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Layover Ideas

Chicago OHare Airport ORD

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Layover at ORD? We have some ideas!

Chicago's O'Hare International Airport offers a variety of attractions for travelers with layovers. The airport boasts a number of exhibits, including the four-story high, 72-foot long Brachiosaurus Dinosaur on loan from the Chicago Field Museum, the Butch O’Hare WWII Fighter Airplane Exhibit, and the Kids on the Fly Children’s Exhibit. Additionally, the pedestrian tunnel between concourses B and C in Terminal 1 features a 744 foot long kinetic neon sculpture of light and sound titled "The Sky’s the Limit".
Travelers with longer layovers may also want to consider visiting nearby attractions such as the John Hancock Center, North Avenue Beach, Lincoln Park, Grant Park, Little Italy and Navy Pier. These popular locations offer a variety of activities such as sightseeing, shopping, and dining.

Top Recommended Layover Activities:

1. John Hancock Center
875 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611 · 312-751-3681
Only 40 seconds in this building's elevator will set you stories above Chicago. Visit the third largest building in the city and enjoy views reaching up to 80 miles distant. Food and drink are available in the restaurant and lounge, and informational exhibits are on display in four different languages. Should you be in the area during Valentine's Day, you may want to skip the elevator ride and run to the top with the other participants who "Hustle up the Hancock."

2. North Avenue Beach
1600 N Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60610 · 312-747-0832
One of the metro area's most popular parks, North Avenue Beach is at its prime in the warmer months, when hordes of families, exercise nuts, and tourists flood here to do everything from sunbathe and play beach volleyball to roller-blade and and cycle along the shoreline. Across the street is the Lincoln Park Zoo.

3. Lincoln Park
2045 N Lincoln Park W, Chicago, IL · 312-836-7000
Some of the city's trendiest shops, bars, and theaters call this neighborhood home. One such attraction is the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Named after the park that encompasses its eastern border, Lincoln Park runs from Diversy Parkway to North Avenue. Lincoln Park also offers scenic ponds and walking paths, which are accompanied by the light and strong breezes from the lake and a constant view of Chicago's stunning skyline.

4. Grant Park
500 S Columbus Dr, Chicago, IL 60604 · 312-742-7529
From ice-skating in the winter to viewing blooming roses in the summer, Grant Park offers a variety of relaxing activities. You can stroll through Versailles-type rose gardens, take part in a pick-up volleyball game, or admire the lakefront views offered by the 300-acre park. Highlights include free concerts during the summer and Grant Park's Buckingham Fountain with its 133 water jets - a marvel to see.

5. Little Italy
Taylor St at Morgan St, Chicago, IL 60607
People undertaking strict diets should likely eschew this Chicago neighborhood, where the air is full of tempting aromas of deep dish pizza. Indeed, Little Italy is popular for its cozy, family-operated restaurants and unique neighborhood groceries.

6. Navy Pier
600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611 · 312-595-7437
Since 1916, Navy Pier has been home not only to the military but to scores of special attractions. Now purely commercial, the pier offers everything from an IMAX theatre to performances by a Shakespeare troupe. You can view dancing in a grand ballroom, ride the splendor of a fifteen-story ferris wheel (a replica of the one at Chicago's 1893 World's Fair), or relax to the sounds of waves quietly lapping on the lakeshore.

7. Chicago Water Tower
800 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
The Chicago Water Tower is a notable Chicago landmark that was built in 1869 and survived the great 1871 Chicago Fire. The building looks more like a palace than a water tower and features several small towers and lovely limestone brickwork. The tower is 154 feet in height and stands quite small against the area's skyscrapers. The tower no longer functions, but it was chosen by the American Water Works Association as the first American Water Landmark in the United States.

Staying longer? Scroll down for more ideas. 

Helpful Tips & Resources

Need help navigating your way through an unfamiliar airport? Look no further than iFly.com for expert tips and advice. Here are some helpful tips to help you travel stress-free through ORD Airport: 

  • Don't let heavy bags slow you down! Make use of our airport's complimentary baggage carts, available for all travelers in the baggage claim area.
  • If you have some time before your departure, relax, grab a bite, peruse the shops, or jump on the free wifi and surf galore!
  • Are you a frequent flyer or traveling in business or first class? Check out where the airline lounges are located.
  • Once you have passed through security, you can use the interactive terminal map to find your gate, as well as the various restaurants and shops that are available on your route.
  • Need some cash for your trip? Check here for the location of in-terminal ATMs or currency exchangers.
  • If you're flying in from out of town and need transportation to your destination, consider renting a car from one of these rental car providers.

Top Weekend Getaways And Day Trip Excursions:

1. Sears Tower
233 S Wacker Dr, Ste 3300, Chicago, IL 60606 · 312-875-9696
Standing 1,454 feet high, this skyscraper is easily Chicago's most dominant structure. Visitors can shoot to the top of the 110-story building via a 70-second elevator ride and catch magnificent views into Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin from the 103rd floor skydeck. Informational exhibits for both adults and children teach the history of Chicago, the construction of the tower, and interesting "did you know" facts.

