Chicago/The Loop

Travel Guide North America USA Midwestern United States Illinois Chicago Chicago/The Loop

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Introduction

Chicago 1

Chicago 1

© spelham

The Loop can be considered the heart of Chicago. Literally The Loop is the area inside the L Tracks forming a circle running above the ground bordered on the north by Lake Street, on the east Wabash Avenue, on the south Van Buren Street and Wells on the west. Although no local or traveler should think of The Loop in such basic terms. When people say The Loop they mean the area bordered by the river to the north and to the west, Roosevelt Road to the south and the lake to the east.

The Loop is the center of Chicago and without a doubt the most iconic section of the city. If you've never been to Chicago, begin here. Whether on an official architecture cruise along the Chicago River, or an unofficial one along the veritable river of elevated trains, only the most jaded could shake that feeling of awe at the canyons of LaSalle and the cliffs of Michigan Avenue. Moreover, the Loop contains a world-class collection of public art, in the form of huge street-side statues by many of the 20th century's most famous sculptors.

The Loop initially got its name from the looping route of streetcars that served as the transit hub of early downtown Chicago, but the name has come to be defined by the modern era's looping route of elevated train tracks, serving seven CTA lines, which ensures the continued prominence of the area as the center of Chicago's working world. Despite the gradual northwards shift in the city's center of gravity and the centrifugal force of suburbanization, all tracks lead here and accordingly the Loop remains the most attractive location in the city for major businesses, and for most of the city's visitors.

On a work day, you won't have to walk around long to realize you are at the center of things. Busy-looking people in suits hurry in and out of tall buildings, major theaters hawk their big-name productions on neon marquees, and every block has a reminder of a scene from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Dark Knight, or another Chicago movie. The Loop is the United States' second largest central business district, owing largely to its historical position as the financial hub for the Midwest and the modern world's biggest futures market. Many of those suits walking by (as you stand and gape) work for one of four major financial exchanges, the largest of which is the recent merger between the Merc (the Chicago Mercantile Exchange) and the Chicago Board of Trade. The CBoT was the world's first modern futures exchange, set up principally to serve the needs of the Midwest agriculture market, and along with the other major exchanges in Chicago, pioneered the massive modern derivatives industry. Not too long ago the streets sagged under the enormous profits, as the Merc and CBoT traded over nine million contracts daily, worth over $4.2 trillion. Today's economic outlook has soured, though, and the ranks of those suits have been thinned by layoffs, golden parachuting, and other extreme sports.

Forget work, though — the fun of Millennium Park and the festivals of Grant Park are here, and the Art Institute is fantastic. A walk by the Sears Tower and the Chicago Board of Trade is a requisite Chicago experience, but the Loop is eclipsed by other parts of the city in terms of nightlife, shopping, and dining. Being as it is first and foremost a business district, things shut down when the commuters punch the clock and hop on the train, so even if you have a room at one of the Loop's classic old hotels, don't plan to spend all of your time here — even though your camera will likely receive no finer work-out anywhere else.

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Sights and Activities

Shopping

  • State Street - From the river to Van Buren is some great shopping options from small stores to department stores built in the early 20th century.
  • Macy's, located in the old Marshfield's department store, is a great store that has something for everyone. There is also a good food area located in the basement. The address for Macy's is 111 N State and Phone is 312-578-8629

Parks

Chicago fountain

Chicago fountain

© JustJ

There are several parks located the loop area that are great. Some of these parks are very old while others have only been added in the last decade.

  • Millennium Park is a wonderful park on Michigan Ave just north of Grant Park. It is home to the world famous Bean (officially called the Cloud Gate), which gives some awesome reflections, and the Jay Pritsker Pavilion, one of the most sophisticated outdoor concert venues of its kind in the USA. Go have a wet and wild time dancing in the zero depth fountain or see some nice outdoor art in this wonderful green space. Official website: http://www.millenniumpark.org/
  • Grant Park is called "Chicago's front yard," this proud park sits right in front of The Loop and bordering the lake makes for a great downtown green space. During the summertime this park hosts the majority of major festivals, concerts and evening movies in the summer. At the centre of the park is the famous Buckingham Fountain.
  • Northerly Island is a 91 acre peninsula that goes into Lake Michigan that is located south of the Adler Planetarium. This park used to be an airport and is now a wonderful green space. There is also a small beach located on the east side of the park.
  • Museum Campus is a nice green space right in front of The Shed Aquarium and the Field Museum. This is also a good place to watch the Fire Works on the 3rd of July.
  • River Walk is along the river and is a nice path to follow.

