Where to stay in Chicago! A guide to the best neighborhoods, things to do, and the best accommodation options at any price point.
The Windy City might have a reputation for being undeniably brutal during its winters. On the other hand, it blossoms into any city lover’s haven during the warmer months. Luckily, no matter what time of the year you visit, there is a large selection of options when it comes to where to stay in Chicago.
This metropolitan hub of the Midwest is one of the most visited cities in the United States, with over 57 million visitors in 2018. It is also the third most populated city in the country, with 2.7 million people calling it home.
Staying in Chicago, just like any other major city in the US, comes with a variety of activities and accommodations to choose from. There are hotels for any price point located in the heart of the city or in more local neighborhoods. Let's dive into the best ones!
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Where to Stay in Chicago, Illinois: The Best Neighborhoods
Chicago has everything you’d hope for in a thriving city. It has a prominent skyline and a true big city feel, along with world-renowned museums, restaurants, and endless cultural events.
Even though Chicago rivals other large American cities, it has plenty of smaller neighborhoods that slow down the pace of city life.
Visiting Chicago doesn’t just mean riding the elevator to the top of the Willis Tower or taking selfies at The Bean. There’s more to Chicago’s charm and hospitality waiting to be discovered in its most popular and local neighborhoods.
You can’t go to Chicago without walking along the Magnificent Mile. This area of Chicago is perfect for anyone in search of some retail therapy.
Magnificent Mile is known for its high end shopping, including department stores like Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom. Fashion lovers can browse through designer stores such as Coach, Tory Burch, and Chanel.
The Magnificent Mile is also known for its collection of famous skyscrapers. Staying in this area means being in close proximity to the Wrigley Building, the John Hancock Building, and the One Magnificent Mile Building.
The Magnificent Mile is an easy area to walk around and there are plenty of dining options to choose from, including everything from casual to upscale.
The Purple Pig is a favorite for its Mediterranean focus on all things pork. Stop by Bandera for some Southwest American cuisine and a nightly jazz performance. If you’re searching for classic Chicago deep dish pizza, look no further than Gino’s East Magnificent Mile.
Recommended Experience: Cultural Mile Walking Tour
Where to Stay in the Magnificent Mile
Sofitel Chicago Magnificent Mile - In an area where skyscrapers and high end retail stores are abundant, it’s no wonder that even a budget hotel would still have a sense of contemporary elegance. The Sofitel Chicago Magnificent Mile has a prime location in the area, along with modern guest rooms and French dining on site. When deciding where to stay in Chicago on a budget, this location can't be beat.
Park Hyatt Chicago - Centrally located, the Park Hyatt Chicago has easy access to the Magnificent Mile, as well as other local attractions like Navy Pier. Modern amenities in each guest room include WIFI and an iPhone docking station.
This hotel has an indoor pool and spa, along with beautiful views of Chicago’s skyline. For those who keep fitness a priority, there is a gym in the hotel. Free bike rentals are also available.
The Park Hyatt Chicago also has a few dining options on site, including the NoMi lounge, NoMi Kitchen, and NoMi Garden for a more casual atmosphere.
The Peninsula Chicago - The Peninsula Chicago is a 5-star Magnificent Mile hotel that doesn’t hold back luxury. This hotel has elegant guest rooms and suites. Award-winning restaurants, and a rooftop lounge with a beautiful view of Chicago are also features of the hotel.
A gym with fitness classes is available to all guests. There is also a sun terrace for warmer days in Chicago.
The Peninsula Chicago is perfect for those who can splurge on a luxurious accommodation in the heart of the Windy City. Some may even consider this hotel to be the best place to stay in Chicago.
The Gold Coast is a highly affluent part of the city and thought of as one of the safest neighborhoods in Chicago. It is situated along the coast of Lake Michigan and offers stunning views of what looks more like an endless ocean than one of the Great Lakes.
