Here are a few options, with ways to get the cheapest tickets on the bus, train, and flights between these two Midwest cities.
Easily the fastest way to get from Minneapolis to Chicago is to fly. Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport is right in the middle of the Twin Cities metro area, and flights take a little more than an hour from MSP to Chicago-area airports.
A non-stop flight on Delta, American Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest, and several other carriers can cost as little as $170. While the flight is short, you still will need to get to the airport at least an hour before your flight and go through the often time-consuming TSA process.
The Amtrak station in the Twin Cities is in St. Paul. There is one direct train a day in each direction. The train from St. Paul to Chicago leaves in the early morning, and the train home from Chicago to St. Paul leaves Chicago's Union Station in the early afternoon. The journey takes about eight hours.
Amtrak tickets from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Chicago start at around $75 one way and $140 for the round-trip ticket, with discounts for seniors, active military personnel, veterans, passengers with disabilities, and children.
The Greyhound Bus company was founded in Minnesota. There are several Greyhound Bus stations in Minneapolis and St. Paul, including stations in downtown Minneapolis, at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, on the University of Minnesota campus, at the Amtrak station in St. Paul, and near the State Capitol in St. Paul.
Greyhound operates several first-come, first-served daily buses between Minneapolis-St. Paul and Chicago. This trip, certainly the slowest way to get to Chicago, usually takes five or six hours, but with transfers and layovers, the journey can take more than 12 hours. Ticket prices begin at $25 one way and $50 round-trip. There are departures around the clock.
Megabus also connects Minneapolis and St. Paul with Chicago. The Megabus stops in Minneapolis just east of Downtown and at the University of Minnesota campus. An average of three buses a day run nonstop from Minneapolis to Chicago, including an overnight service.
Unlike Greyhound, Megabus does take reservations for seats. Despite advertising on the side of buses for $1 tickets, most are not quite that cheap. Ticket prices range from $5 to $50 one way, plus a small booking fee, depending on demand. The trip takes about 8 hours, and buses arrive near Union Station in Chicago. Megabus has another advantage over Greyhound: free Wi-Fi and power outlets on the bus.
Downtown Minneapolis and downtown Chicago are 410 miles apart via the most direct freeway route, so a nonstop journey with no traffic or weather delays takes seven to eight hours.
When calculating the cost of your journey, figure in around $10 extra each way for tollways on the way into and out of Chicago on top of gas prices, and depending on your destination, parking charges in Chicago.
There are lots of things to see along the way, so you may want to allow time for a stop or two, especially if you are traveling with kids.