Tour Chicago like a pro by exploring the city through the “L” train, operated by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). This mode of transportation is easy to navigate, budget-friendly, and allows you to see the city from end to end. Plus, you have the flexibility to hop on and off at any stop that catches your interest.

Whether you’re into art and architecture, food and drink, theatre and performing arts, shopping, or anything else, you’ll find it all by traveling through the city’s different neighborhoods on the elevated train. All you need is a Ventra card and a free afternoon. Let’s go on an adventure!

Red Line

Stop: Cermak/Chinatown to explore Chinatown

Get off at the Cermak-Chinatown station to discover one of the most established Chinese communities in the United States. The first thing that will greet you is the Nine Dragon Mural Wall, located just outside the station. From there, walk under the Chinatown Gate to try authentic dim sum, savor delicious Chinese cuisine, browse through shops filled with traditional Chinese souvenirs, and take pictures of traditional Chinese architectural elements. Don’t forget to visit the outdoor, pedestrian-friendly Chinatown Square, where you can find cafes, boutiques, and the famous Chinese Zodiac statues located at the center of the square. Ping Tom Memorial Park is a perfect spot for kayaking along the river and having a picnic with a view of the city skyline. While you’re there, make sure to visit the Heritage Museum of Asian Art and the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago.

Stop: Chicago to explore The Magnificent Mile and more

The Chicago Red Line stop offers easy access to shopping, dining, and sightseeing. Take in the grand architecture, luxury boutiques, and gourmet restaurants of the Gold Coast. Explore The Magnificent Mile for shopping, then head over to 875 N. Michigan Ave. for an exciting TILT experience at the 360 CHICAGO observation deck located in an iconic skyscraper. Visit Water Tower Place to test your skills at the interactive Chicago Sports Museum and catch a show at the award-winning Lookingglass Theatre. Be sure to also check out the Museum of Contemporary Art for thought-provoking exhibits, performing arts and free live jazz on Tuesday evenings during the summer.

Green Line

Stop: Conservatory – Central Park Drive to explore Garfield Park Conservatory

The Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago is a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and those interested in horticulture. The conservatory features a large collection of plants from around the world, including a desert house, a fern room, and a palm house, all of which are housed in beautifully designed glass greenhouses. Visitors can explore the different environments and learn about the plants that thrive in each one. The Conservatory also offers a wide variety of educational programs and events, such as gardening classes, workshops, and special exhibitions. Additionally, the Garfield Park Conservatory is a beautiful place to visit year-round, providing a peaceful escape from the city and a chance to appreciate nature in all seasons. It’s free admission, and also offers a nice space for picnics, meditation and other outdoor activities.

Stop: Roosevelt to explore the South Loop

Get off at the Roosevelt station to visit Museum Campus, one of Chicago’s top attractions. The Field Museum boasts impressive natural history collections, the Adler Planetarium is the first planetarium in the United States and a great spot for those interested in space exploration. The Shedd Aquarium is one of the biggest aquariums in the world. After you’ve explored the museums, head to Northerly Island to take in nature and enjoy the sunshine. If you’re lucky, you can catch a concert at the Huntington Bank Pavilion, which offers beautiful views of the lake and city.

Stop: Morgan to explore the West Loop

Head to the West Loop with an appetite, as it is renowned for its Restaurant Row on Randolph Street, where you’ll find some of the most sought-after dining spots in the city. The neighborhood has a unique industrial vibe, with former warehouses and meatpacking plants converted into trendy spaces. Explore the Randolph Street Market for antique and vintage finds on the last weekend of each month, and check out the various art galleries and auction houses in the area. Be sure to also visit Greektown, known for its delicious restaurants, bakeries and the National Hellenic Museum.

Stop: Bronzeville/35th/IIT to explore Bronzeville

As soon as you exit the station, you’ll be captivated by the charm of Bronzeville. The area boasts impressive mansions and inspiring public art, as well as a rich history. Many notable figures, including Pulitzer Prize winner Gwendolyn Brooks, civil rights activist Ida B. Wells, and musician Louis Armstrong, have ties to this center of African American culture and renowned hub of civil rights, jazz, blues, and gospel music. While taking photos of the beautiful Victorian-era architecture, you may even walk by the former homes of Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, and other famous figures.

Don’t miss the Robert W. Roloson Houses, which are the only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed row homes ever built. Take a stroll down Martin Luther King Drive to see a variety of public art, including Alison Saar’s Monument to the Great Northern Migration, the Bronzeville Walk of Fame, and the Victory Monument. See stunning African and Caribbean art at Gallery Guichard. Before you leave Bronzeville, take a tour of the Illinois Institute of Technology campus, particularly the School of Architecture, led by the legendary architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe from 1938-1958. The Chicago Architecture Center offers a tour specifically focused on Mies and Modernism in the IIT Campus, if you want to delve deeper into the Institute’s impressive architectural history.

