. your ride will be very uncomfortable compared to the more spacious trains on the ends.
– Get out and enjoy the sights. When I do take trips to Chicago, I tend to go with people who have never been before. I love to take them to “the bean,” millennium park, and the magnificent mile. Of course there are other great places to visit – in the summer, I love the waterfront!
– Get some good eats! This past visit, I went to some great restaurants including the original Chicago-style Gino’s East Pizza and the Italian Village. Both had great food with fun (but very different) atmospheres. Chicago offers an amazing variety of really great foods. Another favorite restaurant is Dick’s Last Resort, for their “fun” service.
– Stay in a Hostel. I would probably advise this anywhere you go. It is better to meet people and cheaper! This past time, I stayed in Urban Holiday Lofts, which I will later have a review on. Overall, it was a good choice though!
EXPORE. Chicago is a big city and has a lot to offer. Every time I go, I find something new that fascinates me. I challenge you to do the same!!