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Getting Around Chicago in a Rental Car

driving tips in chicago

Chicago is a great place to go on a holiday and it has been included in the list of most visited cities in the United States by renowned websites like Expedia and TripAdvisor. Some of the reasons why people travel to the “Windy City” is because of its amazing skyscrapers, world-class museums, innovative dining scene and vibrant music festivals. To experience the best of Chicago, it is highly recommended to book a rental car and VroomVroomVroom can help you find a vehicle that will best suit your budget and needs. To guide you on your trip to Chicago, we have listed down some useful driving tips.

Where to drive your rental car in Chicago

  • The Loop: It is the downtown or CBD of Chicago so you are sure to find a lot of attractions in this area including Millennium Park, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Theatre, Symphony Center and Willis Tower which was once the tallest building in the world.
  • Museum Campus: This massive park is situated alongside Lake Michigan and houses three of the most notable attractions in Chicago – Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum of Natural History.
  • North Side: This is the most populated area in the city and features several public parklands including Lincoln Park. This section of Chicago is also home to Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field and famous Easter European and Peurto Rican neighborhoods.
  • South Side: This area is quite popular amongst sports enthusiasts being home to Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field and Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Some of the must-see attractions in the area include Robie House and Obama Kissing Rock in Hyde Park.

Driving tips in Chicago

  • Avoid driving during rush hour which are between 6am and 8am in the morning and between 4pm and 6pm in the afternoon.
  • Check the ballgame schedule so you can take alternative routes when Chicago White Sox or Chicago Cubs have a game.
  • Watch out for pedestrians crossing the street and cyclists biking their way into traffic. Make sure to check your surrounding as you drive.
  • You can make a right turn on a red light in Chicago unless otherwise posted.

Parking in Chicago

The rates in the downtown area is quite high whether it is day time or overnight parking, but some hotels give discount to their guests. A cheaper option is garage parking, but most metered parking spots have a limit of two hours. There are a lot of parking regulations in Chicago such as no parking on the major streets of South Side during rush hour, no parking on major streets if there is more than two inches of snow, no parking on yellow tow zones and no parking near fire hydrants.

Toll roads in Chicago

There are several toll roads in the city including the Chicago Skyway which links Indiana Toll Road to South Side's Dan Ryan Expressway. You can pay the toll road charges with cash, major credit card, or with an E-Zpass/I-Pass toll transponders. Click here to see the list of toll roads and bridges in Chicago.

Driving distances

Are you looking for a quick weekend getaway or day trip? We have listed down some of the most popular places you can visit near Chicago.

  • Chicago to Geneva: 1 hour (44 miles)
  • Chicago to Ottawa: 1 hour and 30 minutes (90 miles)
  • Chicago to Milwaukee: 1 hour and 31 minutes (92.2. miles)


It is important to fill up the tank when you return your rental car. Here is a list of gas stations with convenient locations in Chicago:

  • Citgo Gas & Service Station: 2338 N Sacramento Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
  • BP Gas Station: 6308 N Central Ave, Chicago, IL 60646
  • Mobil Gas Station: 5500 S Wells St, Chicago, IL 60621

Driving guide map in Chicago

We have listed down the airports, top locations, attractions, toll roads and fuel stations in Chicago to guide you when driving your rental car.


Some of the main attractions in Chicago are grouped in certain areas such as the Museum Campus and The Loop so find a convenient parking space where you can leave your rental car and explore the area by foot.

Other driving tips in popular cities