Ultimate Guide to Moving to Chicago as a Student

Ultimate Guide to Moving to Chicago as a Student

Ultimate Guide to Moving to Chicago as a Student

Chicago is an incredible city. If you’re moving here to attend a university, you’re going to have an amazing time. Still, transitioning to a new city isn’t always easy. There’s a lot to learn and experience. 

In fact, it can feel overwhelming.

And with some of your best times ahead of you, it helps to have inside tips on how to get the most out of your time in Chicago quickly and easily

That’s why we’ve created this Chicago Student Guide.

Read on for the best recommendations on off-campus living, transportation, and entertainment in Chicago. It’s everything you need to start an awesome life in the Windy City.

Best Chicago Neighborhoods for Students

Learn more about the neighborhoods near colleges and universities in Chicago. Whether or not you decide to live close to campus, there are a lot of good times to be had around these Chicago neighborhoods.

Hyde Park – University of Chicago 

Hyde Park - University of Chicago

If you’re a student at the University of Chicago, you’re in luck. Your main campus is in the gorgeous Hyde Park neighborhood

Hyde Park sits between Washington Park and Lake Michigan, offering both greenery and beautiful lakeside views to its residents. It’s a small neighborhood but all the more exciting. 

(It’s no wonder Barack Obama called this area home before he was president.)

The gorgeous parks make excellent picnic and study spots for students in Hyde Park. Powell’s is a long-time student-favorite bookstore in Chicago. They sell a great selection of used academic books, but you can also find great titles for some light reading.

Lincoln Park – DePaul University

Lincoln Park – DePaul University

As a DePaul student, you’ll be just steps away from Lincoln Avenue. This is a prominent street for students with lots of different food and nightlife options. 

If you’re looking for food and entertainment in Lakeview, ideal areas are North Broadway, Clark St., and Southport Corridor.

Plus, you’ll find no shortage of options for entertainment in either of these neighborhoods. Lincoln Park Zoo has free admission, and you can also visit the connecting garden conservatory. And North Avenue Beach is incredible for a fun game of beach volleyball. 

Apart from the museums, parks, and theatres you can visit, Lincoln Park also has an incredible selection of restaurants. Here you’ll find staples like the Bourgeois Pig Cafe, Parson’s Chicken, and the original Potbelly Sandwich Shop.

If you’re into baseball, Lakeview will be the perfect place for you in Chicago. This is where you can find Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. Catch a ball game here some time to unwind from your classes.

Edgewater and Rogers Park – Loyola University

Edgewater and Rogers Park - Loyola University

If you live close to campus as a student of Loyola University, you’ll get to enjoy the laid-back attitude of Edgewater and Rogers Park. While this isn’t as close to the Loop as other campuses, the diverse community feel to both these neighborhoods is extraordinary.

Luckily, if you want to go downtown from Edgewater and Rogers Park, you have plenty of options. Take the CTA Red Line or the Metra’s North Line for a quick and easy commute.

One of the best things about Rogers Park is that it has over 130 different restaurants. Many of these are family-owned joints. Stroll about and taste a variety of different international cuisines. The area is particularly known for its Ethiopian cuisine. 

While in Rogers Park, don’t forget to stop and marvel at the friendly community that creates these incredible dishes. The people here are known to be friendly.

Try XO Marshmallow’s gourmet sweets, Rogers Park Social’s seasonal craft beers, and HoneyBear Cafe’s brunch for an ultimate Northern Chicago dining experience. 

Near West Side – UIC

Near West Side - UIC

As a University of Illinois at Chicago student, you’ll be at the center of the city a lot. You’ll get to experience the atmosphere of downtown Chicago, and soak up its history. 

Near West Side is the birthplace of Chicago blues. Even the Chicago Fire of 1871 started in this neighborhood.

Today, you can find incredible eateries around the UIC campus. Especially Italian. Little Italy is right next to the main campus. And there’s no better place to grab a slice of pizza between classes. Restaurants like Fontano’s Subs also offer one of the best sandwiches in the city.

