Chicago/Far Northwest Side

Travel Guide North America USA Midwestern United States Illinois Chicago Chicago/Far Northwest Side

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Introduction

The Far Northwest Side of Chicago includes the neighborhoods of Avondale and the Polish Village (Jackowo and Wacławowo), with large Polish communities; Irving Park and Old Irving, quiet areas with historic homes; and Forest Glen, Jefferson Park, Norwood Park, Edison Park, Edgebrook, Dunning, and Portage Park, residential areas which have nice parks, old theaters, and some big annual festivals. These are the neighborhoods closest to O'Hare International Airport.

The Far Northwest Side is, for many travelers, nothing more than a blur of drab buildings seen from the expressway or the Blue Line on their way to O'Hare. And only the most fervent of true believers could make an argument that it ought to be anywhere near the top of a first-time visitor's list. None of the city's most famous landmarks are located here; nothing in the best-known history or literature about Chicago happened here. In fact, most Chicagoans would find the Far Northwest Side as unfamiliar as someone right off a plane from the coast.

What is here, though, is a group of large, residential communities and a handful of treasures they've grown accustomed to keeping for themselves, unencumbered by style or pace. Sausage shops and old-style Italian restaurants carry on as if health food and celebrity chefs never happened. If you're serious about trying a Chicago-style hot dog at the peak of the form, you'll do well here. Two classic movie palaces awaken for special events, and there is a strong contender for the city's best original theater venue — the Prop Thtr.

Plenty of tourists and locals have tried "going Chinese" for a night in Chinatown, but an even more immersive (and less-traveled) experience is "going Polish." English slides to second on the signs, the food makes sweet love to your waist, and the beer flows cheap at your choice of fab discos straight out of Eastern Europe or laid-back dives with you and the regulars. Famously, Chicago has the largest population of Polish people of any city in the world save Warsaw. If you never make it to Poland, at least you can say you've been to Avondale.

So once you're sick of the screaming brats in Lakeview and Lincoln Park, the scuzz in Uptown, the tourist traps on the Mag Mile, the crowds in the Loop, the hipsters in Wicker Park, the confusion in Rogers Park, the pretension in Hyde Park, the cranks in Bridgeport — and you're in the mood to experience Chicago all over again, for the first time — then the Far Northwest Side may have something for you.

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Sights and Activities

Carl Schurz High School, 3601 N Milwaukee Ave (56 Milwaukee bus), ☏ +1-773-534-3420. A massive 1910 Prairie School masterpiece by Dwight Perkins, possibly the biggest example of the architectural style, and still a working high school. It's an impressive sight.
Gateway Theater/Copernicus Foundation, 5216 W Lawrence Ave (Jefferson Park Blue Line), ☏ +1-773-777-8898. A Polish Cultural Center in Jefferson Park, housed in the old Gateway Theater movie palace. They host community events and classes throughout the year; highlights include the Taste of Polonia in September and the Polish Film Festival in November.
Jefferson Memorial Park, 4822 N Long Ave (Jefferson Park Blue Line), ☏ +1-773-685-3316. Beloved local park with seasonal concerts and seven acres of outdoor fun, including fields for baseball, football, soccer, and tennis, as well as a swimming pool and a spray pool. The Jeff Fest is held every summer.
St. Hyacinth Basilica, 3636 W Wolfram St (56 Milwaukee or 76 Diversey bus), ☏ +1-773-342-3636. Church hours 5:30AM-8PM daily; masses are split evenly between English and Polish. Another of Chicago's gorgeous Polish Cathedrals, the three towers of St. Hyacinth's Basilica are a landmark of the Avondale neighborhood. The paintings and stained glass windows inside are very much worth a look.
St. Wenceslaus Church, 3400 N Monticello Ave (Addison Blue Line), ☏ +1-773-588-1135. The other monumental religious edifice that dominates the Avondale skyline, it is considered to be "one of the best examples of the fusion of Art Deco stylings with medieval European architecture in the city of Chicago." Although the historic church is a stop for many of the tourists visiting the landmark Villa District, this majestic Romanesque-Art Deco hybrid is actually a few blocks south of the district's formal boundaries.
The Villa District, between Addison, Pulaski, Avondale, and Hamlin (Addison Blue Line). This landmark district was built in 1902 by a number of architects, many of them visibly influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie Style of architecture. Most notable among these were bungalows designed by the architectural firm of Hatzfeld and Knox, whose partner Clarence Hatzfeld would later design the fieldhouse and natatorium at Portage Park. The area showcases many unique Craftsman and Prairie style homes fronting on picturesque boulevard style streets.

