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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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Ramesh Sharan

Thursday 10th of August 2023

Chicago also has one of the best suburbs in the USA. This is perhaps the most easily accessible city, where get in and get out without much hassle.

Dave Runnels

Thursday 10th of August 2023

Article must have been written 15 years ago and just printed now. That is how the city was in the past. Now good luck with your life.


Wednesday 9th of August 2023

ABSOLUTELY NO let's defund our police city is hurting crimes threw the roof take.your chances day time they can see you to aim nite time forget it 600k have left and why it's that bad it used to be incredible. Chicago can disappear into lake Michigan

Rahul Iter

Wednesday 9th of August 2023

I was born and raised in Chicago. Now live in Arizona. Chicago actually has a lower violent crime rate then a number of cities in the top 30 per 2022 data. Chicago is not even listed. Chicago has an issue with corruption.

Links to 2022 data is below



The reasons I am no longer in Chicago are:

Job opportunity Wanted to get away from snow My wife has family in Arizona Lower cost of living

Weird Chicago politics...too liberal for my taste

Wanted to get away from family...needed some space.

Chicago is a nice city at its core, but I no longer call myself a Chicagoan nor Illinoisan. Not since 2006. I do go back and visit family there...but not to live there myself.


Thursday 10th of August 2023

@Rahul Iter,

Cliff gaskill

Wednesday 9th of August 2023

Pass. We have taken off any and all Liberal Democratic run cities with runaway crime from our travel plans. No thanks.


Wednesday 9th of August 2023

@Cliff gaskill, smart move. I live in Pa. And I won't go to Baltimore or Philly or NYC

Rahul Iyer

Wednesday 9th of August 2023

@Cliff gaskill,

While I agree that politics are flaky in Chicago... Chicago is not in the top 30 for high crime for 2022.

Other places including Philly Memphis, and Indianapolis have higher crime rates.