6/5/2023 - 6/8/2023
720 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605
Since 1909, the IDEA annual conference has connected members of the district energy industry from across North America and around the globe to share and advance best practices, enable collaboration and leverage member experience and emerging technologies. In 2023, industry focus on de-carbonizing and fortifying energy systems will involve partnering, planning and robust investment.
Today, cities, communities, campuses and clusters are implementing district energy infrastructure to mitigate and prepare for the impacts of climate change, cut emissions and provide a more robust, resilient and connected local economy.
Restaurants, Attractions & Tours: Learn More
Millennium Park is one of Chicago’s most-visited sights — and for good reason. It’s home to the famous Cloud Gate sculpture, better known as “The Bean”, and other stunning works of public art. In the summer, locals spread out in the grass for free concerts and splash around in Crown Fountain. In the winter, you can take a spin on the park’s two free ice rinks.
Iconic Navy Pier should be on your must-see list. One of the top tourist destinations in the Midwest, this waterfront destination has summer fireworks, a 150-foot Ferris wheel, shopping, rides, tons of family-friendly restaurants, boat cruises, sightseeing tours, and so much more.
Explore new worlds at Chicago’s acclaimed museums, from the bottom of the sea at the Shedd Aquarium, to the prehistoric era at Field Museum, to the depths of space at the Adler Planetarium. For science buffs, the Museum of Science and Industry is hard to top. And for art aficionados, check out the largest collection of Impressionist works outside of the Louvre at the renowned Art Institute of Chicago.
Chicago is full of fun (and budget-friendly) activities and attractions. Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the oldest free zoos in the country and home to more than 1,000 mammals, reptiles, and birds. Explore gardens under glass at Garfield Park Conservatory and Lincoln Park Conservatory or enjoy one of the free performances at Navy Pier. And you’ll find a full schedule of no-cost exhibits and programs going on at the Chicago Cultural Center, right across from always-free Millennium Park. Or explore Chicago's vibrant neighborhoods with a friendly local during a free Chicago Greeter visit.
It’s hard to beat the view of Chicago from above. Skydeck Chicago offers stunning panoramas that span four states from the 103rd floor of one of the world’s tallest buildings. For an unforgettable experience, step out onto The Ledge, a glass box suspended 1,300 feet above the ground.
Or check out the 360-degree views of the city and lake from the 360 CHICAGO Observatory, home to the one-of-a-kind TILT thrill ride. In the same building, The Signature Room at the 95th offers fine-dining fare with the same sweeping views.
There are plenty of ways to see Chicago — by foot, bike, boat, and more. Walk the city with Chicago Detours and the Chicago Architecture Foundation, which is also known for its bus and boat tours. Or polish your photography skills with Chicago Photo Safaris, which teaches you how to capture great shots while seeing the city.
Zoom around the city on a Segway sightseeing tour by Absolutely Segway and Segway Experience of Chicago. Biking tours, Bike and Roll and Bobby’s Bike Hike, are another great way to cover a lot of ground. Or hop on and off with the BigBus tour that covers miles of city attractions. And don’t miss an architecture boat cruise, like the one from Shoreline Sightseeing that’s been ranked among the top tourist attractions in the country.
The Chicago skyline soars with architectural marvels, like the Willis Tower, Tribune Tower, the Wrigley Building, Marina City, and more. Closer to the ground, you’ll find stunning interiors at the Chicago Cultural Center (home to the world’s largest Tiffany glass dome), Harold Washington Library, the Cadillac-Palace Theater, and the Rookery Building (designed by star architects Daniel Burnham and Frank Lloyd Wright).
Speaking of Wright, there are few places in the world that have better examples of his groundbreaking Prairie-style designs. Visit the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in nearby Oak Park. Or head to Chicago’s beautiful Hyde Park neighborhood to see the restored Robie House, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Book a reservation at one of Chicago’s top restaurants helmed by celebrity chefs. You’ll find culinary masterpieces by Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard of Girl and the Goat and Rick Bayless of Topolobampo and Frontera Grill. In addition, Oprah’s former personal chef Art Smith of Blue Door Kitchen & Garden and Grant Achatz of the nation’s #1 restaurant Alinea also call Chicago home.
