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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My girlfriend and I are going to drive to Chicago from New York City. According to mapquest that's:
Total Estimated Time: 13.0 hours 16 minutes
Total Estimated Distance: 798.39 miles



I don't need suggestions as to which road to take or use an airplane instead of a car, because I'll used my trusted gps nevigation and airplane is not an option.

Advices, suggestions, help:


1. Can someone take any Chicago map, like print screen one fro googlemaps and circle (doesn't have to be precise) the areas that are interesting (skyscrapers!)? That would be greatly appreciated.

2. Getting around the city. What would you suggest as the best way to get around the city? I prefer walking in New York, Philadelphia, Washington and Boston. Have heard that crime might be a problem in Chicago, but I've also walked through Newark, NJ after nighttime so I assume it shouldn't be anything to worry about. Is it like Manhattan where you go through the city and find interesting architecture/skyscrapers everywhere along the way or should I take the subway? How much is the subway? I prefer not to use the car in the city because it's expensive gas-wise but also because it's very difficult and annoying to find parking, how is Chicago in terms of finding parking?

3. Observation decks. What what I gather there's only two, like in New York, is that so?

4. Must-see locations. I'm planning to see everything, but in case I run out of time. What are the several buildings/places that are must see?

I'll think of more questions along the way, thanks in advance :cheers:
 

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CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) has day passes for $5.00 a day, as well as other prices for different amounts of time, single rides are $2.00. Keep in mind the day passes can not actually be bought at stations, look for them at currency exchanges, supermarkets, etc. Most of the rail portion of the CTA is not actually a subway but a combination of elevated trackage and at grade trackage located in expressway medians. The elevated portion is a great way to see the city, although it can be annoyingly slow at times.

As far as observation towers go the only two I can think of are the Sears Tower and the Hancock building. There could be others I'm not aware of.

Chicago certainly has its share of crime but it takes place in certain areas which you probably wouldn't be visiting anyways. The central area is relatively safe.

If you want to see which areas are interesting I'd visit my local books store/library and start looking at the travel guides. These will inevitably have the attractions highlighted.

As for what to see, it depends what your interested in. Planning to see everything sounds quite ambitious, although you didn't state how much time you have. A few things to see off the top of my head:

Wrigley Building and Tribune Building, across the street from each other.
Millenium Park
Oak Park, IL has probably the largest concentration of Frank Lloyd Wright Buildings in the country. Its easily acessible via transit and is loacted directly west of the city.
Lake front park system, this goes on forever, I'd personally suggest renting a bicycle, you'll get some great views of the skyline along the way. If your tired by the time you get to the end keep in mind that you can always place your bike on any bus as long as there is room. There should be plenty of express busses at that point to get you back downtown.
 

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Be sure to post pictures and thoughts about Chicago when you get back! :-]

http://www.transitchicago.com/maps/toptrips.html

One thing to remember is that Chicago is a relatively huge city. I found that in Boston I saw almost everything in the downtown and surrounding areas in nearly one day, and impossible task in Chicago. But it sounds like you are interested in skyscrapers and such (duh) so I would recommend some of the walking tours...check out this site.

You won't need a car. While the city as a whole is not as transit accessible as NYC, the downtown area and surrounding areas are very walkable and transit friendly. Aside from the walking tours, I would suggest Grant Park (walking the whole park can take up to 2-3 hours), the Lakefront (good idea with the bicycle jsk), Musuem Campus, Mag Mile and Hancock (better views in my opinion than Sears, cheaper too I think).

If you are interseted in historical things, check out this site. Don't worry about crime, Chicago has a bad reputation but much of the crime happens in isolated pockets in poorer neighborhoods...the Loop and surrounding areas are relatively safe. If you are feeling adventerous I would suggest a ride on the Brown Line up north, it has some of the best views of the city in my opinion! On the Brown Line you can check out hip neighborhoods like Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lakeview, etc. Take it all the way to the end of the line and see something found nowhere else in the US: at-grade heavy rail (for those railfan geeks out there).
 

