Chicago is the archetypal American city. Downtown is where most of the action is to be found. Home of blues and jazz and the first skyscraper, Chicago is a pioneer of a city, with a skyline that is quite breath-taking.
From the top of the iconic Sears Tower, sprawling Chicago stretches for miles in every direction; from Chinatown in the south and Lincoln Park and the up-scale neighbourhoods north to hipster bars and Wicker Park in the west and the Polish and Irish Villages that stretch even further beyond the city limits.
Multi-ethnic and multi-cultural, Chicago’s incredible Polish, Spanish, Indian, Greek, Irish, German, Thai, Persian and Italian enclaves dotted throughout the city mean locals and visitors alike can sample traditional food and culture from all over the world without ever having to go further than a few blocks! Chicago is also fantastic city for the arts and one of the most prolific film-making cities in the States.
Museum Campus on the shores of Lake Michigan is a beautiful spot. Take kids to the Adler Planetarium with its fun, interactive exhibits; the Field Museum of Natural History for T-Rex Skeletons and Egyptian jewels; Lincoln Park Zoo, a great free attraction or to explore submarines in the Museum of Science and History. Toothy sharks and graceful dolphins are the highlight of the Shedd Aquarium, while the superb Art Institute of Chicago is home to Miro’s, Picasso’s and other spectacular works by international artists of the modern and impressionist genre.
Chicago’s architecture is equally astonishing, with over 100 early creations by Frank Lloyd Wright and the designs of Louis Sullivan that inspired him, found in The Loop area of Downtown Chicago. Grant Park offers the best views of the city’s famous skyline while the high fashion boutiques and giant malls along Magnificent Mile will satisfy all shopping cravings. For greenery and calm, take a stroll along the tree-lined boulevards of the Gold Coast or walk along the shores of Lake Michigan to get away from it all. Pick up the pace with a game of volleyball on beautiful North Avenue Beach.
Be sure to walk under the weird and wonderful ‘Cloud Gate’ in the plaza of Millennium Park in the Loop, a strange and giant sculptural piece by Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor. Cheer on a baseball game from the bleachers of Wringley Field before hitting Chicago’s incredible restaurants for out of this world cuisine. Follow this with a night out in one of Chicago’s fabulous theatres, opera houses, comedy clubs or open air hot-spots, to hear the latest bands.
The following information is correct as of August 2014 and is subject to change. Please check with the airline directly for complete accuracy.
O’Hare International Airport is Chicago’s closest and best served airport. Just 19 miles to downtown Chicago, there is plenty of public transport on offer taking between 30 to 90 minutes to travel to the city centre. The Blue Line train service takes a reliable 40 minutes to travel the route.
Another usable airport is Midway which is 11 miles away from downtown Chicago and is primarily for domestic airlines, but useful to know if you plan of taking some internal flights.
What you need to know
Currency: The US Dollar (USD) $
Visas: British passport holders do not require a visa to enter Chicago and are able to travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program. Citizens of some European counties may not be eligible and should check for more information with a local embassy or the Foreign Office website.
Laws: Chicago has a smoking ban that applies to all indoor public spaces including bars, clubs, restaurants and offices. The legal age for purchasing or consuming alcohol is 21.
Best Time to Visit
The weather in Chicago can be unpredictable in early spring, ranging from rainy and damp to sunny and warm. The summer months are generally hot and humid with temperatures getting up to the 30s. The winter months, November through to March are often bitterly cold but a lovely time to visit nevertheless. It is certainly cheaper and quieter at this time of year. The festive season sees the city sparkle with lights and Christmas markets like the the Christkindlmarket on Washington Street. Chicago hosts some incredible music events too like the Chicago Blues Festival in June, the Country Music Festival in July, the Latin Music Festival in August and the Jazz Festival in September. Sports fans can catch the Chicago White Sox playing in the summer or the Blackhawks and Bulls playing in the famous United Centre at the start of each NBA season. Foodies are not forgotten with the Taste of Chicago Festival in July.
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Airports near Chicago
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