You can’t leave without a slice (or two) of Chicago’s world-famous deep-dish pies. Popular spots include Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, Giordano’s Pizza, and The Original Gino’s East of Chicago.
Chicagoans are all about tradition and toppings — which means no ketchup. Served on a poppy seed bun, the “Chicago Dog” is topped with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, green sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato wedges, sport peppers, and a dash of celery salt. Assemble one yourself at a baseball game or head to hot spots like Portillo’s, Superdawg, Red Hot Ranch, and The Wiener’s Circle.
The city owes its outstanding dining scene to its melting pot of cultures. You can find an array of cuisines from all over the world in our neighborhoods, including Greektown, Chinatown, Little Italy, and Pilsen, Chicago’s vibrant Mexican American community. You’ll also find globally inspired restaurants flourishing downtown, from authentic classics to innovative international fusion.
Chicago is America’s craft beer capital, home to more breweries than any other city in the country. That means no visit is complete without a cold one at one of our local breweries. Founded in 1988, Goose Island Beer Company is the granddaddy of Chicago's breweries and one of the largest craft breweries in the Midwest. Visit their Clybourn brewpub or Fulton Street taproom for a taste and tour.
Also worth a visit: the award-winning Piece Brewery & Pizzeria (a Wicker Park destination since 2001); DryHop Brewers (hop-centric ales are the standout); and Revolution Brewing (a hometown favorite known for their fist-shaped tap handles and variety of stellar brews).
Too many delicious options to choose from? Let a Chicago dining expert be your guide. Sample Chicago’s staples on Tastebud Tours; indulge one slice at a time on Chicago Pizza Tours; and enjoy each course of your three-course meal at a different hot spot with Chicago Dine Around.
Chicago has always at the forefront of the craft cocktail scene. One popular spot is The Aviary from world-famous chef, Grant Achatz of Alinea and Next. As Chicago's first distillery with a cocktail bar, CH Distillery is the destination for local flavor. Sit for a drink, take a tour to "witness the science of alcohol", and then grab a souvenir bottle of their vodka, gin, or rum to go.
No matter the season, the tiki drinks at acclaimed Three Dots and a Dash give you serious tropical vibes. The Violet Hour in Wicker Park, Billy Sunday in Logan Square, Ada Street in Bucktown are just a few of the intimate settings where cocktails are taken to the next level. And The Dawson is the perfect spot for a creative drink on a bustling patio.
Jazzy stalwart Pops for Champagne has been pouring more than 100 sparkling wines for over 30 years. Musicians accompany the bubbles Sunday through Tuesday. Also downtown, the bar and lounge in Tortoise Club hosts live jazz on their patio in the summer.
The history-packed Uptown hangout Green Mill Jazz Club was a famous hangout of Al Capone, and still draws crowds for its legendary lineup of jazz acts.
City Winery is perfect for the wine and music lovers. For groups big and small, you'll find bottles of every variety and an intimate concert venue for national acts.
A cocktail and a tune? Howl at the Moon is the home of dueling pianos. Jam out to classic covers and other crowd favorites. Or get your piano fix a few blocks away at the old-school Redhead Piano Bar.
You won’t miss a moment of the action at Mother Hubbard’s and Radio Room in River North, with wall-to-wall TVs. Soccer and rugby are the star of the show at Fado, an authentic Irish pub near downtown. For more Irish vibes, check out Timothy O'Tooles for pub grub and lots of local fans on gameday
A mecca for sports enthusiasts, Harry Caray's 7th Inning Stretch is a massive spot on The Magnificent Mile that’s right next door to interactive gaming zone and memorabilia showcases in the adjoining Chicago Sports Museum.
Head to Chicago's Wrigleyville where the streets are lined with sports bar after sports bar. Join the cheering and beer-ing at places like the Cubby Bear and Murphy's Bleachers.
