Chicago Facts

The largest city in the state of Illinois and the third biggest by population, you will probably know Chicago by one of its many memorable nicknames. Most common of these is the Windy City. It has also been dubbed the White City, the City That Works and the City of the Big Shoulders, the latter thanks to its awe-inspiring skyscrapers. Chicago was first incorporated as a town in 1833 and saw its prosperity grow thanks to its railways.

However this was threatened in 1871, when a great fire broke out in a cowshed and devastated the city, razing many of its buildings and businesses to the ground. Despite this, Chicagoans did not give up on the American Dream and instead set about rebuilding. They did so in spectacular fashion, resulting in the beautiful architecture and sky-skimming buildings Chicago hotel guests will see in the city today.

Chicago is also famous for its role in the prohibition era and tourists will be able to see evidence of former gangsters including Al Capone and Sam Giancana in various locations throughout the metropolis. However, Chicago is not all about buildings and long-ago crime - it is also a destination where you will find plenty of culture, world-class museums and lots of open, public spaces.

Getting there:
Chicago is served by both O'Hare International Airport and Midway Airport, so you could fly in to either. It is likely you will be able to get direct flights, but you can also connect from various other locations throughout the US. Once you have arrived in the city, you will be able to get a train from the airport into the city center. If you are already in America, you could also travel to Chicago by Greyhound bus or Amtrak rail. For the return journey back to the airport, larger Chicago hotels may be able to arrange a shuttle bus for you, which is likely to either be free or inexpensive and may make it easier come check-out time.

Getting around:
You will be able to rent a car in Chicago, but this is not the best way to see the city as roads are very busy and parking can be both difficult and expensive. Instead, make use of the city's excellent public transportation, which is good value and usually very efficient. You can travel around by train or bus and the system is easy to navigate as long as you know which stop is closest to your destination and which color line you need to be on to get there. You should get hold of either a Transit Card or a Chicago Card, which will allow you to hop on and off buses and trains quickly and easily. They can also be topped up at most stations.

A tip for people new to Chicago: don't be confused if you hear locals referring to the 'L' when discussing transportation - they are simply referring to the trains. The name comes from the 'el' sound in the elevated tracks they run on.

What to pack:
It is a good idea to book your hotel stay in Chicago during the months of April, May, June or September if you can. These are typically the nicest months to see the city - it should be neither too hot nor too cold. Pack your sunglasses and light clothes, although you may also want to add a waterproof coat in case of a sudden shower.

Chicago Winters are typically fiercely cold, so be prepared to take plenty of sweaters if you head to the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel Chicago then. Conversely, the Summer months are hot and humid, so you will need quite a few changes of clothes.

What to do and where to go?
It is likely that you will run out of time before you run out of things to see and do in Chicago. Families will be entertained by fascinating museums, sporting highlights and attractions like the aquarium, while couples might enjoy a trip to Lake Michigan. History and architectural buffs may also get a stiff neck as a result of not being able to take their eyes off the majestic buildings. The Chicago travel guide should help you plan your trip.

Famous Landmarks:
Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower)
Trump Tower
Comiskey Park

Arts and Culture:
Loop Art Tour
Adler Planetarium
Field Museum of Natural History

Museum of Science and Industry
Chicago History Museum

Parks and Recreation:
Shedd Aquarium
Lake Michigan
Millennium Park

Population: 2,695,598

Area: 606 sq km

Language:  English

Currency: US dollar ($)

Nearby Hotels