If you’re in the mood for Greek food, Greektown is just on the other side of campus. One of the staples of this Chicago corner is a restaurant called Athena. There you can find authentic Greek food that will make you fall more in love with the Near West Side.

Just keep in mind that it can be challenging to find off-campus housing in Near West Side. That’s why many students of UIC commute from West Loop, Fulton Market, Noble Square, and Pilsen.

Bronzeville – Illinois Institute of Technology

Bronzeville - Illinois Institute of Technology

Bronzeville is south of the city center, but still pretty close to the Loop. Located just below Chinatown, you can count on more than just great takeout.

IIT students can take advantage of the wonderful little parks this area has to offer. There’s no better place to study than under a tree, provided there’s good weather of course. You can also enjoy Lake Michigan here. Whether you prefer to admire (or use) the large marina, or the sandy 31st Street Beach it’s right next to is up to you.

Baseball lovers can catch a White Sox game at their home at Guaranteed Rate Field. Best of all, you can find tickets for student-friendly prices to these games. 

The Loop – Columbia College, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

The Loop - Columbia College, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

The Loop is the center of Chicago. This is as downtown as it gets. You can find many Chicago attractions here, such as the Bean or the Willis Tower. Wander around the Art Institute of Chicago, and discover the statues of Grant Park for an artistic Chicago experience.

As exciting and beautiful as the Loop is, many students who study at Columbia College or the School of the Art Institute of Chicago often commute. Since most train lines meet in the Loop, you have plenty of opportunities to find the ideal location for you.

Evanston – Northwestern University

Evanston - Northwestern University

While Evanston is technically not part of the City of Chicago, it’s definitely part of Chicagoland. Located just North of Rogers Park, Evanston combines the small-town feel with proximity to one of the biggest cities in the United States. The 12 miles that separate Evanston from the city center makes Evanston feel like a new neighborhood of Chicago.

What’s college without some college football? You can catch a great game at Ryan Field, and watch the Northwestern Wildcats play on their home field. 

As a Northwestern student, you’ll have the opportunity to go to the Block Museum of Art here. And if you want to do something truly unique, visit the American Toby Jug Museum. You can marvel at over 8000 Toby and character jugs.

In the warm months, visit Grosse Point Lighthouse and Merrick Rose Garden for a lovely day out.


How to Rent an Apartment in Chicago

When you’re moving to Chicago as a student, the first thing you need to decide is where you want to live. 

Before you decide on a neighborhood, ask yourself: do you want to live on-campus or off-campus? 

Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of living off-campus, so you can make the right decision for yourself.

College Housing vs. Off-Campus Housing Pros and Cons – Chicago Edition

While living in Chicago is equally exciting from both these options, how you live, what you experience, and who you meet all depends on your choice between on-campus and off-campus housing.

Living in college housing or in a dorm is great if you definitely want to be close to campus. It’s also a great place to meet new friends. If you don’t know anyone in Chicago, it’s easy to find partners to come with you to discover the city.

However, a lot of dorms have their own set of rules. Some have curfews or quiet hours. Others have strict guest policies. If you want to be free to go about the city with whoever you want, off-campus housing may be the better option for you.

When you rent your own apartment as a student, you have the freedom to decide who you live with and how much you pay for rent. Whether you prefer to live alone, with friends, or with roommates is all up to you. 

You also have the freedom to eat, shop, and party as much as you wish. (As long as your roommates aren’t bothered.)

With this in mind, you can get a good sense of your priorities for living in Chicago as a student. Most people choose to live in dorms during their first year of college and move off-campus with their friends later. Others prefer their privacy and freedom, even if they don’t meet as many people at first.

How to Find Roommates in Chicago

If off-campus housing is what appeals to you, but you don’t know who to move in with, don’t worry. There are plenty of great options for students to find roommates in Chicago. 

Here are four platforms you can use if you want to live with roommates in Chicago, but you don’t know anyone:

1. SpareRoom

One of the handiest websites when it comes to finding roommates is SpareRoom. Lots of students and young professionals use it to find roommates. You can check posters’ profiles to see if their budget, lifestyle, and location matches your needs.

