Dreaming of eating some deep dish pizza? This comprehensive travel guide to Chicago will help you figure out what to do, where to eat, the best time to visit, and ways to save!
## **An Intro to Chicago**
Chicago, Illinois, also known as the Windy City, is the third most populated city in the United States, with almost 10 million people living in the metropolitan area. As a cosmopolitan city, Chicago is known worldwide for its world-leading architecture. Chicago is also considered an important business center — predominately in the finance, commerce, technology, telecommunications, and transportation sectors — not only in the United States but also around the world. The primary language spoken in Chicago is English with the official currency being the U.S. dollar.
## **Top Attractions in Chicago**
Chicago has many tourist attractions, many of which you can find above street level. Since the first steel frame skyscraper rose in Chicago in 1885, many other skyscrapers have arisen over the decades. Located at 875 N. Michigan Ave. at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Delaware Place, you will find 360 Chicago, which offers 360-degree views of Chicago’s skyline and Lake Michigan from 1,000 feet.
If 360 Chicago is your sort of attraction, then you will love The Ledge , a glass balcony that extends 4 feet outside the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower, the second tallest building in the United States. The Ledge offers you views over four states on a clear day.
Located in Grant Park, you will find the Art Institute of Chicago . Founded in 1879, it is now one of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States and welcomes around 1.5 million visitors annually. With more than 300,000 works in the museum, make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to visit. If your budget allows, why not hire a tour guide who can give you further information about the pieces within the museum?
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If retail therapy is on the cards then the Magnificent Mile offers huge shopping malls and department stores. You’ll find this attraction in an upscale section of Michigan Avenue. Don’t forget to bring your credit cards.
One of if not the most famous pieces of artwork in Chicago is the Cloud Gate sculpture by Anish Kapoor, affectionately given the nickname “The Bean” because of its shape. Constructed between 2004 and 2006, it is now the centerpiece of the AT&T Plaza at Millennium Park in the Loop area of the city. Visitors can walk around the Cloud Gate and under its 12-foot arch. Due to its unique shape and reflective coating, this sculpture is the ideal place to take photographs. As one of the top tourist attractions in Chicago, the area gets busy. Therefore, early mornings are the best time to visit to get the best photographs.
If you are a sports fan, then Chicago is the place for you. Chicago has professional sports teams in all five major sports league: baseball, football, basketball, hockey, and soccer. Over the years, Chicago has been named the Best Sports City by Sporting News three times. Whatever your sports preference, Chicago has a sport for everyone.
## **Dining Out in Chicago**
The cuisine in Chicago is diverse, with something to suit most people’s palates and budgets. You will find restaurants in the city serving food from around the world. In fact, when it comes to food, there’s little you won’t find in Chicago. Chicago has some classic local specialities that you must experience when you’re in the city. These specialties include Italian beef, Chicago-style hot dogs, and, of course, the world-famous deep-dish Chicago pizza.
From fine dining to cheap eats, Chicago has you covered. If you’re looking for food prepared and cooked by top-class chefs, you’ll find Chicago restaurants such as Alinea in Lincoln Park, Oriole in West Loop, and Schwa in Wicker Park.
If you want a quick dinner or food on the run that doesn’t stretch your wallet, then the following restaurants will satisfy you: 5411 Empanadas , with five restaurants around the city and a food truck; Birrieria Zaragoza, located on Pulaski Road, which only sells one dish, goat in consomme; and Chi Cafe, located on Archer Avenue in the heart of Chinatown Square, which sells a number of classic Chinese dishes.
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## **Nightlife and Entertainment in Chicago**
The legal drinking age in Chicago is 21. Chicago’s nightlife is as diverse as the culinary scene and has something for everyone. It is home to a number of blues bars and jazz clubs, hipster bars, old-time speakeasies, and many comedy nights.
With many live music venues in Chicago, you won’t find only blues and jazz concerts around here. Chicago has a range of different-sized venues which draw in everyone from local bands to headliners and comedians. Visit The Second City in Chicago’s old town, which hosts nightly shows. Many of the country’s most famous and best-loved comedians started off here.
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## **Transportation in Chicago**
Chicago is a major transportation hub, with well-developed air, road, rail, and maritime links to the rest of the United States and the world. The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) manages mass transit in most of the city. Public transportation operates 24 hours a day, including rapid transit services from downtown Chicago to the city’s airports. If you choose to [rent a car in Chicago](https://www.skyscanner.com/car-rental-in/chia/car-rental-in-chicago.html), remember that like many major cities, Chicago has its own share of traffic congestion.
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## **Climate in Chicago**
Chicago has a four-season, humid continental climate. You’ll find cool and often wet springs, hot and humid summers, mild autumns, and cold winters. Therefore, pack your suitcases and plan your activities accordingly depending on when you’re visiting the city.
## **When to Visit Chicago**
The best times to visit Chicago are April and May, and September and October, when the weather is the most favorable and the crowds are more manageable. If you’re planning a summer visit, however, be sure to [book your Chicago hotel in advance](https://www.skyscanner.com/hotels/united-states/chicago-hotels/ci-27544891), as summer is the peak tourist season. If you are looking for a bargain, visiting Chicago during the winter months, between November and March, will save you money, providing you can handle Chicago’s notoriously cold winters.
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## **Flying to Chicago**
Two airports serve Chicago: Chicago Midway International Airport and O’Hare International Airport ranked as the sixth-busiest airport in the world. Both airports offer a number of domestic and international routes. [Cheap direct flights to Chicago](https://www.skyscanner.com/flights-to/chia/cheap-flights-to-chicago.html) from other cities in the United States, the United Kingdom, and a number of other countries makes Chicago easily accessible for travelers.
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