My wonderful boyfriend, Garrett and I recently traveled to Chicago on a whim. I had so many things I wanted to cross off my bucket list in the Windy City. We booked our hotel Thursday night and took off Friday night. I have a few travel tips for anyone wanting to explore this beautiful city.
1. Safety, safety, safety
STAY ON MAIN HIGHWAYS UNTIL YOU REACH YOUR LOCATION.
Prime example: Garrett and I decided to get off the main interstate upon entering Chicago because we needed gas. We had no idea that we had picked a dangerous area to get off at. We pulled up to the gas station and immediately realized it was NOT a place for us to be. We tried to get back on to the main highway, and our GPS took us on a “tour” of this not so good part of town. We were very lucky, and a lot of lessons were learned.
-Side note (Tourists need to stay up north in the downtown areas)
2. Dress WARM
We went in February and we dressed WARM. (Ralphie from Christmas story reference) We walked 11 miles around town, and were fairly content. We ran into another couple from Kansas City. They didn’t think “it would be that cold” and they were miserable. (Gloves, wool socks, head bands, scarfs, winter coat are recommended)
Even in the SPRING, dress warm. A north face will not suffice in the wind.
Hotels offer parking…at a price. (35-50 dollars a night)
Parking is limited and traffic is not fun. 3 hour parking may cost 25 dollars.
Once you park your car, forget it and walk everywhere. Cabs can be very expensive (10-20 dollars per ride)
Using a train can be an option, but confusing to those who have never been to the city. Everyone walks in downtown Chicago. Rain, snow, wind, ice….you will see people walking.
Here are a few things I suggest doing while in Downtown Chicago
1. Purchase the CityPass. (Google City Pass Chicago) This gets you discounted rates for (5 of the TOP attractions) as well as CUTTING THE TICKET BOOTH LINES. This is a huge benefit, we waltzed passed 30 min wait lines in several attractions.
If you are going to the Skydeck Chicago I would recommended going right when they open for a less crowded experience. For another amazing experience go during sunset. The mood is very romantic and unlike anything you’ll see.
2. The Shedd Aquarium
I would only recommend this if you are very interested in aquatic life, or if you have small children. For a 19 year old and a 20 year old we were pretty unimpressed. While other travel reviews highly recommend, I would consider going else where. The “Aquatic show” paled in comparison to other shows we’ve seen.
3. The Field Museum
WOW! you could dedicate HOURS to this place. The learning environment is amazing for all ages. We loved the Mummy exhibit, as well as the largest complete T-rex. This is a MUST- DO.
I believe that going in the summer would be a totally difference experience. We were pretty limited to the activities that we could do because of the extreme cold. The positive of going in the winter was less crowds, and reduced hotel rates.
I would love to go back in the summer to walk on Navy Pier, and going to a baseball game at Wrigley field.
Hopefully this helped if anyone was thinking about visiting the Windy City!
*All pictures are taken by myself