2. Taste of Chicago
Grant Park, Chicago, IL 60603 · 312-744-3370
The event preceeds the 4th of July. Over 100 area restaurantuers offer their fare in a Chicago style food expo. There is an entrance fee and entertainment is also offered. Go enjoy the food and listen to the music!

3. Chicago from the Lake
435 E Illinois, North Pier Docks, Chicago, IL 60611-5319 · 312-527-1977
Chicago from the Lake offers a variety of tours along the majestic Chicago coastline, including the immensely popular Architectural Cruises, which explore the Windy City's interior via the Chicago River. Make sure you bring your camera since views of the city from the river are simply unrivaled. The price of the tour includes a cup of Starbucks coffee and cookies. Tours depart every hour, seven days a week. Reservations may be made through the concierge desk at all downtown hotels.

4. Wrigley Field
1060 W Addison St, Chicago, IL 60613 · 773-404-2827
This cozy stadium's friendly atmosphere asserts a strong appeal for Chicago Cubs fans. First opened in 1914, the facility boasts ivy-covered brick walls in the outfield and a manual scoreboard that helps maintain a good-old-days ambience. The place is such a local legent that any visit to Chicago must include a day at "the old ball game." And just to avoid potential heartache: any homerun ball hit by the other team must be thrown back onto the field.

5. Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio
951 Chicago Ave, Oak Park, IL 60302 · 708-848-1976
Renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright began building this house in 1889. As his style developed, so did the home, and Wright continued to make unique additions to it to suit his personal needs. Today, guided tours showcase his studio and its chain-hung balcony, along with a playroom designed for his children that offers treetop views. The architect's signature style and taste are clearly evident throughout the intricately designed home. Tours depart from Ginkgo Tree Bookshop.

6. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
1100 N Mineral Springs Rd, Porter, IN 46304 · 219-926-7561
This national park is located southeast of the city and offers miles of riding and hiking trails and five beaches for lounging. Although an hour's drive from Chicago, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is worth time spent in the car. You can see five types of lakefront environments, including woodlands, beaches and bogs, all on a 25-mile stretch of Lake Michigan's southern shore. Don't forget to see Mount Baldy, which offers a great view of the lake from a 125-foot dune.

7. Lake Shore Park
808 N Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60611 · 312-742-7891
If location is everything, then Lake Shore Park is the best of everything. Nestled between Lake Michigan and the Museum of Contemporary Art, visitors and natives alike keep this park in constant motion. You can enjoy a leisurely stroll, watch a soccer game, or hit the outdoor track. Convenient public restrooms.

8. Gold Coast
N Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60613
Tucked between North Avenue and Oak Street along Lake Shore Drive, the Gold Coast offers some of the most desired lakeshore property in Illinois. The neighborhood, which is known for its architectural history and cultural richness, is home to some of the city's most prestigious and influential movers and shakers. Drop by one of the booming cafés, bars, or shops and see who is out.

9. Magnificent Mile & Streeterville
N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
Some of the best in shopping and dining can be found on the Magnificent Mile. Running down Michigan Avenue and bounded by Oak Street on the north and the Chicago River to the south, you will find the best of all that is expensive. Consider it the Rodeo Drive of the Midwest. If you seek a trendier, eclectic setting, go two blocks east where you will find Streeterville, a more hip section of this neighborhood.

Even more Chicago O'Hare Layover Ideas!

  • Willis Tower (formerly known as Sears Tower) - One of the tallest buildings in the world, Willis Tower offers breathtaking views from the Skydeck on the 103rd floor. Visitors can also take a walk on the transparent glass balconies for an even more thrilling experience.
  • Millennium Park - This park features a variety of public art, gardens, and architectural features, including the famous "Cloud Gate" sculpture, also known as "The Bean." It also offers a variety of outdoor concerts and events throughout the year.
  • Art Institute of Chicago - Considered one of the best art museums in the world, the Art Institute of Chicago features a wide range of artworks, including Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, American art, and ancient and medieval art.
  • Field Museum of Natural History - This museum houses a vast collection of natural history specimens and artifacts, including Sue, the largest and most complete T. rex skeleton ever discovered.
  • Wrigley Field - Take a tour of the historic home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team and see the famous "Friendly Confines" of Wrigley Field.
  • Willis Tower Skydeck Ledge - Willis Tower Skydeck Ledge is an observation deck that offers breathtaking views of the city. It is located on the 103rd floor and offers a 360-degree view of the city.
  • The Chicago Riverwalk - Take a walk along the Chicago River and enjoy the views of the city's iconic architecture. The Riverwalk features a variety of shops, restaurants, and boat tours.
  • The Chicago Theatre - This historic theater, built in 1921, is a popular venue for a wide range of performances, including concerts, comedy shows, and plays.
  • Museum of Science and Industry - This museum is one of the largest science museums in the world, featuring interactive exhibits on science, technology, and engineering.
  • Willis Tower Skydeck Ledge - Willis Tower Skydeck Ledge is an observation deck that offers breathtaking views of the city. It is located on the 103rd floor and offers a 360-degree view of the city.