Get Around Chicago Easily With These 6 Tips
Chicago is a very busy city. Getting around can be a little bit complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Most swear by public transport because when it comes down to it, the system is well equipped and can be used to get anywhere, especially to see the big sites. But this doesn’t mean that it is the only way to get around. Let’s take a closer look at what we think are the best ways to sightsee around the US’s third-biggest city.
1. Get Around by Car
People often caution against hiring a car, but if you like doing your own thing and don’t want to have to rely on car services like Uber, renting a car or driving your own to Chicago can both be great options for you. You have unrestrained freedom when it comes to going where you want to go when you want to go there, but parking can be a little bit tricky. Fortunately, there are a variety of parking options available to you. If you want to find out more, follow the link for fairly priced parking options. Keep in mind that the city is busy, so you might have to contend with a fair amount of traffic at peak hours. If you need to get somewhere during peak hour traffic, or you only have a short distance to go, consider walking, or using public transport to get there – both of which will be discussed later. Also, consider using Zipcar as it is incredibly popular in the area. You can rent a Zipcar for about $11 an hour, or $90 a day – including gas, designated parking spaces, and even insurance. Simply sign up, get approved, and start using the service.
2. Use the L train
The L in “L train” is actually short for “elevated”. It is a super-fast, convenient way to see most sights and they come quite frequently. Two of the eight lines actually run 24/7, which is incredibly convenient. These lines are the Red Line and the Blue Line. The other lines run from about 4am to 1am each day and depart every 10-20 minutes. A trip typically costs you around $3, with any line transfers costing you about 25 cents. You can make things really easy for yourself by purchasing a Ventra card that you can top up as needed.
3. Catch a Metra Train to Get To a Residential Area
Metra trains are considered commuter trains. They have 12 routes that serve the Chicago suburbs. The main difference with these trains, aside from their routes, is that some only run during peak hours to alleviate congestion. Keep in mind that you cannot use your Ventra card to ride a Metra train. You will need to buy a specific ticket.
4. Use the Bus
If you are looking to get somewhere that the trains can’t, catch a bus. Most start their rounds early in the morning and go until about 10pm. Some even go later but don’t bank on this. You could get stranded if you time things wrong and have to pay a pretty penny to use an Uber or taxi to get back home. Some are not operational over weekends, so it is important that you keep this in mind when planning a route. Your bus fare is typically around $2.25 and you can use a Ventra card or exact change to hop onboard.
5. Hop on a Water Taxi
Ok, so this one has the potential to be an experience on its own and is really fun if you want a different way to get around a busy city. A water taxi is a great alternative to walking or taking other forms of public transport. They travel along the Chicago River and make for a unique way to reach the Museum Campus or Chinatown. There are actually two water taxi services – one is aimed at commuters and the other is mostly used for tourists – but you can use either to get where you need to go.
Shoreline Water Taxi
This water taxi has three different lines that it follows between late May to early September. Prices vary depending on the day you travel – weekends are more expensive – so keep this in mind when planning a day trip. This one has a specialized commuter option.
Chicago Water Taxi
This water taxi runs from March to October. A one-way ride will cost you about $5 on weekdays and $6 on weekends. You also have the option for an all-day pass, which means you can hop on and hop off whenever.
6. Ride a Bicycle
The humble bicycle. This is a great way to get around and see everything without having to pay a dime. You can even take it on the L train with you at no extra cost if it isn’t rush hour (7am – 9am and 4pm – 6pm). If you don’t have your own bicycle, that’s fine. There are fantastic bike-share services all around Chicago.
Chicago is a big city with plenty of fun things to do. There are plenty of ways to get around and we hope that we’ve made it easier for you to see as much as you can.