High end shopping and restaurants line popular North Clark and Oak Streets. Designer boutiques are plentiful and old money is still king in this wealthy neighborhood.
Fancy and sophisticated restaurants are part of the Gold Coast’s affluence as well. Visitors can choose from Michelin-starred restaurants and steakhouses.
Check out Hugo's Frog Bar & Fish House for lobster and oysters. For a unique dining atmosphere, have a meal at 3 Arts Club Cafe. The restaurant is in the middle of a five-story atrium and brims with character. If you want something just slightly less uppity, have some Italian food at La Storia.
Recommended Experience: Gold Coast and Old Town Food Tour
Where to Stay in the Gold Coast
Claridge House - A budget-friendly hotel in the Gold Coast of Chicago doesn't mean dorm style rooms and shared bathrooms. In this wealthy neighborhood, the Claridge House is a boutique hotel with upscale design for a lower cost than other luxurious hotels in the area. Only in the Gold Coast would a budget hotel include robes and a rainfall shower.
The Claridge House offers guests amenities such as a fitness center, spa with massage treatments available, and a restaurant on site.
Ambassador Chicago - The Ambassador Chicago is a contemporary hotel with both standard and unique amenities. Modern touches such as a state of the art fitness center and WIFI are available. There is also a movie screening room in the hotel where guests can enjoy a film while sitting in the private theater room.
This Gold Coast hotel is located near many Chicago attractions, including the Magnificent Mile and neighboring Lincoln Park. Situated in the heart of Chicago affluence, the Ambassador Chicago is an accommodation option for those who want to experience a stay in a high end neighborhood.
Viceroy Chicago - The Viceroy Chicago is one of the most luxurious hotels in the whole city of Chicago. Stylish interior design and attention to detail makes this hotel a step above others.
Animal lovers will rejoice in the fact that it's a pet-friendly hotel. In addition, it's walking distance from attractions such as the Magnificent Mile and one of the best hotels near Navy Pier.
There is a fitness center and a rooftop lounge with stunning views. The hotel restaurant, Somerset, offers guests Midwestern cuisine and cocktails are available at the hotel bar, Devereaux.
Come to Wicker Park to experience the creativity of Chicago. This neighborhood is a meeting point for all creative types and boasts a great number of coffee shops and craft bars. Vintage shops and local Chicago-based stores line the easily walkable streets of this neighborhood.
Locals and visitors come to Wicker Park for its strong nightlife scene and music venues. If you are choosing where to stay in Chicago based on local nightlife options, look no further than Wicker Park.
There are many things to do in Wicker Park, especially when it comes to food and tasting some of the best local restaurants.
Wicker Park houses some of the most popular restaurants in Chicago, including Italian restaurant, etta. Come for the homemade pasta and wood fired pizza. Visit Emporium Arcade Bar Chicago to try one of their 60 options of whiskeys and play some video games at the same time.
Award-winning chefs and restaurants choose to make Wicker Park home, giving this neighborhood an appeal to those who want to dine and enjoy nightlife. Wicker Park is easily considered one of the best neighborhoods in Chicago for that alone.
Recommended Experience: Underground Donut Tour - Wicker Park Edition
Where to Stay in Wicker Park
Holiday Jones Chicago Hostel - This Wicker Park hostel offers standard hostel rooms for its guests. The Holiday Jones Chicago Hostel encourages a social atmosphere. There is a shared lounge for watching TV and a shared kitchen for preparing meals.
For those who want to try some local food, the hostel has an empanada restaurant on site. This budget-friendly hotel is perfect for those who want to spend time experiencing the Wicker Park nightlife without breaking the bank.
The Robey - The Robey is a boutique hotel in Wicker Park, located in a historic building that exudes an art deco style. Sleek furnishings are standard in the hotel’s guest rooms, including hardwood floors and a Bluetooth enabled entertainment system.
