The Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) is one of two functioning airports in the city, but this is by far the larger. This facility has a light rail system linking its four terminals to one another, and you can find plenty of amenities within these terminals. There is WiFi access, ATMs, bureau de change counters, lots of restaurants, cafes, bars and snack kiosks, as well as a variety of shops and a duty free section.
Situated less than 30km from downtown Chicago, you can reach the central part of the city via the CTA light rail service, trains, buses, shuttles and taxis. If you take the latter, expect a fare of about 40USD ($55) and take about 40 minutes.
Flying from Australia to Chicago can be done with Qantas, American Airlines, Air Canada, United, Delta, Air New Zealand, Hawaiian Airlines, Asiana, and JAL.
Why visit Chicago?
Chicago is perhaps the quintessential American city. It was one of the first cities in the world to embrace the gleaming skyscrapers that have since became synonymous with fast-paced metropolitan life, but it has never lost its Midwestern charm. You will find a culture that embraces fine dining, a rollicking nightlife, a great theatre scene, and a host of galleries and museums you can visit. Added to that, the city lies on the banks of Lake Michigan, allowing for outdoor adventure even in the heart of the city. Find your way to the spectacular ‘Windy City’, a United States staple.
Things to do in Chicago
Spend your first hours in Chicago walking down Michigan Avenue. The centerpiece of Chicago life, this boulevard is home to some of the city’s most famous landmarks, like Tribune Tower, and the Wrigley Building, but is also a shopping mecca, offering tons of luxury retailers, and unique boutiques you can enjoy some retail therapy in.
Then stack your deck with a ton of cultural attractions, like the Museum of Science and Industry, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Art Institute of Chicago. When you’re all museumed out, then book tickets to see a ballgame at the famous Wrigley Field, home of the World Series winners, the Chicago Cubs.
Outdoorsy highlights are the Navy Pier, built in the early 20th century, and filled with entertainment; from restaurants to shops, theme park rides, and pop-up concerts. There’s also the Shakespeare Theater just nearby, where you can catch a hot show. There are the wide-open green spaces of Lincoln Park, buttressed up against Lake Michigan, and where the excellent Chicago History Museum is located.
Lastly, if you are staying in the city for a while, book a day trip out to the Starved Rock State Park, where you can hike the trails through pretty waterfalls, picnic on the bluffs, or take a boat tour down the river.
Best time to visit Chicago
· Autumn (September-October) is the best time to visit this city, the heat of the summer has died down, and so have the crowds. Daily temperatures see highs of around 16-22°C, and a number of the city’s most celebrated festivals come to town.
· Summers in Chicago are warm, but can get really humid when a heat waves hits. Typical summer days sit at about 26-27°C, and you will definitely need to book in advance.
· Winters are freezing, this is the Windy City after all, so you will need to come prepared with lots of layers and warm jackets. However, this is the cheapest time to fly and stay in this city.
Arriving in Chicago by plane
· Hopping aboard a flight to Chicago from Australia will involve a stop or two. Usually you can count on these being in Los Angeles (LAX), Vancouver (YVR), or Dallas (DFW).
· United States Dollar (USD).
· If you hold an Australian passport you are eligible to enter the USA by filling out an online visa waiver. This is called the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA). Utilise the smart traveller website and their page on the USA for details on how to apply.
Please note that information is correct as of December 2016
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