2. Roommates.com

As the name suggests, Roommates.com helps you find roommates who are actively looking to move in with someone. The platform’s special feature sets you up with your “Perfect Match”, the roommate whose lifestyle is most like yours. 

3. Facebook

There are plenty of roommate-seeking Facebook groups dedicated to Chicago that you can browse. Alternatively, you can also post on your timeline to see if perhaps one of your Facebook friends is also looking for someone to live with.

4. Craigslist

While you definitely need a certain amount of bravery to search for a roommate on Craigslist, it’s undeniable that sometimes, it can be a match made in heaven. You can keep this as a last option to find roommates in Chicago.

Step-by-step Guide to Renting an Apartment (12 Steps)

Once you found a roommate and you know which neighborhood you’d both like to live in, it’s time for you to start apartment hunting! The most exciting step in moving to Chicago as a student.

Knowing the exact steps of renting an apartment in Chicago can help make your renting experience easier. We can give you a quick rundown of how this process usually works.

Follow this handy list of 12 basic steps to find out how you can rent an apartment in Chicago:

  1. Set a Budget: Before you even start looking, make sure you set a limit for your rent. And don’t forget to include utilities in your calculations. (You don’t want to find yourself picking up extra jobs next to your studies to pay for your rent.)
  2. Know Your Credit Score: One of the most important factors of renting is your credit score. It can influence your landlord when you submit the offer. If you don’t have a good credit score yet, make sure you ask someone who is to be your guarantor. Knowing who it is in advance can save you a lot of trouble down the road.
  3. Decide How Long You Want to Live There For: You may not want to stay in the same place for the whole duration of your studies. However, if you do, staying for several years is a great bargaining chip when looking for your next apartment. The more time you stay in a place, the better it looks on your future apartment applications. 
  4. Search for an Apartment: Search for an apartment in your preferred neighborhood, keeping in mind your budget and living requirements. You can use apartment hunting websites and apps to help you, such as Brixbid, Apartments.com, and Domu.
  5. View the Property: When you find an apartment you like, you can go and view the property. This gives you a good idea of the condition and size of the place before you commit to it. It may take a couple of viewings to find the right apartment for you. Read our guide on apartment viewing etiquette to help you with this step.
  6. Submit an Offer: Found the ideal apartment? Great! Submit an offer to the landlord, either directly or through an agent to let them know that you’re seriously interested.
  7. Get Approved: Your landlord or real estate agent will do a credit and background check. This is where they decide if you can rent or not. After this is complete, the next steps are just negotiations and formalities. 
  8. Negotiate the Price: You can pay the asking price for the apartment, but you don’t have to. You can save a pretty penny by negotiating your rent with the landlord before you sign the lease. Read this handy guide on rent negotiation to find out how exactly.
  9. Sign the Lease: Once you agree, put it in writing. Include the extra amenities, such as parking spaces in the lease too. Read through the lease carefully (several times) until you understand it and agree with the terms. Then, all you need to do is sign. And bam: You just rented an apartment in Chicago!
  10. Get Renters Insurance: While the landlord will have their own insurance policy, they’re not liable for certain damages. Having your own renters insurance can help mitigate out-of-pocket costs if anything goes wrong.
  11. Inspect the Property: Before you move in, make sure you check and document the condition of the property. Take pictures of the cleanliness, any scratches, dents, and damages you see. Having these on file when you move out can help you keep your deposit.
  12. Move In: Finally, it’s time to move in. Make your new apartment truly a home with these useful first apartment essentials.

Getting Around Chicago

As a student, you’ll need to get around Chicago easily. Whether you’re going to classes or visiting museums, you need to navigate the city well.

Use these tips and advice on how transportation works in Chicago to make getting around the city easier:

1. Download the Citymapper App

Google Maps and Apple Maps may be the most famous navigation apps out there. However, they’re not the only ones.

If you want a reliable app to navigate in Chicago, Citymapper can help. You can download this free app on your phone. 