A rooftop pool is one of the key features of the hotel, especially during the warm summer months in Chicago. The view from the roof opens up to beautiful views of the city’s skyline.
There is a cafe located in the hotel for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s location in Wicker Park is prime for experiencing the nightlife of the neighborhood.
Wicker Park Inn - Wicker Park Inn is a bed and breakfast in the heart of the trendy neighborhood. This quaint accommodation gives guests a much more personalized feel to their stay. Each room in the bed and breakfast is warmly decorated and some rooms have unique and charming features including exposed brick walls.
Free continental breakfast is included with a stay at the Wicker Park Inn. There is also a shared kitchen for guests to use. Those driving into Chicago can access a parking garage for an additional cost.
Chicago’s downtown district is widely known as The Loop. Some of the most iconic sites of Chicago are located within The Loop, including The Bean and Millennium Park.
A visit to Chicago is not complete without walking around this iconic area. When it comes to where to stay in Chicago, The Loop is one of the most popular areas for tourists. Chicago’s theater district is located within The Loop as well and there are many hotels near the Chicago Theater to choose from if you want to stay nearby.
The Chicago Riverwalk is a stunning attraction to see in this neighborhood and offers some of the best outdoor dining in Chicago.
This walkable stretch of the city hugs the river with some of the city's tallest skyscrapers adorning both sides of the walkway. For those who want to feel a true sense of the busy city, the Loop is the best area to stay in Chicago.
And the good news is that restaurants are everywhere in this part of Chicago.
If you are exploring this area early in the day, stop by Yolk for breakfast, located in South Loop. For Cuban food and coffee, check out Cafecito. And if you can’t decide on just one type of cuisine, visit the Revival Food Hall for a mix of 15 different vendors.
Recommended Experience: Sin and Suds Beer Tour in the Loop
Where to Stay in The Loop
Pittsfield Apartments + Suites - A stay at the Pittsfield Apartments + Suites is perfect for families or those who want a little extra apartment style feel in their accommodations. Like other historic hotels in the Loop, this hotel was built in the 1920s and comes with character from that time period.
These apartment style guest rooms come with a kitchen and WiFi in all rooms. The hotel's location in the center of Chicago is an appealing aspect. Many top attractions are located within walking distance of the hotel.
The Silversmith Hotel - The Silversmith Hotel gets its name from its history. The building once housed silver craftsmen and jewelers. It was built in 1897. It is now home to a vibrant hotel with decor reminiscent of Arts and Crafts period. Although rich with history, guest rooms are modernized with all the comforts of stay in a boutique hotel.
The Silversmith Hotel has a gym that is open 24 hours a day. The Adamus Lounge is the hotel's restaurant and room service is also available, no matter what time of the day.
Chicago Athletic Association Hotel - This one of a kind Chicago hotel was built in the late 1800's and boasts of architecture unique to its era. This is one of the hotels near Millennium Park.
The hotel's interior design has a club like atmosphere with rich leathers and woods. Guest rooms are furnished with modern amenities and athletic gear, a nod to its history.
Sticking with its past as an athletic association, the hotel has a game room featuring shuffleboard, bocce, and billiards. There is also a rooftop restaurant. The Chicago Athletic Association Hotel is located in the middle of the Loop and has walkable access to the city's top attractions. It is one of the most unique and best places to stay in Chicago.
Lincoln Park is another one of the best Chicago neighborhoods if you want to experience the city's nightlife. This part of the city has a wide variety of bars, lounges, music venues, and restaurants. It’s a popular hangout area for college students, with DePaul University close by.
Along with nightlife, Lincoln Park is a popular area to visit during the day. The famous Lincoln Park Zoo is a must to see, especially because it is free. The North Side Park, which houses the zoo, is over 1,200 acres of urban oasis where visitors and locals relax away from the fast-paced style of city life.
Lincoln Park is home to one of the most famous restaurants in the country, Alinea. Seasonal ingredients are a feature of this restaurant and the menu doesn’t stay the same for too long. Floriole Cafe & Bakery is a more casual option for French pastries and sandwiches.
