About 950,000 people ride the CTA's bus system, and 600,000 use the train system every day. That's 1.6 million people daily! So where are all of these wonderful places these wonderful people are going (and are any of them free)?

The Red Line is the North-to-South, 24-hours-a-day connection from Howard, into downtown, and out again, all the way down to 95th and Dan Ryan. Although there are many varying opinions on the Red Line, everyone seems to agree that it is a life-saver in the middle of the night when the Green and Brown lines are out for a nap, and convenient on game day, as its Sox-35th and Addison stops are home to the White Sox and the Chicago Cub's stadiums.

There are tons to do both up and down the Red Line. Because it is a straight, vertical line running up and down the lakeside, it's the easiest to understand. Free transfer locations to every other CTA line along this track is also a plus.

Starting farthest North:

HOWARD: The Howard stop of the CTA Red Line connects Chicago's downtown with the Yellow Line and Skokie, and allows a free transfer between Red, Purple and Yellow lines. Unfortunately, I have not explored the Howard stop of the Red Line very thoroughly. I've taken it to transfer to the Yellow Line (which I would definitely recommend, the Yellow Line, or the Skokie Swift, is a really beautiful track- especially in the autumn- and completely free! More on the Yellow Line in later posts...)

JARVIS: The Jarvis stop of the Red Line lets you off in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. Rogers Park is one of the most culturally and economically diverse neighborhoods in Chicago and the nation. Its Lake Michigan beach is beautiful and it's full of parks and buildings.

MORSE: Still in Rogers Park, the Morse stop of the Red Line is surrounded by parks and residential homes. The historic Heartland Cafe is down the street from the stop, where healthy, mostly vegetarian cuisine and live music is found all year round. Critics claim this little piece of Chicago is one of the most essential restaurants in the city. All sorts of music between jazz and rock can be heard and local artists hang their work on the walls. Although not exactly free, if you have some extra cash, you should check this place out!

LOYOLA: Named for the nearby University it services, this stop is always very busy. There are tons to do on the Loyola Campus in Rogers Park/Edgewater.



BRYN MAWR: Bryn Mawr is Welsh and translates to English as "Large Hill". This stop is the city's connection to the Bryn Mawr Historic District, where beautiful old fashioned green lanterns and lamp posts in the style of the 1920s and 30s line the streets. This district is home to many sites and buildings significant to Chicago's rich history.


ARGYLE: The Argyle stop of the Red Line is home to many commercial and residential areas, and particularly known for its high concentration of Vietnamese restaurants, bakeries and shops; as well as Chinese, Cambodian, Laotian and Thai businesses. This area is sometimes called Little Saigon, or New Chinatown.

LAWRENCE: Lawrence station is located in the historic Uptown entertainment district, where people go to  the Aragon Ballroom (Frank Sinatra frequented this venue), the Green Mill Jazz Club (which was once owned by "Machine Gun" Jack McGurn, the right-hand man to Al Capone), the Riviera Theater (people once flocked to this jazz theater because it would have live jazz performances that accompanied the movies), and the Uptown Theatre (still the largest theater in Chicago, seating up to 4,500 people, this building is closed and a deteriorating piece of history. Its beautiful and ornate exterior still remains a tourist attraction today, and in 2008, it was purchased with the hope of restoring it to its former glory).

WILSON: Letting you off smack dab in the middle of Uptown, the Wilson stop of the Red Line seems to be one of the most "rugged" (old and rusty) looking stops on the line.


ADDISON: Go Cubs! Every game day, the Addison station services hundreds of Cub's fans to and from the excitement. The history of Wrigleyville is inextricably linked to Wrigley Field, built in the early 1900s. Although shopping around Wrigley Field is scarce unless it bears the "C" for Cub's logo, a couple blocks away is the Brown Elephant, an enormous resale shop whose proceeds benefit the Howard Brown Health Center for individuals with AIDS.


FULLERTON: Fullerton station is home to DePaul University, the Children's Memorial Hospital, and if you're up to a little walking or a bus ride, the totally free Lincoln Park Zoo!

