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Countdown to Healthy Living Summit 2010

August 11, 2010

A few notes to share:

1. If you are attending Healthy Living Summit, arriving Thursday night/early Friday Morning and not attending the Frito Lay tour – would you like to join us for a bike ride?

Julie and I will be renting bikes from Bike Chicago, which is located just a few blocks away from the hotel. We plan on taking a leisurely tour together and are still working out details. If you would be interested in joining us, please send me an email at We will be contacting those who are interested with more information soon. We’d like to extend the invitation to bloggers and readers in the Chicago-land area who are not attending HLS, but maybe interested in joining us for our morning bike ride!

2. If you are attending Healthy Living Summit, I hope to see you at our panel discussion; The Ups and Downs of Pushing Publish: Getting Real About the Blogging Community. Led by Anne of fANNEtastic Food, Andrea, Julie, Sana and I will be sharing our experiences and guiding discussion on issues in blogging.

Our panel takes place in the Great Room at 1:40 PM, and we would love to have you join us and weigh in on the discussion!

3. Headed to Chicago over the next few days? I was born in the Chicago area and have traveled to the Windy City several times – I wanted to encourage you all NOT TO BE INTIMIDATED by public transportation. It is not that difficult to navigate your way through the city, and hopefully these directions help you. Also, remember- Chicago may be a big city (rich in History and full of fun!) but it is also in the Midwest – meaning the people here are friendly, welcoming, and often more than happy to help travelers.

Then Heather Said’s Chicago Transit How-To

First let’s talk taxi’s:
From O’Hare to Congress Plaza Hotel – Grabbing a Taxi from O’Hare will range anywhere from $40-$50 depending on high traffic times.
From Midway to Congress Plaza Hotel – Grabbing a Taxi from Midway will range anywhere from $25-$30 depending on high traffic times.

But a MUCH better plan than a taxi, in MY opinion, is taking the L. [and by better I mean better cost, better for the environment, better chance that you meet your next soul mate, best friend or blog investor, better “true Chicago” experience.] First I will give you an overview of how to use the L, and then I will give you destination/route/directions from each airport, as well as how to get from the hotel to the cocktail party using the L.

General Need to Know about the L – Although the ‘L’ gained its nickname because large parts of the system were elevated, currently only a little more than half of the track lines are elevated. Here is a simple six step guide to taking the L.

Step One: Go to the station.
After you exit the gate, and gather any belonging from baggage claim, follow the signs in the airport towards the CTA train stations in the airport. There will be many signs and maps leading you in the right direction. If you are having trouble locating any signs, and can’t find a map, ask an airport employee. They know which way to go.

The O’Hare station is in the lower level concourse. Follow signs in the airport to “CTA Trains” or “Trains to City.” These will lead you to the train station. You can walk from the baggage claim to the train in under ten minutes from any domestic terminal.

The Midway station is just east of the airport terminal building and is connected to the airport via an enclosed walkway. Follow the signs to “CTA Trains” or “Trains to City” from the airport. An orange line painted on the ground will guide you there.

Step Two:
Load a card.
You are going to want to purchase a transit/pass card for use on the L. (these cards also work on the bus system, by the way.) Transit/Pass cards are VERY easy to use.

There are two types of vending machines located in the CTA stations at both airports (and several other stations around town). Transit Pass Card Machines take CASH ONLY and do not give change. Express Pass Machines takes cash, coin, and credit/debit cards. Pass Card Machines are EASY TO USE – (especially for the blogger in the digital age 😉 ) Just follow the directions on the screen to enter payment, make your selection and get your card.

You can purchase transit cards X amount of dollars which deducts for single rides, or pass cards for a 1-day pass, or 3-day pass.

Single rides are $2.25
1 day pass is $5.75
3 day pass is $14

NOTE to consider: You may want to use the L for traveling around the city for other meals, events, and site seeing. Also, I’ve included transit directions from the hotel to Friday night’s cocktail party.

Step Three:
Pay your fare/go through the turn-style.
If you are using a 1/day or 3/day pass card, the first time you use your pass, it’s automatically activated for the length of time for which the pass is good. Fare collection equipment will print the expiration time on the back of the card.

Most train station turnstiles have a Transit Card slot on top. Insert your card and remove it. The green “Enter” light will turn on, and the display will also tell you to enter. If you are using a pass card, you are all set. If you are using a transit card that deducts per ride, the display will show you how much was deducted, and how much remains on your card.

Step Four:
Go to your boarding area.
After you’ve gone through the turn style, make your way to the boarding area.
Stations have maps and signs to help you find your way. Follow signs to the boarding area for your train. Once at the platform, wait near the signs that indicate where trains stop. (Details on which trains to take are below)

Step Five: Board the train.
When the train arrives, note the train’s route and destination. These are signs on the train cars that tell you the destination of the train. This is not YOUR destination. You will be getting off at an earlier stop than what the sign will read. If you are coming from O’Hare – you will be looking for the blue line route and destination reading FOREST PARK. If you are coming from Midway – you want the orange line route and destination reading LOOP.

Step Six: Get off the train at your designated stop.
As detailed below in the directions.

Here are step by step directions from the airports to the hotel, and from the hotel to the cocktail party.

