How to get to Chicago by train
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Known for its innovative architecture, cultural contributions to jazz and house music, and of course that irresistible deep-dish pizza, the many sights and experiences in Chicago make it one of the best urban vacation destinations for millennials.
You can't beat the views of the city and Lake Michigan from the SkyDeck in the Willis Tower; at over 1,300 feet, this is the highest observation deck in the U.S. Snap that classic selfie with the Bean in Millennium Park, then wander the many museums in nearby Grant Park. Navy Pier is a popular tourist hotspot for its parks, restaurants, and attractions right on Lake Michigan, and baseball fans will find paradise in Wrigleyville, home to the Chicago Cubs' Wrigley Field and sports bars galore.
Chicago's enormous parks offer plentiful opportunities for outdoor activities in gorgeous urban settings. Many companies offer kayak rentals or boat tours on the Chicago River, with special tours running on Saint Patrick's Day, when the entire river is dyed green. When you’re ready to buy some souvenirs from your epic trip, hit the big brand stores on the Magnificent Mile, or shop local in neighborhoods like Andersonville and Wicker Park. And don't miss the chance to laugh until you cry at The Second City comedy theater, famous for launching the careers of comedians like Tina Fey and Stephen Colbert.
Chicago is one of the biggest transportation hubs in the Midwest, and provides easy access to nearby destinations ideal for day trips, as well as international travel from two airports. Thanks to plenty of bus and train stations throughout the city, getting to the Windy City is a breeze.
The historic Chicago Union Station is the United States' third busiest train station and a hub for 15 Amtrak train lines with destinations throughout the country. The station also serves bus carriers like Greyhound, Indian Trails and Jefferson Lines, and offers connections to Metra commuter lines. Union Station is also just a quick walk to the nearest Chicago L lines. The current station was built in 1925, to replace the original one dating back to 1881, and today wows visitors with its impressive facade, massive columns, and opulent Great Hall. Located right in downtown and adjacent to the Chicago Loop, Union Station is equipped with many services and amenities, including phone charging stations, shops, and various food and drink options.
Popular train stations in Chicago:
Chicago (Union Station), Illinois
What train companies travel to Chicago, Illinois?
Located in Illinois, Chicago is accessible by train from 451 other cities. You can choose from 1027 daily scheduled trips when you search for trains to Chicago on Wanderu. Amtrak usually has the most trains on any given day.
Looking for other ways to get there? Bus tickets to Chicago are also available.
Train companies serving Chicago
|Train||Routes||Avg. Time||Avg. Price|
|Amtrak||385||1d 9h 49m||$235.87|
|Amtrak Empire Builder||39||22h 20m||$155.22|
|Amtrak Texas Eagle||39||17h 45m||$138.39|
|Amtrak Southwest Chief||30||20h 58m||$182.80|
|Amtrak Cardinal||29||20h 12m||$142.39|
|Amtrak California Zephyr||28||1d 7h 15m||$180.25|
|Amtrak Lake Shore Limited||24||11h 14m||$92.90|
|Amtrak City of New Orleans||19||6h 57m||$58.66|
|Amtrak Capitol Limited||15||8h 28m||$117.43|
|Amtrak Wolverine||14||4h 25m||$46.56|
Amtrak is the largest passenger railroad service in America, offering daily intercity trains to hundreds of destinations across the contiguous United States, as well as several cities in Canada. Every Amtrak train comes equipped with comfortable seats with extra legroom, as well as several four-seat areas with tables in the middle. In addition, each car has a freshly cleaned restroom, free WiFi and power outlets at every seat. There are also snack bars where you can purchase drinks or food during your journey.
The Amtrak Empire Builder is a long-distance passenger rail service that has been in operation since 1929. The full 2,200-mile route takes 45 hours to connect Chicago with the Pacific Northwest. Don’t let the length of the trip intimidate you; the Empire Builder is one of Amtrak’s most popular services, and often rated as the most scenic train route in the country. The sightseer lounge, home to enormous windows, is the perfect place to drink in the incredible views of the Mississippi River, the North Dakota Plains, Glacier National Park, and the Columbia River Gorge. Overnight trips on the Empire Builder include the option to book sleeper cabins, for a more comfortable journey and included meals. All passengers can purchase meals or snacks in the cafe car.
Amtrak Texas Eagle is a train service operated by Amtrak that connects to Texas. It links Chicago with the heart of the Lone Star State in San Antonio, going to cities such as St. Louis and Dallas. Onboard amenities include restrooms, power outlets, complimentary WiFi, and a designated restaurant car with full meals.
The Southwest Chief is a passenger train operated by America’s largest train service, Amtrak. The full route travels over 2,200 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles, which takes over 43 hours. In addition to standard Coach Class seats, the Southwest Chief offers several sleeper cabin options on longer journeys. Amtrak’s Southwest Chief is consistently ranked as one of the most scenic train routes in America, thanks to the stunning views of the Painted Desert, the Red Cliffs of Sedona, and the Grand Canyon you’ll see from your train window.
The Amtrak Cardinal is a long distance passenger rail service from New York to Chicago, connecting a total of 31 cities. As one of Amtrak's most scenic train routes, the Cardinal is a popular train line connecting the Northeast to the Southeast, and offers top-notch comfort thanks to its seats with extra legroom, free WiFi, power outlets, and snacks available for purchase in the Cardinal Café.
