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Illinois Travel Guide

Illinois — Transportation

Illinois Taxis and Car Rental

Illinois sits at the crossroads of several major interstate highways, making driving to and through this state a breeze. Car rental will certainly make life easier if you plan on doing any kind of traveling around Illinois, and major rental companies have offices at the airports and downtown in most large cities like Springfield and Chicago.

If you plan to stay in Chicago, a car is not necessary. There are fleets of taxis in the Windy City and nearly all the neighborhoods of interest and star attractions can be reached via public transportation. Parking in Chicago’s downtown is hard to come by and quite pricy, which greatly adds to the cost of having a rental car. Taxis are not cheap either, but are still more convenient and a better value than rentals cars. They are easy to hail on the streets of The Loop, the Magnificent Mile, Lincoln Park, and River North and use a meter to calculate the fare. Yellow Cab (+1-312-829-4222) and Flash Cab (+1-773-561-4444) are two of the biggest companies in Chicago.

Illinois Trains and Buses

Illinois has some of the most extensive railway lines in America. Travelers can make good use of Amtrak to reach the state and move between cities such as Chicago, Springfield, and a dozen smaller towns across Illinois. The California Zephyr line begins in Chicago, stopping in Naperville, Princeton, and Galesburg as it heads to California. The Texas Eagle line also starts in Chicago, stopping in Joliet, Pontiac, Lincoln, Normal, Alton, and Springfield on its way to San Antonio. The Southwest Chief line starts in Chicago and passes through Mendota, Galesburg, and Princeton on the way to Los Angeles.

Several other major Amtrak routes stop in Chicago as a midpoint across the country. Amtrak trains are a bit slow and notorious for delays, but the fares are reasonable, the seats very roomy and the scenery often superb. If time is not a factor, traveling by train is a great way to see the Midwest.

Alternatively, the Greyhound bus company has stops in nearly every town and city in Illinois. Fares are cheap and buses are often the most convenient of all the transportation options, as well as comfortable for short journeys around the state.

Only Chicago has an extensive public transport network that is useful for visitors. Its train system, known as the El (for elevated), has seven lines designated by color that run both above and below ground and cover most of the inner city. A single fare will take you as far as you want to ride, and the downtown loop is particularly scenic. Along Chicago’s lakefront, the public bus is the way to go. Buy a Visitor Pass, good for 24 hours of unlimited transport on the El and buses from local hotels, airports, museums, and transport centers.

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