Getting around Chicago

Old Feb 16th, 2015, 05:03 PM
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Getting around Chicago

My wife and I are taking the kids (14 and 10) to Chicago and the Dells for five days in June. We are spending one night in Chicago (we have a hotel by O'Hare). We land mid-morning and will see the Cubs at night. The hotel has free parking, so I'd like to leave the car there, take the Blue line to the city for the afternoon, then Red line up to Wrigley. After the game we would do it all in reverse back to the hotel. Having never been to Chicago, I don't know if this is practical. Is it safe? How long will the ride from Addison to O'Hare take? Should we park in the city instead of taking the train in?
cgards is offline  
Old Feb 16th, 2015, 05:38 PM
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No reason to reverse but a couple of changes. Take Clark ave bus to Irving Park (east/west), Irving Park bus to the Blue line. I think that would be quicker and easier than returning to downtown and the blue line.
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Old Feb 17th, 2015, 05:04 AM
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When you read this, you might think I'm being a little tough on you. But doing it for your benefit.

Sorry...You are not spending a night in Chicago. You are spending a night in a suburb about an hour away from Chicago.

You would be spending 3.5-4 hours commuting RT on public ground transportation AFTER arriving on a who-knows-how-long flight. Is that really the way you want to spend your first visit to Chicago?

I personally don't see the reason why you are staying out by O'Hare. Not only are you making it really tough on yourself and family with that tortuously long commute - but you are attempting to do the return leg late at night. And you are planning on paying for a rental car for at least an entire day - and perhaps most of the next - with it just sitting unused.

I'm assuming that you won't be getting any weekly discount with the rental car, because you simply don't have enough days, based on what you've said above.

Take a look at the CTA timetables ( - for the Red Line and Blue Line - or even using the #22 and #80 as mentioned above. Do you notice how much longer of a commute you will have because the trains and busses travel less frequently that late at night? Take a look at the times. Remember that after a night game you will not be able to just jump on the first Red Line train or bus that comes along. You'll be in the midst of a large crowd of people - all trying to get out and most using that same public transportation at the same time.

Speaking of the O'Hare area hotel, how are you planning on getting between the hotel and O'Hare to pick up the Blue Line? Does the hotel offer shuttle service as well? If so, does it operate between 1-2 a.m. - when you would most likely be returned to the O'Hare area after the game, if using the Blue Line?

About your question of driving into the city. Parking will be quite expensive - an extra expense for you. The area around Wrigley Field is largely parking by permit for residents only and enforced rigorously. You would still have a lengthy commute back to O'Hare - just not quite as long as using public transportation, unless there are traffic problems.

Here is what I'd suggest to you:

Do not get a rental car as soon as you fly into O'Hare. Stay in "downtown" Chicago somewhere with reasonable access to the Red Line. (There aren't many hotels in the central areas that don't have that.) Forget about staying out by O'Hare - that is to be considered only as a last resort, when visiting Chicago.

Then, after the night game, you'll actually get back to your hotel at a more reasonable time, perhaps around midnight or a little before - instead of 1:30-2:00 a.m.

You do realize that it normally costs more to get a rental car from an airport than off-site? If that additional expense doesn't bother you, you can all then go back to O'Hare the next day via the Blue Line, pick up the rental car from there and be on your way up to the Dells.

If it does give you pause, then I'd be researching what car rental agencies are located in downtown Chicago and do not charge extra for return drop-off at O'Hare. The idea is to pick up your rental car downtown only when you absolutely need to have it; and then return it to O'Hare when you come back from the Dells.

Now I should mention this: Chicago has a number of huge conventions and quite a few big events (concerts) scheduled for the month of June (as well as other summer months). We are taking about 10s of thousands of people coming in at one time. (If this was late June into the 4th weekend, expect around 100,000+.)

So if you are planning your visit at the time one of them is going on, then not only are the hotel rates in downtown Chicago affected - but it filters all the way out to the hotels by the airports.

So, if you haven't already locked yourself into specific dates - with your vacation time off, the reservations for the Dells and the flights (I assume this isn't a problem with the Cub tickets, since they don't go on sale until next month), I really recommend that you play around with your visit dates to see if there could be savings there.

OR you could possibly head directly up to the Dells first with the rental car and then spend your final night in Chicago.

I just think you could have a much more enjoyable stay than what you are describing in your original post.
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Old Feb 19th, 2015, 08:08 AM
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I agree woth above poster. Stay IN the city of Chicago!
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Old Feb 19th, 2015, 09:14 AM
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While I get what is being said about losing that time getting into and out of the city. I'm still trying to figure out if they are arriving at O'Hare how they will avoid that time being lost regardless? Won't they still spend that same amount of time getting into and out of the city even if they stay IN the city. Meanwhile, if the poster is looking to get on the road early the next morning to get to the Dells, I'm trying to figure out what purpose is being served by staying IN the city after the game, just to leave first thing the next morning?

If the were spending a couple of days and going back and forth a couple times from downtown to the airport I'd be in total agreement, but going in once and coming back -- I don't see what difference if it makes exactly when they do that -- except that it might be easier if they are returning at night to O'Hare than during the morning rush.
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Old Feb 19th, 2015, 04:01 PM
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NP, it's not only what they want to do, but WHEN.

In a nutshell:
Unknown how long their flight is but let's say 3 hours at min.
Time between O'Hare and hotel, DO bags/check-in: 20-30 min.
Back to O'Hare to pick up Blue Line: 15-20 min.
Blue Line to Loop: 50-55 min.

Now they have to get up to Wrigley on the Red Line. Every night game in June, save one, has its opening pitch at 7:05 p.m. On weekdays, they have to avoid the rush hour (4:30-7 p.m.) or they won't meet this minimum time: 15 minutes

Let's say the game lasts 3.5-4 hours. So they get OUT of the ballpark by 10:30-11 p.m. Late at night, the 'Ls and busses run on much reduced schedules. There are longer wait times between two busses and trains. If they miss a transfer, well, it's going to be that much later that they get back to O'Hare.

How they are planning on getting back to their hotel from O'Hare? Perhaps cab will be the only way. Don't know.

Do you think that the OP and family will be up-and-at-'em very early the same morning to drive to the Dells, when they get back in the wee hours?

That's why I suggest they stay "downtown". Not only will they save that back-and-forth to drop off their bags at the hotel in the first place (almost .75-1 hour) but they'll get back to their hotel at a much more reasonable hour.

I would assume they want about 7-8 hours sleep plus want to eat breakfast before getting out on the road to the Dells. That would put them beyond the rush hour, if a weekday (until 9:30 a.m.).
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Old Feb 19th, 2015, 04:05 PM
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Sorry, I wanted to mention this: I would never recommend taking a cab back to O'Hare from Wrigley after a game. All they would accomplish is watching the meter ticking away, languishing in stopped-to-slow-moving traffic.

Of course, they could always leave the game before it's over. That might help their return commute time somewhat because they don't have to get out with most of the crowd. But, on the other hand, a lot of people may already be doing that, too.
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