Places to Stay Near Subway in Chicago
February 12, 2014 10:13 AM   Subscribe

I'm planning on traveling to Chicago from NYC for the first time in April, and I'm trying to find a place to stay (right now, via Airbnb). I've checked the recent Chicago travel questions, but they all seem rather car-centric, and I'm planning on commuting largely by subway/walking (and buses, if necessary). I'm trying to figure out how to stay somewhere safe, near a subway line.

Are there subway lines that are better than others? What neighborhoods would be best to stay in (alternatively, are there neighborhoods I should avoid staying in at all costs)? I don't drink, so I really couldn't care less about the bar scene anywhere, and will be spending most of my time going to museums and architecture/walking tours, sightseeing, and such. I don't mind a ~30 minute commute to downtown. I'd also like a relatively easy commute back to the airport, which I know can be reached by the Blue Line.

Also, If I should just give up on the Airbnb thing and get a hotel room instead, guidance on that would be appreciated as well.

Thanks for any suggestions!
posted by EggplantPizza to Travel & Transportation around Chicago, IL (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I'm MeMailing you a place where I recently stayed that was central and extremely close to a subway line. If anyone else wants the info, please feel free to message me.
posted by ClaireBear at 10:17 AM on February 12, 2014

Best answer: I'm doing the same as ClaireBear!
posted by fartbutt at 10:29 AM on February 12, 2014

Best answer: I'm NOT Memailing you, actually, as it's not Airbnb. :-) I stayed at the HI-network youth hostel when I was in Chicago, and it was REALLY well located; it was two blocks from one of the El trains, which was in turn one stop away from an El train hub where you could transfer to other lines. It was also walking distance to a lot of the big stuff (the Art Institute, the Field Musuem, etc.), and the front desk also had stacks of flyers with detailed transit directions to each of the big attractions so you could grab what you wanted and go. (And they were really detailed - "When you walk out the front door, turn left and walk two blocks, then...")

You also do not need to be a youth to stay in youth hostels, nor do you need to be a member. I think I paid about $25 a night there (although I am a member; non-members may need to pay a bit more). It is also possible to get private rooms in youth hostels (availability permitting), although the dorm style is something kind of cool if you get good roommates.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:43 AM on February 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have friends who routinely do VRBO & AirBNB in Lincoln Park/Old Town, which is extremely transit-to-downtown and walk-to-things friendly. I'll ask if they have specific property recommendations. Well under 1/2 hour to downtown, but access to the blueline for O'Hare is not the best (orange line for Midway is easy from Old Town). The Hotel Lincoln is apparently nice.

Lakeview/Wrigleyville is also not on the blue line, but it's an easy bus transfer to the blueline for O'Hare access and an easy L transfer to the orangeline for Midway access. Otherwise, it's also a very transit-friendly neighborhood, with several express buslines (during commute times) to downtown and several nonexpress buslines to the park, museums & downtown, as well as easy access to the red & brown lines. It's less than 1/2 hour to the loop, unless you take one of the local buses. There are a couple smaller hotels in Lakeview/Wrigley and a couple B&Bs. The Majestic, The Best Western Hawthorne, the City Suites and I think there's still a Days Inn in the neighborhood, too.

Both neighborhoods are full of bike share stations and located on reasonably bikeable streets (or near the Park and Lakefront, if you're not comfortable cycling on roadways).
posted by crush-onastick at 10:44 AM on February 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Once you work up a selection of possible places, feel free to shoot me a memail and I'll tell you how commutable it is if you'd like.

In general, though, look at the map...the hub in the center is the Loop. You'll be happiest I think near any stop somewhere Loop side of: Sox/35th Red Line or Sheridan Red Line, Roosevelt Orange Line, Roosevelt Green Line or Ashland Green Line, Montrose Brown Line, Logan Square Blue Line or UIC/Halsted Blue Line, or Damen Pink Line.
posted by phunniemee at 10:45 AM on February 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you want to stay near the Blue Line I'd recommend Wicker Park or Logan Square area. So, near stops like Division & Milwaukee, Damen, Western, California, Logan Square. But, if you're really wanting to go to all the museums, Loop/ South Loop might be a more convenient neighborhood. Lots of college students in the South Loop so I bet it's good for Airbnb. The Blue Line doesn't run there but you can take Green, Red or Orange and transfer to Blue pretty easily.

