C2E2 Guide
Art by Michael Cho, at Table #H-11

Okay, it’s time for my annual guide on how to navigate your way to C2E2 at McCormick Place.

Once again, C2E2 is in the spacious South Building, so if you attended before… well, then why the heck are you reading this?!? You already know how to get there!

But for those who might have forgotten, or wondered if there’s some new trick, read on!

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.)

Before I get into the usual stuff…here’s something most attendees have not had to deal with before: The weather. Folks, this is Chicago. It’s on a lake. Winters can be brutal, even if it’s just wind chill you’re dealing with. Dress warmly. Plan ahead. Here’s the National Weather Service forecast for Chicago. The weekend seems “normal”; highs in the mid-20s, lows in the Teens. But this is the Midwest…if you don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes…

If you have an extra coat you don’t need, ReedPop is hosting a coat drive.

Please bring coats (sizes newborn to adult medium) to the collection boxes located by Will Call when you arrive onsite at C2E2. Right now, Cradles to Crayons’ most needed sizes are boys 7/8 (youth medium) and girls 14/16 (adult small). You can donate coats each day of C2E2.

Want to help, but don’t have any coats to donate? Check out their Amazon Wish List.

Well…  ReedPOP has deleted their official directions page. No worries! That’s why you’re here! Spread the word to your friends! I’m assuming you know how to get to Chicago itself and to your hotel room. What follows is ways to get to McCormick Place.

McCormick Place’s official directions page is here.

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 football 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 $4.00. HOWEVER, this is a commuter train, and runs less frequently on the weekends. Also, on the weekends, McCormick Place is (sometimes) 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 hour. 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. Metra also runs trains from other regions. There is a shuttle bus stop at Millennium Park.

2) The subway/El.

Then hike eastward along Cermak, or catch the #21 bus to the convention center. $2.50 for the El, $2.25 for the bus 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 Building. 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 Building, near the ballroom, behind the concierge desk. There are ADA-accessible shuttles available. Please place a request 30 minutes before departure. 

Route 1: Millennium Station on Michigan & Randolph.
Route 2: Union Station & Ogilvie Station.
Route 3: McCormick Place green line stop on Cermak.

5) The taxi.

Outside the South Building, 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. A new hack: walk to the Marriott Marquis via the West Building, and grab a taxi there.

Of course, you can Uber, Lyft, et cetera as well. I have no idea where’s best to be picked up. Ask the concierge at the South desk, anyone directing taxis in front of the entrance to the South Building, or the doorman at the Hyatt.

A suggestion: There’s a motorway under McCormick Place, which encircles the North Building. You can save some time and consternation if you ask your driver to drop you off there. It’s right underneath the concourse, so you have a short walk to security checkpoints. (On the map, it’s Moe Drive and Mines Drive. Tell them to drop you off at the North Building, on the south side, where the main entrance is.)

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 $16-$38 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.

Parking rates have been raised in 2020:

City Parking Tax Increase in 2020

Please be advised, beginning January 1st, 2020, the parking rates will increase slightly to account for a new parking tax levied by the City of Chicago.  Parking rates for Class A vehicles will be as follows:
Lot A: The parking rate will be $25 for up to 16 hours and $38 from 16 to 24 hours. There are no in-and-out privileges.
Lot B: The parking rate will be a flat fee of $16 per day with no in-and-out privileges.
Lot C: The parking rate will be a flat fee of $25 per day with no in-and-out privileges.

You can pre-purchase parking online! Lot A is the popular lot, located in the West Building. Lot B is the surface parking located south of Interstate 55. Lot C is enclosed, part of the Lakeside Center building directly east of the South Building.

6.5) Buses and RVs

Bus and RV Parking is available in surface Lot B, which is an outdoor parking lot located at 31st Street near Lake Shore Drive South and Moe Drive. The overnight parking rate is a flat fee of $37 per day with in-and-out privileges. Bus and RV overnight parking is permitted but subject to availability and restrictions. Vehicle hookups not available. Leisure camping is not allowed.

Otherwise, try the nearest Walmart. (There’s one near Western and Cermak.)

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 $15.  You get 30-minutes to complete your trip on a single trip, 3 hours on the day pass, otherwise you’ll be charged for overtime. (Dunno if you want to ride around in February.)

8) The miscellaneous.

If traveling from above, DO NOT LAND at Meigs Field/Northerly Island. (Old school gamers will recall this as the airport from Microsoft Flight Simulator.) 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.
Otherworlders often mistake Soldier Field as an interdimensional Trans-Port terminal. The terminal is actually located at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, but reservations are required, as the broadcast grid is sometimes used for concerts. Higher dimensional beings can use the Cloud Gate located nearby. While primitive, it does offer enough perpendicular transgentials to accommodate the eleven classical dimensions of this reality. From those, the Infinites can be easily excessed. Time travelers should, of course, consult the Master Clock to avoid paradoxes.

You are here/there/where/e’er

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.

9) Food.

McCormick Place, Hyatt Regency, and the Marriott Marquis all have a variety of food options available. Unlike most other convention centers, this one hosts a McDonald’s, located on the second floor of the North Building, which is not as pricey as similar locations found in airports.

Nearby, the neighborhood has been gentrified, as the City planned an entertainment district around the convention center and WinTrust Arena (AKA “The Ravioli”). Check Google Maps, Yelp, or any other trusted source for food. Most nearby eateries are on Cermak. Of course, Chinatown is just on the other side of the Red Line, and it has a large variety of Asian cuisine! Me, I stop at McCormick Market and buy my caffeine and a huge sub for later. Another hack: at your local Walgreens or Jewel-Osco, buy a box of non-chocolate breakfast bars. They’re cheap, tasty, nutritious, not messy, and you can nosh as you trek around the show. They’ll keep you sated until Bar Con in the evening.

Pizza. Yes, there’s that whole ongoing thing about deep-dish pizza in Chicago. Like most things aimed at tourists, do it once, especially if you have reservations and someone else is paying the bill. The real Chicago pizza is Tavern Cut Thin Crust. Cracker-crunchy, cut into squares to make it feel like hors d’oeuvres (and thus less guilt about eating each slice)…grab the crust edge first, which is better than New York-style, as there isn’t that berm of dough holding the grease at bay. I prefer the triangles. Like most food eaten with your hands, it’s better if eaten in a bar.

…and that’s all we’ve got to recommend. What are your hacks? Faves? Let us know below!