No matter your age or what you like to do, you won’t experience a dull moment in Chicago. The city has world-class museums, inviting parks and colorful neighborhoods inhabited by famously friendly Midwesterners. Add to that the sparkling, expansive Lake Michigan and you have a magical destination.
The best time to visit Chicago
Anyone who’s read anything about Chicago weather knows that the city endures brutal winters. Therefore, the optimal time to book a trip to the Windy City is when the temperatures rise.
Chicagoans can’t wait for summer — you’ll find throngs of people out and about along Lake Michigan’s waterfront, hanging in the parks, shopping at outdoor farmer’s markets and brunching out in the open air.
Summertime is also when you can take advantage of Chicago’s outdoor music scene. Millennium Park hosts regular outdoor concerts led by a variety of artists, and the Pitchfork and Lollapalooza music festivals are hugely popular with both locals and visitors.
What to pack for a trip to Chicago
Planning what to pack for a trip to Chicago depends mostly on when you want to visit. If you’re brave enough to face the chilly winter months in the Windy City, pack a warm coat, gloves and even boots if the forecast predicts snow.
Summertime in Chicago can get pretty hot, so pack lighter layers and sunglasses along with a bathing suit if you wish to take advantage of beautiful Lake Michigan.
Of course, no trip to Chicago would be complete without a camera. Between the views from the John Hancock Observatory to charming neighborhoods such as Lincoln Park and the Gold Coast, the city is full of prime photo ops.
Pubic transportation in Chicago
Chicago has a remarkably efficient public transportation system, dubbed the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority).
For visitors, your best bet is the Unlimited Ride Card. A one-day CTA pass costs just $10 for unlimited rides; three-, seven- and 30-day passes are also available. Especially downtown, your CTA pass is a great hop-on, hop-off option for traveling between destinations that are too far to walk.
The trains run on eight colored lines (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, Brown, Pink) that fan out from the Chicago Loop. The city’s main routes are the Red Line (generally north-south) and the Blue Line (northwest-southeast), and if you ask most Chicagoans, they’ll identify with one or the other, almost like a personality test.