- Download our Moving to Chicago Guide (PDF)
Chicago is a vibrant city brimming with wonderful attractions and activities for newcomers to enjoy. The city's lifestyle is a major draw, but be prepared to splash out, as Chicago can be expensive.
While Chicago is renowned for its shopping, nightlife and restaurants, it also features excellent entertainment venues, world-class sports facilities and luxurious spas.
Shopping in Chicago
A fashionable city, Chicago is a dream destination for those who love to shop. Head straight for Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue, where hundreds of store windows all vie for attention. Oak Street is also a good bet for fashion and designer stores.
Maxwell Street Market, meanwhile, is a prime place to browse and haggle among the many stalls. The market takes place on Sunday mornings from March to December.
Eating out in Chicago
From fine dining to hot-dog stands and fast-food outlets, Chicago offers a variety of dining options to suit every taste and budget. The trendy Lincoln Park, exotic Chinatown, Little Italy and the Mexican neighbourhood of Pilsen are just a few of the best areas to discover the city's culinary delights. Chicago deep-dish pizza is a must-try – the original can still be found at Pizzeria Uno in River North, which originated this beloved speciality pizza back in 1943.
Entertainment and nightlife in Chicago
With a long list of hip and happening hotspots to keep the party going until the early morning hours, Chicago is a fabulous place to hit the town.
Wells Street in Old Town has some fantastic restaurants and bars, while the Lincoln Park, Wicker Park and Lakeview areas are the places to go for music clubs playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and hard rock.
Chicago also has a thriving theatre scene, with touring productions from Broadway regularly shown in the city's large theatres and plenty of other smaller productions shown at more intimate venues.
Outdoor and sporting activities in Chicago
Chicago is family-friendly, with hundreds of neighbourhood parks and playgrounds to explore. Lincoln Park is Chicago's largest public recreation area and offers many outdoor attractions for the whole family. There are plenty of annual food and music festivals to enjoy in the summer, while during the winter months, many of the city's parks offer open-air ice-skating rinks.
The beaches along Lake Michigan also provide outstanding recreational opportunities. In the summer, the shores teem with people walking, jogging, playing volleyball, and picnicking. The lake itself is another recreational gem, with sailing and swimming being popular pastimes among Chicagoans.
See and do in Chicago
New arrivals who relocate to Chicago will love the city's high energy, attractions and activities. There's plenty to keep any new residents busy while they explore their new home and familiarise themselves with the ins and outs of the city. Here are a few of the best things to see and do in Chicago.
The Field Museum of Natural History
One of the largest natural history museums in the world, the Field Museum offers a wide range of exhibits to explore, from Ancient Egypt to working DNA laboratories and more. Don't forget to visit Sue – the largest and most complete T-Rex skeleton ever found.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio
The historic home of America's most renowned architect, the late Frank Lloyd Wright, is a must for all culture vultures. The house was initially built in 1889 but was extensively remodelled by Wright in 1895. Those interested in learning more about this American icon will be glad to know that the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust leads tours of the home.
Art Institute of Chicago
Home to one of the most significant collections in the world, art lovers are sure to enjoy visiting the Art Institute of Chicago to marvel at the beautiful works inside. Some of history's most renowned artworks can be viewed in the museum, including Grant Wood's American Gothic and Vincent van Gogh's famous self-portrait.
What's on in Chicago
From huge music festivals to celebrations paying homage to food and the arts, there are many exciting annual events in Chicago that have put the city on the map. Here are our top picks of must-attend events for new arrivals.
St Patrick's Day Parade (March)
Chicago hosts one of the largest St Patrick's Day celebrations in the US, with nearly half a million people gathering to watch the festivities. The Chicago River is even dyed green for the occasion (with an eco-friendly dye).
Chicago Blues Festival (June)
As the world's largest free blues festival, this event is a must for all blues enthusiasts living in Chicago. Dozens of local and international artists of the highest calibre perform throughout this three-day festival.
Taste of Chicago (July)
By some measures the world's largest food festival, this gastronomic multi-day marathon celebrates Chicago-style food and entertainment. Apart from the array of food stalls and pop-up restaurants, live music performances are another highlight.
Lollapalooza is a world-famous annual music festival taking place in Chicago. Lasting four days, Lollapalooza offers performances from all sorts of musicians across its eight stages. The festival hosts an impressive line-up of local and international bands.
Chicago Gourmet (September)
Foodies who are ready for yet another culinary adventure following Taste of Chicago can enjoy the fantastic weekend celebration of food and wine at Chicago Gourmet. Highlights include tastings, seminars and live demonstrations by celebrity chefs.
Are you an expat living in Chicago?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Chicago. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
Cigna Global Health Insurance
With Cigna, you won't have to rely on foreign public health care systems, which may not meet your needs. Cigna allows you to speak to a doctor on demand, for consultations or instant advice, wherever you are in the world. They also offer full cancer care across all levels of cover, and settle the cost of treatments directly with the provider. Cigna is currently offering a 10% discount for seniors (over 60) on their Silver package.
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