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My girlfriend and I are going to drive to Chicago from New York City. According to mapquest that's:
Total Estimated Time: 13.0 hours 16 minutes
Total Estimated Distance: 798.39 miles



I don't need suggestions as to which road to take or use an airplane instead of a car, because I'll used my trusted gps nevigation and airplane is not an option.

Advices, suggestions, help:


1. Can someone take any Chicago map, like print screen one fro googlemaps and circle (doesn't have to be precise) the areas that are interesting (skyscrapers!)? That would be greatly appreciated.
May I suggest the following maps and the points of interest:

http://www.chicagotraveler.com/attraction-maps.htm

The nice thing about Chicago downtown and the loop is that you have the history of skyscrapers all in a relatively compact area -- walking around this area is not a problem.

The Northside is also quite lovely, and the area by the lake where Lincoln Park is located is quite accessible. You can walk the lakefront from Downtown up to the Northside fairly far up.

I would also suggest the CTA maps for subway and bus information:

http://www.yourcta.com/maps/systemmaps.html

Cabs are plentiful in Downtown and the Northside.


2. Getting around the city. What would you suggest as the best way to get around the city? I prefer walking in New York, Philadelphia, Washington and Boston. Have heard that crime might be a problem in Chicago, but I've also walked through Newark, NJ after nighttime so I assume it shouldn't be anything to worry about. Is it like Manhattan where you go through the city and find interesting architecture/skyscrapers everywhere along the way or should I take the subway? How much is the subway? I prefer not to use the car in the city because it's expensive gas-wise but also because it's very difficult and annoying to find parking, how is Chicago in terms of finding parking?
In Downtown and the Loop, you can certainly walk. As I said, most of the interesting skyscrapers are conveniently located in this area. You can also walk the area by the lake on the Northside. To get to the Northside from the Loop, you can take the subway/Elevated or the bus or even walk it -- walking in the area by the lake and Lincoln Park will make it easy for you to orient yourself.


3. Observation decks. What what I gather there's only two, like in New York, is that so?
I prefer the Hancock Observatory over the Sears Observatory, even though the former is not as high up as the latter. I prefer just after sunset or evening to daytime.

4. Must-see locations. I'm planning to see everything, but in case I run out of time. What are the several buildings/places that are must see?

I'll think of more questions along the way, thanks in advance :cheers:
You can look at the first link I provided. Let us know if you have a specific interest(s) in mind.
 

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Be sure to post pictures and thoughts about Chicago when you get back! :-]

http://www.transitchicago.com/maps/toptrips.html

One thing to remember is that Chicago is a relatively huge city. I found that in Boston I saw almost everything in the downtown and surrounding areas in nearly one day, and impossible task in Chicago. But it sounds like you are interested in skyscrapers and such (duh) so I would recommend some of the walking tours...check out this site.

You won't need a car. While the city as a whole is not as transit accessible as NYC, the downtown area and surrounding areas are very walkable and transit friendly. Aside from the walking tours, I would suggest Grant Park (walking the whole park can take up to 2-3 hours), the Lakefront (good idea with the bicycle jsk), Musuem Campus, Mag Mile and Hancock (better views in my opinion than Sears, cheaper too I think).

If you are interseted in historical things, check out this site. Don't worry about crime, Chicago has a bad reputation but much of the crime happens in isolated pockets in poorer neighborhoods...the Loop and surrounding areas are relatively safe. If you are feeling adventerous I would suggest a ride on the Brown Line up north, it has some of the best views of the city in my opinion! On the Brown Line you can check out hip neighborhoods like Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lakeview, etc. Take it all the way to the end of the line and see something found nowhere else in the US: at-grade heavy rail (for those railfan geeks out there).
By the way, I just learned that you can get "CTA" information on how to get around by going to "Google Maps". the city just partnered up with google to give you information on how to get around by train, or bus.:banana:
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks everyone, jsk1983, tpe, Chicagophotoshop, -Akira-, for the information and the tips. I like to plan my trips so that I get to see everything that I'm interested in and will definitely post hundreds of pictures when I get back.

