Stretching from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River, Illinois is made up of vast, fertile expanses of farmland, gigantic Chicago, rolling plains, and to the south the mountains and valleys of the Ozark Mountains. It has 4,300 miles of scenic shorelines, 1,100 historic sites, and natural preserves totaling more than 1,500 square miles. Abraham Lincoln, attorney and 16th President of the United States, spent most of his professional and political life in Illinois. The Windy City, as Chicago is known, is one of the most important commercial, industrial and logistics centers in the world and the birthplace of the skyscraper. On the other hand, Lake Michigan, on which Chicago is located, offers sandy beaches, hundreds of parks, harbors, zoos and large forest preserves. Residents of “Chicagoland” speak more than 50 languages, making Chicago the most ethnically diverse city in the United States. For visitors, Chicago is the gateway to the cities and countryside of Illinois and Indiana and to the resort areas of Wisconsin.
- Travelationary: Covers basic information about Illinois geography and economy.
Arriving by plane
Various airlines offer direct flights to Chicago-O’Hare: – United (UA) flies non-stop from Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich and Vienna; – Lufthansa (LH) from Frankfurt and Munich; – Swiss (LX) offers direct flights from Zurich to Chicago.
Chicago – Anchorage: 7 hours 30 minutes; Chicago – Honolulu: 10 hrs 20 mins; Chicago – London: 7 hrs 35 mins; Chicago – Los Angeles: 4 hours 45 minutes; Chicago – Miami: 3 hours 20 minutes; Chicago – Montreal: 2 hours 15 minutes; Chicago – New York: 2 hours 5 minutes; Chicago – Toronto: 1 hour 40 minutes; Chicago – Vancouver: 6 hours 10 minutes; Chicago – Washington DC: 2 hours; Chicago – Frankfurt: 8 hours 15 minutes; Chicago – Munich: 8 hours 45 minutes; Chicago – Vienna: 9 hours 35 minutes; Chicago – Zurich: 8 hrs 20 mins
The oneworld Visit North America pass is also valid in Illinois. For information on this, see Arrival in the USA. The Jet Blue Airpass lets you book 3 or more flights across the entire Jet Blue network in the US at once. The Jet Blue Airpass is valid for 90 days, can be changed flexibly, and luggage is included. For more information on availability of limited concessions, contact STA Travel at +49-69-255 150 000. Jet Blue flies to Chicago from Illinois.
Airport taxes are included in the price of airline tickets.
Arrival by car
Illinois has a well-developed road network and is connected to the surrounding states by various interstates. A special feature in Illinois is the signage. Streets or street sections can be marked with old street signs (white square with black letters, e.g. Illinois 110) as well as with the usual designations, such as I-70. Bus: Greyhound connects the cities of Illinois with each other as well as Illinois itself with the neighboring states. Tolls: There are several toll roads in Illinois. Payment is made either in cash or electronically using a transponder and the I-Pass (EZ Pass). Only for the Elgin-O’
Note on arrival by car
Average car travel times: Chicago – Milwaukee: 2 hours; Chicago – Indianapolis: 3 hours 30 minutes; Chicago – Detroit: 5 hrs; Chicago – St Louis: 6 hrs; Chicago – Des Moines: 7 hrs; Chicago – Cleveland: 7 hours; Chicago – Nashville: 9 hours; Chicago – Kansas City: 10 hrs; Chicago – New York: 16 hrs; Chicago – Dallas: 19 hrs; Chicago – Miami: 27 hrs; Chicago – Seattle: 44 hours; Chicago – Los Angeles: 44 hours Average bus travel times: Chicago – Milwaukee: 2 hours; Chicago – Indianapolis: 3 hours 30 minutes; Chicago – Detroit: 7 hrs; Chicago – St Louis: 7 hrs; Chicago – Cleveland: 7 hours 30 minutes; Chicago – Omaha: 10 hrs; Chicago – Memphis: 10 hrs 30 mins; Chicago – New York City: 17 hours
Arrival by train
Three transcontinental Amtrak lines meet at Union Station in Chicago. The Empire Builder line connects Chicago (IL) with St. Paul/Minneapolis – Spokane (WA) and Portland (OR) / Seattle (WA). The station is also the northern terminus of the north-south lines to San Antonio and New Orleans. Another line runs north to Toronto and Montréal.
The Amtrak USA Rail Pass is valid on the entire Amtrak network. Detailed information under Arrival USA.
