Metra - This train takes you to and from the suburbs of Chicago in to the city as well as along the lakefront within the city. It's one of the easiest ways to get in to the city if you are staying out in the suburbs and a great way to avoid the awful Chicago traffic.
CTA - This train primarily runs within the city limits of Chicago, but there are a few lines that run out in to the suburbs...the most convenient one being the Blue Line that will take you to O'Hare International Airport. It's only $2.50 to ride one way on the CTA with free transfers to each of the different lines. There are stations all throughout the city. This is the easiest and cheapest way to get around Chicago. You'll need a Ventra card to ride the CTA, but they are easy to get at any of the stations.
Pace - This is Chicago's bus system, which also runs on the Ventra card. There are bus stops all over the city and will take you just about anywhere you need to go, including the suburbs. This is a slower option of transportation though since you'll have to deal with traffic. But it's still better than driving yourself! The cool thing about Pace is they have special buses that will take you to Cubs games, Sox games, and Bears games from the Schaumburg and Lombard hubs if you're out in the suburbs.
Art Institute of Chicago - Chicago's amazing art museum. General admission for adults is $25 and children under 13 are free. They have special admission prices for teens and seniors, as well, which is $19. You can see some amazing pieces of art here including A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat, American Gothic by Grant Wood, and The Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso. They always have special exhibits going on, as well.
The Field Museum - This is Chicago's museum of natural history. Basic admission is $24 for adults and $17 for children 3-11 years old. There is so much rich history at this museum including a massive dinosaur exhibit, history of the Pacific, and Ancient Egypt. This is home of Sue the dinosaur, who now has her very own exhibit! You can also see Lucy, the famous Australopithicus.
Shedd Aquarium - Chicago's aquarium! General admission for adults is $39.95 and $29.95 for children ages 3-11. Experience all the amazing fish and sea creatures including penguins, dolphins, and sharks. There is a fun dolphin show that runs all day long as well as many special exhibits.
Adler Planetarium - Chicago's space museum. General admission for adults is $12 and $8 for children ages 3-11. Explore the wonders of space through shows, exhibits and events. A big highlight of this space museum is the Mission Moon exhibit that is currently open!
Museum of Science and Industry - This is Chicago's science museum. General admission for adults is $21.95 and $12.95 for children ages 3-11. This museum is so great for kids because it is very interactive and a fun way for them to learn. They always have amazing extra exhibits and IMAX shows, too! A couple of the permanent exhibits that are worth noting are the spinning vortex, the model train, and the U-505 submarine.
Navy Pier - This fun attraction is a pier out on Lake Michigan. There are tons of restaurants, shops, mini golf, and a Ferris wheel that you can ride to see some amazing views of the lake and city. They also have massive exhibition halls that always have something going on in them, too. Whether it's a sports tournament or a special exhibit, it's worth checking out.
Millennium Park - This park is where The Bean is! It's an iconic spot in Chicago and fun to take pictures at. There is also a beautiful garden to walk through, a great cafe, and ice skating during the winter months! Ice skating is free and you can rent skates for $12. They also have a big lawn area where you can sit and relax to enjoy concerts that go on at the amphitheater and there is a fountain area in the summer for kids to run around in to cool off on hot summer days.
Sky Deck at Willis Tower (aka Sears Tower to us Chicagoans) - The Sky Deck is located at the top of the Sears Tower and offers incredible views of Chicago. They installed The Ledge a few years ago where you can walk out in to a glass box that hovers 100 stories above the city. You can look straight down and see the Chicago River.
Lincoln Park Zoo - This free zoo is located right in the heart of the city and is a fun one to do with the kids! You can walk around and see all the animals and it's the perfect size. During the holiday season, they have a special event every night called Zoo Lights, where the whole zoo is lit up to celebrate the holiday season.
Garfield Park Conservatory - This indoor botanical garden is fun to walk around in, especially in the winter. It's a nice break from the cold + it's free!
where to eat + drink
breakfast + brunch + coffee
The Doughnut Vault ( 401 N Franklin St.) - The best doughnuts in Chicago! They have a simple menu + specials every day.
Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits (2051 N California Ave.) - Great biscuits for breakfast, great pies for later. Delicious coffee + amazing jams.
avec (615 W Randolph St.) - A perfect spot for Sunday brunch serving Mediterranean style food. The bacon wrapped dates are a top 5 food item of all time for me.
Miller's Pub (134 S Wabash Ave.) - A Chicago institution serving the best burgers. Standard American fare done so well.
Lou Malnatis (1120 N State St.) - Best pizza joint in Chicago. The original spot for deep dish pizza. Sausage deep dish is our favorite!
Cindy's (12 S Michigan Ave.) - A swanky rooftop spot overlooking Michigan Ave. Amazing views of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan. What's even more amazing is their food...especially the lobster roll.
Tortoise Supper Club (350 N State St.) - Our favorite dinner spot in Chicago. A traditional American fare spot with a nice intimate feel. The food is the best in the city, especially the Berkshire pork chop.
Quartino (626 N State St.) - The best Italian food in the city. All served family style for sharing. There's nothing on the menu that isn't a 10 out of 10. All their pastas are made in house and I honestly can't pick a favorite!
Frontera Grill (445 N Clark St.) - The famous Rick Bayless Mexican restaurant. Their enchiladas are mouth watering and their margaritas are perfection. + the chips & salsa & guac are phenomenal.
Garrett's Popcorn (4 E Madison St.) - The best gourmet popcorn you'll ever have. Get the a large bag of Chicago mix and walk over to Millennium Park to sit and enjoy. Be careful though...the whole bag will be gone before you know it!
Original Ferrara Bakery (2210 W Taylor St.) - This 100 year old Italian bakery is the real deal. I personally think they are better than what you'll find in Italy! The tiramisu and canolis are the best we've ever had.
Alliance Patissere (615 N State St.) - A little French bakery with great macarons. They serve Collectivo coffee and is a fun little spot to pop in to for some sweets any time of the day.
cocktails + bars
Andy's Jazz Club (11 E Hubbard St) - A jazz club with a full bar and menu. Enjoy some drinks and listen to some spectacular jazz music.
Three Dots & a Dash (435 N Clark St.) - A fun little underground tiki bar! They serve some elaborately decorated drinks that are so yummy. It's worth booking a reservation to get a table so you can check out their food menu, too. The pork sliders are amazing.
Watershed (601 N State St.) - This basement cocktail bar is our favorite in the city. It's located underneath Pops for Champagne...another great bar, but they serve all local Midwest spirits, beers, and wines. It's a swanky local watering hole of sorts. It's nice and intimate and the perfect spot for great drink and conversation with good company.
where to stay
The Palmer House (17 E Monroe St.) - A beautiful Hilton hotel located in the Loop. Just a few steps away from Michigan Ave and Grant Park.
Sheraton Grand Chicago (301 E N Water St.) - The perfect spot to be if you love to shop. This hotel is right off the Magnificent Mile.
I’m Diana; curator & author of Tiny Dapper Fox. Here you’ll find posts on motherhood, home life, travel, & fashion/beauty as well as City Guides for places all around the world. Make yourself cozy and let’s be friends!
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