Chicago is one of the most popular cities in the world for tourists to visit, and it’s not hard to figure out why. “The Windy City” offers everything that an avid traveler and ecstatic tourist looks for. That’s led by culture, music, arts/entertainment, sporting events, historic landmarks, tourist attractions, museums and signature foods like Chicago-style pizza.
When talking Chicago tourism, in 2021 alone, this historic city welcomed 30.7 million visitors (domestic and international). A large portion of 2021, of course, was greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Back in 2017, an estimated 55.2 million tourists came to visit Windy City.
Sports fans coming to visit Chicago may want to check out the many popular Illinois sportsbooks. The state offers both in-person and mobile/online sports betting, and some sportsbooks even offer special promos to new customers. This includes a risk-free bet of up to $1,000 from both BetMGM and FanDuel as well as a second chance free wager of up to $500 from BetRivers.
When it comes to visiting Chicago, there are plenty of things to keep in mind and learn in order to maximize the overall excitement of your trip. Here are some important travel tips to remember before you come to Chicago.
Chicago tourism: Seeing sporting events during fall & winter
The Cubs and White Sox of Major League Baseball both missed out on the MLB postseason this year, but Chicago’s other popular sports teams are in the midst of their respective campaigns.
The Bears are enduring a tough and trying season in year one under GM Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus, but second-year quarterback Justin Fields has given the team some hope for the long-term future.
Chicago has six home games remaining on the schedule between early November and the season finale on Jan. 8. They’ll host the Miami Dolphins on Nov. 6 and then the NFC North rival Detroit Lions on Nov. 13. In Week 13 (Dec. 4), the Bears will host the archrival Green Bay Packers. That is especially a must-see game for football fans who are visiting Chicago during the weekend.
The Bears will face three bonafide contenders over their final three home games in the Philadelphia Eagles (Dec. 18), Buffalo Bills (Dec. 24) and the Minnesota Vikings (Jan. 8). So if you’re in Chicago during November, December or the second Sunday of January, you’ll have several opportunities to catch a Bears game at the legendary Soldier Field venue.
The Bulls and Blackhawks play their games at the legendary United Center venue. Their respective regular seasons commenced earlier this month and run through the second week of April. And if you ever want to see a Bears and then a Bulls or Blackhawks game on the same day, keep in mind that Soldier Field is only about a 20-minute drive from the United Center.
Image: Max Herman, Shutterstock
Free tourist attractions
If you’re a history lover and/or an admirer of arts, and if you happen to be on a budget during your travels here, you should know that a plethora of the top tourist attractions in Chicago are free to the public.
This includes venues such as the Adler Planetarium, the Chicago Cultural Center, the National Museum of Mexican Art, the Garfield Park Conservatory, the Navy Pier and the National Veterans Art Museum, among others.
Some venues will offer free admission on specific days, so you can always keep an eye on those offers before planning out your days in Windy City. In short, there is so much to enjoy (for free!) here in Chicago.
CTA passes & water taxi system
If you’re relying on public transit as your main source of transportation during your time in Chicago, you should take a look at the many options offered through the Chicago Transit Authority and the city’s water taxi.
The CTA offers a variety of several day passes. You can get unlimited rides through a one-day CTA pass for only $5. A three-day pass costs just $15, and a seven-day pass will cost you just $20.
Chicago’s Water Taxi system is closed for the remainder of the year and will start up again in spring 2023. So if your visit to Windy City takes place during spring or summer, you can enjoy the experience of riding along the Chicago River.
For example, a weekend one-way pass will only cost $6. Aside from the cheap transit option itself, riding the Chicago Water Taxi will give you a breathtaking trek on the river and a look at the city’s many signature skyscraper buildings. You could spend hours at a time enjoying yourself on a water taxi in Chicago.