Note on arrival by train
Average Amtrak travel times: Lake Shore Limited: Chicago – Toledo: 4 hrs 20 mins; Chicago – Cleveland: 7 hours; Chicago – Buffalo: 11 hrs 30 mins; Chicago – New York: 19 hrs 30 mins. City of New Orleans: Chicago – Memphis: 10 hrs; Chicago – New Orleans: 19 hrs 40 mins Cardinal: Chicago – Indianapolis: 5 hrs; Chicago – Cincinnati: 8 hrs 35 mins; Chicago – Washington DC: 23 hrs, Chicago – New York: 26 hrs Capitol Limited: Chicago – Pittsburgh: 9 hrs 45 mins; Chicago – Washington DC: 17 hrs 15 mins California Zephyr: Chicago – Denver: 17 hrs 15 mins; Chicago – Salt Lake City: 33 hrs; Chicago – Emeryville (San Francisco): 51 hrs Empire Builder: Chicago – Minneapolis/St. Paul: 8 hours 15 minutes; Chicago – Spokane (connecting to Portland and Seattle): 37 hrs; Chicago – Seattle: 46 hrs Average travel times on routes Chicago – Los Angeles and Chicago – Oakland s. California. Hiawatha: Chicago – Milwaukee: 1 hr 30 min Southwest Chief: Chicago – Kansas: 7 hrs; Chicago – Albuquerque: 23 hrs 40 mins; Chicago – Los Angeles: 40 hrs Texas Eagle: Chicago – Dallas: 22 hrs 15 mins; Chicago – San Antonio: 32 hrs 40 mins; Chicago – Tucson: 56 hrs 40 mins; Chicago – Los Angeles: 67 hours. Contact Amtrak for more information.
Arrival by ship
Cruises on the Great Lakes can be booked from Chicago.
The Great Lakes Cruise Company offers summer cruises from Chicago to Toronto and Warren (Michigan). Pearl Seas Cruises calls at various cities in Michigan and Ontario on its 8- and 12-day Chicago to Toronto cruises.
Passport and visa regulations
Entry with children
Since June 27, 2012, children need their own travel document (passport / children’s passport) for trips abroad (also within the EU). Entries of children in the parental passport are no longer possible.
Prairie du Rocher, Kaskaskia and Galena
Southern Illinois was one of the first French settlement areas in North America. The colorful heritage can be experienced in the towns of Prairie du Rocher and Kaskaskia. Shawnee National Forest covers the lower regions of Illinois with large wilderness areas and many tourist spots. Fort Crevecoeur to the west is a replica of a French outpost. To the north is Galena, a Victorian town with numerous historical sites and tourist facilities. Hiking, picnicking and boat trips are available at Starved Rock State Park & Lodge from May through September.
Springfield is the capital of Illinois. It was here
that Abraham Lincoln married and began his career as a lawyer.
Sights include Lincoln’s Tomb and the Illinois State Museum. Nearby New Salem State Park is a theme park inspired by Lincoln’s pioneering days.
The Windy City, is one of the world’s largest centers of commerce, industry and transportation and the birthplace of the skyscraper. Nonetheless, the shores of Lake Michigan are home to numerous sandy beaches, hundreds of parks, small harbors, zoos and large forest preserves. With a population of around 8.5 million, the city is the center of the Midwest. It offers over 69,000 hotel rooms in the business and airport district alone. For visitors to the USA, Chicago offers a gateway to the states of Illinois and Indiana with their rural areas and cities or to the resort areas of Wisconsin.
- Usaers: Provides a full list of major rivers and mountains in Illinois.
The Museum of Science and Industry has over 2000 exhibits. The Field Museum of Natural History follows the evolution of the universe from its beginnings 4.5 billion years ago to the present day. Also worth seeing are the Art Institute of Chicago, Brookfield Zoo, Tropic World, Seven Seas Panorama and Six Flags Great America Amusement Park. Many Chicago skyscrapers, such as the Sears Tower and the John Hancock Center, have observation towers. The Visitor Welcome Center (open daily) is housed in the Old Water Tower, a landmark of the city that survived the great fire of 1871. The Chicago Historical Society
is dedicated to documenting Chicago’s multicultural history and illustrating it through numerous exhibitions, seminars and online projects. A research and information center and a museum are attached (opening hours: Mon-Sat 09.30-16.30, Sun 12.00-17.00). Address: Clark Street at North Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60614-6071. Tel: (0312) 642 46 00. Fax: (0312) 266 20 77. (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Web: www.chicagohistory.org )
Some of Chicago’s most popular shopping areas include State Street Mall, North Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile, Woodfield Mall and the lovely specialty shops of Old Town, Lincoln Avenue and New Town.
Goodman, Shubert, Blackstone and Aria Crown are some of the larger theaters. In the Auditorium Theater you can attend ballet performances and concerts. The Lyric Opera Company performs at the Civic Center for the Performing Arts; the Chicago Symphony Orchestra plays in Orchestra Hall. Chicago offers a very wide range of entertainment with nightclubs, jazz clubs, cinemas and discotheques with belly dancing, rock bands or folk events. The city is home to the City Blues, pioneered by musicians like Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, and represented today by Robert Cray in Chicago and around the world.
Chicago is known for its excellent rib steaks and deep pan pizzas. There is a wide choice of restaurants offering international cuisine.
Best travel time
Very variable with hot summers and, especially in the north, very cold winters with high wind speeds that make the temperatures appear even colder. Humidity is highest around the Great Lakes in summer.
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