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Chicago Travel Guide

Chicago Travel Guide

With impressive architecture, a wealth of public art installations, and an effortlessly cool culture, Chicago's endless popularity hasn't prevented the city from being 'discovered' again and again:

Chicago is a legendary metropolis that is almost as popular a tourist destination as New York, and it seems to get better every year. Once the city of gangsters, Chicago is now a well-oiled machine of a metropolis, trendy, powerful and proud. During a holiday in Chicago there need never be a dull moment, the number of world-class events and attractions being as large and diverse as the city itself. Chicago is celebrated for its galleries, theatres and restaurants, and attracts shopaholics with its exciting shopping scene.

Anyone and everyone will enjoy a holiday in Chicago, which is a marvellous modern city in a delightful setting, offering amusements, entertainment and interesting sights to suit all tastes.

Best time to visit Chicago

If there is anything that might put off visitors who travel to Chicago it could be the weather, which is miserable for most of the year. Summers, between June and August, are overly hot and humid, and winters, between December and February, unbearably cold, windy and snow-covered. The best time to holiday in Chicago is during early autumn, when the air is frosty but it sparkles under blue skies and sunshine. Read more on Chicago's Climate and Weather.

What to see in Chicago

-Admire the views from the Hancock Observatory or the Willis Tower.

-Enjoy the many attractions of Navy Pier, a good starting point for a boat tour.

-Find out what's going on in Millennium Park, the heart of Chicago.

-Marvel at the heavens in the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum.

What to do in Chicago

-Spend a sunny day on one of Chicago's Lake Michigan beaches.

-Walk the Chicago Loop, a downtown stretch packed with public art and interesting architecture.

-Shop and eat along the aptly named Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue.

-Treat the kids to a day of thrills and squeals at Six Flags Great America.

Beyond Chicago

The city of Rockford is very close to Chicago, boasting a barrage of cultural attractions. Those keen to track the historic Route 66 begin their pilgrimage in Chicago.

Getting there

Flights to Chicago most commonly land at O'Hare International Airport, located 17 miles (30km) northwest of the city. Chicago Midway International Airport, somewhat closer to the city, also handles some international flights. Get more information on Airports in Chicago.

Did you know?

-Chicago encompasses 552 parks, making it a surprisingly green city.

-The Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) is the second tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.

-Chicago was the birthplace of the Twinkie, the Ferris wheel, and Walt Disney.


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Chicago River © Robert Cameron

Chicago is the major metropolis of America's heartland, with three million people hustling and bustling in the city of skyscrapers that appears to rise straight out of the waters of Lake Michigan, in northern Illinois. Once a gangster's hang-out synonymous with infamous names such as Al Capone and Bonnie and Clyde, the 'windy city' today has a squeaky-clean reputation as an international business and commercial capital boasting an eclectic mix of architecture, world-class theatre, art exhibitions, fantastic music and super-enthusiastic sportsmanship.

Chicago emerged as a rough and tough survivor after being destroyed in the Great Fire of 1871, and a huge influx of immigrants from all over the world in the early 20th century brought with them a determined spirit, infusing the city with ethnic diversity and the unmistakable sound of Chicago-style blues music. Chicagoans have built a city that is to be reckoned with, boasting soaring skyscrapers like the Sears Tower (one of the tallest in the world); thriving ethnic neighbourhoods; a lakefront business district; the re-energised downtown; unbeatable shopping along the famed Michigan Avenue; and top-class sports teams.

One thing that does not attract visitors to Chicago is the weather, which, because of its geographical location is breezy at best, and freezing and gale-ridden at worst. It is possible to ignore the weather though, especially in summer, while getting caught up in the myriad of things to do, see and experience in this Midwestern metropolis.

Become our Chicago Travel Expert

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