The City of New Orleans is an Amtrak route that runs daily trains from Chicago to New Orleans and vice versa. The City of New Orleans includes a sightseer lounge with panoramic windows for the best views of the five states along the route. However, the City of New Orleans also offers private roomettes and bedrooms for added comfort and luxury (and a higher price). Passengers who book sleeper accommodations will enjoy included meals, and all passengers can stop into the cafe car to purchase meals and snacks.
Passing through seven states, 16 cities, and various National Parks, Amtrak Capitol Limited connects Washington D.C. and Chicago, on 750 miles of railroad. Taking over 17 hours for a complete trip, these trains offer various overnight accommodations and feature panoramic observation cars where passengers can enjoy exceptional scenery. The trains include various options for food; however, WiFi connectivity is not available onboard due to the rural nature of the route.
Which train carrier has the best service to Chicago?
Based on customers travel reviews, travelers who booked on Wanderu rave about traveling to Chicago by train with Amtrak Carl Sandburg giving them a 4.8 rating out of 5.
Travelers also mentioned that Amtrak Pere Marquette had the most comfortable train service to Chicago taking into account the seats and amenities that Amtrak Pere Marquette offers. They rate Amtrak Pere Marquette a 4.7 out of 5 when it comes to just how relaxing and enjoyable their experience was onboard.
If you are looking to arrive to Chicago punctually, travelers suggest that Amtrak Hiawatha has the best on time performance on their train schedules to Chicago, rating them a 4.9 based on their on time arrivals.
Frequently Asked Questions
The main train station in Chicago is Chicago (Union Station), Illinois. As the busiest station, it has the most train arrivals, although some trains may make other stops in and around Chicago.
A great area to stay in while visiting Chicago is the New East Side. It’s in easy walking distance of many Chicago attractions like Millennium Park and Navy Pier, and is also close to Chicago Union Station. Prices for accommodations vary, so look around a bit to find a good deal.
On the North Shore of the city, Andersonville is a nice neighborhood to stay in. It’s more quiet than downtown Chicago, with many charming restaurants and bars. It’s also close to the Red Line, meaning that the city’s popular attractions are still easily accessible.
For a cheaper neighborhood, consider looking northwest toward Wicker Park. Just off the Blue LIne, Wicker Park is known for its terrific nightlife and excellent cuisine. And if prices in Wicker Park exceed your budget, consider staying in Ukrainian Village, just south. You will still be in walking distance of all Wicker Park has to offer, but avoid the markup.
The public transit system in Chicago (known as the Chicago Transit Authority or CTA) is extensive and robust, and includes Chicago’s metro system (known as the “L”) and hundreds of city buses. The Red Line is among the most busy L Lines, and extends from the North Shore down into Chicago’s South Side (including multiple stops in Downtown Chicago). Base fare for a single L ride is $2.50, and single fare for a bus ride is $2.25.
The closest L stop to Chicago Union Station is Clinton, which is about .2 miles away, and situated on the Pink and Green lines. Slightly further away is the Quincy stop, about .4 miles east, which services the Pink, Brown, Purple and Orange lines.
For easy transport to O’Hare International Airport, take the Blue Line northwest to the end of the line. To get to Midway International Airport, take the Orange Line southwest to the end of the line.
Other ways people get around Chicago include using Uber and Lyft, or just waving down a taxi, which are still prominent throughout The Windy City.
Chicago is filled with excellent attractions for visitors of every age and interest. Among the most famous sites in Chicago is “The Bean,” a reflective sculpture in Millennium Park in the shape of a giant kidney bean.
Another amazing attraction in Chicago is the Willis Tower, formerly the Sears Tower. The Willis Tower was built in 1973, has 110 floors, and is the second tallest building in the world. Purchase tickets to visit the SkyDeck, where you’re treated to panoramic views of the city and Lake Michigan.
Are you a fan of baseball? Then make sure you stop by Wrigley Field for a Chicago Cubs game. The stadium is among the oldest in Major League Baseball, and whether you’re a die-hard sports fan or not, offers a throwback experience that just about anyone can appreciate.
If you enjoy comedy, check out a show at Wrigleyville’s improvOlympic. The theater has shows every night of the week, and has long been a training ground for famous comedians who have gone on to star in TV shows like Saturday Night Live.
Established in 1923, Lou Mitchell’s is a terrific place to eat breakfast. It is also conveniently located near Chicago Union Station. Lou Mitchell’s is known for their hearty breakfast meals, and for serving breakfast and lunch all day long.
For some good barbecue at a reasonable price, check out Blackwood BBQ, just a few blocks north of Union Station, and if you like Indian food, the fast-casual restaurant Naansense is also an excellent option.
In the mood for an evening cocktail? Then you might have a terrific time at the rooftop bar Cindy’s, near Millennium Park. Cindy’s is a bit pricey, but the view is well-worth it. Get one drink there, then jump on over to the famous Billy Goat Tavern on Lake Street, where drinks are more reasonable.
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With just a quick search on Wanderu, you can compare bus and train schedules and prices from hundreds of travel companies in one convenient place to find the trip that works best for you. Wanderu’s simple checkout process makes it easy to book cheap bus and train tickets hassle-free and with no additional fees. Most importantly, as Wanderu is an official partner of all leading bus and train companies, we always have the best bus and train deals out there.