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.

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Getting There

By Train

The CTA Blue Line has stops throughout the northwest side of Chicago in Avondale (Belmont, Addison), Irving Park (Irving Park, Montrose), Jefferson Park (Jefferson Park), and Norwood Park (Harlem), before passing into the orbit of O'Hare Airport (Cumberland, Rosemont, O'Hare). You may need to connect with a bus, though, as these stops are quite far west, and there is a lot of ground between them and the Brown Line to the east.

The end of the CTA Brown Line is within reach of Irving Park (Kedzie, Kimball).

The Metra Union Pacific Northwest Line has stops in Irving Park, Jefferson Park, Norwood Park, and Edison Park, while the Metra Milwaukee District North line stops at Mayfair, Forest Glen and Edgebrook. The former ends at Ogilvie/Northwestern Station and the latter at Union Station, both in the West Loop.

By Car

I-90/94 (aka "The Kennedy") runs through the center of Chicago and then to the western parts of the city, where it joins I-190. I-90/190 go to O'Hare Airport, while I-94 splits off to reach the northern and northwest suburbs. The most useful exits are off the Kennedy at Lawrence Avenue and Ill-19/Irving Park Road.

By Bus

This is a fairly large area, covered by a ton of bus routes. Most connect to the CTA Blue Line or the Metra, and a few spread out into the suburbs.

53 Pulaski runs all night through Irving Park and Avondale connecting with the Irving Park Blue Line & Metra Stations.
54 Cicero runs through the eastern half of the area, although it's not an all-night route.
54A North Cicero/Skokie Blvd runs between the Blue Line and Metra at Irving Park and heads up Cicero to Lincolnwood and Skokie ending at the Skokie courthouse. It also serves Old Orchard Mall in Skokie.
56 Milwaukee runs from downtown through Wicker Park, Logan Square, Avondale the heart of the Polish Village and most the Far Northwest Side ending at Jefferson Park Blue Line/Metra.
68 Northwest Highway runs from the Jefferson Park station to the Park Ridge Metra Station running parallel to the Metra. It also makes connections to the Gladstone, Norwood and Edison Park Metra stations.
77 Belmont connects with the self-named Blue Line station and runs all night. This is handy for trips in Avondale.
78 Montrose connects with the Blue Line at the Montrose station and the Mayfair Metra Station, handy for trips in Portage Park or Irving Park and the Harlem Irving Plaza.
80 Irving Park is, as you might expect, ideal for Irving Park and Old Irving. Connections can be made with the Irving Park Blue Line or Brown Line stops as well as the Irving Park Metra. This route serves the Harlem Irving Plaza.
81 Lawrence runs from Uptown to the Jefferson Park Blue Line/Metra Station, with a direct connection at the Kimball Brown Line stop providing service all night long.
81W West Lawrence operates in between the Blue Line stations at Jefferson Park and Cumberland.
82 Kimball/Homan connects with the Blue Line at Belmont and the Brown Line at Kimball, and can save you a bit of walking from the Blue Line to places like Abbey Pub.
84 Peterson runs between the CTA Red Line at Bryn Mawr and the northwest side at Central/Caldwell primarily along Peterson Avenue serving the Metra at Edgebrook. It runs through the North Park, Sauganash and Edgebrook neighborhoods.
85 Central runs along Central Avenue through most of the Northwest Side like Portage Park, and Jefferson Park.
85A North Central runs along Central Avenue from the Jefferson Park Station up to the Metra at Edgebrook before heading north via Caldwell-Touhy-Lehigh and back. It has a few scenic sections near or through the Forest Preserve.
86 Narragansett/Ridgeland runs primarily along Narragansett Avenue through of Northwest side ending at Devon and Milwaukee near Superdawg's.
88 Higgins runs primarily along Higgins Avenue between the Jefferson Park and Harlem Blue Line Stations before heading up into Norwood Park and Edison Park via Harlem-Talcott-Canfield-Devon-Avondale-Harlem and back to Higgins.
90 Harlem runs between the Green Line Terminal in Oak Park and the Blue Line in Norwood Park through most of the Northwest side. It provides front door access to the Harlem-Irving Plaza.
91 Austin runs along Austin Avenue through most of the Northwest Side like Portage Park, and Jefferson Park.
92 Foster starts at the Jefferson Park station heading east to the lakefront and the Red Line at Berwyn.
152 Addison runs through the Northwest side along Addison serving the Blue line.

