Chicago is truly one of the great travel destinations for anyone. I especially recommend it in the summer when the lakefront (Lake Michigan) and the beautiful parks are bustling. However, my very favorite time of year for a Chicago vacation is during the holidays when the areas of the Loop, the Miracle Mile and the water tower are as magical as a fairyland.
The Windy City offers a wide array of guided tours that are wheelchair and otherwise accessible. Several water based tours exist including the Architectural River tour and skyline tours on Lake Michigan boats (Shoreline Tours and the Spirit of Chicago tours both leave from festive Navy Pier).
Landlubbers might opt for the North Side Chicago tour or hop on a trolley or double decker sightseeing bus. It’s a good idea to make arrangements for these at least two days in advance to be certain that these will include the accessibility that you need.
Nearly all of the city’s major landmarks are disability friendly. Be sure not to miss the child pleasing Museum of Science and Industry (we recommend a taxi to this south side destination), the Chicago Art Museum, the Field Museum (natural history) or the aquarium. Chicago’s two most famous skyscrapers are wheelchair accessible for the city’s best (or at least most elevated) views.
The least expensive ways to get around are either the bus system or the “L” (light rail). All bus routes are accessible. As for the light rail system, many stations provide elevators necessary for those with mobility issues, but not all do so. Consequently, plan your route carefully to be sure that you can get on and off the train where you want.
As is the case in any major city in the Western world, you will not find any difficulty locating a hotel to meet your needs, and taxis and rental cars are plentiful.
Best times to arrive in this bustling city are late mornings, mid-afternoons and after about 7:30 p.m. During the rush hours expect traffic to be at its worst, comparable to any major city in the United States.
There is so much to do in this beautiful city, so plan plenty of time…or plan frequent return trips.
- Chicago: A dab of history with dollops of 21st-century style (nationalpost.com)
- Top 10 free things to do in Chicago (guardian.co.uk)
- Gay Chicago: Vacation Hotspots (worldwidegaytravel.com)