Museums

The Museum Campus is located in the south east corner of The Loop area. The Field Museum of Natural History, The Shed Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium are located on the campus. The Art Institute of Chicago is located further north at the intersection of Michigan Ave and Adams St. For more information read the Museums in Chicago article.

Other Sights and Activities

  • Buckingham Fountain is one of the main symbols of Chicago and located in Grant Park. This large fountain was built in 1927 and has more then 5,700,000 litres going in its system. Every hour on the hour the main water cannon at the center of the fountain launches a stream of water vertically 46 metres into the air for 20 miuntes. The fountain runs everyday from 8:00am to 11:00pm from mid-April to mid-October depending on the weather. It was made famous as the opening shot for the TV series Married with Children

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Events and Festivals

  • The Chicago Gospel Music Festival is held yearly during the first weekend of June in Grant Park. It features local as well as international gospel performers over the 3-day event. The festival also includes an art fair and activities for children. Admission is free. Site links and additional information will be posted as they become available.
  • Chicago Blues Festival is held yearly during the second weekend of June in Grant Park. With 6 stages and over 70 performances scheduled, this 4-day event offers the "best of the best" in blues entertainment. Admission is free. Hours are 11:00am - 9:30pm daily.
  • Taste of Chicago is a 10 day event beginning the last week of June and is held in Grant Park. (No, not everything is held in Grant Park, but almost...) "Taste" (as it's known locally - they drop the "Of Chicago" since everyone knows where they are...) gives visitors a chance to taste (knew that was coming, didn't you) a variety of foods and beverages from more than 70 Chicago restaurants and establishments. Cooking demonstrations are held daily at Dominick's Cooking Corner and the family can enjoy a variety of activities at the Family Village and Fun Time Stage. The Taste Stage highlights local bands throughout each day. Every evening there is a free concert on the Taste of Chicago's Main Stage (Petrillo Band Shell) featuring famous performers from around the world. Previous artists have included Sheryl Crow, Train, Los Lonely Boys, Santana and Counting Crows, just to name a few. The evening concerts begin approximately 7:00-8:00pm and 3:00-4:00pm on the weekend. Admission to the festival is free. Food and beverages are purchased with tickets only. Tickets are sold in strips of 12 for $8.00 and available at booths located throughout Grant Park. Food/beverage prices (in tickets) are posted on each vendor's booth. Hours are 11:00am - 9:00pm daily. July 3rd and 4th hours are 11:00am - 9:30pm. Closing day hours are 11:00am- 8:00pm.

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

All roads lead to the centre and The Loop is the centre. Trains, roads and major buses from every corner of the city go directly to The Loop.

By Train

In Chicago, all tracks lead to the Loop. The astonishing, creaky elevated tracks of the CTA come in from virtually every corner of the city, and through the smoother commuter rails of Metra and Amtrak, from the rest of the Chicagoland area and the country beyond.

Two CTA lines run through downtown Chicago as subway lines, and do not loop around Chicago's downtown area. Both travel out of the Loop area in two directions:

The CTA Red Line runs along the lakefront neighborhoods on both the North and South sides of the city. From the north, it begins in Rogers Park), and from the south, it begins on the Far Southeast Side). In the Loop, it runs as a subway under State Street, with key stops at Lake, Monroe, and Jackson.

The Blue Line arrives at downtown from the northwest, beginning at O'Hare International Airport on the Far Northwest Side, and from the west, beginning in the suburb of Forest Park and traveling through the West Side (including a stop at UIC's campus). The Blue Line also runs underground through the Loop along Dearborn, offering free connections with the Red Line at Jackson.

Five other CTA lines (Brown, Purple, Green, Pink, and Orange) ride the elevated tracks that travel through the Loop in, well, a loop. All except the Green Line enter and leave the Loop in only one direction:

The Brown Line also comes in from the north and northwest, though it runs east of the Blue Line, beginning in North Lincoln and running closer to the lakefront starting in Lakeview.

