Chicago is the third largest city in the United States and is located on the southwestern shores of Lake Michigan. Best known as the “Windy City” because the politicians blow hot air, Chicago is one of my favorite cities. Its biggest draw today is its green space and architectural beauty, the most famous being Grant and Millennium park, home to the famous Chicago Bean. More than that, you’ll find world class food, fun nightlife, lots of activities, and just a cool atmosphere. Visit in the summer time when life on the lake comes alive. There’s not one person I know who doesn’t say “You can’ get better than Chicago in the summer.”
- Hostel Prices: Hostel in Chicago cost between $25-$30 per night for a dorm room. A private room is around $80 USD.
- Budget hotel prices: Budget hotels in Chicago start at around $50 USD per night and move up towards $100 (or more) when you get close to the city center.
- Average Cost of Food: You can eat in numerous restaurants around the city for less than $20 USD. Chicago is home to many farmers markets for some fresh fruit and veggies, but it tends to be a bit higher than the supermarkets. You can cook your own food for a week for $30-$60 a week. For cheap eats, like burgers, hot dogs, and pizza, expect to pay around $6 for your meal.
- Transportation Costs: On the metro, a single ride is $2.25 per ride. A transit card can be loaded with any amount from $2.00 up to $100. Transit cards are required to ride CTA trains, and are available from vending machines located at all train stations. There are also visitor passes that will allow you to have unlimited rides for a specific amount of days. 1-day: $5.75, 3-day: $14, 7-day: $23.
Top Things to Do
- Visit Navy Pier - My favorite adventure in Chicago was to Navy Pier. Navy Pier is sort of like a carnival in a city. It contains some rides, a Ferris wheel, lots of restaurants, a Shakespeare theater, boat tours, an oddly large number of beer gardens, and even miniature golf.
- Oriental Institute Museum – Despite its name, the collection has nothing to do with the Orient, but instead is a huge archeological collection of objects from ancient Egypt. Still informative though.
- Chicago Cultural Center - Former site of the Chicago Public Libary, this lovely building is known for its exquisite Tiffany mosaics, especially in its performance venue, Preston Bradley Hall. It has changing art exhibits.
- See Robie House - This Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece, completed in 1909, is a premier example of his Prairie School design. Wright helped make famous Chicago architecture and this house is one of his most famous.
- Visit Art Institute of Chicago – Visit the famous Art Institute of Chicago for no admission charge on Thursday evenings. From photography to architecture to textiles, this museum houses a permanent collection that includes works by Eva Hesse, David Hockney, and Ellsworth Kelly.
- Grant and Millennium Park - Located right downtown, these gigantic parks provide a great place to hang out, have a picnic, or go for a run. You can also find people playing chess out here and during the summer they have a lot of free concerts. This is also where you will find the famous “Chicago Bean” sculpture.
- City History Museum - This museums provides a good overview of the history of the city, especially of the Great Chicago Fire that burned down most of the city.
- See the Cubs - Locals are fanatical about their baseball team. Get in the spirit and head out to a game. It gets really intense when the Cubs play Chicago’s other team the White Soxs.
- Purchase the City Pass - See major attractions in Chicago at about half the price with a City Pass which includes Traveler’s picks for bars, restaurants, shopping, and neighborhoods.
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