Pace buses cover the regions that cross over into the suburbs:

209 Busse Highway operates between the Harlem Blue Line heading west on Higgins and up Canfield to Park Ridge ending at the Des Plaines Metra Station.
225 Central-Howard starts at the Jefferson Park station heading north along Central Avenue connecting with the Edgebrook Metra station. It then continues up to Skokie and Niles along Howard Street through an Industrial Area ending at Oakton/Harlem.
226 Oakton Street just like the 225 starts at the Jefferson Park station heading north along Central Avenue connecting with the Edgebrook Metra station. It then continues up to Skokie heading west on Oakton through Niles, Park Ridge, and Des Plaines to Mount Prospect.
240 Dee Road runs from the Cumberland CTA Station up through Park Ridge to Golf Mill Mall in Niles.
241 Greenwood-Talcott also runs from the Cumberland CTA Station up through Park Ridge to Golf Mill Mall in Niles.
270 Milwaukee Avenue goes up Milwaukee Avenue from the Jefferson Park Station through Norwood Park and continuing into the suburbs like Niles and Glenview. Ideal for reaching Superdawg's and Golf Mill Mall.
290 Touhy Avenue covers Edgebrook and Edison Park and ends at the Cumberland CTA Blue Line.
326 West Irving Park runs between the Blue Line in Rosemont and the Harlem Irving-Plaza.
423 Linden CTA/The Glen/Harlem Avenue starts at the Harlem Blue Line covering Norwood and Edison Park and continues up into the suburbs.

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Eat

As Hyde Park is to academics, as the Near North is to department stores, so Avondale is to Polish sausages. Cavernous delis line the streets here, particularly up Milwaukee and Belmont. They're a sight to see even if you're not after some czarnina (blood duck soup). A ride on the 56 Milwaukee bus makes for a pretty good off-the-beaten-path culinary tour.

