Forget Flying: How to Get to Chicago by Train

Chicago Cityscapes And City Views
••• Raymond Boyd/Contributor/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Trains to Chicago come from all parts of the country because Amtrak considers Chicago a main hub. If you look at a national Amtrak map, you'll see the lines all feeding into a central spot, the Windy City. Even if the cross-country train rider's final destination isn't Chicago, they almost certainly pass through it. Chicago, in fact, ranks fourth for Amtrak ridership to and from the city, with more than three million passengers per year.

The fifth place destination, Los Angeles, comes in at only 1.5 million.

Some of the busier/well-known routes include the California Zephyr, which travels from San Francisco through Denver to Chicago; the City of New Orleans, which, as the name implies, travels from New Orleans through Memphis to Chicago; the Empire Builder, which travels from Seattle through St. Paul to Chicago; the Lake Shore Limited, which travels from New York through Albany to Chicago.

All Amtrak trains come into Chicago's grand Union Station downtown, a short walk or cab ride to a large number of hotels. Union Station is one of many popular tourist attractions in Chicago. The big shootout scene towards the end of the movie "The Untouchables" was filmed here. Other movies that filmed at Union Station include "Flags of our Fathers," "My Best Friend's Wedding," "Chain Reaction" and "Public Enemies." The main physical attraction of the Great Hall at Union Station is a 219-foot-long barrel-vaulted skylight soaring 115 feet over the room.

Union Station was envisioned by famed Chicago architect Daniel Burnham, and opened in May 1925 after 10 years of construction at a cost of $75 million dollars.( That would equal more than $1 billion in 2016 dollars.)

Official Amtrak Site

Hotels Near Union Station

Central Loop Hotel

Crowne Plaza Chicago - The Metro

Holiday Inn Chicago Downtown

Hyatt Place Chicago/Downtown - The Loop

JW Marriott Chicago

The Kimpton Gray Hotel

La Quinta Inn & Suites Chicago Downtown

W Chicago - City Center

Attractions Near Union Station

Au Cheval. Infamous for offering one of the top burgers in Chicago, Au Cheval always manages to have a long wait. It's worth it, but also for the stacked bologna sandwich, craft cocktails, fried chicken and other modernized diner delights. 800 W. Randolph St., 312-929-4580

CH Distillery & Cocktail Bar. Chicago’s first-ever distillery cocktail lounge makes its home in the West Loop. Guests may settle into the bar for a selection of craft cocktails and small bites as they watch the experts make gin and vodka directly in front of them. 564 W. Randolph St., 312-707-8780

City Winery. In addition to holding the title as the city’s only fully operational winery, the sprawling venue serves as a restaurant, live-music venue and retail store. The original location is based in New York. 1200 W. Randolph St., 312-733-9463

Emmit's Irish Pub. The late-night Irish tavern was featured in a prominent scene in "Ocean's Eleven," starring George Clooney, Brat Pitt and Matt Damon. 495 N. Milwaukee Ave., 312-563-9631

Frederick Baker, Inc. The 8,000-square-foot gallery is the largest of its type in the Midwest, and offers the largest collection devoted to works on paper, American and European fine prints, drawings and watercolors. 1230 W. Jackson Blvd., 312-243-2980

Girl and the Goat. "Top Chef" champ Stephanie Izard continues to hold court on Randolph Street with an inventive, meat-heavy menu that changes regularly. 809 W Randolph St., 312-492-6262

Greektown. The feel-good cult flick "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" was filmed in Chicago's Greektown. The near west side neighborhood, which is located on the edge of downtown, caters to the third largest population of Greeks living in the United States. Approximately 150,000 people of Greek ancestry live in the greater Chicago area, and Greektown offers a number of bars, ​restaurants and shops that are steeped in tradition.

Lyric Opera of Chicago. Chicago's premier opera house showcases traditional and contemporary productions yearround. 20 N. Upper Wacker Dr., 312-332-2244

Mars Gallery. The quirky gallery showcases pop art from legendary Chicago artist Peter Mars, who serves as the official artist for the Muhammad Ali family archive and Elvis Presley Foundation. The art is reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s with a focus on cultural icons such as Elvis, Marilyn Monroe and President Clinton. His work was once highlighted at the Clinton Presidential Library. 1139 W. Fulton St., 312-226-7808

United Center. In addition to serving as the homebase for the Blackhawks and Bulls, the multi-faceted venue plays host to some of the biggest stars in the world. Sold-out concerts from the likes of Beyonce, Madonna and Sting attract fans from throughout the Midwest. 1901 W. Madison St., 312-455-4500

--edited by Audarshia Townsend