The Purple Line, which runs downtown only during peak hours, comes in from the north, beginning in suburban Wilmette.

The Green Line comes in from Oak Park and the West Side to the west and Bronzeville to the South. It is the only one of these five lines that enters and leaves the Loop in two different directions.

The Pink Line comes in from suburban Cicero and the West Side, including Pilsen.

The Orange Line arrives downtown from the Southwest Side, where it begins at Midway Airport.

Transfers between all six of these lines are possible in the Loop. The CTA's only line not served by the loop is the Yellow Line, a shuttle between suburban Skokie and the Red and Purple Lines in Rogers Park.

From the suburbs, Metra commuter trains arrive at Union Station (Canal St and Jackson Blvd), Ogilvie/Northwestern Station (Canal St and Madison St), LaSalle Street Station (LaSalle St and Congress Pkwy), and Millennium Station (Michigan Ave between South Water St and Randolph St), all of which are within easy walking distance of the Loop and the CTA elevated lines. From beyond the suburbs, Amtrak connections from across the region and the country arrive at Union Station.

By Car

Driving to The Loop is an option and there are several parking garages around however they tend to be expensive and fill up during peak times. The easiest way to get to The Loop is to take Lake Shore Drive to the Roosevelt Road exit in the south or the North Michigan Ave Exit in the north. If coming by Interstate 90/94 take any of The Loop exits.

By Bus

Several dozen CTA bus lines travel through the Loop, but given the traffic, only a few will be useful for visitors traveling from the rest of the city.
20 Madison heads west down Madison St, ideal for reaching the United Center on the Near West Side.
147 Express runs through the Near North before running express on Lake Shore Drive to Rogers Park.

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Getting Around

By Car

During the day traffic is terrible in The Loop. It is best to park the car and walk or use public transport.

By Public Transport

There are several buses that run around The Loop that would be useful to a tourist. Here is a list of a few of them.

  • Number 10 Bus runs from Water Tower on North Michigan Ave till the river then on State Street down The Loop then out to the Museum Campus and then on Lake Shore Drive south to the Museum of Science and Industry then back. This bus runs daily late morning to late afternoon Memorial Day to Labor Day, Thanksgiving to January 5 and weekends and holiday the rest of the year.

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Eat

It's easy to find cheap food during the day — this is where most of Chicago works, so this is where most of Chicago eats lunch. However, most of those places close when the work day ends, so it's more difficult to keep costs down at night, when it's gourmet or bust. There's a sizable food court at Ogilvie/Northwestern Station (Canal and Madison) if you're on your way in or out of town.

In general, it's wise to avoid the restaurants right by major tourist attractions (e.g., the Art Institute, Millennium Park, etc.), as the quality of service and food tends to improve with distance from these one-time-visitor hot spots. There are some gems in the Loop, but you should also consider a quick cab ride west to one of downtown Chicago's premiere dining strips in Greektown.