Those stops I mentioned off the Blue Line DO have good bar scenes, which I know doesn't interest you, but it means there's a lot of pretty awesome food around there. I am especially partial to the area near the Division stop where I used to live.
posted by GastrocNemesis at 10:45 AM on February 12, 2014

You might as well stay downtown (in the loop) if you don't care about nightlife and you're interested in museums and architecture. That way you're within walking distance to the things you want to do and you have access to all the transit lines if you want to branch out (It's around an hour and a half on the blue line from ohare to the loop). I've stayed at the place EmpressCallipygos recommends and I thought it was great as well-- super central, friendly, cheap. Don't know if they offer private rooms or not.

I like the neighborhoods around the blue and red lines that people are suggesting, but more for living, less for tourist-ing.
posted by geegollygosh at 11:09 AM on February 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

Yeah, everything you want is in the Loop, though I have no idea what the Airbnb options are like there. There are an awful lot of condos down there, though, so it seems like there should be something!

I also don't know what your budget is for a room, but I've gotten some really cheap hotel deals downtown during slow periods, just through Priceline or Hotwire. I once ended up at the W Lakeshore for something like 70 bucks a night (it's usually 300+).
posted by like_a_friend at 11:24 AM on February 12, 2014

I stayed at the HI-network youth hostel when I was in Chicago, and it was REALLY well located;

EmpressCallipygos speaks the truth. HI-Chicago is a heritage building in the loop that they poured well upwards of ten million dollars in renovations when it opened about a decade ago. It is a showpiece for the hostelling network in the USA and is gorgeous (the 19th-century building has fourteen-foot ceilings and windows that start at about thigh level and go to the ceiling) and spacious (last time I stayed there, we were in a six-bed room -- three bunks -- which was by the hostelling association's standards was actually of a sufficient size to hold nineteen people). Fantastic location, too -- I have stayed well upwards of a thousand nights in at least a hundred hostels in my life, and Chicago is in the top three.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:25 AM on February 12, 2014

Best answer: If you don't drink, Wicker Park and Wrigleyville might be actively annoying to you, especially if you're going on a weekend. Thirding the HI hostel, which is so wonderful and has a great facility & helpful staff. As long as you're downtown, you won't be far from the blue line, and you'll be super close to all the things you've mentioned.

Otherwise if you want to experience the neighborhoods, I'd look for an airbnb along the brown line - Lincoln Square is wonderful, quiet, and charming, with lots of great food and cute shops - and just about a 30 minute trip on the train from the Loop. Looks like there are a bunch of places available around there (the Montrose, Damen, and Western stops on the brown line). Andersonville is along the red line (Berwyn & Bryn Mawr stops) and is also a really nice neighborhood. It's not as easy to get to O'Hare but it's not awful, either (you take a bus to the blue line - I do it all the time), and IMO the brown line neighborhoods are quieter and nicer than Wicker Park/Bucktown/Logan Square.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 1:18 PM on February 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Longman & Eagle is a cool restaurant/hotel that is right across the street from the Logan Square Blue Line stop. That would be especially easy for you if you are flying into/out of O'Hare, since the Blue Line is the train that services the airport. The #56 Milwaukee Ave. bus is one block away from L&E, and if you wanted to get to the Red Line (good if you want to check out some of the neighborhoods up north), you can walk a few blocks over and take the #74 Fullerton bus to the station there.

Logan Square is pretty hipsterrific these days but there are lots of hang out/food/drink options right in the area of the Blue Line stop, and the transport options make it easy to get outta Dodge when you want to check out another part of the city. Have fun.
posted by deliciae at 9:26 PM on February 12, 2014

I stayed at the Wrigley Hostel and had a wonderful time in Chicago. It was maybe ~5 minutes from a subway line and had a ton of stuff to do in the neighborhood. Highly recommended.
posted by amicamentis at 4:00 AM on February 13, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks so much, everyone! I now have a nice list of options, and I'm feeling much less overwhelmed.
posted by EggplantPizza at 11:51 AM on February 13, 2014

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