After some research this is the area I came up with which I'm planning to cover. I decided to walk, almost exclusively. Some rough estimations led me to come up with 3 to 4 days of walking that will cover it:


Thanks for all the websites. I'm going to create a list of the particularly interesting skyscrapers with the help of wikipedia and other resources so that I won't miss them if I won't have enough time to cover everything.

This is a particularly awesome and informative site Akira, thanks a lot http://www.cityofchicago.org/Landmarks/Maps/Maps.html
This one, http://www.chicagotraveler.com/maps/chicago-attractions-map.htm, tpe, is just as helpful, thanks a bunch. I'm going to use these two mainly for further planning.

I'm definitely going to visit both observation decks.

:cheers:
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I see that there is such a thing as water taxi, that goes through the city center. It's just 2 dollars per ride?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Looks interesting with nice views along the way.

Right now I'm considering saving some $$ by getting a hotel outside the city with a close connection to regional rail system. Any comments on the rail system, is it efficient, 24 hour system, clean? I found some maps and it's fairly extensive.

Is the system fully integrated with the city subway, as in, is it the same thing with the same tickets and fares?
 

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Looks interesting with nice views along the way.

Right now I'm considering saving some $$ by getting a hotel outside the city with a close connection to regional rail system. Any comments on the rail system, is it efficient, 24 hour system, clean? I found some maps and it's fairly extensive.

Is the system fully integrated with the city subway, as in, is it the same thing with the same tickets and fares?
No. Metra (our regional rail) does not allow transfers to CTA, is a bit more expensive, and usually runs only about once an hour (outside of rush hours) until midnight. You may also want to look into hotels near O'Hare or Midway, where you can enter the city via the CTA's Blue or Orange lines. The blue line is 24 hours, the Orange ends in the early morning hours.
 

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The suburban train lines (Metra):

http://metrarail.com/

The site contains all schedule and fare information.

Finding a hotel close to either airports is a good option, given easy access to the City via the Blue and Orange CTA lines.
 

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The red line is also 24 hours and you could sleep in /check out uptown.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks a lot, folks. I found a cheap hotel that is very close to the orange line that goes right to Millennium station. Appears to be very convenient. I still have a lot of extra time though.

Do you know if tickets for the metra rail are bought on the spot, at the station? Most likely yes, but it's better to ask :)

This is my preliminary plan for my first day. According to my rough calculations I can do it in one day, including stopping to eat, taking pictures etc.



Are all bridges open to pedestrians?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Interesting observation I've just made, midtown Manhattan where the skyscrapers are (the main CBD) is almost identical in size to this Chicago area (I think you call it The Loop? Or downtown? )
 

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If you have extra time, you may want to consider visiting a few suburbs, particularly Oak Park and Evanston. They both have nice walkable downtowns and other attractions.

You can buy Metra tickets at the main downtown stations, select stations outside of downtown, or one-way tickets onboard the train but they may cost a little bit more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
If you have extra time, you may want to consider visiting a few suburbs, particularly Oak Park and Evanston. They both have nice walkable downtowns and other attractions.

You can buy Metra tickets at the main downtown stations, select stations outside of downtown, or one-way tickets onboard the train but they may cost a little bit more.
I'm not going to visit the suburbs. I want to, of course, but it's just too much time. Besides, Chicago is such a worldclass city that I would rather spend a few extra hours there. I'm sure I won't get sick of it in a couple of days time :)
 

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Do you know if tickets for the metra rail are bought on the spot, at the station? Most likely yes, but it's better to ask :)
Yes, they can be bought at the stations. You can in fact buy the ticket inside the train when the conductor comes, but they charge a few dollars extra for this convenience.

Are all bridges open to pedestrians?
Yes.
 

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Hey no problem for that link. Looks like you really have it all planned out, that's great! As much as the Loop and Mag Mile (pretty much what you've outlined) are great for tourists, I highly recommend venturing out into the neighborhoods: Wicker Park and Lakeview are two of my favorites and can be reached very easily by the 'L'
 
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