Beef & Brandy (The B&B), 127 S State St, ☏ +1-312-372-3451. M-Sa 7AM-9PM, Su 7AM-8PM. A nice spot to get good food at reasonable prices in the Loop — a good rib-eye steak here is just $15 (it's certainly the only place downtown to get a full diner breakfast for under $5). Best to be appraised that karaoke and DJs at the bar can make Wednesday-Friday nights a bit loud during dinner. $5-15.
Boni Vino, 111 W Van Buren St, ☏ +1-312-427-0231. M-F 10AM-midnight, Sa 10AM-5PM. Boni Vino, in addition to its pasta dishes, serves what is probably the best Chicago style thin crust pizza downtown — a good option if you want pizza, but fear the cholesterol-laden stuffed pizzas at Bella Bacino's. In addition to good pizza, this restaurant has lots of character and surprisingly low prices. $8-13.
Garrett Popcorn, 4 E Madison St, toll-free: +1-888-476-7267. M-Sa 10AM-8PM, Su 11AM-7PM. Whether Garrett's shout-out-loud delicious popcorn is the cap to a good lunch or composes the entire meal is up to you and your conscience. "The Mix" is equal parts caramel- and cheese-coated popcorn; strange as it sounds, the combination is addictive. Sales went mad after an appearance on Oprah, so expect lines. There are a few other Loop stores, including 26 W Randolph and 2 W Jackson, but this is the most centrally located. Nice as it would be, signs warn that you can't bring Garrett's into the nearby theaters with you. S/M/L $3-5-7.
Heaven on Seven, 7th Floor, 111 N Wabash Ave, ☏ +1-312-263-6443. M-F 8:30AM-5PM, Sa 10AM-3PM, dinner: every third F of the month 5:30PM-9PM. If you are downtown when the craving hits for some down home comfort food, this is the place to go. While the South Side remains the undisputed home of soul food in Chicago, this place holds its own. Heaven even boasts a floor length wall of hot sauces. $7-14.
Luke's Italian Beef, 215 W Jackson Blvd, ☏ +1-312-939-4204. M-F 10AM-4PM, Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 11AM-5PM. Luke's is where it's at for Italian Beef sandwiches in the Loop, and it's right next to the Sears Tower. The quality is a little unreliable at Luke's, but when they're on, they serve some of the best beef in the city. Hold the enormous portions of fries though, if you have any sympathy for your circulatory system. $3-6. Osaka Express, 400 S Michigan Ave, ☏ +1-312-566-0118. M-Sa 11AM-8PM. A counter on a corner of Michigan Avenue with good, cheap seafood and vegetarian sushi. Be prepared for blank stares if you try ordering in Japanese, though. $5.
Bella Bacino's, 75 E Wacker Dr, ☏ +1-312-263-2350. M-Th 7AM-10PM, F 7AM-11PM, Sa 8AM-11PM, Su 8AM-10PM. Very good Italian food and simply incredible stuffed pizza. $12-18.
Cellars Market, 141 W Jackson Blvd (Chicago Board of Trade building, lower level), ☏ +1-312-427-7440. M-F 7AM-2PM (approx). A hidden gem serving breakfast and lunch only, this cafeteria closes soon after the trading floors upstairs do. Made-to-order deli sandwiches, homemade soups, a large salad bar, and daily specials prepared on-site. The turkey club sandwich is enormous, especially if you're polite and cheerful toward the person making it. $4-12.
Petterino's, 150 N Dearborn St, ☏ +1-312-422-0150. M 11AM-9PM, T-Th 11AM-10:30PM, F 11AM-11PM, Sa 11:30AM-11PM, Su 3:30PM-7:30PM. Petterino's is a classic Chicago restaurant, serving high quality steaks, salads, and seafood dishes. The restaurant caters to the theater-going crowd, and reservations for dinner are wise. $12-40.
Pizano's, 61 E Madison St, ☏ +1-312-236-1777. Su-F 11AM-2AM, Sa 11AM-3AM. The closest deep dish pizza to Millennium Park and the Art Institute. Pizano's has roots in the family that produced UNO's and Lou Malnati's, but will serve a worthy thin-crust, too. $12-20.
Ronny's Original Steakhouse, 100 W Randolph St (inside the Thompson Center), ☏ +1-312-346-9487. M-Sa 7AM-10PM. There are far better steakhouses in downtown Chicago, but Ronny's earns points for being so dirt cheap. Friendly Midwestern service, diner atmosphere, and huge cuts of meat at low prices. They lost the classic, gritty, shadows-of-the-L atmosphere when they moved here from Wabash, but a good greasy spoon is still a good greasy spoon. $9-15.
Atwood, 1 W Washington St, ☏ +1-312-368-1900. Breakfast M-F 7-10AM, Sa 8AM-10AM, Su 8AM-3PM, Lunch M-Sa 11:30AM-3:45PM, Dinner Su-Th 5-10PM, F Sa 5-11PM. Popular restaurant with a bar in the classic Hotel Burnham. Good location and atmosphere for dinner before a show. $17-30.
Everest, 440 S LaSalle St, 40F, ☏ +1-312-663-8920. Tu-Th 5:30PM-9PM, F 5:30PM-9:30PM, Sa 5PM-10PM. Arguably the best restaurant in Chicago. The "Personal French Cuisine" of Executive Chef Jean Joho is world-renowned. The view from the top floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange is magnificent as well. Complimentary valet parking. $90-130.
Russian Tea Time, 77 E Adams St, ☏ +1-312-360-0000. Su-Th 11AM-9PM, F Sa 11AM-midnight. This is the place to try Russian cuisine in Chicago! Easily one of the best Russian restaurants in the world with an inventive menu and excellent management. Ask to be seated in the front section. Afternoon tea runs from 2:30-4:30PM. $22-32.
Trattoria No.10, 10 N Dearborn St, ☏ +1-312-984-1718. Lunch M-F 11:30AM-2PM; Dinner M-Th 5:30-9PM, F Sa 5:30PM-10PM. A gourmet Italian restaurant; dinners are designed to include a primi piatti course of pasta and a secondi piatti of duck, veal, and other seasonal specialties, although they can be ordered separately. $40+.
Vivere, 71 W Monroe St, ☏ +1-312-332-4040. M-F 11:30AM-2PM 5PM-10PM, Sa 5PM-11PM. One of Chicago's top Italian restaurants, with very creative decor and a romantic ambiance. $20-40.