One of the city's premiere scenes, The Underground is always a party. Complete with celebrities, big-name DJs, and well-dressed crowds, this River North fixture has garnered accolades like "Hottest Night Club" by Entertainment Weekly and "Chicago's Sexiest Bar/Nightclub" by Victoria's Secret.
SUB 51, an intimate late-night lounge below the restaurant HUB 51, becomes an exclusive nightclub on weekends where you can hear resident DJs spin beats that will have you dancing all night long.
The Chicago club scene would not be complete without long-time favorites like the Spy Bar, a 20-year-old institution known for showcasing national and local house DJs.
Untitled does it all — cocktails in a throwback lounge setting (there are five bars and fun whiskey creations are a focus), live entertainment (jazz to burlesque), and late night dancing.
Get ready to laugh as the next generation of comedy stars take the stage at Chicago’s legendary The Second City. This is where improv-based sketch comedy was made famous, launching the careers of some of comedy’s biggest names like Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Bill Murray, and John Belushi.
If we were to write a shopper's guide to the city, it would begin and end with the most famous of all Chicago’s shopping districts: The Magnificent Mile. This cosmopolitan stretch of Michigan Avenue between the Michigan Avenue Bridge and Oak Street is an essential Chicago shopping experience. Fashion giants and cutting-edge designers dot this historic avenue along with dozens of restaurants, hotels, and galleries in between.
Other shopping centers include the famous Water Tower Place, The Shops at North Bridge and The 900 Shops, along with department meccas like Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus.
Home to the iconic Macy’s on State Street and an abundance of retail locales at every price point, State Street really is that Great Street. The shopping district is also home to Jeweler’s Row, the Midwest’s largest display of diamonds and gems. You’ll also find the bright lights of The Chicago Theatre and the Gene Siskel Film Center, known for its independent flicks, just across the street.
Find fashion inspiration in one of Chicago’s most prestigious shopping districts. This posh international style center offers ultra-luxury retail just steps off of Michigan Avenue. Think Barney’s New York, Jimmy Choo, Harry Winston, and Lester Lampert.
Looking for something one-of-a-kind? Chicago areas like Armitage Avenue in Lincoln Park, Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln Square, and the Wicker Park/Bucktown neighborhoods are home to plenty of charming boutiques and eclectic finds.
Bring home an incredible find from a Chicago market. Year-round markets include vintage goldmine Randolph Street Market and the 100-year-old Maxwell Street Market. During the holidays, stop by charming Christkindlmarket, a Chicago institution inspired by traditional German Christmas markets, that takes over Chicago’s Daley Plaza each December.
Chicago’s amazing museums cover everything from Impressionist art to the bottom of the ocean to the depths of space.
On Chicago’s lakefront Museum Campus, the Field Museum is home to 20 million biological and anthropological specimens. One of the most famous residents is SUE, the largest and most complete T.rex ever found.
The Adler Planetarium is America's first museum of its kind. Visit the Grainger Sky Theater, where you can experience an immersive, state-of-the-art show that takes you to new planets and into the depths of the universe.
The Museum of Science and Industry — the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere — offers interactive exhibits including a captured U-505 submarine, a working coal mine, a tornado simulator, and much more.
Chicago is also home to one of the oldest and largest art museums in the country, The Art Institute of Chicago. The museum’s permanent collection of paintings, drawings, photography, and textiles includes the largest compilation of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works outside the Louvre.
The Museum of Contemporary Art is one of the world's largest venues for pieces from 1945 to the present. With thousands of works by Chicago-based artists, you'll get a crash course in surrealism, pop art, and conceptual photography. And institutions such as Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, DuSable Museum of African American History, and Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures celebrate the city’s diversity. Finally, if your group includes kids, Chicago Children’s Museum is a must-see.
Step out into the bright lights of Broadway in Chicago’s bustling downtown theatre district, where you’ll find world-premieres and unforgettable, award-winning musicals.
Broadway in Chicago operates five venues including CIBC Theatre, Nederlander Theatre, Cadillac Palace Theatre, the Auditorium Theatre, and the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place. These historic venues often host pre-Broadway productions and the industry's most anticipated stage shows.