Just insert your destination, and the app will tell you what transportation options you have, how much they will cost, and how long it will take to get there. 

Brilliant, right?

2. Check If Your School Offers Transportation

Some colleges and universities offer direct transportation to their campuses to students. It’s worth checking if your school offers bus service and if you’re eligible for it. UChicago, UIC, and Loyola students can definitely take advantage of this option.

There’s no easier and cheaper way to get to campus than with your school’s own bus line.  

3. The L Train

If you want a quick and cheap transport option, take the Chicago L trains. There are 8 Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) train routes, each marked colors: Red, Blue, Green, Purple, Brown, Pink, Orange, and Yellow.

You can read this useful How-to guide by CTA on how you can get around Chicago using L-trains.
As you can see from this CTA L train route map, these transport options are everywhere in Chicago. And they all meet by the Loop.

As a college student, you may have access to a U-pass. This is a great perk from your college or university. You can get free or heavily subsidized CTA transportation during semesters. If your college offers this, it’s definitely worth taking the U-pass.

4. CTA Bus System

The CTA doesn’t just offer train rides. Buses are fast, cheap, and reliable ways to go where trains don’t. If you don’t live near a train station, the CTA bus system will surely come in handy. 

You can use this complete CTA system map to help you navigate your way.

5. Metra Lines

Hold on. Another train system? 

Well, Metra rail lines are a little different than CTA trains. Metra is primarily for suburban commuters who want a quick and convenient way to get downtown fast. While CTA trains mainly operate within the city, Metra lines go outside of Chicago, too. 

For many who don’t live near an L-train stop, the Metra is the best option. Metra lines are also a little bit nicer, and a little bit more expensive too. Still, it’s a transport option that makes Chicago even more commutable.

6. Biking in Chicago / Divvy Bikes

Chicago is a very bike-friendly city. There are plenty of bicycle lanes or paths you can take to and from campus, and there are usually spaces where you can park your bike. 

Don’t have a bike? No problem. 

You can borrow a Divvy bike in Chicago for convenient and cheap transportation. The annual membership with a student discount is only $55 (less than $5/month). No need to commit to a bike or worry about its maintenance.

Biking in Chicago isn’t just easy and cheap. It’s also a great workout. Just make sure you always wear a helmet for safety.

7. Driving in Chicago

While Chicago has great public transportation, some still prefer to drive. Here are some great tips on driving in Chicago for the first time:

  • Avoid rush hour: 6 am to 8 am, and 4 pm to 6 pm is brutal in Chicago if you’re driving. You can get stuck in standing traffic, so it’s best to avoid those times if at all possible when you’re driving in Chicago.
  • Follow the grid pattern: If you want to easily navigate the streets of Chicago as you’re driving, simply follow the grid pattern of the city.
  • Watch out for one-way streets: Some streets in Chicago are one-way streets, especially in the Loop. Be careful of these so you don’t make an illegal turn.

You can turn right on red: If you’re turning right at a red light, feel free to do so. But, that’s only allowed when the vehicle is fully stopped first. Make sure you don’t roll and endanger pedestrians.

Top Movers with Student-Friendly Prices

Moving is one of the most stressful events in life. No matter how exciting moving to Chicago as a student feels, having a reliable moving company to help you can take some of that stress off your shoulders. 

Here are five moving companies that you can count on when you’re moving to Chicago:

  • H2H Movers: This women-owned and operated moving company promises licensed and insured moving services in the Chicago area. Their amazing reviews speak for themselves.
  • Holy Roller Moving: This moving company promises efficient and timely service without any hidden fees. The flat fee price they quote you over the phone is what they’ll charge you. This is very helpful for any student trying to budget their moving expenses.
  • Long Distance Movers: Not every student who moves to Chicago for college lives close by. If you live way out of state, this moving company can transport your belongings to your new home across the country. Be it Houston, San Francisco, or New York, Long Distance Movers can help.
  • 2 Guys and a Van: This family-owned and operated moving company works by a simple concept: you get two guys a van, who help you move efficiently. Reliable, trustworthy, and respectful in their service.

