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Sweet Home Chicago: Getting Around

I made my first visit to the lovely city of Chicago in 2007. Since then, I've made it a habit to go as often as possible, last year visiting nearly every other month. In getting to visit so many times and for several different occasions, I've covered a lot of ground and I'd love to pass along my tips and tricks for seeing the city in a little Chicago blog series.

If you're from visiting from a city with an under-utilized public transportation system, learn to love Chicago's CTA. It will be your best friend. Don't be afraid of the trains and buses! It is without a doubt the cheapest and easiest way to get around the city. I recommend defaulting to public transport, and using ride-share as a backup in a pinch. You can easily get a Ventra card at the airport upon arrival, or at several CTA train stations. The best option is the unlimited ride day passes... just pick the amount of days you'll need and you're on your way. If you don't plan on moving around quite as much, you can load transit value instead.

Depending on where you're flying in and where you're staying, the CTA may be your best mode of transportation. I've flown into both O'Hare International and Midway. The blue line from O'Hare will take you through the vibrant neighborhoods of Bucktown, Logan Square and Wicker Park and on into the downtown loop from there. I was often staying in Wicker Park, so that was the easiest and by far cheapest option. If you're staying somewhere off the line, I'd recommend just using a ride-share service. Lyft Line is available as another affordable option. Midway is on the orange line, and the same thing goes. If you're staying downtown, it should be an easy ride into the loop. I wouldn't recommend changing lines or transferring to a bus unless you're adamant about saving money!

You can explore all kinds of places using the public transportation available. It's easy to get trapped downtown, and don't get me wrong, there's plenty to see just there. But if you're on a subsequent visit, or want to get away from the touristy attractions, get out into the neighborhoods! You'll hear every tour guide in the city beg you to do so. I'm partial to northwest Chicago (Wicker Park, Logan Square, Bucktown). It's where I've spent the most time, and there's lots to see, more importantly EAT! More on that in a future post.

The red line will take you to the famous and historic home of the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field, and the very fun surrounding area of Wrigleyville. Jump off at the Addison stop and you're right at the park. It's absolutely the easiest way to get there. I'm so jealous being from Dallas and not having a train going directly to our ballpark to avoid traffic and parking. There's nothing like game day in that part of the city. You'll see plenty of fellow fans on the L, so don't worry about getting lost... just follow the crowd!

Google maps will tell you exactly where to go and what bus to get on. You don't have to be very familiar with the area to find the stations or stops. Just type in your destination, click on the train icon and choose your route. It'll show you how far of a walk it'll be, how many transfers might be required and how long it'll take. Pick the route that suits your needs and be on your way! It's that simple.

CTA and the GO City Card are always my top recommendations when someone is visiting Chicago. In my next post, I'll tell you all about the best way to see all the attractions: GO City Card.


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