Chicagoland consists of the Chicago metropolitan area in northeastern Illinois, including Chicago and its surrounding suburbs. Broader definitions also include parts of Southeast Wisconsin and Northwestern Indiana. In total, it covers all of Cook, DuPage, Lake, Kane and Will Counties in Illinois as well as portions of Kenosha County, WI; McHenry County, IL and Lake County, IN.

Please note - in the English Wikivoyage the Greater Chicago area refers only to the region of the metropolitan area which is within the state of Illinois (the narrower definition) and does not include the adjacent urban area in southeastern part of Wisconsin, nor the adjacent urban area in the northwestern part of Indiana (the broadest definition).


Regions of Chicagoland
City of Chicago
The largest city in Illinois, and the third largest in the United States.
North Shore (Evanston, Skokie, High Wood, Deerfield, Highland Park, Ravinia, Northbrook, Glencoe, Hubbard Woods, Winnetka, Northfield, Glenview, Indian Hill, Kenilworth, Wilmette, Lincoln Wood)
Suburbs located along Lake Michigan between Chicago and High Wood which include some of the most affluent communities in the United States and in the Midwest in particular. Prominent tourist attractions in the region include amongst other the Ravinia Park (where the annual Ravinia Festival is held), the Chicago Botanical Gardens, and the Bahá'í House of Worship in Wilmette.
Northwestern Suburbs (Buffalo Grove, Arlington Heights, Palatine, Schaumburg, Libertyville, Lindenhurst, Lake Villa, Round Lake, Grayslake, Mundelein, Vernon Hills, Long Grove, Lincolnshire, Barrington Hills, Inverness, Wheeling, Mount Prospect, Morton Grove, Niles, Des Plaines, Park Ridge, Rosemont, Elk Grove Village, Roselle, Schiller Park, Itasca, Wood Dale)
The region generally on and in close proximity to the Union Pacific Northwest Metra Line. Prominent tourist attraction in this region include the Volo Car Museum and the main campus of Willow Creek Community Church, one of the country's largest megachurches, in South Barrington.
Far North Suburbs (Waukegan, Gurnee, Winthrop Harbor, Zion, Beach Park, North Chicago, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest)
Those suburbs generally located in Lake County and near Lake Michigan. Prominent tourist attractions in this region include amongst other the Gurnee theme park Six Flags Great America.
Western Suburbs (Cicero, Franklin Park, Oak Park, Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Addison, Lombard, Glen Ellyn, Wheaton, Villa Park, Elmhurst, River Forest, Oak Brook, Westchester, Hillside, River Forest, Forest Park, Berwyn, Riverside, Stickney, Brookfield, Western Springs, Lisle, Downers Grove, Woodridge, Darien, Westmont, Hinsdale, La Grange)
The region generally located west of I-294. Prominent tourist attractions in this region include the Brookfield Zoo, the largest mall in Greater Chicago "Woodfield Mall", and the family dinner theater "Medieval Times" which features staged medieval-style games, sword-fighting, and jousting.
South Suburbs (Oak Lawn, Orland Park, Alsip, Orland Hills, Crestwood, Blue Island, Evergreen Park, Harvey, Oak Forest, Olympia Fields, Dale, Dolton, Burnham, Tinley Park, Thornton, Palos Heights, Palos Park, Markham, Frankfort, Country Club Hills, Hazel Crest, South Holland, Palos Hills, Calumet City, Homewood, Matteson, Richton Park, Thornton, Lansing, Flossmoor, Chicago Heights, Peotone, University Park, Lynwood, Steger, Park Forest, Sauk Village, Crete, Beecher)
A region generally located along I-57 and south.
Outer Cities and Towns (Elgin, Bolingbrook, Aurora, Naperville, Antioch, Spring Grove, Fox Lake, Johnsburg, McHenry, Crystal Lake, Lake in the Hills, Algonquin, St. Charles, West Chicago, Geneva, Batavia, Romeo Ville, Crest Hill, Joliet, Lockport, Lemont, Goodings Groove, Homer Glen, New Lenox, Mokena, New Lenox)
Prominent tourist attractions in this regions include amongst other the The Morton Arboretum, and the Chain O' Lakes waterway system in northwestern part of Lake County which is composed of 15 lakes connected by the Fox River and man-made channels.

