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Travelers to Chicago take note: more than 1,000 conventions and trade shows are scheduled throughout the year. The National Restaurant Association show in May, the Manufacturing Technology show in September, the Radiological Society of America show in late November, and the National Housewares Manufacturing show in January are among the biggest. Hotel rooms may be hard to come by—and tables at popular restaurants even harder.
Proximity to McCormick Place, where most of Chicago's huge trade shows hunker down, is often a conventioneer's top priority, so most wind up staying in the Loop or South Loop, where hotels are just a five-minute cab ride away from the mammoth venue. In these neighborhoods accommodations tend to be older and somewhat less expensive—although there are certainly a few exceptions. Expect somewhat quiet nights in these parts; although the Loop boasts a revitalized theater district, come sundown there's a lot more revelry north of the Chicago River in the neighborhoods surrounding the Mag Mile. Vibrant Rush Street is the site of many bars, and River North has a high concentration of restaurants and nightclubs.
A meeting or convention in Rosemont or a tight flight schedule should be the only reasons to consider an airport hotel. Prices at these properties are a bit lower, but the O'Hare area is drab. Plus, trips from there to downtown may take an hour during rush hour, bad weather, or periods of heavy construction on the Kennedy Expressway.
Contact the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau at 877/244–2246 for information on conventions, trade shows, and other travel concerns before you book your trip.Updated: 02-2014
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