Experience a multi-sensory show that fuses theatrical spectacle and original music with comedy, art, vaudeville, and science. The three performers bang drums, slosh paint, and interact with the audience throughout their wild, offbeat, ever-changing show. The Blue Man Group phenomenon has been filling the Briar Street Theater in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhoods since the show started over 15 years ago.
Be moved at the Tony award-winning Steppenwolf Theatre known for its thought-provoking plays and trailblazing ensemble of fierce artists. You might even recognize the actors on stage, many of whom appear on television and in movies, like legendary actor Gary Sinise who founded the theatre with Jeff Perry, Laurie Metcalf, and Terry Kinney.
Now in its fourth decade as a professional theatre company, Steppenwolf has received unprecedented national and international recognition from media, theatre critics, and audiences alike.
Find compelling drama and sophisticated comedy at the Tony award-winning Goodman Theatre. Goodman has been a part of life in Chicago for more than 80 years and is committed to producing both classic and contemporary works.
The Goodman is also known for its annual holiday production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, a yuletide tradition for thousands of Chicago families.
Mind-blowing theatrics ignite at Chicago’s Tony award-winning Lookingglass Theatre. Co-founded by David Schwimmer, this intimate theatre can be found inside the landmark Water Tower Water Works building on Michigan Avenue.
Known for its dynamic and intellectual stage shows, Lookingglass has won dozens of Joseph Jefferson Awards, which are given to recognize theatre excellence. Lookingglass also received the Regional Theatre Tony Award in 2011.
Enjoy the works of William Shakespeare and other powerful performances from the past and present. This Navy Pier stage presents works that resonate with Shakespeare’s timeless insights into the human condition. As a Tony Award-winning theatre, you can expect creative takes and modern interpretations of literary classics. And their ground-breaking theatre, The Yard, features mobile audience towers that make it one of the most flexible venues in the world
You’ll never be short on theatre options in Chicago. Famed for its risk-taking storefront theatre scene, the city is home to a wide range of shows that set up shop in all sorts of non-traditional venues. To get you started on the hunt for the next big thing, check out upcoming performances from companies like A Red Orchid Theatre.
When the weather starts to cool, Bears fans bundle up and head to Soldier Field. With more regular season and overall wins than any other NFL team, the greatest number of past players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and adored personalities like Payton, Ditka, and Sayers in its back rosters, the Bears have a loyal and passionate following. The Bears have won nine league championships: Super Bowl XX and eight pre-Super Bowl championships.
On the ice since 1926, the Blackhawks are one of the oldest NHL teams. Accordingly, they have a lot of records and legends to their name, like the Presidents’ Trophy for finishing a season with the most points and five Stanley Cup victories, most recently in 2015. The team has played home games at the United Center — built near the site of the original Chicago Stadium — since 1994.
Like deep dish pizza and improv comedy, the Bulls have transcended city borders while still remaining pure Chicago. With six NBA Championships and one of the greatest players of all time to their name, the team is known for putting on one of the best shows in basketball. Some of the NBA’s best players tear it up on the United Center court, and beloved mascot Benny the Bull hams it up on the sidelines.
Previously known as “lovable losers”, the Chicago Cubs pulled off one of the world’s biggest sports upsets when they broke their championship drought and won the 2016 World Series. You can catch them at Wrigley Field, the second-oldest MLB ballpark in the U.S. located in the Wrigleyville neighborhood. This area comes alive on game day and gives off an absolutely contagious energy.
Catch the Chicago Fire Soccer Club, named for the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. The Fire won the MLS Cup and U.S. Open Cup in their first season, as well as the U.S. Open Cups in 2000, 2003, and 2006. Their wildly enthusiastic fans and non-stop action on the field will keep you on the edge of your seat.
The Chicago Red Stars are the city’s professional women’s soccer club. The team was formed in 2006, much to the excitement of local soccer fans, and have been gaining momentum ever since. They play their home games at SeatGeek Stadium in suburban Bridgeview, a major hub for soccer events in the Midwest.