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Drink

Hub 51 is located at 51 West Hubbard near the Grand Redline stop. This is a pretty crazy club that is also a restaurant during the day time. The downstairs room is a lot fun but requires a reservation. Phone: 312-828-0051.
BIG Bar, 151 E Wacker Dr (inside the Hyatt Regency - see sleep for details), ☏ +1-312-565-1234. M-Th 4PM-2PM, F Sa 3PM-3AM, Su 11AM-2AM. Don't expect an intimate atmosphere or anything resembling a classic Chicago experience. Do expect all things comically out of proportion. The bar is 160 feet long and the margaritas can get so big that they actually mix them in a cement mixer. And the view is great.
Elephant & Castle, 111 W Adams St, ☏ +1-312-236-6656. 6:30AM-midnight. English-ish pub chain with the requisite fish & chips and other mid-range pub food, long hours, and a second location at 185 N Wabash. It's a good place for a long stay.
Emerald Loop, 216 N Wabash Ave, ☏ +1-312-263-0200. M-F 7AM-2AM, Sa 11AM-3AM, Su 11AM-2AM. Irish-style pub in a elegant setting, with large tables to accommodate business lunches. The food's good, breakfast included.
Exchequer Restaurant & Pub, 226 S Wabash Ave, ☏ +1-312-939-5633. M-Th 11AM-11PM, F-Sa 11AM-midnight, Su Noon-9PM. Family-friendly pub with pizza and ribs, under the L tracks and covered in Chicago memorabilia.
Miller's Pub, 134 S Wabash Ave, ☏ +1-312-263-4988. Kitchen 11AM-2AM, Bar 10AM-4AM. Established in 1935 and bursting with faded celebrity photos, Miller's Pub serves ribs, steak, and sandwiches with its list of beer, wine, and martinis. It's a little too formal to sprawl out and relax, but perfect if getting a beer is a task of equal import to dinner.
Plymouth Restaurant & Bar, 327 S Plymouth Ct, ☏ +1-312-362-1212. Su-Th 11AM-11PM, F Sa 11AM-midnight. The Plymouth Restaurant is merely an adequate cafe serving diner-style food, but come here instead for the rooftop bar. Sipping a cocktail while gazing off the balcony at the Harold Washington Library and various Louis Sullivan masterpieces is a fine way to cap off a day of sightseeing, provided that the blaring music doesn't drive you away.
Stocks & Blondes Bar & Grille, 40 N Wells St, ☏ +1-312-372-3725. M-Sa 11AM-1AM, Su 11AM-midnight. Stocks & Blondes, aside from the frightening pun, is a rarity in the Loop in that it is "just a bar." No fake Irish pub gimmickry, no failing attempts at trendiness, just a bare-bones bar atmosphere and good beer on tap.

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Sleep

Although this is the most expensive real estate in Chicago, the hotels in the Loop are slightly cheaper than those in the Near North simply because so much of the area shuts down at night. Still, these are some pretty nice digs, and being in the Loop makes transportation to any part of the city easy.

