Chicago

Travel Guide
Chicago which includes street scenes, a high-rise building and a city

The Windy City whips up a heady mix of basement blues, penthouse views, elevated rails and lake-front trails.

Chicago is the Windy City that loves the Blues, where gangsters like Al Capone ran rings round the Feds, and where the skyscrapers rose as the stock markets fell. A jangling metropolis, with a thicket of classy, glassy towers shooting skywards from the shores of Lake Michigan. All that is part of the draw to this, the third biggest city in the United States. But Chicago can surprise too.

While it has one of the busiest skylines of any American city – with four of the tallest buildings in the US – Chicago had the sense to build its streets wide. So its hundred high-rises don't leave you claustrophobic, unlike some other cities that reached for skies. And Chicago's love of wide open spaces can be seen when you scale its biggest skyscraper, the Willis Tower. Look east from one of its glass balconies, and you'll see the long green-and-gold strip of the Lakefront, with its parks and museums, beaches and piers.

'Chicago's Lawn' is what Chicagoans call it, and it's where they go to play. Lincoln Park is 13 kilometres of sandy beaches and park greenery, just a step or two from the city's central district, the Loop. Here you'll find the Lincoln Park Zoo, the oldest in the country, and Lincoln Park Conservatory, home to giant palms, rare orchids and some peace from Chicago's bustle. The Chicago History Museum is here too, and will set you straight on the Windy City's often blustery past.

The Navy Pier divides northern Lincoln Park from the southern stretch of Grant Park (and its radically different Millennium Park). The Pier takes you out into Lake Michigan, and a chance to mess about on the water – or to look back at Chicago's dramatic skyline from its Ferris wheel. You'll also see a line of white-pillared and glass-fronted museums stretching along the Grant Park area: the Art Institute Of Chicago, the Field Natural History Museum, the Museum of Science and Technology, and the Shedd Aquarium. They all do what they say on their entrance signs – educating and inspiring with some of the finest collections, and the most immersive exhibits, to be found anywhere in the world.

Culture and science may rule the Lakefront area, but commerce and shopping are kings in the busy streets of the central Loop – especially the Magnificent Mile. This luxury shopping street is packed with malls, restaurants and stunning architecture – and plenty of opportunities to exercise your credit card.

A more graceful architectural walk can be had in Oak Park, a western suburb where Frank Lloyd Wright lived and worked. Widely seen as America's best architect, he left the area with a treasure trove of buildings – including the Unity Temple, seen as the world's first truly modern building. Visit the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Museum to get an in-depth guide. Oak Park also does literature – it is home to Chicago-born Ernest Hemingway, and the Ernest Hemingway Museum And House tells the remarkable story of America's foremost storyteller.

But how about rounding your Chicago stay by fusing all four at a game of baseball at Wrigley Field. After all, this iconic stadium is where the Windy City's most vital living history is played out every season.

Chicago Travel Guide Video

Where to stay in Chicago

Congress Plaza Hotel
Congress Plaza Hotel
3.5 out of 5
520 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL
The price is NZ$192 per night from 22 Sep. to 22 Sep.
Located in The Loop, this hotel is steps away from Columbia College Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Photography and Auditorium Building and Theatre. Fine Arts ...
3.7/5Good! (4,145 reviews)
"Great location, loved everything!"

Reviewed on 20 Sep. 2021

Congress Plaza Hotel
DoubleTree by Hilton Chicago - Magnificent Mile
DoubleTree by Hilton Chicago - Magnificent Mile
4 out of 5
300 E Ohio St, Chicago, IL
Fully refundableReserve now, pay when you stay
The price is NZ$243 per night from 27 Sep. to 27 Sep.
Located in Near North Side, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Michigan Avenue, Chicago Riverwalk and Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Ann and Robert H. ...
4.2/5Very Good! (1,521 reviews)
"Great place to stay!!"

Reviewed on 18 Sep. 2021

DoubleTree by Hilton Chicago - Magnificent Mile
Hyatt Regency Chicago
Hyatt Regency Chicago
4 out of 5
151 East Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL
The price is NZ$400 per night from 28 Sep. to 28 Sep.
Located in The Loop, this eco-friendly hotel is steps away from Chicago Riverwalk and Michigan Avenue Bridge. Grant Park and Chicago Theatre are also within ...
4.3/5Excellent! (3,170 reviews)
"Really enjoyed our stay at the Hyatt Regency. Staff was friendly and the building was clean. Check in was smooth and the staff constantly made sure we had everything we needed."

Reviewed on 18 Sep. 2021

Hyatt Regency Chicago
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.
Homewood Suites by Hilton Chicago - Schaumburg
Homewood Suites by Hilton Chicago - Schaumburg
3 out of 5
815 East American Lane, Schaumburg, IL
The price is NZ$204 per night from 3 Oct. to 3 Oct.
Situated in the business district, this aparthotel is within 3 miles (5 km) of Woodfield Mall, Ned Brown Forest Preserve and Legoland Discovery Center. Schaumburg ...
4.3/5Excellent! (1,001 reviews)
"I loved the location and the price for what you get. It’s right by the mall and plenty of parks to take the kids or restaurants if you want to go out. Breakfast could use some work, but it wasn’t bad. They should hire a southerner for the kitchen and you might have something there."

Reviewed on 12 Sep. 2021

Homewood Suites by Hilton Chicago - Schaumburg
Homewood Suites by Hilton Chicago Downtown South Loop
Homewood Suites by Hilton Chicago Downtown South Loop
3 out of 5
59 E. 11th Street, Chicago, IL
The price is NZ$221 per night from 27 Sep. to 27 Sep.
Located in The Loop, this aparthotel is within a 5-minute walk of State Street and Grant Park. Field Museum of Natural History and John G. Shedd Aquarium are ...
4.1/5Very Good! (796 reviews)
"Very nice and clean! View was nice also!"

Reviewed on 15 Sep. 2021

Homewood Suites by Hilton Chicago Downtown South Loop
Home2 Suites by Hilton Chicago River North
Home2 Suites by Hilton Chicago River North
3 out of 5
110 West Huron St, Chicago, IL
The price is NZ$255 per night from 29 Sep. to 29 Sep.
Located in River North, this aparthotel is within 2 mi (3 km) of Chicago Theatre, Millennium Park and Art Institute of Chicago. Navy Pier and John G. Shedd Aquarium ...
4.3/5Excellent! (752 reviews)
"Nice modern hotel. Quiet and perfectly located to CTA buses and trains."

Reviewed on 18 Sep. 2021

Home2 Suites by Hilton Chicago River North
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

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