Recommended Experience: Lincoln Park Walking Tour
Where to Stay in Lincoln Park
Chicago Getaway Hostel - This accommodation is a budget-friendly option that won’t break the bank. The Chicago Getaway Hostel provides the choice of private or dorm style guest rooms.
Lockers are available but guests must bring their own lock. There is also a kitchen that guests can use to prepare meals, along with free breakfast to save a little extra money.
Local attractions nearby include the Lincoln Park Zoo and Wrigley Field. The Chicago Getaway Hostel is also walking distance to the Fullerton subway station. It is one of many hotels near Lincoln Park that appeals to a money saving crowd.
Hotel Versey Days Inn by Wyndham Chicago - This recently remodeled hotel in the heart of Lincoln Park has plenty of modern guest rooms available. For those who want to stay in shape while on vacation, guests can use the neighboring LA Fitness for free. There is also a restaurant and bar, as well as local Chicago artwork throughout the hotel.
Inn at Lincoln Park - The Inn at Lincoln Park is tucked away near residential tree-lined streets. This hotel has a close proximity to downtown Chicago and its decor is reminiscent of Europe from a century ago.
History lovers can enjoy guest rooms that are inspired by Victorian era design. This luxury accommodation provides guests with quality amenities and is walking distance to many of Lincoln Park's best attractions.
How to Get Around Chicago
Chicago is a very walkable city, which makes it a convenient city to get around for tourists. With that said, although each Chicago neighborhoods can be explored by foot, when traveling from one neighborhood to another, public transportation is one of the best and cheapest ways to get around.
The Chicago Transit Authority, also known as the CTA, provides public trains and buses to locals and visitors. CTA is the second largest public transportation system in the country.
Using public transportation is relatively easy. There are L trains, which essentially stand for elevated trains. The L is one of the most popular ways to get around the city. The Red and Blue lines run 24-hours a day and include a route to the airport. There are 144 train stations across Chicago, making it one of the best options when it comes to traveling around the city.
The CTA also includes public buses, with over 100 routes throughout Chicago. Many buses function 24-hours a day. Since public transportation doesn't fully stop at night, it makes it a reliable way of getting around even after a night out.
Visitors can load rides on a Ventra transport card to make getting around Chicago on public transit more seamless. The L costs $2.50 per ride and the bus costs $2.25 per ride. There are also options for unlimited one- and three-day rides.
The L route that goes to O'Hare International Airport only costs $5.00, making it a very cheap way of getting to and from the airport.
Top 10 Sights to See in Chicago
Locals may tell you that it could take a lifetime to uncover all the sights and beauty of Chicago. It's truly a city rich in history yet full of modernity. Chicago takes cultures from all around the world and blends them together to make one of the most diverse and exciting cities to visit in the US.
Chicago doesn't hold back on famous cosmopolitan landmarks while offering a friendly Midwestern welcome to visitors. These are some of the most famous sites to see in the Windy City.
The Willis Tower is one of the most well known skyscrapers in Chicago, standing at 1,450 feet high. It is a hub for businesses and offers a sky high view at the SkyDeck that is unlike any others in the Windy City.
Navy Pier is one of Chicago’s most famous landmarks, full of restaurants, shops, and on-going family-friendly events. One of its most iconic attractions is its famed ferris wheel. It's a great spot to spend an afternoon in the city people-watching and eating good food.
Recommended Experience: Signature Food Tour at Navy Pier
The Chicago Cubs call Wrigley Field home. This popular baseball stadium was built in 1914 and is steeped with history. Catch a Cubs game if you are visiting Chicago during baseball season, or walk by the urban ballpark and witness it from the street.
There are also options to take a behind the scenes tour of Wrigley Field. Concerts are often held at this stadium too, which gives visitors a unique way to enjoy the stadium if it’s not baseball season.
