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  1. #1
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    Chicago People - Transit Help

    I have been all around CTA's website today, and there isn't much help there, so...

    My wife and I will be in Chicago in a few weeks: We will be arriving at Union Station via Amtrak. We need to get to McCormick Place via public transportation.

    Looking at the CTA map, it looks like we could:
    --Walk south from Union Station and get on the Blue Line at Clifton.
    --Transfer to the Red Line at Jackson.
    --Get off the Red Line/Get on Bus 21 at ChinaTown and get dropped off right in front of McCormick Place.

    Okay, now some questions:
    --It will be 11pm or later when we do this on a Thursday. Are any of those areas safe? Are we going to get mugged if people see us dragging our suitcases around ChinaTown at 11pm or later?
    --Do I have to get a transit card/pass. CTAís website says only the buses accept cash? I canít use cash on the trains?!?!
    --What is this Metra thing? It seems to take us through a safer part of town, but it only runs once an hour? Do the transit cards/passes pay for the Metra as well?

    I visited Chicago with a friend a few years ago and used CTA just for fun. We had nowhere to be at any set time, so we just rode trains, busses, and trolleys for the heck of it. This time, though, my wife and I have to be on a schedule, we have places to be, and itís going to be late at night. (That being said, my friend and I rode from downtown to the OíHare airport at 11pm-1am just for the heck of it. Later, I was told we were insane to attempt that.)


    Thoughts? Advice? Thanks in advance.

    P.S. I used to belong to a city-type forum that could answer this, too, but I canít find that forum again!

  2. #2
    another retro grouch Mr IGH's Avatar
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    I'd take a cab. But then again, I'd drive from MSP to Chicago.

  3. #3
    Senior Member mustachiod's Avatar
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    are you going straight to McCormick place at 11pm? not checking in at a hotel?

    walking between chinatown and mccormick is not highly recommended. although there has been some development (gentrification) down there over the past few years, maybe it is OK now, but i wouldn't tell anyone to do it at night. waiting for a bus at the station shouldn't be too dangerous. But a cab ride would be better, especially if you have to make transfers with luggage after a day of travelling.

    you can purchase a train pass at any station, just put in the the amount you think you may need and get a card. the turnstile will only accept cards (no cash) . At the end of your trip give the card to someone because you can't get a refund for remaining balance. almost always someone asking for a "transfer" or unused cards. the busses accept cash, but will not give change, so if you only have a $20, your ride will cost $20.

    google maps can give pretty good directions on how to get around using the CTA or Metra

    metra is a private train, cta is the city's public transit. have never ridden metra myself
    Quote Originally Posted by powers2b View Post
    BF does not have the answer to what you will be happy with.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by mustachiod View Post
    are you going straight to McCormick place at 11pm? not checking in at a hotel?

    google maps can give pretty good directions on how to get around using the CTA or Metra

    metra is a private train, cta is the city's public transit. have never ridden metra myself
    We are going stratight to the Hyatt at McCormick place, 11pm or so.

    I tried Google Maps and it was quite an interesting route it gave me. It would have taken all night with the buses it suggested.

    I think I like the cab idea best.

  5. #5
    Senior Member mustachiod's Avatar
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    ok, enjoy your visit

    you will be right next to the lakefront path, try to walk and/or ride some of it while you are here

    http://www.bikechicago.com/
    http://chicagojournal.com/News/08-11...haring_arrives
    http://www.chicagotraveler.com/calen...s-calendar.htm
    Quote Originally Posted by powers2b View Post
    BF does not have the answer to what you will be happy with.

  6. #6
    location:northern Ohio
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    Take the boat cruise(the wide one,single deck)up the Chicago river.Drinks are available on board and a very scenic couple of hours.Dock is south across the street from Navy Pier and the price is reasonable.There is a free trolley/bus from downtown to take you to the dock.
    My mistake was visiting my daughter there last month during Lolapalooza week.Every street was packed with people.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

  7. #7
    You Know!? For Kids! jsharr's Avatar
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    Are you a registered member? Why not? Click here to register. It's free and only takes 27 seconds! Help out the forums, abide by our community guidelines.
    Quote Originally Posted by colorider View Post
    Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.

  8. #8
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    I just realized that the 11pm arrival time will be returning to Mpls. The Chicago arrival time should be around 6pm or so.

    I assume trains/busses would cost less than a cab ride to the hotel and back to the station? I can get two 3-day passes to get to and from the hotel, plus includes whatever else I will be doing while my wife does her thing for a few days, eh?

  9. #9
    Senior Member mustachiod's Avatar
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    3 day passes would definitely be a cheaper option and gives you more freedom to explore different parts of the city. my suggestion of the cab was mainly due to the 11pm arrival time
    Quote Originally Posted by powers2b View Post
    BF does not have the answer to what you will be happy with.

  10. #10
    Senior Member no motor?'s Avatar
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    I'd take a cab at that time of night, it was about $10 last time I went form the other big train station to that area. I worked around there 30 years ago when that area was pretty much either abandoned or a ghetto, and there'd be stories in the papers periodically about people in town for a convention that went out for a walk and got mugged. The area is MUCH nicer than it used to be, but it's still not the area where you'd want to be wandering around advertising you're from out of town. Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, and they change pretty quickly.

    There's a lot to see around there though when it's daytime. Chinatown is about 5 blocks away, 2120 S. Michigan Avenue was a recording studio for years and many blues albums were recorded there. The Rolling Stones recorded there too. Warshawskys was around there at 21st and Archer if you want to see the brick and mortar store behind all those catalogs gearheads used to read. The Viet Nam Veterans Art Museum at 1800 S. Indiana is pretty interesting, more interesting than the name implies.

    https://www.prairieghosts.com/weird_chicago.html The Weird Chicago book is a collection of interesting stories that includes a bunch of stories about the area.

  11. #11
    another retro grouch Mr IGH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SonataInFSharp View Post
    ...The Chicago arrival time should be around 6pm or so....
    Riding mass transit with your luggage screams "I am a tourist, rob me!". I know I'm a rube from the suburbs, you are too 'cause MSP is a giant suburb. We don't really know what we're doing in a big, violent city like Chicago, things can get ugly very quickly. There's a gang turf war going on right now, our wives expect us to keep them safe, our kids need us to come home. Cab ride is $10, I'd take it to the hotel, then take the mass transit during daylight hours when I'm sight seeing. Night time, I'd take cabs, cab ride back to Union station on Sunday makes sense to me too. And leave your Twins/Viking cap at home, we're not to coping yet

  12. #12
    Fax Transport Specialist black_box's Avatar
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    in town for the chicago marathon? I'd take a cab to the hotel. Metra is nicer and cleaner than CTA, but the ticket systems are different. You can get a weekend metra pass for $7 each but the schedule is not exactly convenient. metrarail.com for info.

  13. #13
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    Be advised that the Chicago cabs smell like a camels ass and are quite hot inside.Bring a can of Lysol to spray the inside and the driver before you sit down
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