Even on its infamous windy winter days, Chicago has a lot to offer travelers. World-class museums, great parks, top-notch dining and shopping, and cutting-edge architecture make Chicago one of the most fascinating cities in the midwest. Conventions are perennial in the Windy City, so upscale dining and accommodation options abound -- but cheaper alternatives (though don't expect bargains) can also be found.
After the 1871 Great Fire, whole neighborhoods had to be literally raised from the ashes, and most of those original late-19th century buildings still remain. Nowadays, these old constructions sit side by side with modern shimmering towers, high-end boutiques and acclaimed restaurants. Beautiful architecture -- new and old -- is present in many areas, like the Gold Coast, Old Town and the South Loop, but its historic feeling has a surprisingly natural way of blending in to diverse, vibrant neighborhoods like Pilsen and Boystown.
The Windy City has some 700 hotels with more than 100,000 rooms available, but it is mandatory to book well in advance because of the ever-present conventions. Chicago is not known for its cheap rooms, but you are likely to have plenty of attractions and great dining options nearby no matter where you stay.
The Loop, Chicago's commercial center, is one of the most popular places to stay: Many tourist attractions are within walking distance, and it's well connected to the rest of the city by public transportation. But don’t expect to find cheap lodging here.
To the north of The Loop, on the other side of the Chicago River, is an iconic stretch of North Michigan Avenue known as the Magnificent Mile, home to many of the city's most upscale hotels and shops. The hotels in River North, to the east of the Magnificent Mile (and still within walking distance), tend to be slightly more affordable.
Hotels are scarcer farther to the north, in Lincoln Park or Lakeview, or on the South Side. But you'll likely pay a lot less than if you stayed closer to the tourist sites.
|Airports:||O'Hare International Airport|
|Peak:||April - June|
|Off-Peak:||Jan. - March|
|Visa:||No, for nationalities included in the Visa Waiver Program|
|Electricity:||120 V, 60 Hz|
|Tipping:||15-20% in restaurants and cabs|