Chicago is served by two international airports, O’Hare and Midway. The airports are both connected to train lines that stop within a minute walk of the conference venues. Chicago is also a major hub for Amtrak.
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Traveling From The Airports
Chicago is served by two airports: O’Hare (the 6th busiest airport in the world) and Midway. O’Hare is located on the far Northwest side of the city, approximately 18 miles from downtown (i.e., the Loop). Midway is located on the Southwest side of the city, approximately 12 miles from the Loop. Getting to and from both airports is very easy. There are two options: taxi or the L. The L (short for elevated) is the rapid transit system that serves Chicago. The L consists of 8 different lines, with each line coded by color. The line that serves O’Hare is the Blue Line whereas the line that serves Midway is the Orange Line.
Option 1: the L (Blue Line) – fast, cheap, recommended!
• Cost: $2.25. Rail passes available at O’Hare station.
• Time: approximately 40-50 minutes
1) Board the train towards Forest Park
2) Exit at the Monroe Street stop in downtown.
3) Walk east (towards Millennium park) 2 blocks until the Palmer House.
Option 2: Taxi
• Cost: $35-$55
• Time: approximately 35-45 minutes
More information on travel to and from O’Hare can be accessed here.
Option 1: the L (Orange Line) – fast, cheap, recommended!
• Cost: $2.25
• Time: approximately 30-40 minutes
1) Board the Orange line towards Loop
2) Exit at the Madison/Wabash stop.
3) Walk a block south on Wabash until Monroe Street, where the Palmer House is located.
Option 2: Taxi
• Time: approximately 20-30 minutes
More information on traveling to and from Midway can be accessed here.
Traveling via Train
Chicago is also a major hub for Amtrak. Trains stop at the Union Station located in the west side of the Loop. Bus services such as Megabus also stop by Union Station. The station is approximately a mile away from the Palmer House, which makes for a 15-20 minute walk. Taxis are readily available throughout the city, and a ride from the station to the hotel may cost approximately $5-7.
Getting around Chicago
Despite its size (Chicago is the 3rd largest city in the United States), Chicago is pleasantly easy to navigate, both by foot and by public transport. Renting a car is not recommended as driving and parking in Chicago is difficult and expensive.
Chicago is designed with a grid street system: most streets follow either an east-west or north-south path, although a few streets are perpendicular to the grid. The downtown area is very walkable, with many popular attractions such as Millennium Park (in which the famous “Bean” resides), the Crown Fountain (i.e., the “faces” fountain), the Art Institute, the Sears Tower (now called Willis Tower), and Buckingham Fountain within a ten minute stroll from the Palmer House. On the southern end of the Loop you can find the Museum Campus, which houses the Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, and the Field Museum.
The adjacent neighborhood north of the Loop, River North, is about a 15 minute walk away. River North is home to the famous Magnificent Mile shopping district, Navy Pier, and the John Hancock Observatory (in which you can grab dinner and a cocktail or two at the 96th floor Signature Lounge).
If you are an avid cyclist, then Chicago is the city for you. Bicycling magazine has recently named Chicago the 5th best city for bicycles in the U.S. and for good reasons (http://www.bicycling.com/ride-maps/featured-rides/5-chicago). Many major roads have specific areas designated for bicycles and bicycle locking racks are ever present. Chicago’s largest park is Lincoln Park (which is also a name for a neighborhood). This park has a bike path that stretches 18 miles from the south side to the north side, all along Lake Michigan.
Should you decide to venture out of the downtown area to see the remaining 75 of Chicago’s neighborhoods, the public transport system will be of great use. The most well-known method of getting around the city is the L.
The busiest line of the L is the Red Line, which begins at the northeastern most border of the city in the Rogers Park neighborhood and ends in the far south side of the city. With the Red Line, baseball fans can reach both Wrigley Field (home of the Chicago Cubs) and U.S. Cellular Stadium (home of the Chicago White Sox). Other famous areas adjacent to the redline include Boystown (Chicago’s LGTB neighborhood), Chinatown, Uptown (where you can find the historic jazz club The Green Mill), Andersonville (a historically Swedish neighborhood within the larger Edgewater neighborhood), Lincoln Park (home to many Victorian style homes, DePaul University, and the free Lincoln Park Zoo), Little Siam (a small Thai and Vietnamese community), Little India in the far north side, and more!
With the Brown Line, you can reach Old Town (a historic area that is home to Wells Street, where famous comedy establishments such as Second City are located) and Lincoln Square (a traditional German neighborhood with its own replica of Munich’s Maipole and the Chicago Brauhaus, where you can order beer by the Maß, or liter, just like in Munich).
With the Pink Line, you can head down to the city’s southwest side to the Pilsen neighborhood, a large Hispanic community filled with beautiful murals and authentic food.
Aside from O’Hare, you can use the Blue Line to travel to Wicker Park, a young and eclectic neighborhood on the west side, filled with gastronomical goodies and plenty of boutiques for those who want to shop.
Chicago Transit Authority (CTA): http://www.transitchicago.com
Official Chicago tourism website: http://www.explorechicago.org
Do some research on Chicago eats: http://www.yelp.com
Good resource on seeing Chicago: wikitravel.org/en/Chicago
Chicago events: chicago.metromix.com/events
(Thanks to Stan Treger for compiling this information. If you have travel questions, write to Stan at: email@example.com)