In 2006, the Chicago Sky joined the WNBA, and have been bringing the excitement of women’s basketball to the Chicago sports scene ever since. In 2021, the Chicago Sky won their first WNBA Championship. Their season runs from May through September. Check out the Chicago Sky’s schedule.
The Chicago Sky play at the Wintrust Arena located in the heart of McCormick Square in the city’s South Loop area. Keep an eye out for the team’s biggest fan, the team’s mascot Sky Guy. He can be seen at every home game and he is always looking to make new friends. So be sure to say, “hi,” when you see him.
The Chicago White Sox, 2005 World Series Champions and rivals to the Chicago Cubs, call Guaranteed Rate Field home. Make sure to get there early to enjoy a big of tailgating before the game. This longstanding and encouraged tradition starts two hours before the game in the parking lots outside the stadium and gives you the chance to join locals grilling it up before game time. During the game, enjoy local beer and food options throughout the stadium and fireworks after every White Sox run.
O'Hare International Airport, located 17 miles from downtown, is one of the most connected airports in the world. It is North America's major international gateway airport, with more flight operations than any other airport, servicing over 83 million passengers to and from over 200 destinations around the globe.
Midway International Airport is located 10 miles from downtown Chicago and offers another convenient travel option for visitors. It’s the nation's premier point-to-point airport, offering value-oriented leisure and business travel to over 80 destinations.
Visit flychicago.com for details on parking, amenities, flight status, terminal maps, and more for both O'Hare and Midway airports.
Transit to/from Chicago’s airports
O’Hare and Midway are easily accessible by train (CTA), taxi, rideshare, and shuttle bus. These options connect Chicago's visitors to award-winning restaurants, five-star hotels, over 600 parks, 77 unique community areas, and Chicago's iconic lakefront.
The Chicago Transit Authority serves both airports for easy and economical travel between downtown and Chicago neighborhoods using the 'L' train. The 24-hour CTA Blue Line connects directly to O'Hare and the CTA Orange Line connects directly to Midway. Read more on getting around Chicago with public transportation or visit transitchicago.com/airports for full fare information and maps.
Both airports offer plentiful taxi service to downtown and the suburbs. Rates range from $40-50 from O'Hare, and $30 – $40 from Midway. Taxi stands are located on the arrivals level of each terminal. Rates vary based on travel time and are subject to change.
Rideshare companies offer service to and from both of Chicago’s airports. Refer to rideshare applications to hail a driver and for rideshare rates. Rideshare pick-up locations are as follows:
GO Airport Express provides shared ride services to all downtown/suburban hotels and many businesses. Pair fares and group discounts are available along with customized reservation portals for groups.
Rental cars are also available at both O'Hare and Midway Airports. A majority of rental car companies operate from each Airport’s consolidated rental car facility. Please visit specific rental company websites for details and reservations.
Limousine and chauffeur agencies prefer that all customers reserve cars at least 48 hours in advance although cars can occasionally be ordered with a two-hour notice. Click here for a list of available transportation services.
With its central geographic location and status as a hub for major interstates, Chicago is convenient to drive to from every region in the country. In fact, more than 20 million people live within a three-hour drive of the city.
Average Drive Times to Chicago
Chicago is accessible via several major interstates and highways: I-90 (Kennedy Expressway), I-94 (Dan Ryan Expressway), I-55 (Stevenson Expressway), I-290 (Eisenhower Expressway), I-294 (Tri-State Tollway).
Use this fully-interactive parking map to search for parking options in downtown Chicago.
Greyhound Lines, Inc. is the largest provider of intercity bus transportation, serving more than 3,800 destinations with 13,000 daily departures across North America. Greyhound has five metro-Chicago locations, including two 24-hour stations and 20 express routes to major US cities.
Megabus.com is the first, low-cost, express bus service to offer city-to-city travel for as low as $1 via the Internet. Since launching in April 2006, Megabus has served more than 22 million customers throughout more than 120 cities across North America.
Amtrak serves Chicago with about 50 trains arriving and departing daily. With 21,000 route miles in 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces, the national rail operator Amtrak offers more than 300 trains each day — at speeds up to 150 mph — to more than 500 destinations.