Alexandra Foods, 3304 1/2 N Central Ave (85 Central bus), ☏ +1-773-282-3820. M-F 8AM-7PM, Sa 8AM-5PM, Su 9AM-3PM. Wholesale, direct-to-the-public pierogies. Restaurants from around the Midwest buy them in bulk, but you're welcome to enter the grey factory walls and buy as many of the 15-or-so varieties of pierogi as you'd like on the cheap. $3-7.
Carnicerias Jimenez, 5330 W Belmont Ave. Look for the giant cow out front.
Brgrbelly, 5739 W Irving Park Rd (80 Irving Park Bus), ☏ +1-773-283-7880. Tu-Th 5PM-9PM, F-Sa 5PM-10PM, Su noon-7PM. Hamburgers, fries, shakes, and a good selection of craft beers. Handmade buns, and if they sell out of them on a day, they close up shop. Burgers are moist, and they have pork belly mixed in with the ground beef. All burger styles can be made with grilled/fried chicken or vegetarian options. Crispy, varied fry styles are welcoming and served in small baskets. Not cheap burgers compared to fast food, but quality food made to order. $9-12.
Superdawg, 6363 N Milwaukee Ave (270 Milwaukee bus), ☏ +1-773-763-0660. Su-Th 11AM-1AM, F-Sa until 2AM. For the best hot dogs in town. One "superdawg" comes with pickled tomatoes, mustard, small hot peppers, and a kosher dill. The true Chicago-style hot dog never has ketchup, so save it for your fries! They also sell burgers and sausages, but the superdawg can't be beat. You can also order directly from your car, 1950s style with the tray hanging from your car window. $4-6, cash only.
Tony's Italian Deli & Subs, 6708 Northwest Hwy (in Edison Park). A deli withItalian sub sandwiches, stay for the Italian-American shop complete with desserts, drinks, and other Italian-American goods. $4-7 for a personal-size sub.
Amitabul, 6207 N Milwaukee Ave (270 Milwaukee bus), ☏ +1-773-774-0276. Tu-Sa noon-9PM. You love Korean food, but you're a vegan. You often find yourself considering how a certain dish would be perfect if the chef had just added a dash of zen cooking energy. You will be very happy at Amitabul. $9-15.
Jolly Inn, 6501 W Irving Park Rd (80 Irving Park bus), ☏ +1-773-736-7606. M-Sa 10:30AM-9PM, Su 11AM-9PM. The location - really far west - means the buffet at the Jolly Inn is cheap and known only among the Polish locals. The food is unabashedly high-calorie, and yes, that's a bowl of spread-able lard they place on your table. There's a long list of dessert offerings. They get commendably festive at Christmas. They also have a salt room under the restaurant. $11.95 weekdays, $13.95 weekends.
La Oaxaqueña, 3382 N Milwaukee Ave (56 Milwaukee bus), ☏ +1-773-545-8585. M-Th 9:30AM-11:30PM, F-Sa 9:30AM-12:30AM. A small, casual restaurant serving Mexican food specific to the Oaxacan region. The Oaxaqeño chocolate mole sauces are a specialty here, although the excellent seafood dishes can be hard to pass up. $7-15.
La Peña, 4212 N Milwaukee Ave (56 Milwaukee bus), ☏ +1-773-545-7022. Tu-W 4PM-10PM, Th-F 4PM-2AM, Sa 4PM-3AM, Su 8AM-2AM. Family-made Ecuadorian food in Portage Park, with a full drinks menu. Friday and Saturday nights have live Andean music, while Sunday nights offer karaoke. Hence, if there's an important conversation to be had over dinner, this may not be the place. $13-18.
Red Apple (Czerwone Jabluszko), 6474 N Milwaukee Ave (270 Milwaukee bus), ☏ +1-773-763-3407. Su-Th 11AM-9PM, F-Sa 11AM-9:30PM. An enormous, full-service Polski smorgasbord. There is fresh fruit, but vast kingdoms of meat dominate the landscape, with a full complement of quality kielbasa, pierogies, blintzes, and non-diet salads. There's another location further south at 3121 N Milwaukee. The restaurant is quite nice, but the bar is a bit dour. Lunch $16.99, dinner $17.99, weekends $23.99.
Smoque, 3800 N Pulaski Rd (53 Pulaski bus or Irving Park Blue Line/Metra), ☏ +1-773-545-7427. Su,Tu-Th 11AM-9PM, F-Sa 11AM-10PM. This new, but very serious barbecue joint serves the best barbecue on the North Side of Chicago. If the brisket and ribs don't satisfy your refined palate, though, you should try the offerings on the Southwest Side before giving up on Chicago barbecue. $4-21.
Staropolska Restaurant, 3030 N Milwaukee Ave (56 Milwaukee bus), ☏ +1-773-342-0779. M-F 12PM-10PM, Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 11AM-9PM. The newly renovated Staropolska has been around for ages and is probably the cheapest of the local spreads. Not bad, too, especially the tripe soup. There's a bar right up front.
Ruk Sushi, 4431 N Milwaukee Ave (56 Milwaukee or 78 Montrose bus), ☏ +1-773-286-1900. Lunch: M–Sa 11:30AM–3PM; Dinner: Su–Th 4PM–9:30PM, F-Sa 4PM–10PM. The new neighborhood BYO sushi spot brings Thai and Japanese fare to Portage Park. Named for the Thai word for love (which rhymes with "truck"), the spot does quite a bit of carryout and delivery business but also is filled with neighborhood folks looking for a low-key night out. There's a lineup of contemporary maki rolls such as the Sakura roll, with superwhite tuna, scallion, kampyo, ginger, jalapeno, tempura crunch, hot sauce and red tobiko sauce. There's also creatively named maki like the Green Hornet with tuna, yellowtail, cucumber, jalapeno, cilantro, and thai hot sauce wrapped with avocado and wasabi mayo. Portions are generous for the rice, noodles, Thai entrees and apps, along with plenty of vegetarian options. $30 and under.
Zia's Trattoria, 6699 N. Northwest Highway (in Edison Park), ☏ +1 773-775-0808. Classic Italian sit-down restaurant. Then-State Senator Barack Obama gave Zia's a rave review while appearing on an episode of PBS Chicago's restaurant review show Check, Please. $17-33 for entrees.
Gale Street Inn, 4914 N Milwaukee Ave (Jefferson Park Blue Line/Metra), ☏ +1-773-725-1300. M,W-Th 4PM-10PM, F 4PM-11PM, Sa noon-11PM, Su noon-9PM. Chicago's most famous rib joint with a touch of old-time class, right across the street from the Blue Line. It's a good place to eat with parents, and tolerant vegetarians can make do with the portobello mushroom sandwich and some tasty sides. $14-30.
Lutnia Continental Cafe, 5532 W Belmont Ave (77 Belmont bus), ☏ +1-773-282-5335. Su,Tu-F noon-10PM, Sa 1PM-11PM. Not exclusively Polish, as their menu covers a number of culinary styles, but the recent book Polish Chicago named Lutnia's tenderloin venison one of the exemplars of Polish cuisine. No buffets here — Lutnia is a strictly fine dining experience, and probably the best fine Polish dining in Chicago. There's sometimes live music on weekends. $14-25.
Mirabell Restaurant & Lounge, 3454 W Addison St (Addison Blue Line), ☏ +1-773-463-1962. M-Sa 11:30AM-10PM, Su noon-8PM. For many years, the foremost outpost of German (and Hungarian) food outside of Lincoln Square. Waitresses in traditional costumes, oompah bands, beer steins, and a noted selection of Hummel figurines set the Bavarian atmosphere for heaping portions of food. $16-25.
Arun's, 4156 N Kedzie Ave (Kedzie Brown Line or 80 Irving Park bus), ☏ +1-773-539-1909. Su,Tu-Th 5PM-10PM, F-Sa 5PM-10:30PM. One of the finest Thai establishments in the world, including Thailand. One book named it to a list of places to visit throughout the world before you die. prix-fixe meal: $85.

