Itinerary in Chicago: the Loop step by step and by metro

The heart of Chicago, the Loop is home to an incredible number of points of interest. The second-largest business district after Manhattan, the area is home to the city's finest skyscrapers and numerous monuments. Whether you like architecture and the majesty of its buildings, shopping or going out (theatres, cinemas, restaurants), the Loop is made for you!

It's entirely possible to spend several days discovering this flagship district of the city, but we suggest you take two days to explore it. They'll be busy, but they'll leave you with memories to match the buildings that surround you!

View of Chicago

View of Chicago

- ©

Day 1: The Loop district

At the start of the morning, we'll begin our tour of the district with a ride on the aerial metro. This symbol of the city has been in existence since 1892! It offers a remarkable urban panorama of the city. It has even become one of the symbols of Chicago. The section nicknamed "Elevated Train" or "the L" attracts visitors. The metro follows a loop (The Loop) around downtown Chicago.

Very cinematic and photogenic, the aerial metro is a must-see in the area. Its metal structures, set among the buildings, will remain a powerful image of the city. Featured in numerous films and TV series (The Fugitive, Ocean's Eleven, ER, Two Cops in Chicago), this metro is an experience not to be missed. Once you have completed your itinerary, stop at Quincy metro station. This is one of the city's oldest stations, dating back to 1897! It's on the west side of the Union Loop, still in the Loop sector.

Subway in Chicago's Loop district

Subway in Chicago's Loop district

- © ventdusud / Shutterstock

From the station, start your walk at the Chicago Board of Trade. This Art Deco building is the city's stock exchange. Continuing eastwards, you'll reach the Art Institute Museum, which you can plan to visit for at least 3 hours or spend a whole day there!

The entrance to the Art Institute of Chicago

The entrance to the Art Institute of Chicago

- © MaxyM / Shutterstock

The country's second-largest art museum after New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, it houses one of the most important art collections in the United States. After visiting this incredible museum, make the most of Millennium Park. Here, too, you can linger for a long time. There are plenty of attractions, and in the summer festivals and concerts bring the place to life.

Don't miss the Cloud Gate sculpture. This work, shaped like a bean or a cloud, depending on your preference, has become a symbol of Chicago. Finally, just north of the park is the Chicago Cultural Center. Further proof of the city's cultural clout. Depending on the programme, you can attend concerts or exhibitions.

The entrance to the Chicago Cultural Center

The entrance to the Chicago Cultural Center

- © STLJB / Shutterstock

Where to sleep at a moderate price in Chicago's Loop area?

The Hampton Inn Majestic Chicago Theatre District offers excellent value for money in downtown Chicago. This 3-star hotel has modern, comfortable rooms, most of which are well soundproofed.

To complete the picture, there is a gym for those who want to look their best! The hotel also has its own car park.

Hampton Inn Majestic Chicago Theatre District Chicago

Hampton Inn Majestic Chicago Theatre District

"Amazing location, staff are super friendly and helpful." Customer review February 2023
8.7 Superb
£120 / night

Where to stay in a top-of-the-range hotel in Chicago's Loop district?

The Renaissance Chicago Downtown is a 4-star hotel that ranks among the best in the city. Its fabulous location in the heart of the forest of buildings in the centre of Chicago is an undeniable asset. As you enter the lobby, you'll discover the VIP R lounge, an artist's studio, a coffee bar and a library.

From your room you will have a view of the Chicago River or downtown. Guest rooms are beautifully decorated in a contemporary style. They include cable TV, a seating area and a private bathroom. The Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel also offers a swimming pool and parking facilities.

Renaissance Chicago Downtown 4* Hotel Chicago

Renaissance Chicago Downtown 4* Hotel

The contemporary rooms overlook the Chicago River.
8.7 Superb
£186 / night

Day 2: Continuation of the Loop tour and cruise on the Chicago River

After a busy day full of discoveries, you'll alternate between urban walking and boating on the water. Continuing north of the Loop, you will reach the Chicago River area. Here the buildings are reflected in the water of the river. Once again, the setting is as photogenic as you could wish for. Allow plenty of time to take in the sights.

From this site, you can opt for a cruise. Lasting an average of two hours, the cruises allow you to fully appreciate the sheer size of the buildings.

Cruise on the Chicago River

Cruise on the Chicago River

- © Sergii Figurnyi / Shutterstock

After the cruise, we'll continue northwards. You'll arrive in an area that's perfect for architecture lovers. Around Michigan Avenue you'll see two remarkable buildings: the Wrigley Building and the Tribune Tower.

Practical information

👉 How to get there:

the most practical and typical way is to use the good old metro. Don't forget that exploring the Loop by aerial metro is a must!

The city is very well served by public transport, with an efficient network of metro and bus services.

If you're out late in the evening, take a taxi, which is also plentiful in this lively city. Note that the Loop is not very lively in the evening, as it is primarily a business district.

The Chicago Transit Authority coordinates the bus and metro networks.

by Jude JONES
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