Blue Line

Stop: California to explore Logan Square

Exit at the California stop and you’ll find yourself in the middle of Logan Square’s vibrant restaurant and nightlife scene on Milwaukee Avenue. The area boasts several popular spots such as the Chicago Distilling Co., Revolution Brewing’s Brewpub, the Chicago Diner (which offers delicious vegetarian and vegan options), and an array of bars, clubs, and lounges to choose from.

Stop: Damen to explore Wicker Park and Bucktown

As soon as you exit the Damen station, you will be greeted by the popular taco spot, Big Star and its lively patio directly in front of you, The Violet Hour, a speakeasy, to your right, and The Robey hotel, which features a fantastic rooftop bar with views of the skyline, to your left. This gives you a glimpse of the constant energy of the Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhoods. The area also boasts progressive art spaces, unique boutiques, alternative music venues, and The 606 elevated trail, all within a short walk. This combination creates a recipe for an excellent experience in Wicker Park and Bucktown.

Stop: Chicago to explore West Town

West Town is a funky and diverse neighborhood with a variety of unique and off-the-beaten-path experiences. Visit Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, a small museum with a captivating collection, and the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, which showcases Ukrainian contemporary culture through exhibitions, concerts, readings, lectures, and films. Then, head to Grand Avenue for upscale architectural salvage and antique hunting, as well as some of the city’s newest food and drink hotspots.

Pink Line

Stop: 18th Street to explore Pilsen

As soon as you get off the train at the 18th Street stop, you’ll be greeted by an array of vibrant murals, which sets the tone for the neighborhood of Pilsen. The area is home to many artist studios that you can tour for free on 2nd Friday gallery nights. Pilsen is also a proud Latino community, and you’ll find many authentic Mexican restaurants and bakeries throughout the neighborhood. A must-see attraction is the National Museum of Mexican Art, which houses one of the largest collections of its kind in the nation. Be sure to also visit Michelin-starred Dusek’s Board & Beer, concert venue Thalia Hall, and nightlife hotspots the Tack Room and the Punch House, all located in the same historic building.

Stop: Washington/Wabash to explore the Loop

The Washington/Wabash station puts you in the center of it all, allowing you to easily walk to some of Chicago’s most famous attractions such as Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Cultural Center, the Chicago Architecture Center, and the Chicago Riverwalk. You can also go shopping along State Street, make sure to visit the historic Macy’s on State Street, admire iconic Chicago skyscrapers, dine at classic Chicago restaurants, and enjoy the views from rooftop bars. The Washington/Wabash station is also close to the Loop Theatre District, making it the perfect location to catch a hit show.

Brown Line

Stop: Western to explore Lincoln Square

Make your way to the cobblestone stretch of Lincoln Avenue at the intersection of Lawrence and Western for a taste of old-world German charm. Be sure to check out Merz Apothecary and Gene’s Sausage Shop & Deli. Lincoln Square’s Old Town School of Folk Music is a must-visit, where you can take a class, attend a folk concert, or participate in a folk music jam session. The Davis Theater is also a great spot to catch a film in a vintage movie house that has been restored and updated with all the luxuries.

Stop: Armitage to explore Lincoln Park

Make your way to the cobblestone stretch of Lincoln Avenue at the intersection of Lawrence and Western for a taste of old-world German charm. Be sure to check out Merz Apothecary and Gene’s Sausage Shop & Deli. Lincoln Square’s Old Town School of Folk Music is a must-visit, where you can take a class, attend a folk concert, or participate in a folk music jam session. The Davis Theater is also a great spot to catch a film in a vintage movie house that has been restored and updated with all the luxuries.

Stop: Belmont to explore Northalsted, Wrigleyville, and Lakeview

Northalsted (also known as Boystown) is the heart of Chicago’s LGBTQ+ community and Wrigleyville is home to one of America’s oldest baseball stadiums, Wrigley Field, where the Chicago Cubs play their home games. Take a tour of Wrigley Field for an inside look at baseball history, then enjoy a picnic and concert at Gallagher Way. Try a famous Chicago-style hot dog (hold the ketchup) and explore Lakeview’s Belmont Theater District. The Blue Man Group at Briar Street Theater is a neighborhood favorite, offering a blend of performance art, live music, and comedy that appeals to audiences of all ages. The area also boasts great shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars, including many Cubs-themed sports bars around Wrigley Field, making it a complete experience.