Additional adjacent urban areas, which are often considered to belong the greater Chicago area, even though according to the English Wikivoyage hierarchy are not considered to be part of Chicagoland:


Aerial photograph of the skyscrapers at the Loop area of Chicago

Chicagoland, though centered around Chicago, is anchored by many regional cities which have their own distinct cultures, economics and traditions. These are a few of the noteworthy cities and communities in the region:


Though founded in 1833, the City of Chicago was officially incorporated in 1837. Spurred by port and rail traffic, the City became one of the fastest growing urban areas in the world for several decades and gradually became both the center of the Chicagoland region and the entire Midwest. Much of the growth of the region can be linked directly to Chicago and its history.

Following the conclusion of the Second World War, Chicagoland simply exploded. New model suburbs such as Park Forest gave returning veterans the new amenities of inexpensive housing away from the City. They settled, raised families and saw a cycle of growth continue. Population started shifting into these new suburbs, which continued to grow and incorporate. Today, the City of Chicago has 2.7 million people while the entire area has 9.7 million (just the Illinois portion). Whereas once the City also held all the attractions, now there are hundreds of unique sites, restaurants and festivals throughout the entire area.


Chicago, like much of the Midwest, is known for cold winters and warm, humid summers. During the spring and fall, temperatures can shift somewhat radically, though locations near the lake (typically within 20 miles) tend to be somewhat shielded from this by the lake. You can expect highs in the lower 20's in January and February and mid-80's in July and August.

Get in

Chicagoland is a major hub for vehicle, air, rail and port traffic and is accessible via any number of different methods. The city has an outstanding public transport system, which allows great access not only to the City but to many areas of the region. Below are a few different methods of entry:

By car

  • I-80 (portions tolled): I-80 crosses through the South Suburbs region.
  • I-88 (tolled): I-88 is a regional interstate which connects the region to the Quad Cities
  • I-90 (tolled): I-90 connects the region locally to Rockford and Gary and ultimately Madison.
  • I-94 (tolled): I-94 connects the region to Milwaukee and Detroit and ultimately to the Twin Cities.
  • I-55: I-55 terminates in Chicagoland and connects it to St. Louis and ultimately to New Orleans.
  • I-57: I-57 terminates in Chicagoland and connects it to Memphis.
  • I-65: I-65, which originates in the Indiana portion of Chicagoland, connects the region to Indianapolis and ultimately Louisville.

By plane

By train

Chicagoland is served by numerous Amtrak routes.

Get around

Metra system map

By car

Despite its excellent public transportation, personal vehicles remain the best form of transportation in the area. The interstates are the primary method of vehicle travel, though, mostly to avoid tolls and congestion, many local routes are used. Below are some commonly traveled routes which tourists may find useful for avoiding traffic:

