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Chicago travel guide

Weather and climate

Temperatures: -6-32 (°C) 

Chicago turns into a snowy winter wonderland during the colder months, with average temperatures falling below zero. Though it’s cold, this is a perfect time of year to visit the museums or enjoy some retail therapy. The city warms up in spring, with temperatures hovering in the mid-teens at the peak of the season. For the warmest weather, come in summer, or book your holiday for the beginning of autumn when the weather's still pleasant. 

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Chicago is best for...

CULTURE LOVERS
See some of the most famous paintings in the world at the Art Institute of Chicago.

FOODIES
Tuck into an authentic Chicago deep-dish pizza or discover Chicago’s diverse dining scene, often hailed as the best the States have to offer.

SHOPPERS
Walk State Street, home to Macy’s, the second largest department store in the world.  Explore The Magnificent Mile, home to 460 retailers and 275 restaurants.

Fast facts

Language: The language spoken in Chicago is English.

Currency: The currency used in Chicago is the American Dollar ($).

Local time: Chicago is 6 hours behind GMT/UK time.

Fly to: The main airport in Chicago is O’Hare Airport (ORD), around 29km southeast of downtown Chicago.

Flight time from UK: 8-9 hours.

Tourist Information: Further Chicago tourist information can be found here.

Visa / Health: Before you travel click here for recommendations and advice on visas and health for your holiday to USA.

Getting around

By L Train: Chicago’s elevated ‘L’ trains serve 144 stations. They’re efficient, reliable and great if you’re on a budget.

By bus: For the best value, buy an Unlimited Ride Pass and you’ll have free use of Chicago’s buses for one, three or seven days.

By water taxi: A fun way to explore the city’s hotspots, particularly during the warm summer months.

By taxi: Cabs are convenient and plentiful throughout the city. Remember to tip your driver 15-20% of the total fare.

Events

Foodie fun In July, indulge your senses at the Taste of Chicago, the world’s largest food festival. Three million visitors descend on Grant Park to taste the city’s diverse cuisine, from traditional deep-dish Chicago pizza to spicy African stews.

Summer sounds June features Chicago’s Blues Fest, the world’s largest blues festival. August is the time to rock out at Lollapalooza, one of the city’s biggest music festivals. Previous performers include Muse, Coldplay, Depeche Mode and Lady Gaga.

Winter festivities Get into the Christmas spirit with a trip to the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival at the end of November. Trees along North Michigan Avenue are illuminated with 1 million lights, and there’s also a colourful parade and a fireworks display to keep the little-ones amused.

Neighborhood festivals No matter when you visit during summer, this city of neighborhoods has something happening.  There are over 60 food and music festivals from May – September each year.