The Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, also known as C2E2, is set to begin Friday! If you’ll be attending, here are some helpful hints on how to make your way to the South Building of McCormick Place! (Same place as last year… and probably for the foreseeable future… it’s HUGE.)
First, here’s the official link to Reed Pop’s info! That includes car, taxi, train, and plane! (I assume those using less traditional methods such as flight rings or rocket boots should approach low from the east over Lake Michigan–to avoid triggering area radar–and enter the convention center from the Lakeside Center.)
McCormick Place’s official directions page is here. And you can pre-purchase parking online! Scroll down for all the transportation alternatives.
If you’re using Google maps (or other map software), McCormick Place is located near the juncture of the Stevenson Expressway (I-55) and Lake Shore Drive (US 41). If looking at a Superman’s-eye-view of the city, follow the lake shore south until you hit the Shedd Aquarium and Northerly Island Park, which juts into the Lake. Soldier Field is the other landmark there… it’s the building that looks like a UFO crashed on top of a stadium. (Science geeks: your landmark is the Field Museum. No relation to the football Field.) McCormick Place is south of the park, at approximately 23rd Street. Or follow Interstate 55 east until you hit the Lake. McCormick is directly north.
Here are a few tips on traveling to and from the C2E2 convention at McCormick Place.
1) The train (Metra). This is Chicago’s commuter train line. The line you want to take is the Metra Electric line to McCormick Place. If leaving from Millennium Park, the cost is $3.50. HOWEVER, this is a commuter train, and runs less frequently on the weekends. Also, on the weekends, McCormick Place is a FLAGGED stop; the train only stops if there are people on the platform, or if you notify the conductor ahead of time. On the weekend, trains leave about every ninety minutes. Metra does offer a weekend pass. The platform is a bit spooky (the center is built over the platform), but walk northwards to the stairs, which will lead you directly to the Convention center. When you enter the Center, turn left, and walk to the South Building. Nice, but not convenient. Info here. Metra also runs trains from other regions.
2) The subway/El.
Chicago built a new station near their convention center before New York! (Actually, they rebuilt a station… no tunnel boring necessary, or funicular elevators). That’s the Green Line.
Then hike eastward along Cermak, or catch the #21 bus to the convention center. $2.25 one way (bills and coins), and the Ventra Card will save you time and money (as well as grant free transfers). Here’s how you can pay.
3) The bus. The #3 and #21 buses stop in front of the McCormick West Building on MLK Drive.
- The #3 runs north along Michigan all the way to downtown.
- The #21 begins at McCormick, and runs along Cermak, connecting with the Red, Green, and Pink lines. (Although, the Pink line connection isn’t that convenient.)
- The #1 and #4 buses also runs along Michigan, but only on Michigan Avenue. It does not go to the convention center. You’ll have to walk two blocks along 23rd Street, then through the West Building, or transfer to the #3 or #21. [This is a good hack if you need a bus but don’t want to deal with the crush hour… Walk through the West Building and exit at Indiana Avenue. Walk one more block to Michigan Avenue, and catch a bus there. There’s also a Burger King there if you need a quick, cheap, eat.]
If you’re coming from downtown, catch the #3 and do some sightseeing. As always, ask the bus driver if the bus is headed to McCormick. Cross the street and look for the giant C2E2 sign.
4) The shuttle. C2E2 is sponsoring shuttle buses! Information is available at the convention, as well as the Concierge desk in the South Hall. If shuttles use the exclusive busway, travel times will be faster than regular surface traffic. Hotel shuttles are located on Level One of the South Hall, near the ballroom, behind the concierge desk. Buses run every 25-30 minutes.
Route 3 will take you to Ogilvie and Union Station.
Route 4 will take you to the Green Line station at Cermak and State.
5) The taxi. Outside the South Hall, near the Hyatt, is a taxi stand. I asked my hotel concierge about the cost, and she said it would be about $17 (from the Loop to McCormick). If you can’t get to the train, bus, or shuttle, then this, of course, is your last resort. If you have a lot to carry, this will probably be the most convenient mode of transport.
Here’s the word from C2E2:
More than 5,800 city taxis are at your service in Chicago. Facility direction signs and personnel at the Concierge Desk will direct attendees to gates that are designated for your event. To calculate your taxi fare, check out TaxiFareFinder.com. Tell the cab driver you are traveling to McCormick Place – South Building, and you’d like to be dropped off at Gate 4 (off of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive). [If the driver doesn’t know that location, ask to be let out near the Hyatt hotel. Walk through the hotel.]
6) The car. McCormick Place has a map of the area, as well as information about parking (see above). Lots of space, but the fees range from $14-$34 a day, each time you enter the garage. There is also surface parking to the north of the convention center, used by Soldier Field. Access to the parking, pedestrian access to the convention center, and cost is not known. Google Maps offers street views for most of the area, and you can plot your path .
7) Bike. Chicago has a bike sharing system called Divvy. There’s a station by the bus stop on King Drive (most likely empty), and another a block north near Calumet and 21st. If you’re visiting, you can get a 24-hour pass for $9.95. If you’re local, get the annual membership…it’s the same price. You get 30-minutes to complete your trip, otherwise you’ll be charged for overtime.
8) The miscellaneous. If traveling from above, DO NOT LAND at Meigs Field/Northerly Island. It is no longer an airport, and once you land, you will be treated as a celebrity by the local constabulary, complete with round-the-clock news coverage, front page coverage on all local newspapers, and private accommodations with an around-the-clock security detail. If necessary, your privacy will be protected by flying you to a remote government-run spa in the Caribbean. Best to land in Gary, Indiana. No one will care/notice.
Chicago is based on a grid. The center of all directions is State and Madison, located within the elevated loop downtown. East-West streets are numbered from State; North-South streets are numbered from Madison. Numbered streets follow the grid numbering, and all subway/el train stations post the coordinates on the station signage. McCormick is approximately 2200 South, 400 East.