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Chicagoland consists of the Chicago metropolitan area in northeastern Illinois, including Chicago and its surrounding suburbs. Broader definitions also include parts of Southeast Wisconsin and Northwestern Indiana.


The major cities of the region are, well, Chicago — period. None of the outlying cities remotely approach the size of this mammoth metropolis. But that's not to say that Chicagoland doesn't include other destinations; some of the larger cities include:

Illinois Counties

Cook County

Cook County, where Chicago is located, is the largest county by population in Illinois and the second-largest in the United States (after California's L.A. County). With more than 5 million residents, its population is larger than that of most U.S. states; a little more than half of them live in the central city, with the rest in a chain of suburbs that surrounds Chicago on the north, west and south sides.

  • Evanston, the first city north of Chicago along the lake, is home to Northwestern University. Other communities along Cook County's affluent North Shore are:

To the northwest of Chicago, in the vicinity of O'Hare International Airport, are such towns as:

Cook County's West Side includes towns like:

  • Berwyn
  • Cicero
  • Oak Park — a very upscale suburb with popular shopping strips and a Frank Lloyd Wright lover's dream

To the south are such communities as:

DuPage County

West of Cook County, DuPage contains mainly Chicago bedroom communities, such as:

  • Glen Ellyn
  • Itasca
  • Lisle — well worth a visit for the marvelous Morton Arboretum
  • Naperville — despite being the target of endless derision from Chicagoans, there is plenty reason to visit for Naperville's Riverwalk and upscale dining scene
  • Downers Grove
  • Woodridge
  • Aurora — the second largest city in Illinois

Lake County

Lake County, in the northeast corner of the state, was once largely rural but has become increasingly suburban in recent years. Its largest city, Waukegan, is also the county seat.

Its southeast is part of Chicago's affluent North Shore, including:

Other Lake County towns include:

Will County

Will County lies south of Cook and DuPage; its largest city and county seat is Joliet, undoubtedly best known for its huge prison.

Kankakee County

Kane County

Counties outside Illinois

Just how much territory is covered in the term "Chicagoland" is a point of controversy. Certain surrounding counties in Wisconsin and especially Indiana have enormous commuter populations, which share Chicago's regional culture, and it is hard to exclude them.

Lake County (Indiana)

Lake County, Indiana, a highly industrialized and densely populated section of Lake Michigan's shoreline, represents some of the poorest suburban areas and satellite cities in Chicagoland. Gary in particular has fallen on extraordinarily hard times, and has one of the highest violent crime rates in the country. Once upon a time the city was an industrial giant, and was an urban center in its own right, but today an ever increasing number of Gary residents commute towards Chicago for employment. And in terms of culture, Lake Co. is solid Chicagoland territory, from hot dogs to the blues. Other major population centers in Lake County include:

  • Crown Point
  • East Chicago — right on Chicago's eastern border, East Chicago is home to Marktown, one of the nation's most bizarre planned communities
  • Hammond the largest close-in suburb of Chicago in Indiana, and offers some great deals on hotels just across the border from the city itself
  • Lake Station

Kenosha County (Wisconsin)

Residents of Kenosha consider the Chicagoland denotation controversial, as it is closer to Milwaukee, but nonetheless there is a big Chicago commuter population here, largely from expatriates of Chicago's northern suburbs. The main city, and only city, is Kenosha.


Chicagoland is huge; it is one of the world's largest metropolitan areas both in terms of population and area.

Get in

By plane

By train

Chicagoland is served by numerous Amtrak routes.

Get around

Metra system map

In addition to an extensive highway system, Chicagoland is served by Metra's 12 rail lines[1] and by Chicago's CTA, which reaches some of the nearer suburbs.



  • The Baha'i Temple, a cultural and architectural wonder in Wilmette.
  • The beautiful Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe.
  • Frank Lloyd Wright House and several houses designed by the architect in Oak Park.
  • The Kohl's Children's Museum in Glenview.


  • The splendid Morton Arboretum in Lisle.



  • The Joliet Correctional Facility, Illinois' most notorious prison, in Joliet.



  • The Forest Preserve District of Cook County [2] is responsible for the numerous open spaces ("forest preserves") around the county. These preserves range from heavily used parks with extensive roads and well-developed picnic areas, to relatively isolated expanses of land that are only really accessible on foot (or cross-country skis in winter).
  • The Pickwick in Park Ridge is one of the true grand movie palaces remaining in the Chicagoland area.


  • Ribfest in Naperville is one of the largest festivals in the county.
  • The annual Eyes to the Skies Balloon Festival in Lisle.
  • The Illinois Prairie Path runs through the center of DuPage County.


  • Illinois Beach State Park in Zion.
  • The Six Flags Great America amusement park in Gurnee.


  • The Empress and Harrah's casinos in Joliet.
  • The Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet


For all intents and purposes, Chicagoland is Chicago when it comes to food. You don't need to head into the city proper to get your Chicago-style pizza, hot dogs, beef, steaks, and what have you. There are some Chicago-style fast-food locations outside the city that will serve you these items, prepared better than anywhere in the city. Same goes for many styles of ethnic food—you can get Mexican, Polish, Italian, Greek just as good or even better in the 'burbs. Some ethnic cuisines out here you would have trouble finding in the city—Uzbek, Russian, Afghan, etc.

For upscale cuisine, the hautest of the haute is still to be found downtown. But there are plenty of nice restaurants in places like Evanston (especially), Naperville, and others.




  • The Chicago Tribune [3] ("The Trib") is the Chicago area's biggest daily, and publishes a suburban edition.
  • The Chicago Sun-Times [4] The other major Chicago paper, long-time rivals with the Tribune.
  • The Daily Herald [5] is a large daily newspaper aimed primarily at the suburbs.
  • The Northwest Herald.

Get out

Chicagoland is adjacent to Northern and Central Illinois, to Southeast Wisconsin, and to Northwestern Indiana. Parts of Wisconsin and Indiana are sometimes included in the definition of Chicagoland.

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