The Lock Up Self Storage: Although this isn’t a traditional moving company, it’s a very useful service for students. You don’t want to take all your stuff with you when you move out of dorms during the summer. Lock it up in self-storage until you can move into your new place.

How to Get a Part-Time Job in Chicago

A lot of students get a part-time job next to their studies. You can earn money, get work experience, and meet new people with a job.

There are a lot of different types of jobs in Chicago for students. Many opt to wait tables or bartend. Others prefer to work in a shop or store. And some solely focus on internships and opportunities in their chosen field of study. 

  • Your school: A lot of colleges and universities in Chicago have an employment page, where they’re looking for students to do odd jobs around campus. Flyering, leading college tours, and promoting extracurricular activities are common student jobs around campus that usually pay well. Check your school’s website for opportunities.
  • Indeed: One of the biggest job search sites is bound to have jobs that you can enjoy as a student.
  • Glassdoor: Glassdoor provides a huge database to compare the salary expectations and company cultures of companies. You can also apply for student jobs on this site.

Chicago Scholars: This job search website is specifically for students and recent graduates. Their goal is to provide career opportunities and improve the success of Chicago’s youth.

Best Student Discounts in Chicago

As a student in Chicago, you should take advantage of all the student discount options available. Visit museums, ball games, and theatre shows on the cheap simply by using your student ID.

Museums in Chicago That Offer a Student Discount

Most notable museums in Chicago offer a student discount. However, student discounts and prices are subject to change at the discretion of every museum. It’s worth reaching out to museums to check their current student discount policies.

This list is the most up-to-date student discount availability for notable museums in Chicago.

Student Discounts at Chicago Theaters

Other Student Discounts in Chicago

  • AMC: $5 student tickets on Tuesdays at AMC Theatres.
  • Chicago Cubs: If you want to catch a ball game on the cheap, watch out for the Chicago Cubs discount days. You can grab $10 tickets for selected baseball games.
  • Various restaurants: A lot of restaurants in Chicago offer student discounts to patrons. Just make sure you have your student ID as proof.

Best Things to Do in Chicago in the Winter and the Summer

After studying in libraries for days on end, there’s nothing better than to grab some friends and fill a day with outdoor activities. Of course, winter and summer activities are much different in Chicago due to the weather.

That’s why we separated the best outdoor activities for students in Chicago by season. Try these pastimes to get some fresh air, have fun, and make lifelong memories.

Best Winter Activities in Chicago

  • Christmas Market: For the past 25 years, Christkindlmarket has taken over Daley Plaza and Wrigleyville. This gorgeous German-style Christmas market is the perfect place to drink a hot beverage, shop for Christmas tree ornaments, and meet Santa.
  • Ice Skating in Millenium Park: Ice skating with a view of the Bean is peak winter-Chicago. It’s practically a must-try. Get your skates on and head down to Millennium Park for some ice skating.
  • Go Sledding at Soldier Field Sled Hill: Soldier Field Sled Hill is a 220-foot slope located near the Near South Side by the lake. Once snow covers it, it’s perfect for some sledding.
  • Thanksgiving Parade: While Thanksgiving is technically a fall holiday, it’s so cold in Chicago by November, it may as well be a winter activity. Enjoy the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade for a spectacular holiday show.

Stroll Past the Windows at Macy’s: The Macy’s winter window display is a sight to behold. Even if you don’t go shopping, marveling at this intricate display can remind you of the magic of the holidays.

