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Rich in design, history, culture and food, Chicago provides countless options for visitors to experience the city. Before stepping foot in this sprawling urban area, here are 10 things you need to know:

Getting from point A to point B

To make the most of your time, take advantage of Chicago’s public transportation network. The rapid-transit train system, known as the El, includes eight lines.

Invest in a GoCard Pass.

Purchase this pass to save up to 50 percent on ticket prices at mainstays like the Shedd Aquarium and John Hancock Observatory.

When to go

Chicago weather can change in an instant, but June, September, and October are usually mild and sunny. Bring layers and prepare for anything.

Where to stay

Downtown hotels offer convenience and comfort for a cost, but outlying neighborhoods provide access to eclectic street-front shops and restaurants.

Navigating Navy Pier

Nearly nine million visitors flock annually to Navy Pier, especially in the summer months and school breaks. Visit early in the day, and take the free trolley to cut down on parking costs.

Plan ahead

You’re not the only one who dreams of watching the Cubs game from the bleachers at Wrigley Field. Plan your trip early and secure your tickets in advance.

Take a cruise

You can enjoy some of the best Chicago views from the water. Take a cruise along the lakefront or on the river to see the city’s renowned architecture.

Explore the Magnificent Mile

The iconic Magnificent Mile retail district garners huge crowds, so opt for a weekday sojourn for the best experience.

Saving at the theater

Tickets for shows in Chicago’s lively theater district are pricey, so look beyond the big stages to see creative acts that won’t break the bank.

Experience the urban outdoors

The city boasts well-maintained parks and beaches to distract you from the bustle of downtown. Hit the lakefront to take in the scenery of Lake Michigan.