Chicago is an ideal city for solo travelers. There is so much to see and do here, and most of it can be enjoyed just as easily on your own as with friends or family. If you’re visiting Chicago on your own, here are some tips.
For many people, a visit to Chicago isn’t complete without a visit to one of the city’s many excellent museums. Pick your fancy – art, astronomy, science and industry, aquariums or animals. If you’re on a budget, check out this list of free days.
Beaches and parks
During the summer months, the beaches and parks are the places to be in Chicago. For a more low key experience, check out Oak Street Beach or Montrose beach. If you’d rather have a more lively beach experience, join the party people on North Avenue Beach. Take a stroll through Lincoln Park (or visit the Green City Farmers Market on Wednesday and Saturday mornings in summer) or catch a musical performance in Grant Park. You can even learn some new moves at the free SummerDance.
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Sightseeing tours are a great option for solo travelers in the city, and it seems there’s a tour for nearly every interest from art and architecture to food to movies. By bike, boat, bus, segway, or on foot, sightseeing tours help you learn a lot about the city and see quite a few of the major sites in a short amount of time. And you’ll have some built in companions with which to explore.
Getting active is a great way to spend your solo time in a city. Hit a local gym, go kayaking on the Chicago River, rent a bike, or run along the Lakefront path.
Dining alone in Chicago doesn’t have to mean being lonely. If you’re just looking for a quick casual meal, seek out pubs and restaurants that are a bit more low-key. Sit at the bar and chat with the bartender or make conversation with the people around. We’re friendly in the Midwest and always eager to offer up suggestions for things to do and see in our city. If you’re a “foodie” with a more refined palate and interested in experiencing one of Chicago’s fine dining establishments, there’s no shame in reserving a table for one. The food is an art unto itself and the service at places like Tru and Alinea is enough to keep you entertained for the whole meal.
Unfortunately, lodging for a solo traveler can be on the expensive side. The vast majority of the hotels don’t offer any kind of discount for a single room. If you stay at a hostel, you can share a dorm bed and save some cash. Chicago also has some bed and breakfasts and vacation rentals.
Chicago is about as safe as any major city. The downtown area is quite safe during the day, but petty crime like pickpocketing does still happen. Keep your wits about you in crowded areas and while on public transportation. At night, don’t wander alone in unfamiliar areas, and if you go out drinking, be sure to stay sober enough to find your way home, or take a cab back to your hotel. Women should also use common sense: don’t accept a drink you haven’t seen the bartender make, don’t walk alone at night if you aren’t familiar with the area, and when in doubt, call a cab.
Photo by vickiwolkins