Things to Do in the Summer in Chicago

  • Go to a Beach: One of the greatest things about Chicago is Lake Michigan. And in the summer, there’s no better place to be than at the beach. Chicago has plenty of sandy beaches. And some are even dog-friendly! Check out this list of the 9 best beaches in Chicago (allegedly).
  • Lollapalooza: We can’t talk about Chicago in the summer without mentioning Lollapalooza. This annual four-day-long music festival in Grant Park is the talk of the town every year. Featuring A-list headliners like Miley Cyrus and the Foo Fighters, it’s definitely a great place to be as a student.
  • Festivals in Chicago: Lollapalooza may be world-famous, but it’s not the only festival in Chicago. If big crowds and loud concerts aren’t your thing, Chicago has something for everyone in the summer. Visit the Chicago Air and Water Show, sample local eats at Taste of Chicago, or listen to the Chicago Blues Festival for an authentic Windy City experience. Check out other Chicago festivals here.
  • Movies in the Park: The Chicago Park District puts on a special treat for Chicago residents every summer. You can watch movies in a park. Open-air cinemas certainly have their charm. Check out the Movies in the Park lineup here.

Best Bars, and Clubs for Students in Chicago

Of course, there’s no way to tell you where all the best bars and clubs are in Chicago. There are too many! 

However, these bars are certainly famous for being student favorites. Visit them and decide which are your favorites.

  • The Underground: Perfect for late-night dancing to popular club music.
  • Five Iron Golf: If you like being active while drinking, Five Iron Golf has indoor golfing. Not mini-golfing. Real, swing-it-like-you-mean-it golfing with the help of computer simulation.
  • Ph.D Pub: This cozy outdoor pub is perfect for craft beer-loving students. After all, the name is already academic.
  • Berlin: This diverse nightclub welcomes everyone from all walks of life. It’s an LGBTQ-friendly club that aims to create shared experiences through music, dancing, and fun. 
  • Joy District: Did somebody say cocktails on a roof deck? This late-night dance club is perfect for every student.
  • Fremont: New American restaurant, cocktail bar, and nightclub all-in-one.
  • Number 9: Music venue and nightclub for real Chicagoans.
  • Tunnel: A nondescript entrance on Kinzie Street leads to a hidden nightclub with a great atmosphere. 
  • Electric Hotel: Urban style brick and oak nightclub in an old electric supply warehouse.
  • Red Lion Pub: English-style pub with fish ‘n chips and shepherd’s pie.
  • Kirkwood: A perfect sports bar for Indiana and Nebraska college football fans.
  • Streeter’s Tavern: Downtown Chicago dive bar with an impeccable college-bar atmosphere.
  • Kelly’s Pub: One of the oldest family-owned pubs in Chicago.

Alulu: Creative house-brewed beers and craft cocktails.

Best Restaurants to Dine Out in Chicago

There are over 7,300 restaurants in Chicago. So, dialing down on the best of them isn’t exactly an easy task. 

However, these handful of restaurants and dining joints are some of the most famous student-favorites in the city. 

  • Superdawg Drive-In: A hot-dog stand that quickly grew into a popular drive-in restaurant. Try their trademarked Superdawg™, a pure beef hotdog in a poppy seed bun. 
  • Wiener’s Circle: Speaking of awesome hot dogs in Chicago, Wiener’s Circle certainly has a great history. Stop by for a late-night snack after a fun time dancing. And don’t be surprised if the server’s rude. They’re meant to take your order in a vulgar way. It’s part of the Wiener’s Circle charm.
  • Crisp: Korean chicken wings and fusion takeout.
  • My Pi Pizza: Famous family-run Chicago deep dish pizza joint.
  • Homeslice: A unique pizza place with thin-crust pizza and a rustic style.
  • Bulldog Ale House: Food and brews at 10 different locations around the Chicago area.
  • Flaco’s Tacos: Fresh Mexican food made from scratch. You can even see how the food is made in their open kitchen.
  • Medici on 57th: A Hyde Park staple restaurant, bakery, and a long-time favorite for UChicago students.
  • Nella Pizza e Pasta: Authentic Italian restaurant with ingredients imported straight from Italy. 
  • Manny’s: A classic deli in downtown Chicago. A great spot to grab some lunch between classes.
  • Bari: Italian deli and sub takeaway with fresh ingredients and friendly staff.

Touristy Things You Need to Try Once When You Move to Chicago

Just because you moved to Chicago doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy its tourist attractions. In fact, you should try these 8 tourist attractions in Chicago if you truly want to get to know the city.

