Travel to Chicago
Flying to Chicago
American Airlines, British Airways, United and Virgin Atlantic operate direct flights from the UK to Chicago. The cheapest time to travel is usually between January and March, while fares tend to be at their highest in July and August.
Travel by road
Chicago is as much the centre of the US road network as it is that for rail and air routes. The general rule for numbering on freeways and interstates is that odd numbers go north-south and even numbers go east-west over their whole length, although at any single, localised point it may seem different. Driving is on the right. Speed limits on different motorways can vary. The general maximum is 90kph (55mph), with some spots being 110kph (70mph). Town residential areas can be as slow as 30kph (20mph), with specifically posted limits near schools. It is also illegal to pass a yellow school bus when its red lights are flashing. Unless specified, it is permissible to turn right at a red light after making a complete stop.
The minimum driving age is 16 years, or 18 years for unsupervised driving. Visitors require a valid driving licence from their home country. Third party insurance is mandatory, although it is also highly recommended for drivers to have adequate travel medical insurance, as the cost of medical treatment in the USA is huge.
The American Automobile Association (AAA) (tel: +1 866 968 7222; www.aaa.com) can provide information and may offer reciprocal benefits to members of automobile clubs in other countries.
Emergency breakdown services
AAA (tel: +1 800 222 4357).
Interstate 90 (I-90) runs due west to Seattle on the Pacific seaboard, while I-80 runs a parallel westward route, further south, to San Francisco. Its eastward stretch goes to New York. I-55 goes south to St Louis, then follows the Mississippi to New Orleans on the Gulf of Mexico. Making an arc on the west side of the city, about 16km (10 miles) from the Loop at its nearest point to Downtown, the I-294 is a toll road. Also, south of the city centre, the I-90 becomes the 'Chicago Skyway Toll' road, on its route to Indianapolis. The I-94 connects with Milwaukee and Minneapolis in the north, while the I-80 takes drivers west toward Omaha.
The main bus station is located at 630 West Harrison Street, only two blocks from the CTA Blue Line's Clinton Station. Greyhound (tel: +1 800 231 2222; www.greyhound.com) operates nationwide coach services from here. Indian Trails (tel: +1 800 292 3831; www.indiantrails.com) operates regional services between Chicago and Michigan destinations like Bay City, Saginaw and Flint.
Time to city
From New York - 13 hours; Detroit - 4 hours 30 minutes; Des Moines - 5 hours 30 minutes; Minneapolis - 7 hours.
Travel by Rail
Union Station, 225 South Canal Street, is the hub of the national Amtrak network. Amtrak trains travel throughout the USA, but are notoriously slow and often subject to delays. If you have plenty of time on your hands, it can be a great way to travel though. The commuter service, Metra, also operates from here.
Chicago is a major stop on several Amtrak routes. The Californian Zephyr travels from Chicago to Emeryville (San Francisco) via Denver. The Capitol Limited connects Chicago with Washington, DC, while the Cardinal joins Chicago with New York. The Empire Builder stops at Milwaukee and St Paul/Minneapolis on its way to Seattle, and the Southwest Chief travels from Chicago to Los Angeles via Albuquerque. Other destinations with direct services from Chicago include New Orleans, San Antonio, Milwaukee and Indianapolis.
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