If you’re planning a trip to Chicago, there’s no shortage of attractions and things to do. Fortunately most of the city’s major sights are near rail stations so you don’t have to drive or rent a car. Here are 10 of the best “L” train stations to visit as a tourist to get the most out of your visit to Chicago.
1. Chicago Red
The Chicago Red “L” Station is a subway station near the Magnificent Mile, John Hancock Center and Oak Street Beach. A few hotels are also in the area if you’re looking for a place to stay near these attractions.
2. Grand Red
Next to Chicago Red, the Grand Red Station is the stop for Navy Pier. Many hotels are in walking distance along with the Magnificent Mile. In warmer months, take the Shoreline water taxi from Navy Pier to Shedd Aquarium, The Field Museum and Adler Planetarium for a day of sightseeing (with a bonus boat ride).
3. State/Lake and Lake
In the Loop, the State/Lake and Lake “L” stations are conveniently near the Chicago Riverwalk, hotels and major theaters including the Chicago Theatre and Oriental Theatre. Brown, orange, green, purple and pink line trains stop at State/Lake, where you can travel directly to and from Midway International Airport via the orange line.
The Lake Station is next to State/Lake for an easy transfer to and from the red line if you are able to walk up and down stairs, and both stations can also be used to walk to Cloud Gate or “The Bean” in Millennium Park.
The Adams/Wabash “L” Station is next to the Art Institute of Chicago, Grant Park (including Cloud Gate), Chicago Symphony Center and the Pritzker Military Museum, making it a popular stop for tourists. However, it isn’t handicap-accessible at this time. Rent a nearby Divvy bike and hop on the Lakefront Trail on the far side of the park to explore more of the city. From this station, it is relatively easy to bike to Navy Pier and the Shedd Aquarium via the trail.
One of the oldest “L” stations, Quincy is near Willis Tower and Union Station. Architecture buffs will love the historic construction and design elements at the station, but it’s not handicap-accessible, so plan ahead to use stairs if you’re walking down to the street. The W Hotel City Center and JW Marriott are also a short walk away or hop on the Shoreline water taxi next to Willis Tower for a ride to Navy Pier.
6. Addison Red
Play ball! Addsion Red is next to Wrigley Field and the Wrigleyville, Lakeview and Boystown neighborhoods. There are plenty of restaurants and bars to visit before or after a Cubs game or stop by for a walk or bike ride to get a feel for neighborhood life in Chicago.
Near Old Town, Second City, Chicago History Museum and North Avenue Beach, the Sedgwick Station on the brown and purple line offers plenty to see and do. Divvy Bikes are next to the station if you want to explore on two wheels (we recommend this option to cover the most ground). Bike docking stations are near the history museum if you’re planning to visit the building and/or the nearby beach.
The newest CTA station in the system, the Morgan Station is in the West Loop’s popular Fulton Market District. You’ll find some of Chicago’s best restaurants here if you’re looking for a hot spot for food and drinks.
In the charming Lincoln Park neighborhood, the Fullerton Station is on the red, purple and brown lines. Enjoy the many beautiful homes and tree-lined streets with a 20-minute walk to the Lincoln Park Zoo and Lincoln Park Conservancy (the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is also nearby). Divvy Bikes are in the neighborhood if you’d rather bike than walk, or use this station to request an Uber or Lyft car to get to the zoo and other attractions.
The historic Randolph/Wabash Station is the closest to Millennium Park where you’ll find the Jay Pritzker Pavilion and the popular Cloud Gate (aka “The Bean”). The Chicago and Oriental Theatres are also a short walk away or connect with the nearby Millennium Metra Station to reach Museum Campus (The Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium) as well as Hyde Park and the Museum of Science and Industry.