About Chicago-O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
Address: 10255 W Zemke Blvd, Chicago, 60666 , Il, Il
“The Windy City” of Chicago is home to the former world’s busiest airport, Chicago-O’Hare International Airport (ORD). Located on the far northwest edge of city limits, (ORD) is a 14-mile (23 km) drive down Interstate 90 to the downtown Loop area. Arrivals to (ORD) are welcomed by all the major airport car rental agencies — from Alamo and Budget to Hertz and Enterprise.
Chicago is the third largest city in the U.S. and purposely designed to be explored by car. The extensive and well maintained highway system seamlessly intersects with city streets, which are conveniently laid out on a N-S-E-W grid. Of course, traffic is always a problem in any metropolitan area, but driving around Chicago during off-peak times is generally a pleasant experience.
You’ll find plentiful — but somewhat pricy — parking all throughout the city, and you’ll notice the prices get higher as you get closer to the city’s magnificent lakefront.
Choosing your car
Also known as “the City of Big Shoulders”, the Chicago metro area is spread out over a 50-mile (80 km) radius of Lake Michigan, so choosing your car depends on your agenda. If you’re more concerned about fuel efficiency and city driving, economy and compact cars are perfect for zipping around the city. The Nissan Versa gets great gas mileage and can squeeze into the tightest parking spots.
For traveling out into the suburbs, or perhaps 92 miles (145 km) north to Milwaukee, a spacious and road-hugging full-size sedan is ready for a smooth ride. The Cadillac ATS and Chrysler 300 deliver performance in stylish packages. Luxury and 7-9 seater options are great for road trips, too. The Buick Regal is a classy luxury ride, while the Dodge Grand Caravan brings comfort and utility.
Meanwhile, winter in Chicago means snow, and that means treacherous driving conditions. So think about renting an all-wheel drive SUV. The Hyundai Santa Fe Sport will keep you safe on the slippery roads.
Tips and advice
Look out for an odd number of Chicago parking regulations, which include no parking on the north side of major streets from 4:00 PM-6:00 PM and no parking on the south side from 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM. And if there’s more than two inches of snow, no parking on major streets — at all.
Metered parking in downtown Chicago is strictly enforced, and vehicles — car hire or not — have been known to get towed within the blink of an eye. Getting an impounded vehicle out of holding is an expensive and incredibly frustrating experience.
There are a number of almost unavoidable toll roads in the Chicago area, two of which are the only highway routes into and out of (ORD): the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) and the Tri-State Tollway (I-80/I-94/I-294).
Again, it’s important to consider Chicago’s climate. Plan accordingly and rent a car that’s fitting for the season. Convertibles in January are not advised.
The Illinois State Police has jurisdiction over highways and expressways, the Chicago Police Department presides over city streets, and every suburb of the metropolitan area has its own police force. If you do see flashing red lights in your rearview mirror, stay in your vehicle and wait for the officer to approach and identify his or her self.
Potholes are unfortunately common on Chicago roads.