Visit Chicago

Getting around Chicago via public transportation is easier than many large cities in my opinion! There is a blue line “L” that takes you directly from O’Hare airport into the Loop or from Midway, the Orange Line “L” also takes you into the loop. For full information, check out this great CTA map

Even better, we have a bus tracking system which traces buses online or via GPS on your mobile phone (app and data package required).

Otherwise, taxi’s are plenty in the city! There is currently a fuel surcharge of $1.00 and there is a $0.50 extra charge for each additional person in the cab.

Should you be so lucky – you may encounter Chicago’s CASH CAB!

Whether you like it or not, Chicago is a BIG DRINKING TOWN. There are $1 beer specials every night or there is a 1/2 price wine special every other block. The other thing to note is the number of bars there are in Chicago. There is LITERALLY a watering hole of somekind on every other corner! See the whole list!

Ok – so we’re pretty family oriented too. I devised a list that may be of interest to families looking for baby/toddler friendly places where the parents can focus on the quality of food!  check out this blog entry about the Mag Mile and hanging with kids.

Drinking
Wine – Higher end restaurants usually have a sommelier, especially if they are Michelin Star rated. 2010 was the inaugural year for Chicago to enter the Michelin Guide
Beer – there are some fantastic brew pubs in Chicago offering a large selection of local microbrews. Also one of my favorite stores with a great selection of cold beer is LUSH (they have 3 locations in the city)
BYOB – there are a TON of BYOB selections in Chicago – Check out The BYOB guide of Chicago

Tipping in Chicago
In this big city – the average tip is 18.2% of the food bill before taxes. Many people from Europe or even Canada always complain how high the tip is. As I am originally from Canada, I understand where they are coming from (the average tip there is about 12%) but keep in mind that most restaurant workers in the US are not covered by a socialized medical plan or even a company medical plan for that matter; should they have an emergency, your server likely pays out of their own pocket. At least that is how I justify giving a larger tip.

City Dining
There is often a robust crowd of both young and old in Chicago – people of all backgrounds flock to the restaurants and reservations are often recommended. You can use OpenTable.com to make reservations but still doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be seated right away. The busiest dinning times are between 7-10pm.

Suburban Dining
Suburbanites dine early. And usually the crowd is older. The younger ones tend to flock to the pubs or are home with their young family. This is an observation I have made in the last year of living in the burbs…correct me if I am wrong!

Smoking
There is no smoking in any establishments in Illinois to my knowledge.

Where to Stay
We get this question alot. For obvious reasons, anywhere downtown is a good choice as the transit system is economical and fairly decent but you pay for it. The average hotel room in Chicago during the summer is upwards of $250.00. You could stay near the airport but you may spend 45-50 mins each way coming into the city and back. You could try Craigslist and VRBO- it is my hope that most people are honest on there and I’ve had friends visiting who have had great success finding a place to stay.