People & Communities
CASE City Guide: Chicago

Chicago, IllChicago, Illinois, USA (cityofchicago.org; choosechicago.com)

The city of Chicago, also known as the Windy City, is located in the northeast corner of Illinois right off of beautiful Lake Michigan. Home to nearly 3 million people, Chicago is the largest city in the state and the third largest in the nation.

Meet your guide
Dominique Steward, grants specialist, College of DuPage

Interesting or unusual event venue
McCormick Place: The largest convention center in North America can accommodate seating for 18,000 in 170 meeting rooms, six ballrooms and multiple theaters.

Navy Pier: Originally built in 1916, this lakefront playground offers 50 acres of parks, promenades, gardens, shops, eateries and attractions. The event space includes the Festival Hall, 36 meeting rooms, three lobbies and a Grand Ballroom.

Harold Washington Library: This venue seats up to 500 theater-style in the Winter Garden, for which it is known. It also has meeting rooms and reception spaces.

The Roof: A 7,000-square-foot rooftop entertainment venue that seats 265, reception-style.

Chicago, Ill

Favorite hotels

Hyatt Regency McCormick Place is the only hotel connected to McCormick Place with 1,260 guest rooms, banquet space and a conference center.

The Palmer House is the nation's longest continually operating hotel with 130,000-square-feet of meeting space, including seven ballrooms, 70 meeting rooms and two exhibit halls. It's conveniently located by Millennium Park and the theater district and offers afternoon tea service in the lobby.

The Wit Hotel is a four-diamond, multisensory hotel located in Chicago's theater district complete with a spa and one of the top three rooftop lounges in the world.

Best times to visit

Summer is the best time to visit. Chicago is famous for its festivals and outdoor events. During November and December, Chicago is beautifully decorated and lit with holiday décor. Late January and February are the coldest months but winter could last until May.
Easiest way to get around

Parking is costly. Downtown is walkable. Public transportation is good for further destinations: Metra to the surrounding suburbs, the L train and CTA bus throughout the city as well as the water taxi on the Chicago River during the summer. You can even catch a free trolley to major tourist attractions.

Navy Pier, ChicagoLocal customs

Pass out business cards and feel free to request them. If not already included on a business card, ask contacts if you can reach out to them on LinkedIn. If you are not sure about the dress code and it's not listed on a website or brochure, just ask. It's better to be safe than sorry.

Gift suggestions for hosts

Gifts from other parts of the world are great especially seasonal items that are not available in the Midwest. However, the Chicago sports teams have long-time rivals so be careful when it comes to gifting sportswear or memorabilia. No rival gear or accessories should ever be given as a gift.

Final words of advice, welcome

Bring your camera! There is so much to see and capture. My personal favorites are the Museum Campus, Museum of Science and Industry, the Chicago History Museum, Navy Pier with lakefront cruises and the Chicago Architecture cruise.

For the arts, visit Orchestra Hall, the Lyric Opera House, Art Institute of Chicago and the Theater District for Broadway in Chicago performances. Purchase discount tickets at hottix.org or just tour the venues.

Always dress for the weather. The city is humid in the summer, cold in the winter and don't forget, Chicago is the Windy City.

Chicago is a foodie paradise. You'll have to try our versions of pizza and hot dogs, then venture off to the restaurants of great chefs like Stephanie Izard, Rick Bayless, Charlie Trotter, Graham Elliott and others.

Chicago is a multicultural mecca with 77 distinct community areas of cultural and ethnic groups. Visit the list of Chicago Neighborhoods for suggested itineraries.