From O’Hare to Congress Plaza Hotel – about 40 minutes on the train, plus a 10 minute walk

Make way to Station, purchase transit card or pass card. Go through turn-style.
Get off at Jackson.
Walk south (same direction as train) on S. Dearborn.
Take a Left on Congress.
Arrive at Hotel – Take a Right on S. Michigan to enter through the main doors to check in.

UPDATE: Kath did a post with step-by-step photos from her trip from O’Hare, onto the L, to the Hotel.  I told you it was easy!

From Midway to Congress Plaza Hotel – about 25 minutes on the train, plus a 5 minute walk

Make way to Station, purchase transit card or pass card. Go through turn-style.
Get off at Library.
Walk east (toward the lake)on E Van Buren.*
Take a Right on S. Michigan.
Arrive at Hotel.

Directions from The Congress Plaza hotel to LaSalle Power Co for the cocktail party Friday night:

1. Exit Hotel onto S Michigan and turn right, headed south.
2. Take first Right onto E. Harrison
3. Follow E. Harrison until you reach the Harrison L terminal.
4. Get on the Red Line headed north, destination Howard
5. Get off the train on Grand Ave
6. Walk westward on Grand Ave, 3 blocks
7. Turn left on N. LaSalle – the LaSalle Power Co is ahead.

4. Reminder:

*Presidential Fun Fact: Van Buren, the 8th President of the United States, was the first president who was a US Citizen, and also the first President to not be of English Decent – he was Dutch!

19 Comments leave one →
  1. August 11, 2010 11:18 am

    A couple other helpful hints:

    Midway and O’Hare are the last stop on their respective L lines. Simply put, coming from the airport you can’t get on a train going in the wrong direction.

    Google maps has a public transit feature that will get you pretty much anywhere you want to go via bus or train. You can even input your desired departure or arrival time.

    If you’re taking the bus somewhere, the CTA has a bus tracker that will show you the time of arrival for the next bus at any given stop. You can track online at, via text, or using an iPhone app. (I assume there are apps for other phones, but I know there’s an iPhone app since I use it daily.)

  2. August 11, 2010 11:53 am

    Great information, Heather! Thanks for sharing — you just made public transit way less intimidating. There may be some printing and laminating in my near future.

  3. August 11, 2010 12:21 pm

    So helpful!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you so much. Going to print this all out and read it over and over again tonight/on the plane tmrw.

  4. August 11, 2010 12:27 pm

    Love that operation beautiful note! I’m not going to make it to HLS, but I love all the talk about it and the great suggestions for travel you’ve given. Good luck on your panel!

  5. August 11, 2010 12:48 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing all this great info!

  6. August 11, 2010 1:16 pm

    I agree! The L is the way to go. It’s easy and cheap 🙂

    I think there’s also a free trolley that goes around some of the bigger tourist sites (Navy Pier, museums, etc) if you are checking out those places.

  7. August 11, 2010 1:33 pm

    I am so jealous! I wish I was going to HLS 😦

  8. August 11, 2010 3:00 pm

    Great post. I completely agree with the ease of using the public transportation in Chicago. One time my family had a 9 hour layover in Chicago, so we hopped on the L and went to the aquarium – it was easy peasy.

    Sad that I won’t be there… biking around sounds like a great idea and it would’ve been so great to meet you and others.
    Ah well, I will continue to live vicariously through all the HLS posts that will be flooding my reader this weekend. Have fun!

    P.S. – Awesome post it 🙂

  9. August 11, 2010 3:09 pm

    You are my hero. These directions are amazing. I’ve been to the city, Luhhhve the city, but these tips are super important for people prone to getting lost — like myself:) Thanks for taking the time to put these helpful tips together.

    Rockit Bar anyone? mmm

  10. August 11, 2010 3:23 pm

    Thanks for all the information!

  11. August 11, 2010 7:38 pm

    Here’s a trick for the ORANGE LINE when you are going BACK to Midway after HLS with all your bags etc:

    If you are standing on the el esp if it is crowded this will help. After the Adams stop on the Outbound/Midway Orange line, the doors on the right side (in the direction of travel) do not open from Roosevelt to Pulaski. (The stations are on the left side.) It’s a safe stop to stand near the doorway. If you can get there/move there during the ride you don’t have to shuffle your bags around as much.

    Also, a tip w rush hour/crazy busy packed trains: Never say you need to get on b/c you have a flight to catch. This is when the mean comments will come out. (I’ve seen this happen and people laughed at the guy trying to smash himself in an already smushed train.) Think of it also like trying to cut the line at a concert venue bathroom, you’ll get the same looks.

    Overall Orange line = not scary, not too crazy.

  12. August 11, 2010 7:50 pm

    THANK you so much for this!! a huge help for tomorrow!!

  13. August 11, 2010 8:50 pm

    Silly Q: Will the L automatically stop @ Library? Will it announce it? Or do you have to push something? [not a city girl]

    • August 11, 2010 8:56 pm

      You don’t need to push anything, it will automatically stop.

      There will most likely be announcement, but sometimes they are difficult to hear – when I am unfamiliar with my route I position myself near the map on the car. I suggest doing this, so you can follow along on the stops.

      What time do you leave tomorrow? I can email you in the morning with the list/amount of stops before library for you to take with you if you’d like.

  14. August 12, 2010 8:35 am

    Thanks so much for posting this! Will print and carry with me so I don’t get lost 😉

  15. August 12, 2010 11:01 am

    This post has left me so jealous I’m not going to HLS! And now I want to vacation to Chicago!


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