Never been on the Ell in Chicago


Mar 19th, 2014, 11:46 PM
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Never been on the Ell in Chicago

I've been to Chicago many times, but have never ventured out of town on the Ell. We are staying at the Kinzie and would like to experience something new. I suppose we could just get on and ride around randomly just to say we've done it, but our time is limited. Any suggestions for Ell newbies?
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Mar 20th, 2014, 12:29 AM
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If you mean the El, and if you have any interest in architecture, you might head west on the green line to Oak Park to tour the Frank Lloyd Wright houses there.
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Mar 20th, 2014, 02:11 AM
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Color me embarrassed! Yes, I mean the EL, not Ell, lol. That's a great suggestion, thanks.
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Mar 20th, 2014, 05:38 AM
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On our last trip to Chicago the kids wanted to ride the EL so we went for lunch at Longman & Eagle (Logan Square EL stop) and dessert at Bang Bang Pie shop - 2051 N. California Ave.,
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Mar 20th, 2014, 05:52 AM
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If you are flying into Midway, take the El into town and then back to the airport.
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Mar 20th, 2014, 07:36 AM
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Officially, it's The "L". As the post above says, you can take the Orange Line from Midway into the city in about 30 minutes. You can also take the Blue Line from O'Hare. The trip takes about 45 minutes. Just look for the signs that say "CTA Trains to City" in the baggage area.

A single trip is $2.25 except trips that originate at O'Hare have a $2.75 surcharge. The Blue Line runs through the Dearborn Street Subway, along the Kennedy Expressway median and on the elevated structure. The Orange Line is exclusively above ground.

The CTA is in the midst of changing carecard systems, so check the info for which will be in use when you're here. Farecards are valid on all CTA trains and buses.

The CTA site at also has a trip planner, maps and how to track trains and buses with a smart phone.

If you're not arriving via airport, a good trip is to take the Brown Line to Armitage. There are several small boutiques and restaurants on Armitage and Halsted Street. Check

Another trip could be to take the Red Line toward 95th Street and exit at Cermack to have dim sum in Chinatown. There are several restaurants to choose from and a number of stores to browse. Check

Either trip is only about 10-15 minutes from The Loop.
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Mar 20th, 2014, 09:01 AM
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First of all-great hotel. Used to be the Amalfi, and always liked the staff there, and there continental b'fast on each floor.

With limited time, say about an hour, here's what I would do to get the elevated train experience. Walk west on Kinzie (the street your hotel is on) and catch the Brown line at the Merchandise Mart going in the direction: To the Loop/southbound. The brown line will "loop" the downtown area, so you'll see some interesting architecture. As you approach the Harold Washington Library, try to look up at the red-brick building (on the right side of the train) to see the enormous, copper (well, green) Owl facade at the roofline. Get off at State and Lake.

Keep in mind that the Red Line/Blue line are subways, so you don't see anything in the loop district. (It is above ground further from the city, but I'm thinking you want the elevated train experience.)
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Mar 20th, 2014, 09:09 AM
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Thanks Citylights. We are actually driving in to Chicago. I appreciate the advice about Armitage and Chinatown and will check them out!

ChgoGal, that's exactly what I was hoping to find out. Perfect suggestion! I'm excited to revisit what was once the Amalfi. I liked it when we stayed there before and am looking forward to seeing what changes have been made.
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Mar 20th, 2014, 11:01 AM
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An ell is a length of rope. ;-)

The line that goes to Evanston passes by Wrigley.
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Mar 20th, 2014, 09:18 PM
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What are you planning to do while you're in Chicago? I'm asking because if you're staying in the Loop or Mag Mile, the train and bus are your best bets for getting around when you're not walking. Don't bother with the car. I would say if you're taking the train, do so with a purpose and not just for a random ride.
If you're going to a baseball game, the red line stops right by U.S. Cellular and Wrigley. Most of the major sights downtown are within a few blocks of the train (Millenium Park/Bean/Grant Park, Macy's, the theaters, Willis Tower). Mag Mile is right off the red line.
The blue line will take you out to Wicker Park and Bucktown. The red and brown lines take you through Lincoln Park. Brown line takes you to Lincoln Square, a cool neighborhood but a bit of a hike. All those areas have good restaurants with more of a local feel.
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Mar 29th, 2014, 11:01 AM
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I think that someone should clarify things for others who are just reading this thread, because the OP's question is rather misleading.

The 'L (registered trademark) is the CTA's train system which services various neighborhoods of the city of Chicago (portions of the city itself, not the suburbs) as well as a few locations outside of Chicago's city limits.

Maggi, if you've been to Chicago upon numerous occasions and have not gotten out of the very narrow confines of the "tourist zone", you have cheated yourself out of experiencing many of the very best experiences in the city. Many of the best restaurants, theatrical experiences, concerts, sporting events and so on.

For "newbies", go to the CTA's website and look at the online maps. The 'L train lines are named by colors (Red, Blue, Purple, Yellow, Orange, Brown, Green, Pink), radiating out from the Loop where they all converge. Sometimes you can take different color lines to different stations (i.e., Belmont is serviced by the Red, Brown and - at times - Purple) and some areas are serviced by only one line (Wicker Park/Bucktown mentioned above, Blue).

If you have sufficient time to do so, go to the Chicago Greeter or the Choose Chicago websites. They will both give you information of the various neighborhoods of Chicago. I mention the first specifically for those who would like to utilize the free Greeter service to explore the city. Depending on the neighborhood, you might use an 'L line to get there (to get to some neighborhoods may require use of the CTA's bus service).

Lastly, the Chicago Architecture Foundation and the Chicago History Museum both have tours specifically using various 'L lines. IMHO, it just might help a person to know what they are looking at outside of an 'L window.
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Apr 18th, 2014, 06:33 AM
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Thank you! That is valuable information indeed for my future visits.
Maggi is offline  
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Jul 6th, 2014, 01:20 PM
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Marking so I can find this info again. Thank you everyone for the insight.
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