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Drink

If you're looking for swinging Polish nightlife, look no further.

Bim Bom Lounge, 5226 W Belmont Ave (77 Belmont bus), ☏ +1-773-777-2120. M-F noon-2AM, Sa 11AM-3AM, Su 11AM-2AM. The warped sheet-metal facade outside leads to a friendly Polish punk/rock/metal bar with an especially fierce foosball scene.
Chief O'Neill's, 3471 N Elston Ave (152 Addison bus), ☏ +1-773-583-3066. M-Th 4PM-2AM, F 11AM-2AM, Sa 11AM-3AM, Su 10AM-2AM. Colorful Irish pub in Avondale with a beer garden and very popular food, including Sunday brunch (10:30AM-3PM).
Edison Park Inn, 6713 N Olmsted Ave (Edison Park Metra or 68 Northwest Highway bus), ☏ +1-773-775-1404. Su-Th 11AM-2AM, Sa 11AM-3AM. Two-floor pub with food and plenty of games, including pool tables and eight lanes of bowling.
Small Bar, 2956 N Albany Ave (Logan Square or Belmont Blue Line), ☏ +1-773-509-9888. M-Th 4PM-11PM, F-Sa noon-11PM, Su noon-midnight. Actually quite small, but with an exemplary beer selection. There's more (and better) food than the usual dive.
Stereo Nightclub (Jedynka), 5616 W Diversey Ave, 60639, ☏ +1 773 889 7171. F 8PM-2AM Sa 8PM-3AM Su 8PM-2AM. Legendary nightclub attracting a largely Polish crowd (formerly known as "Jedynka").
Late Bar, 3534 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60618 (77 Belmont or Belmont Blue Line), ☏ +1 773-267-5283. 10pm-4am. A darkly painted goth/new wave bar that touts vegetarian and vegan mixed drinks and varied crowd.

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Sleep

The vast majority of hotels in the area are clustered around O'Hare International Airport, not the neighborhoods. Some of the Lincoln Avenue motels are within easy reach, and the Chicagoland suburb of Niles, further down Milwaukee Avenue, has a few places to stay as well.

Edgebrook Motor Hotel, 6401 W Touhy Ave (290 Touhy bus or 85A North Central bus), ☏ +1-773-774-4200. Unmistakable sign, and unpretentious accommodations — televisions, fridges, and microwaves round out the amenities. It's about fifteen minutes from O'Hare in a quiet, safe area, just east of the Chicagoland suburbs of Niles and Park Ridge. It's also near the Leaning Tower YMCA, a notable roadside oddity on Touhy. You'll want a car to reach the city, though. Rooms from $54.
Esquire Motel, 6145 N Elston Ave (270 Milwaukee bus), ☏ +1-773-774-2700. Friendly accommodations in sleepy Edison Park, five minutes from O'Hare and an easy trip to the city by car down Elston. Rooms have cable and HBO. Rooms from $69.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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This is version 6. Last edited at 15:02 on Sep 23, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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