Stuck on a Chicago layover at the O’Hare International Airport (ORD)? The airport is located roughly 17 miles (27 km) from downtown Chicago and is an accessible destination for those stuck on long layovers. If you’re trying to determine whether you can leave the airport during your Chicago layover, click here for useful tips.
If you’re stuck in O’Hare with hours to spare during your Chicago layover, there’s plenty to do. To help you get situated, you can find Airport Maps listed by Terminal number, here.
The O’Hare airport offers a number of services that you can take advantage of during your Chicago layover, including dozens of restaurants, retail stores, gift and news shops, lounges, and cafes. The airport also has a full-service business and conference center.
During your Chicago layover, you can also take advantage of a health club, a massage center, and a salon inside the airport. The Spa Nation (773-601-0630) is located in Terminal 3 and offers massages from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. In addition, the Health Club (773-601-1723) is located in Terminal 2 and offer a workout, swim, sauna, tanning, and massages.
The O’Hare airport also offers a number of passenger lounges including United, UAL/Lufthansa, American, Continental, Northwest World Club, Delta, and Iberia. For lounge location and contact numbers, click here.
If you’re planning on leaving the Chicago O’Hare airport during your layover, there are many transportation options including taxis, rental cars, airport shuttles, ATS rail, CTA trains, and buses. Private transfers can also be booked.
Here’s the Layover Guide’s top picks of things to do on a Chicago layover:
There are many tours available in Chicago, based on your interest. There are bus and walking tours, segway tours, boat rides, day trips, helicopter rides, biking tours, cultural, food, wine, and nightlife tours, shows, concerts and sporting events, and tons more!
Chicago’s Millennium Park
55 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611 (312) 742-1168
The Chicago’s Millennium Park is a 24.5-acre, award–winning center that features the work of world-renowned architects, planners, artists and designers. Among Millennium Park’s prominent features are the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion, the interactive Crown Fountain by Jaume Plensa; and Anish Kapoor’s hugely popular Cloud Gate sculpture.
500 S Columbus Dr, Chicago, IL 60604 · 312-742-7529
With a fountain that contains 133 water jets, Grant Park is a great attraction to see in a short visit to Chicago. Regardless of the season, the 300-acre park has lot of options. With ice-skating in the winter to rose gardens and concerts in the summer, you can take in the beautiful lakefront views.
North Avenue Beach
1600 N Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60610 312-747-0832
Across from the Lincoln Park Zoo, North Avenue Beach is one of Chicago’s most popular parks. It is most popular in the summer months, when Chicago families picnic, sunbathe, play sports and rollerblade along the lakefront.
435 E Illinois, North Pier Docks, Chicago, IL 60611-5319 312-527-1977
Chicago offers a variety of tours, including Sightseeing and Architectural Cruises, which take you down the Chicago River. For listings of the various tours, check out the Chicago Lake & Chicago River Boat Tour Cruise Comparison Chart
1060 W Addison St, Chicago, IL 60613 · 773-404-2827
Home to the Chicago Cubs, this stadium is such a huge part of Chicago, that most visitors can’t leave without spending a day at the ball game. Depending on the schedule of games, and how long your layover is, this may be a great option. Just remember, if you’re going for fly balls, any homerun hit by the opposing team but be thrown back in.
The third largest building in Chicago will offer you sweeping views of the city. Grab some food and drinks in the restaurant and bar, and take a look at the exhibits.
600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611 · 312-595-7437
A commercial area, the pier offers a huge ferris wheel, IMAX theater, Shakespeare in the park, a grand ballroom and beautiful views of the lake.
233 S Wacker Dr, Ste 3300, Chicago, IL 60606 · 312-875-9696
The Sears tower stands 1,454 feet high, this skyscraper and is Chicago’s tallest building. Takea 70-second elevator ride to to the top of the 110-story building and you’ll get spectacular views into the neighboring states from the 103rd floor skydeck.
Chicago Water Tower
800 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
Despite the name, Chicago Water Tower actually looks more like a palace. Towering 154 feet tall, it fits in among the city’s skyscrapers. Despite the fact that the water tower no longer works, it has become the first American Water Landmark in the United States.
The Museum of Contemporary Art
220 E Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60611 (312) 280-2660
Located in middle of downtown Chicago, the MCA offers exhibitions of thought-provoking art since 1945 including painting, sculpture, photography, video and film, and performance. The museum also has a restaurant, 300-seat theater, and a terraced sculpture garden with a great view of Lake Michigan.
Magnificent Mile & Streeterville
N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
If you’re looking for the best shopping and restaurants, this is where you’ll want to be. With Oak Street to the north and the Chicago River to the south, Magnificent Mile is to Chicago what Rodeo Drive is to Beverly Hills. Two blocks east, you’ll find Streeterville — a more trendy, eclectic area.
Have a suggestion for a Chicago layover? Leave a comment below!