We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Rush hour times - AM and PM

Level Contributor
98 posts
44 reviews
Save Topic
Rush hour times - AM and PM

Can locals give me a feel for rush hour traffic on the freeway and in downtown Chicago itself, in the morning and evening. We are trying to decide between the BW River North and the Residence Inn River North, and will be arriving into downtown on a Thursday evening around 5pm. Just trying to figure out if we should try and delay that to 7pm or later, for ease of driving. We'll be parking our the car for the 6 days there, and taking public transport around downtown.

However, is traffic lighter on the weekends? Was thinking of trying to do a drive around Lake Michigan and might save that for the weekend if traffic's lighter.

Note: Chicago Blues Festival unfortunately will be going on the weekend we are there, so not keeping my hopes too high :-( But on the other hand, can't wait to see/hear the music! We are both originally from Los Angeles so gridlock traffic, while sucky, does not scare us.

Thanks a lot-

Amery

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
175 posts
124 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Rush hour times - AM and PM

Traffic is definitely lighter on weekends - so use that to your advantage. I assume you don't mean you will drive around all of Lake Michigan - that you are going to drive along the lake (if you want to drive around - allow for days, not hours). The only traffic problems the Blues Fest generally causes is around Grant Park where a few streets are blocked off.

You don't say which way you will coming into town (Ryan or Kennedy or Stevenson) but 5PM is rush hour, no doubt about it. 7PM or later is generally better - but that assumes that there are no accidents or no weather conditions (like a heavy thunderstorm) to mess things up. Friday night rush hours are worse than the rest of the week (they start earlier - seems to be more people on the road). If you are used to heavy traffic, then it won't bother you much.

Illinois
Destination Expert
for Chicago
Level Contributor
1,280 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Rush hour times - AM and PM

I think that delaying your entrance until 7:00 might be a good idea. You will probably still encounter some heavy traffic, but you should at least be moving. Traffic on the weekends is usually lighter in the morning, but it can get heavy in the afternoon depending on ball games and events downtown.

Driving around Lake Michigan would probably take more than a day. If you just want to drive up and down Lake Shore Drive, early Saturday or Sunday morning would probably be ideal.

Illinois
Destination Expert
for Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
48,873 posts
67 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Rush hour times - AM and PM

On your way in, listen to AM 780 on the radio. Traffic reports every 10 minutes.

chicago
Level Contributor
8,504 posts
24 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Rush hour times - AM and PM

not sure which road will bring you to chicago but its usually an hour from ohare to downtown during rush hour and that lasts until almost 7pm

Level Contributor
98 posts
44 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Rush hour times - AM and PM

We are driving from Independence, MO and acc. to Mapquest, we are on I-88 E to I-290 E and then I-90 W. How many miles of rush hour traffic are we talking about if we were aiming to arrive around 6-7pm? Would it be like LA where it's 5 lanes on the freeway and they're all moving at around 20 mph? It would be nice to know a shortcut to get off the freeway and take surface streets, but if the surface streets are gridlocked too....

pgo
Chicago
Destination Expert
for Chicago
Level Contributor
7,206 posts
17 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Rush hour times - AM and PM

The last few miles of that route will be congested, although inbound may not be as bad as outbound. Stop in the outlying suburbs and have dinner. The Residence Inn and the BW River North are very close together, but the Residence Inn is almost brand new and includes breakfast. The BW building is from the 1960's; I don't know when it was last renovated.

chicago
Level Contributor
8,504 posts
24 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Rush hour times - AM and PM

when you get on 290 it will take you about an hour to get downtown, i think thats about 15 miles or so

if its regular traffic you really wont save any time getting off of 290

after 7pm it would take 15-20 minutes

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
175 posts
124 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Rush hour times - AM and PM

Note - 290 is called the Ike (short for Eisenhower Expressway) - so if you are listening to the radio (AM780 has traffic reports on the 8s), then you may hear it referred to that way.

Where are you going downtown? I wouldn't bother get on 90W (called the Kennedy) - instead take the Ike to the loop and then a surface street to your hotel (if it is in the River North area).

Illinois
Destination Expert
for Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
48,873 posts
67 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Rush hour times - AM and PM

The 90W portion of the OP route refers to the outbound Kennedy after the inbound Eisenhower.

Chicago
Level Contributor
8,038 posts
68 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Rush hour times - AM and PM

From 290, I would not get on 90 west. It's unnecessary and probably the most congested of all with crap to look at. What I would do is just keep driving east on 290, skip the 90 exit and the 290 turns into the congress parkway which runs into either Michigan Avenue or Lake Shore Drive. They both run parrellell so take either Lake Shore or Michigan north to your hotel. While you still will be stuck in traffic--you won't mind so much as both of these legendary "streets" have views of lakes, parks, rivers, or beautiful architecture. And amazing boat or people watching!