Five tips to doing Chicago like a travel pro

If looking for a fun and interesting winter break, head to Chicago.

Chicago is about enjoying Lake Michigan and snapping its skyline from the water

Chicago is about enjoying Lake Michigan and snapping its skyline from the water

The city is about all shopping the Magnificent Mile of North Michigan Avenue and seeing public sculptures around almost every downtown corner.

It is music in the clubs, musicals in its Broadway in Chicago theaters and music at Chicago Symphony Center.

It is about exploring centuries of fine art at the Art Institute of Chicago and centuries of natural history at the Field Museum.

It is about enjoying the seascape of Lake Michigan and creatures of the sea at the Shedd Aquarium.

Penguins, dolphins and jelly fish make the Shedd Aquarium a top Chicago attraction

Penguins, dolphins and jelly fish make the Shedd Aquarium a top Chicago attraction

However, Chicago is best enjoyed when you know how to get around the town.

Here are five tips to doing Chicago like a travel pro:

  • If flying in to O’Hare International Airport, you can take the subway system downtown. The Chicago Transit Authority, popularly called the CTA, has a station downstairs of O’Hare’s baggage claim area. Its Blue Line will take you from O’Hare to Randolph Street near theaters and hotels. Visit CTA and go to Trip Planner. The Trip Planner extimates travel time at about 45 minutes but driving the Kennedy Highway from the airport can take an hour when backed up and then driving into the downtown area from the highway can take a good 15 minutes more.

    Chicago is also known for its architecture. The Marina Towers on the left and Trump Tower, far right, are on the north side of the Chicago River just west of Michigan Avenue

    Chicago is also known for its architecture. The Marina Towers on the left and Trump Tower, far right, are on the north side of the Chicago River just west of Michigan Avenue

  • If taking an Amtrak train to Chicago’s Union Station, you have a choice of buses to take from Union Station’s cross streets to the city’s main shopping areas and attractions. Go to CTA Trip Planner for options.
  • Chicago is as much a destination for suburbanites and residents of nearby towns as it is for visitors. But public transportation is still a good choice to avoid traffic congestion and highly taxed parking garages. Visit Metra for stations and times and visit the CTA Trip Planner for bus options from the Ogilvie Transportation Center or Union Station.

    The Picasso sculpture at Daley Plaza is a Chicago landmark but the city also has sculptures by well-known artists throughout the downtown including Joan Miro's Chicago across from the plaza and Claes Oldenburg's Batcolumn just west of the Metra station

    The Picasso sculpture at Daley Plaza is a Chicago landmark but the city also has sculptures by well-known artists throughout the downtown including Joan Miro's Chicago across from the plaza and Claes Oldenburg's Batcolumn just west of the Metra station

  • Chicago is a CityPASS town. The pass saves big bucks and time when trying to fit in more than one attraction.  It allows entry to the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, Adler Planetarium or Art Institute, the SkyDeck at Willis Tower (formerly Sears) and the Museum of Science and Industry or the John Hancock Observatory. The pass typically means not having to stand in line to for tickets.
  • World class museums are certainly a draw but there also are events, neighborhoods, public sculpture, parks and many more sights and activities so check out the city’s official visitor site: Explore Chicago to see what is happening when you plan to come to town.  The site also lists hotel packages. Now wishing you world class fun.

All photos by and copyrighted to Jodie Jacobs

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