5 Must-Download Apps for Getting Around Chicago

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A map of Chicago Transit Authority’s downtown subway lines. Clark/Lake is the closest metro stop to ONA14, in most cases.

More than likely, getting around Chicago is easier now than the last time you were in town. With Uber, Lyft and Chicago’s ever expanding transit authority, there’s really no need for a car, especially for short trips like those ONA14 attendees will be making.

What’s the best way to navigate your way through the city? You already have it in the palm of your hand. With a smartphone and a few essential apps in tow, there’s no place you can’t go in or around Chicago.

  • Uber Chicago: Chicago is one of the metropolitan cities in the U.S. where full Uber services exist — from UberX to UberSUV. ONA14 attendees get $25 off their first ride (doesn’t apply to Uber’s TAXI services) by using the code “ONA14CHI” when booking. Uber and a competing company, Lyft Chicago, are great for getting to places that are somewhat removed from downtown Chicago, such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House at 5757 S. Woodlawn Ave. An UberX ride to the Robie House from the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers is quoted at $12-$16.
  • Arrivals Chicago: With so many bus and train routes to navigate, Arrivals Chicago simplifies the Chicago Transit Authority experience by allowing users to set favorite bus and trains stops. The list of favorites lives on the app’s homepage and constantly updates with arrival times.
  • Divvy Chicago Bike: This app is perfect for those wanting to hold onto summer as long as possible while getting a little cardio in at the same time. Divvy, Chicago’s bike-sharing option, allows for annual membership or daily-pass users to pick up a bicycle at any of its hundreds of stations throughout metro Chicago. Like New York’s Citi Bike, Divvy users can return their bikes to any station. The biggest perk of this free app: It allows users to see how many bicycles and open spots are available at any station.
  • Zipcar: If four wheels are more your style, you have options. Zipcar, a car-sharing program that offers its members rentals by the hour or day. More than five Zipcar locations are within three blocks of the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers — one is even parked at the hotel. Zipcar allows its users to search for available cars, which vary from vans to hybrids, via the mobile app or the website map. Once you’ve reserved your car, all that’s left to do is pick it up from the specified location, unlock it with your Zipcar membership card, then start driving.
  • Google Maps: This application has many more features than your smart phone’s pre-loaded map app. It allows you to plan routes ,whether biking, walking, using public transportation (bus and train) or car.

Whether you choose to bike, take the train, bus or get a ride from an Uber or Lyft driver, the options are varied. More than likely a combination of all with some walking in between will provide for a seamless exploration of the Windy City.