  • US 41: US 41 (known as "Lake Shore Drive" in Chicago) is a primary north-south route. It connects the Far North Suburbs, North Shore, City and South Suburbs.
  • US 45: US 45 is a primary north-shore and connects the Far North Suburbs, Northwestern Suburbs, Immediate Suburbs and Southern Suburbs.
  • IL 53: IL 53 is a unique route that primarily serves as a connection point between various points of the Northwestern Suburbs. However, it is a important thoroughfare for connection to local interstates. There are current plans to extend it into the Chain O'Lakes/Far North Suburbs.
  • IL 59: IL 59 connects the Chain O'Lakes to the Northwestern Suburbs and Western Suburbs before terminating in Naperville.
  • IL 31: IL 31 is the major north-south route connecting the Chain O'Lakes and Fox River Valley.
  • IL 120: IL 120 is the primary connection between the Far North Suburbs and the Chain O'Lakes. It terminates near Woodstock in McHenry County. Through much of the Far North Suburbs, this route is open freeway.
  • US 12: US 12 runs on a northwest-southeast route through the entire region and connects the South Suburbs directly to the City and then runs northwest connecting the Northwestern Suburbs to the Chain O'Lakes.
  • Lake-Cook Road: A major east-west route, this road is technically the border between Lake and Cook Counties but also connects the North Shore to the Northwestern Suburbs and Fox River Valley.
  • US 14: Like US 12, US 14 runs a northwest-south route through the entire region. It originates in the City and then connects it to the Northwestern Suburbs, Fox River Valley and McHenry County before exiting the region. Through much of its course, it runs alongside the Union Pacific Northwest Metra Line.
  • US 20: A major east-west arterial, this route connects the City to the Immediate and Western Suburbs and the Fox River Valley. Through Elgin, the route is open freeway.
  • North Avenue: A major east-west route, North Avenure originates in the City and runs through the Immediate and Western Suburbs into the Fox River Valley.
  • Ogden Avenue: Another route originating in the City, Odgen connects the City to many of the Immediate Suburbs, the Western Suburbs and Aurora.
  • US 30: A major-east west through, US 30 primarily serves the South Suburbs.

By train

A Metra train pulls out of Union Station in Chicago

Chicagoland's Metra commuter train system is one of the most connected and advanced in the United States containing 241 Stations on 11 routes. Below is a brief outline of each the train routes (a full list of stops and schedules is available on Metra's website:

By bus

Two major bus systems service the region: the Chicago Transportation Authority (CTA) and Pace. CTA services Chicago while PACE covers the rest of the region. Visit their websites for more information: Chicago Transportation Authority and Pace.

By Subway/L: The CTA also manages the Chicago subway and elevated rail ('L') system. Since the majority of the system serves the actual city, most information can be found there. However, certain CTA stops are in the greater region including Wilmette, Evanston, Skokie, Rosemont, Cicero, Forest Park, and Oak Park, which makes those respective lines sometimes an easier alternative to vehicle or Metra for access to the city.


Buildings and architecture


Professional sports

Chicago is home a number of major and minor sports teams. A few select local teams and their stadium/arena locations:

Parks and zoos

Chicagoland has a number of spectacular and award winning parks. Some major parks throughout the area which draw crowds include the following:

Gambling and casinos


Like any metropolitan area, Chicagoland offers every type of cuisine at every different kind of price range. Quintessential Chicagoland favorites include Italian beef (a beef sandwich commonly served with gravy and peppers), Chicago deep dish pizza and Polish sausage. Chicago-style hot dogs are common throughout the country, but the best are only available in Chicagoland. Local favorite restaurant chains for Chicago-staples include Lou Malnati's (deep dish pizza) and Portillo's (Italian beef, Polish sausage and Chicago-style hot dogs). Of course, residents from across the area will always swear by their local restaurant as the best, however.


Chicagoland has beer, wine, mixed drinks and coffee to compete with any other first-class city in the world. Goose Island Brewery, an originally independent brewery now owned by Anheuser-Busch, still brews and distributes local favorite beers such as 312 and Green Line throughout the area. Other craft breweries such as Great Lakes (in Lake Bluff), Half Acre (in Chicago) and Two Brothers (in Warrenville) are also popular and their beers easily found throughout the region. Many restaurants also brew and serve their own beer.

Chicagoland's love of coffee is also extensive, and excellent coffee can be found in the city and throughout the region. Starbucks, Caribou and other chains are available as well as many independent shops.

Stay safe

Chicagoland is generally safe, though certain parts of the City and the suburbs should be avoided at night.



Go next

Chicagoland is adjacent to Northern and Central Illinois, to Southeast Wisconsin, and to Northwestern Indiana. Parts of Wisconsin and Indiana are sometimes included in the definition of Chicagoland.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, March 26, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.