All of these are great day-trip themes to various parts of the city, so you can discover more neighborhoods in Chicago.

Selfies by the Bean

The Bean quickly became a symbol of Chicago when it was erected in 2006. Officially called Cloud Gate, this 66-foot long bean-shaped statue has a reflective surface, making it the perfect place to take a Chicago-themed selfie.

You can find the Bean at Millennium Park in the Loop. 

Eat a Deep Dish Pizza

Deep dish pizza is a staple of Chicago. So much so that this type of pie is officially called Chicago-style pizza. Baked in a pan, its tall crust creates the perfect space for melted cheese and chunky tomato sauce.

A lot of pizzerias in the city claim to have the best deep dish pizza. However, it’s up to you to decide which one will be your local favorite. It’s a great excuse to try them all. After all, deep-dish pizza is a must-have when you’re in Chicago.

Take in the View from Willis Tower

Formerly known as Sears Tower, the Willis Tower is a 108-story skyscraper. Making it the third tallest building in the Western hemisphere. And it offers incredible views of Chicago. 

Defeat your fear of heights on the Skydeck Ledge, where you can stand on a reinforced glass above the street.

Have Fun at Navy Pier

If you like amusement park attractions, but you want to stay in the city center, Navy Pier is just the place for you. The Navy Pier is a 3,300-foot-long pier from the Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago into Lake Michigan.

You can crown this glorious day out with a ride on the famous Ferris Wheel, where you can take in the gorgeous views of Chicago. 

Visit the Lincoln Park Zoo

The Lincoln Park Zoo is a great place in Chicago to learn about animals and nature. And best of all, it’s free entry for all!

You can also catch some special events at the zoo: concerts, adults-only nights, and ZooLights are just a few to name.

Visit the Museums

Chicago has plenty of museums to choose from for an interesting and educational day out. Visit the Field Museum to learn about dinosaurs, or the Art Institute of Chicago to see the original A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Seurat (aka the painting in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off).

(Window) Shop the Mag Mile

The Magnificent Mile is no ordinary street. This is the heart of Chicago’s high street. Also known as the Mag Mile, it stretches from the Near North Side all the way to the Chicago River. 

It’s the perfect place to shop (or window shop) high-end fashion items. Make a day of it, and soak yourself in luxury.

If shopping’s not your thing, the Mag Mile is also home to Starbucks Reserve and Eataly. Grab a coffee or some Italian food to recharge.

Toss a Penny in Buckingham Fountain

One of the most authentic landmarks of Chicago is the Clarence Buckingham Fountain. This memorial is one of the largest fountains in the world. You can catch one of its famous 20-minute-long water displays once every hour from 9 AM till 11 PM. 

Find Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park Columbus Drive (301 East) and Congress Parkway (500 South). Once you’re there, toss in a penny and make a wish. It may just come true.

Things to Avoid in Chicago

  • Don’t Ask for Ketchup: Hot dogs are a staple of Chicago cuisine. Yet, there’s one thing all true Chicagoans avoid: putting ketchup on hot dogs. 
  • Don’t Complain About the Weather: It’s called the Windy City for a reason. Complaining about it won’t make any difference.
  • Don’t Try to Park Downtown: Parking downtown is basically impossible. Some say it’s easier to win the lottery than find a decent (and free) parking spot in downtown Chicago. You’re better off just taking public transport to the city center.
  • Don’t Call Chicago Chi-Town: Kanye West certainly made Chi-town into a thing, but real Chicagoans aren’t a fan of the nickname.
  • Don’t Call It Willis Tower: While the official name of the skyscraper is Willis Tower, it used to be called Sears Tower for decades before they changed it in 2009. It’s still a sore spot for Chicagoans.
  • Don’t Go to Wrigleyville After a Cubs Game: Unless you’re at the game yourself, spare yourself the trouble. Cubs games attract a LOT of people to Wrigleyville. Avoid the crowds, the fans, and the baseball supporters.