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Why You Should Visit This U.S. City That Is Breaking All-Time Tourism Records

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Sometimes it takes a special event to find yourself in a place you’ve never visited before.

For me, it was running, which saw me visit Chicago for the first time in October last year for the annual marathon.

Before heading to ‘the windy city’, I had always disregarded it as somewhere a bit too cliched for a specific trip, but I quickly realized there are many reasons why this is a fabulous destination in the United States.

And the proof is in the pudding, with the city setting record tourism numbers in the first half of 2023 according to a report by CBS News Chicago.

Chicago river view with tourists on boat

Chicago is absolutely packed with iconic sights, fascinating museums, amazing eats, friendly people, and a lot to do to entertain a solo traveler.

Here’s why you really should make time to visit Chicago:

The Place To Be For Events

Chicago is a show town and always has a busy calendar of events, concerts, festivals, and other entertainment.

There’s always something to do, but some of the city’s most famous events include the music festival Lollapalooza, the Chicago Blues Festival, and the Chicago Air and Water Show.

I’m probably biased, but the Chicago Marathon is also a great event to coincide your visit with.

It takes place in early October each year, and the whole city comes out to cheer and celebrate thousands of runners from around the world – also this year is the 45th-anniversary edition.

runners chicago marathon theatre

A Great City For Solo Travel

I found Chicago to be a great place for a solo traveler – it’s a big city that doesn’t feel so big, and the people are incredibly friendly and proud of their home.

If you want a low-cost way to spend a day, then browse some of the amazing museums on offer, such as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum of Natural History, or my personal favorite, the American Writer’s Museum.

For those who like to meet new people, the bars of the city are always welcoming – try heading to Logan Square or the Old Town.

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chicago skyline on lake michigan

More Affordable Than You Think

Despite the fact it’s a big city, Chicago can be enjoyed on a modest budget.

Lonely Planet suggests that a hostel room can cost as little as $40, whereas a basic hotel room for two can be around $150 a night.

Public transport is one of the easy ways to make Chicago cheap – a day pass costs just $5, which can also even get you to and from the airport on the Blue Line.

Food doesn’t have to cost the earth either; you can enjoy Chicago classics such as a hot dog or a deep-dish pizza for somewhere around $5 to $10.

serving a slice of chicago style deep pan pizza

Iconic Sights And Hidden Gems

It’s hard to visit Chicago without taking in some of its most iconic sights, such as The Bean sculpture at Millennium Park, the city’s tallest building Willis Tower, or Navy Pier.

But this is a city that rewards those who stray from the beaten path, with a wealth of bars, restaurants, museums, theatres, and other attractions that are just waiting to be discovered by the curious.

With a cheap and well-connected network of public transport, reaching the lesser visited parts of the city is easy.

Cloud Gate, Bean-Like Monument In Chicago, Illinois, United States

So Easy To Get To

Chicago is served by two international airports, O’Hare and Midway, so there is plenty of choice when it comes to booking an affordable flight.

The city is also easily accessible by road via one of several major highways, including the I-90, I-94, I55, I-290, and I-294.

The train is also a great option to visit Chicago, with both Amtrak and Metra going into Union Station.

View of the Hall of Flags in Terminal 3 from American Airlines (AA) at Chicago O'Hare International Airport

A Walkable City

One thing that is surprising about Chicago is just how walkable it is.

Of course, the riverwalk is one of the best places to explore on two feet, passing iconic buildings and bridges as you meander through the urban jungle along the Chicago River.

man walking across the street in chicago

But even away from this specifically pedestrianized area, many of the most interesting parts of the city are best explored on foot.

Neighborhoods such as Downtown/Loop, River North, and New Eastside can all be walked around in a single day – just bring comfortable shoes and you’ll be fine.

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Scott Wood

Monday 14th of August 2023

All true! I visited Chicago in October and I loved it. The skyscrapers are magnificent! The downtown area was clean and packed with marvelous stores. We felt safe downtown; we saw women walking around at night, alone.

Chris

Sunday 13th of August 2023

I have taken my family to Chicago twice now and everything we have gone my kids absolutely love it. We went everywhere.

B Wallen

Sunday 13th of August 2023

I loved Chicago 20 years ago and love it still. I was there for the marathon in 2022 - my husband ran and I explored the city on my own. I never felt unsafe and I love the architecture as well as the history. As everywhere, I hope to use common sense but not be crippled by fear.

Clarence

Saturday 12th of August 2023

I went to Chicago in June and absolutely loved it.... My only regret is a El Ride. I wanted to ride it but you guys got so many lines. From the deep dish 🍕 pizzas to the boat tour and the new Eastside. CHICAGO WILL Definitely see me again.i even caught a cab to cook county hospital looking for Harrison Ford or Tommy Lee jones.🤣🤣 Great City..

Susan

Monday 14th of August 2023

@Clarence i worked at Cook County in the early 90's and I never found them either !

Milein

Saturday 12th of August 2023

I am a Chicago native raised on deep dish pizza that I love love love Ginos growing up eas my favorite. Also If you're not a fan of deep dish pizza home run and pizza it's fabulous! This is a beautiful city everything in this article was on point and absolutely truth Chicago is an amazing city to visit full of culture and many things to do!