Metra is the commuter rail agency serving Cook, DuPage, Will, Lake, Kane and McHenry counties in the Chicago area. It is the sister agency to the Chicago Transit Authority, which provides mass transit rail (the “L”) and bus service to Chicago and some suburbs, and Pace, which provides bus service primarily in the suburbs. Metra serves more than 100 communities with 241 stations on 11 lines running from Chicago’s downtown. Click on an online system map to see route and station locations.
Click here to access parking information, resources and drive times for visiting Chicago by motorcoach.
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) operates the nation's second largest public transportation system – serving the City of Chicago and 40 neighboring communities by rail and bus. Pay cash for single trip rides or purchase a reloadable Ventra Transit Card or Unlimited Ride Pass for added savings.
For full fare information, transit card retailers and maps, visit the Chicago Transit Authority website at transitchicago.com. Also look to their site for the latest updates to train schedules and routes that may affect your travel plans.
‘L' Trains: Not all of Chicago's eight ‘L' lines are "elevated." They do, however, connect the city via above-ground, street-level, and subway trains and serve 144 rail stations all over town, making the ‘L' one of the most efficient and affordable methods of transportation available. Two lines operate 24 hours a day: the Blue Line, which connects the airport and downtown, and the Red Line, with service between the North and South Sides via downtown.
Buses: More than 100 routes lace the city; buses stop every few blocks. Several lines operate 24 hours a day. Exact change is required for cash fare.
Full fare with cash (bus only)
Acceptable on buses using exact change only in dollar bills or coins; no transfers available.
Single ride disposable Ventra ticket (bus and rail)
Ventra Tickets are good only for a limited time and cannot be loaded again once used up. Includes a full fare and two transfers (a $2.50 value), plus a $0.50 limited-use media fee.
1-day disposable Ventra ticket (bus and rail)
Ventra Tickets are good only for a limited time and cannot be loaded again once the value is used up. Includes unlimited rides within 24 hours of activation.
Full fare with reloadable Ventra card (bus and rail)
Transfers must occur within two hours of the first ride. Available online and at rail station vending machines.
O'Hare station fare (rail)
A $5 O'Hare rate applies to riders paying full fare from the O'Hare Blue Line Station.
Unlimited ride passes (bus and rail)
Activated on first use, passes allow unlimited rides for the specified time, offering the best travel value.
The high-speed Metra commuter rail train connects outlying suburbs to downtown and is an easy way to get into the heart of the city fast. For exact fares and route maps, visit the Metra website at metrarail.com.
Taxis are plentiful and easy to hail downtown, at the airports and throughout many Chicago neighborhoods. You can also electronically hail (E-Hail) a taxicab through a mobile app. CHICABS offers safe and secure options for a Chicago taxicab ride. CHICABS approved apps ARRO and CURB also let passengers electronically pay (E-Pay) for the taxicab fare through the app.
Credit cards are accepted in all taxi cabs by city mandate. It is standard to tip the driver about 15 – 20% of the fare, plus $1 – $2 per bag if the driver helps you with luggage. Please note that all fares and taxes are subject to change; visit the City of Chicago website for additional taxicab passenger information.
Sample taxi fare between downtown and O'Hare Airport is $40 – $50, and between Midway Airport is $30 – $35 (tip not included).
For fast, affordable and fun connections between Chicago's top tourist destinations, Chicago Water Taxi by Wendella Boats and Shoreline Water Taxi are the perfect combination of sightseeing and convenient transportation. During the warm weather season, travel on these fun water rides to popular visitor sites such as Chinatown, Museum Campus, Willis Tower, Michigan Avenue, Union Station and more. For exact fares and route maps, visit chicagowatertaxi.com or shorelinesightseeing.com/water-taxi.
For cyclists, information on Chicago's bike sharing program Divvy, local bike lanes and bicycle rack parking is available at chicagocompletestreets.org.
Click here to access an interactive parking map of downtown Chicago to search for public parking lots and garages by address and points of interest.
Want to pay for parking in advance? Find the perfect Chicago parking spot by comparing price, location, and amenities. Reserve your spot now.
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