Getting Around Chicago
Chicago's downtown is easily walkable. But if you're traveling across the city to different areas, you'll want to look into using Chicago's public transportation system.
CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) is Chicago's public transportation service. Consisting of 8 train lines and over 100 bus routes, the CTA provides a common alternative to owning a car in the city. In Chicago, the train system is referred to as the "L" - this name comes from many sections of track being elevated above ground.
In general, the L costs $2.25 per ride and the bus costs $2.00 per ride. If you have exact change, you can pay cash on buses. However, the most popular way to pay for CTA fares is using a Ventra Card. You'll need a Ventra card to board the L trains. Ventra cards can be found at airport keyosks near public transportation, or many stores throughout the city such as Walgreens and CVS.
Many visitors opt for the 1-day, 3-day, 7-day, or 30-day passes - this gives you unlimited rides during a given time period.
Chicago is quickly becoming a premier cycling city with an increasing number of bike lanes. Divvy has allowed visitors and people who don't own bikes the opportunity to leverage Chicago's growing biking infrastructure. Milwaukee Avenue to Kinzie St. provides a bike-friendly route from the north west side of the city to downtown. In 2012, the Dearborn 2-way bike lane opened, providing a route for bikers from the north side of the loop to the south side.
While many people are commuting by bike, the Chicago area also offers many leisure cycling opportunities; the 18-mile Lakefront Path is popular amongst cyclists as well as the the North Branch Tail.
Driving in Chicago is like driving in any big city; there's a lot of traffic, parking is expensive (and often hard to come by), and did I mention the traffic? If you can avoid bringing a car to the city, do it. If you do drive here, keep you eye out for permit-only street parking - you'll want to avoid these areas as you are required to have a special sticker on your car in order to park they. Permit-parking signs will be posted on these streets.
Chicago is a big city (234 square miles). You'll likely do a lot of walking here; through neighborhoods, to public transportation, bars, etc. We're lucky to have beautiful city parks, a river walk, several beaches, an 18 mile Lakefront Path, and soon, a new set of elevated trails called The 606. Before you head out on foot, make sure you have somewhat of an idea as far as what areas to avoid. Like any city, there are neighborhood you just don't want to go.
Explore the Chicago Map!