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Spanning nearly ten blocks in the center of the Windy City, Chicago’s Union Station is one of the largest transportation hubs in the entire country. This historic concourse opened its doors in 1925, and you may feel like you’re traveling back in time as you admire the station’s grandiose Beaux-Arts architecture, marble floors, and Corinthian columns.
In addition to serving as the main train station in Chicago, Union Station is also Amtrak’s flagship station in the Midwest. Its central location means that you can travel virtually anywhere in the U.S. from Union Station Chicago, including NYC, the West Coast, or all the way down to the sunny South. If your sights are set on destinations closer at hand, you can hop on the Metra Commuter Rail at Union Station.
No matter where your travels take you, knowing how to navigate the Chicago train station is essential. We’ve created the ultimate guide to Union Station so you can travel through Chicago like a pro.
225 S Canal St
Chicago, IL 60606
5:00 AM to 1:00 AM
Chicago’s Union Station is located in the heart of the city at 225 S Canal Street. The station is on the western edge of the Chicago River, directly across from the famous Willis Tower. There are also major freeways to the south and west of the station, including I-90, I-94, and I-290 among others. Entrances surround the whole station, but the main access point is on South Canal Street.
Thanks to its central location, getting to Union Station in Chicago is a breeze. There are a few “L” (the city’s elevated metro line) stops near the station, including Clinton and Quincy, both of which are about a 5-minute walk from the station. Numerous bus lines also stop directly at Union Station, including 7, 60, 124, 125, 126, 151, 156, and 157, plus additional lines on weekdays throughout the summer.
Taxis are available from the taxi stand on the West side of South Canal Street at Union Station. Cabs are usually queued up waiting for passengers, so you likely won’t need to wait long for a ride.
There are a few ways to get from Chicago Union Station to O’Hare Airport.
O’Hare is about 17 miles from the train station, which is about 20 minutes by car; grabbing a taxi or rideshare is the quickest way to reach the airport from Union Station.
If you want to save some cash, you could hop on the Blue Line at Clinton Station (about a 5-minute walk from Union Station), though this transit option takes about 50 minutes to get from Union Station to O’Hare.
Midway Airport is located about 11 miles south of Chicago Union Station, which is about a 20-minute drive.
Traveling by taxi or rideshare will get you to Midway the fastest, though riding the Orange Line from Quincy Station (about a 7-minute walk from Union Station) will save you some cash. The subway departs every 15 minutes, and the journey takes 30 minutes. Note that the subway will drop you at Midway Station near the airport and you’ll need to walk an additional 10-15 minutes to reach the actual terminal.
Union Station is conveniently located in the heart of Chicago, which means there’s plenty to do nearby - even on a short layover.
Millennium Park is just a mile away from Union Station. One of the city’s main attractions, the park features the iconic metallic “bean” sculpture , lush gardens in the summer and an ice skating rink in the winter.
If you prefer to stay closer to the station, the famous Willis Tower is just a 5-minute walk across the Chicago River and its Skydeck features some of the best views in the city. Purchase tickets in advance to avoid the long lines!
As of 2019, parking is not available directly at Union Station. The nearest parking garage is the self-park facility at 333 S Clinton Street. There is also valet parking available on weekdays at 565 Quincy Street, if you’re feeling fancy.
Wi-Fi is available at Chicago Union Station. Service reaches across the entire station but is known to be spotty in certain areas.
You can store luggage at Union Station for a fee at the Amtrak parcel check. Amtrak passengers pay $10 per item, while all other travelers must pay $20 per item.
There are tons of dining options at Union Station Chicago, including quick fast food joints and sit-down restaurants. The mezzanine level is the place to go when you’re hungry. Quick options include Mcdonald's and Jersey Mike’s. For a full-service meal, try the Junction Diner or Robinsons.
Union Station’s general boarding and waiting area is in the Great Hall, and there is an assisted boarding area for seniors, military personnel, young families and anyone needing boarding assistance. The premium Metropolitan Lounge, available to specific Amtrak classes, is equipped with snacks, comfy seating, showers and more.
Union Station is in full compliance with ADA requirements. The main entrance on S Canal Street is ADA-accessible and has elevators connecting the street and concourse levels. There is also an assisted boarding area on the east side of the station for passengers who require extra assistance.
There are several restrooms available throughout Union Station. On the concourse level, find restrooms on the south side of the Great Hall, next to the Metra ticketing desk, and in the assisted boarding area. There are also restrooms on the mezzanine level, and more facilities with showers in the Metropolitan Lounge.
If you need to stock up on snacks or reading material for your travels, there is a newsstand on the mezzanine level of the station. The nearest pharmacy, CVS, is about a 5-minute walk from the station, off W Madison Street to the north.