For an indoor activity, visit Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium where there are approximately 32,000 animals to see. Aside from the entertainment aspect, the Shedd Aquarium also provides rehabilitation to injured animals and conservation efforts to keep the Great Lakes clean and healthy. It's a fun and educational experience for all ages.
The SkyDeck Chicago is an observation area of the Willis Tower. It is located high up on the 103rd floor of the skyscraper and boasts beautiful views of the Windy City.
The SkyDeck is popular for The Ledge glass boxes, which is perfect for those who aren’t afraid of heights. The Ledge glass boxes extend about four feet from the observation deck, giving visitors a thrilling and unobstructed look straight down the façade of the building.
Lincoln Park Zoo
The Lincoln Park Zoo is free to the public. Located within North Side Park, it gives visitors an escape from urban life. Like much of Chicago, the zoo has a long history in the city. It opened its gates in 1868 and is one of the first zoos in the United States. The zoo is open 365 days a year and offers a number of educational opportunities for children.
Buckingham Fountain is one of the largest fountains in the world and is located in Grant Park. During the warmer months from April to October, onlookers can enjoy fountain shows in the evening with colorful lights. The shows take place every hour and run for 20 minutes. During the winter when the fountain is not operating, it is decorated for the holiday season.
Named 360 Chicago for its panoramic views of the city below, the 94th-floor observation deck of the John Hancock building is a must-see attraction for anyone who loves a good view. Whether visiting during the day or on a clear night, 360 Chicago is a perfect way to see the sights from above.
Cloud Gate (The Bean)
Officially known as Cloud Gate but popularly known by its nickname, The Bean, this piece of art is found inside Millennium Park. Its mirrored exterior gives visitors a fun and unique reflection when taking pictures of city, as well as themselves.
Chicago’s famed Millennium Park is a 25-acre urban green space in the middle of downtown Chicago. Millennium Park has a number of features to visit, including The Bean, Lurie Garden and the Crown Fountain.
Other Recommended Experiences to Have in Chicago
Top 3 Day Trips from Chicago
Milwaukee, Wisconsin is an easily accessible day trip from Chicago. Visitors can either choose to drive or take Amtrak from Chicago to Milwaukee. The drive takes about an hour and a half, while the train takes about one hour. With its close proximity and variety of ways to get there, Milwaukee is a great Midwestern city to visit from Chicago.
While in Milwaukee, take a walk in Lakeshore State Park. The park is 22-acres and sits alongside Lake Michigan. In the warmer months, it is a prime outdoor space for jogging, walking, and fishing.
The Milwaukee Public Market is a delicious spot to visit for people with big appetites and the desire to taste different cuisines under one roof. For motorcycle enthusiasts, don't miss out on the Harley-Davidson Museum.
Recommended Experience: 3-Hour Milwaukee Sightseeing Tour
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin is a popular day trip from Chicago because of its proximity, only one hour and thirty minutes away. It offers a relaxed atmosphere away from the city and architecture lovers can admire mansions that were built during the Gilded Age.
During the summer months, setting sail on the lake is a fun activity. The Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark is a great option for families who want to experience water activities all times of the year.
For those over 21, there are a variety of breweries and wineries in the Lake Geneva region. Visit the Studio Winery for some glasses of wine or Rush Creek Distilling if you prefer craft spirits.
Six Flags Great America
The nationally known Six Flags chain of theme parks is an exciting day trip from Chicago. Six Flags Great America is located just outside of Chicago in Gurnee, Illinois. This day trip is intended for those who seek the thrill of rollercoasters and the fun of amusement park games.
Popular rollercoasters in the theme park include Viper, Batman The Ride and The Joker Free Fly Coaster. For those with small children, Six Flags Great America has a great amount of kids rides and arcade games.
Visiting this theme park makes you forget that you’re just a little over one hour outside of the city.
What to Pack for Chicago
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