Fortunately, you don’t have to deal with Chicago traffic. A massive network of commuter and city rail lines provides many train commute options. Here are 10 of the easiest places to reach via CTA “L” trains if you’re looking for trip ideas.
1. Chicago Airports
Chicago has not one, but two airports that are directly connected to CTA rail. Commute time from O’Hare to downtown Chicago is almost twice as long compared to the commute from Midway if you are deciding which airport to use. But O’Hare CTA train service is 24 hours/day, great for those late-night arrivals or early morning flights.
2. Baseball Stadiums
For White Sox games at Guaranteed Rate Field, the Sox-35th Station on the red line is right next to the stadium and Metra trains stop nearby at the 35th-Lou Jones Metra Station on the Rock Island District line (departs LaSalle Street Station in the Loop).
3. Downtown Theatres
Besides being known for pizza and hot dogs, Chicago is also synonymous with theater and performances of all kinds. The iconic Chicago Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Oriental Theatre, PrivateBank Theatre and Cadillac Palace Theatre are all a short walk from several CTA rail stations. Go to a show or take a tour of these ornate performance halls.
4. Garfield Park Conservatory
The historic Garfield Park Conservatory has its own train station: Conservatory-Central Park Drive on the CTA green line. Built in 1908, the Conservatory has multiple rooms that feature ferns, palms, desert plants and more. The park also has outdoor gardens. Events for families and adults add extra fun to your visit, including lectures and yoga classes.
5. Daley Center and Plaza
Above the Washington CTA Station on the blue line is the Daley Center and Plaza. The Daley Center has courts and city offices, or view the Picasso sculpture and shop at the seasonal Christkindlmarket and farmers market in the plaza. The Clark/Lake Station is also nearby for handicap-accessibility and access to all lines except red.
6. Art, Music and History
There’s so much to see and do near the Adams/Wabash Station that it’s hard to pick just one thing. The Art Institute of Chicago, a world-renowned art museum, is less than a block away from the station. Plus, the start of Route 66 and the Chicago Symphony Center are also a short walk away.
7. Union Park
A popular location for events, Union Park is next to the Ashland CTA Station on the green and pink lines. The Pitchfork Music Festival and North Coast Music Festival are two major festivals that take place here, or visit the fitness center, swimming pool and sport fields.
Chicago’s Merchandise Mart (theMart) is so large that it has its own zip code and CTA Station: Merchandise Mart on the brown line. Holiday Inn Merchandise Mart is nearby if you’re looking for a hotel in walking distance. Otherwise, check out Loop Hotels Near CTA for downtown accommodations near rail stations if you’re in town for a retail event.
Experience a different culture and side of Chicago with a visit to Chinatown via a red line train to the Cermack-Chinatown Station. Eat at a restaurant, attend an event or stroll through Ping Tom Memorial Park, which has a seasonal water taxi departure to the Loop if you’re interested in an alternative car-free commute.
10. Vic Theatre
Next to the Belmont Station on the red, brown and purple lines, the Vic Theatre is a historic performance venue in Lakeview featuring live music, multiple bars and the Brew & View movie screenings (think cult classics and second-run films). Many restaurants and more bars are in the area for socializing before or after shows.