Chicago, Illinois

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Traveling Information

Getting around:
The city's streets are set up in a grid pattern, providing ease of navigation. Parking is often hard to find. Taxis are readily available. The elevated "El" trains are color coded and run through the downtown "Loop" every five to fifteen minutes during the day Walking is an option year round as the underground Pedway pedestrian tunnels link more than 40 blocks of the central business district.

Chicago's O'Hare International Airport is one of the world's busiest. O'Hare is located northwest of the city; depending on traffic, drive time is 30 minutes to more than an hour. On the opposite end of the city, the Southwest Side, is Chicago's other major airport, Midway International Airport.

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Getting Into Town From the Airport:
Taxis are plentiful at both O'Hare and Midway. Public transportation is convenient from both airports. You can take the El directly into downtown. O'Hare is located on the Blue Line; a trip to downtown takes about 40 minutes. Trains leave every 6 to 10 minutes during the day, and every half-hour in the evening and overnight. Getting downtown from Midway on the Orange Line takes 20 to 30 minutes.

Continental Airport Express:
Serves most first-class hotels in Chicago with its blue-and-white vans; ticket counters are located at both airports near the baggage claim.

Free Ride:
During the summer, the city of Chicago operates free trolleys daily between Michigan Avenue and the Museum Campus (site of the Adler Planetarium, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Shedd Aquarium) and on weekends in the fall and spring. Free trolleys also run year-round between Navy Pier and the Grand/State El station on the Red Line (you can check out the routes and get details on schedules at

Ticket to Ride:
Visitors can buy a Visitor Pass, which works like a fare card and allows individual users unlimited rides on the El and CTA buses over a 24-hour period.

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El and  Sky Train:
Chicago's El: Chicago has the biggest El in the country, and the second-largest public transportation system. The rapid transit system operates five major lines, which the CTA identifies by color: The Red Line runs north-south; the Green Line runs west-south; the Blue Line runs through Wicker Park/Bucktown west-northwest to O'Hare Airport; the Brown Line runs in a northern zigzag route; and the Orange Line runs southwest, serving Midway airport. A separate express line, the Purple Line, services Evanston, while a smaller, local line in Skokie (the Yellow Line) is linked to the north-south Red Line. Skokie and Evanston are adjacent suburbs on Chicago's northern boundary.

By Car:
Chicago is laid out in a very straight forward grid pattern, and it is easy for visitors to get around the city by car. Unless otherwise posted, a right turn on red is allowed after stopping and signaling.

By Boat:
During the summer, boat traffic greatly expands along the Lake Michigan shoreline and the Chicago River. Water Taxi and River Bus service operate every few minutes.
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