Congress Plaza Hotel, 520 S Michigan Ave (Library CTA, Jackson Blue Line), ☏ +1-312-427-3800. The Congress Hotel has seen visits from most U.S. presidents since it was built in 1893. Today, other hotels have overtaken the Congress in the glamor class, leaving it behind as a great deal with a colorful past. Ask for a room with a view of the lake — if Buckingham Fountain is running, you will be treated to a magnificent view. The workers of the Congress hotel staged the longest hotel strike in history from1993-2013. Rooms from $100.
Hostelling International Chicago (J Ira & Nicki Harris Family Hostel), 24 E Congress Pkwy (Library CTA, Jackson Red Line, LaSalle Blue Line), ☏ +1-312-360-0300. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Right in the middle of the downtown college ruckus, HI Chicago is not far from Union and Ogilvie, but will take some navigating from either airport into Chicago. Available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. No curfew, no age restrictions (under 18 must be accompanied by adult). Ask for the coupon which gives $3 off the Chicago Architecture Foundation tours. Rates start at $29, plus $3 without HI membership.
St. Jane Hotel (formerly Hard Rock Hotel), 230 N Michigan Ave (inside the Carbide & Carbon Bldg, near Millennium Park), ☏ +1-312-345-1000. With style points for being in the beautiful Carbon & Carbide Building.
Wyndham Grand Chicago Riverfront, 71 E Wacker Dr, ☏ +1-312-346-7100. Located on the Chicago River at Wacker Drive and Michigan Avenue with an impressive view, right on the border of the Near North. Rooms from $149.
Hotel Allegro, 171 W Randolph St (Clark/Lake Blue Line), toll-free: +1-866-672-6143. This lovely, Art Deco hotel calls itself a boutique, probably in reference to its friendly, full four-star service, designer decorated rooms and prices that are the same, or just a little bit more than you would pay for a blander three-star place just north of the river. Suites and some rooms have a double jacuzzi. Rooms from $209.
Silversmith Hotel & Suites, 10 S Wabash Ave, ☏ +1-312-372-7696. The Silversmith boasts an enviable location, good value, and perfectly adequate suites, but light sleepers should be sure to ask for a room away from the noisy L lines. Don't miss the dessert hour: free high quality cake, cookies, and coffee/tea in the lobby M-Th 9PM-10PM. $180–315.
W Chicago City Center, 172 W Adams St, ☏ +1-312-332-1200. This outpost of the W Hotels chain is under the shadow of the Sears Tower, in the midst of the Loop, for a bit of stylish gloom at night. From $200.
The Fairmont Chicago, 200 N Columbus Dr, ☏ +1-312-565-8000. Upscale hotel that takes pride in its restaurants and offers a number of tour packages for Chicago attractions. From $269.
Hotel Monaco, 225 N Wabash Ave, ☏ +1-312-950-8500. The Monaco provides a bit better than four-star comfort at a bit less than four-star prices, though they are a little higher than at sister hotels like the Allegro or the Burnham. What you get for the extra money is a number of specialty services geared for business travelers, so if you are traveling for pleasure go for the Allegro. From $259.
Hyatt Regency Chicago, 151 E Wacker Dr, ☏ +1-312-565-1234. 2,000 guest rooms in two towers, a riverfront location, and what the management claims is the largest freestanding bar in the U.S. It's a favorite for convention groups, and is connected via covered walkways to the Illinois Center, which is a major business complex. From $259.
Marriott Renaissance Chicago Hotel, 1 W Wacker Dr, ☏ +1-312-372-7200. Elegant hotel with sweeping views and a Rejuvenation Center. From $259. edit
The Palmer House, 17 E Monroe St, ☏ +1-312-726-7500. With over 1,600 rooms and no shortage of luxuries, the Palmer House is one of Chicago's most memorable hotels. The first Palmer House was built by business magnate Potter Palmer for his socialite wife Bertha. This one is the third version of the Palmer House — the first opened two weeks before the Great Chicago Fire. (Can't beat that for timing.) The current version, overlooking State Street, enjoyed an extravagant renovation in 2008, with tasteful 1920s-style guest rooms and a magnificent lobby bar (with magnificently overpriced drinks). From $135.
Swissotel Chicago, 323 E Wacker Dr, ☏ +1-312-565-0565. This sleek, new skyscraper offers great views over the Chicago River and the lake. From $217.

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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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Chicago/The Loop Travel Helpers

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This is version 18. Last edited at 14:38 on Sep 20, 19 by Utrecht. 2 articles link to this page.

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