Chicago’s Union Station is a large complex, complete with dining, retail, services, and even event space. The main entrances are along the columned station facade on Canal Street. This is where you’ll be dropped off if you take a taxi or rideshare service. Once you enter the station, you’ll go down one level to the Great Hall, the impressive and airy historic station space. The Amtrak information desk and most of the event spaces are in and around the Great Hall in Union Station. You’ll connect to the Concourse Level of the station under street level by following signs for “All Trains.” The North and South Concourse have more waiting areas, train platforms for Amtrak and Metra routes, and escalators to the mezzanine level above. The mezzanine level hosts the food court and retail.
Distance to Willis Tower
Distance to the Chicago Theatre
Distance to Millennium Park
Distance to the Art Institute of Chicago
Distance to United Center
Distance to O'Hare International Airport
Union Station Chicago is one of Amtrak’s busiest hubs, and it’s also the main stop for the Metra Commuter Rail, which services Northeast Illinois and the greater Chicago area.
Although not located in the main concourse, the Chicago bus station sits just four blocks from Union Station at 630 W Harrison Street. Some buses depart directly from Union Station, and Greyhound even has a customer service desk in the station.
Chicago’s Union Station is a major interchange for cross-country Amtrak trains. This bustling hub connects the Midwest to the rest of the country, with daily services to NYC, Texas, California and more.
Amtrak has an information desk in the middle of the Great Hall in Union Station, and you can find baggage drop off in the center of the main concourse.
If you arrive early, you can wait in the Great Hall, or upgrade to the premier Metropolitan Lounge for $20 per passenger. There is also an assisted boarding area between the North and South concourses.
Chicago Union Station is the eastern terminus of the Amtrak Empire Builder line, which connects to both Seattle and Portland.
The entire length of the Empire Builder takes about 46 hours to complete, so luckily sleeper cars are available. There is a single daily departure from Chicago on the Empire Builder route.
There is no designated platform for the Amtrak Empire Builder line, so be sure to check the information screens at the station. Gate info is generally posted at least 15 minutes prior to departure.
The Amtrak Texas Eagle begins its route in Chicago, and stops in 43 cities on its way to San Antonio.
A single train departs from Chicago Union Station towards San Antonio daily. The Amtrak Texas Eagle does not depart from any specific gate, so arrive at the station early and check the information boards for current details about your trip.
Union Station is also a terminus for the long-distance Southwest Chief route from Los Angeles. This service takes passengers through eight states and offers incredible views of America’s fabled West.
There is one daily service on the Southwest Chief from Chicago’s Union Station, and the full journey to SoCal takes about 43 hours in total.
Union Station does not have a designated gate for the Southwest Chief, so you’ll need to check the screens or visit the information desk at the station once you arrive for departure info.
Chicago Union Station is the first stop on the journey east towards NYC on Amtrak’s Cardinal line.
This route operates just three days a week, with a single train departing from Union Station every Sunday, Wednesday and Friday.
There is no specific gate assigned to the Cardinal Line at Union Station, so arrive early and check the information screen for up-to-date departure info.
The California Zephyr starts its route in Chicago and runs all the way to the Bay Area in California. This trip takes over 51 hours, but is renowned as one of the most beautiful train trips in the country.
Chicago is the very first stop on this long journey, with daily departures every day of the week. Arrivals on the California Zephyr can transfer to trains heading farther east in Chicago.
Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited line departs Chicago Union Station and branches to two lines that head to New York City and Boston.
Daily trains depart Chicago in the evening, and this overnight route is a good chance to spring for a sleeper cabin.
There is no designated platform for the Lake Shore Limited line at Union Station. Information will be posted at least 15 minutes before departure time, so arrive early and check the information screens for up-to-date departure details.
Amtrak’s City of New Orleans line runs from Chicago all the way down to the Big Easy. Major stops along the way include Memphis, Jackson, and more.
A single train departs Chicago daily in the evening, while northbound trains from New Orleans arrive in Union Station every morning around 9:00 AM.
Amtrak’s Capitol Limited line travels between Chicago and D.C. once per day, and once daily in the opposite direction.
Trains leave Chicago Union Station daily in the evening, so many passengers sleep on the 17-hour journey to D.C.
The Capitol Limited line does not depart from a specific gate at Union Station, so arrive early and check with the information desk or screens for details about your departure.
Chicago Union Station is the first stop along Amtrak’s Wolverine line, which travels through Michigan to its final destination in Pontiac.
There are three daily departures from Chicago Union Station on the Wolverine line. Major stops along the way include Kalamazoo, Ann Arbor and Detroit.
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