NORTH/CLYBOURN: The beautiful North/Clybourn Red line stop was refurbished by Apple for no more than $3,897,000. Besides the huge Apple store directly behind the station, shopping, bars and nightclubs surround the stop. If you are traveling from Howard into downtown, the ride between Fullerton and North/Clybourn takes a dip underground and begins it's short bit as one of Chicago's two downtown subways. (Either way you're traveling, the Red Line's speed makes this a fun trip, whether you are rushing into or out of the underground tunnels- especially on a sunny day! Let there be light!) Hop on a bus or enjoy a little walk and this stop also services the North Shore beach, Chicago's most popular Lake Michigan beach!

CLARK/DIVISION: Clark and Division is a hustle-and-bustle intersection where you can find a lot of the city's nightlife. Just a quick walk and a couple blocks away is the beautiful and popular Oak Street Beach, where Chicago-ians from all over congregate to enjoy Lake Michigan and the sun! The residential neighborhoods in this area are architecturally beautiful and well worth the walk- this is the best way to dry off from a morning at the beach! This stop is also a good walk from the Lincoln Park Zoo.

CHICAGO: Chicago Avenue station of the Red Line connects you to Chicago's Magnificent Mile, where shopping and sightseeing come together as one of the city's main tourist attractions. This is where window shopping starts! It's hard to find free stuff around Gold Coast and River North, but most days Hershey's and Ghirardelli Chocolate gives out free samples, and Argo Tea provides free samples of their tea and cafe items. Nearby is Water Tower Place (always bustling with shoppers and tourists), Loyola University Chicago and their Loyola University Museum of Art, and Moody Bible Institute. Also, the John Hancock Center and Observatory is just north of the Magnificent Mile.

GRAND: The Grand Avenue stop serves Navy Pier and Merchandise Mart.

LAKE: The Lake station is a transfer point from the Red Line to the other CTA trains, and continues the State Street Subway. The stop is also a connection to Millennium Station and the Blue Line by way of the Chicago Pedway system- a collection of underground tunnels between several different inner-Loop businesses and locations. During the day, you can find street performers playing music and doing acts on the station platform for money.

WASHINGTON: As of 2009, Washington/State is no longer a stop on the Red Line (sad face). It is still accessible, however, from the Lake St station and the Monroe station (because they are all one platform).

MONROE: Monroe continues the State Street Shopping experience and connects the train to a ton of buses, like the #2 Hyde Park Express, #6 Jackson Park Express and the #10 Museum of Science and Industry (which will also get you walking distance to the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum). Walkable from the Monroe stop is the free Millennium Park with it's popular tourist attractions (The Bean, The Jay Pritzker Pavilion, the Buckingham Fountain, etc), Grant Park, the Art Institute of Chicago, and so much more!

The Jay Pritzker Pavilion is one of my favorite places to go- enjoy free concerts and rehearsals while surrounded by the music in this cool bandshell which is more of a work of art than a building.

JACKSON: This stop is surrounded by the historic Chicago City Hall, the Richard J. Daley Center, various other government buildings, the Chicago Cultural Center, Millennium Park, and the city's theater district along Randolph Street. This station also has a free underground tunnel connecting the Red and Blue Lines and is connected to the Chicago Pedway system. A few blocks west is the Sears/Willis Tower, and directly south of the stop is the Harold Washington Library, a beautiful historic building that is architecturally magnificent.

HARRISON: Harrison lets you off into the South Loop area, where you can find the Harold Washington Library, the Chicago Stock Exchange and night life activity.

ROOSEVELT: This station is the closest "El" station to the Museum campus and Soldier Field.

CERMAK-CHINATOWN: Chinatown is just a small ways away from this Red Line stop! The buildings and shops make it feel like you're stepping right into China (well, kind of.). Bulk noodles are cheap and yummy, and sea food is fresh at any of the markets!

SOX-35TH: Yay, Sox! The Chicago Sox's Cellular Field baseball stadium is located here- and on game day, people come from far and near to watch the White Sox play.


GARFIELD: Going to the Museum of Science and Industry or the University of Chicago by way of the Red Line lets you off at the Garfield station. Also, for a little bus ride or walk, you can get to the beautiful Hyde Park neighborhood in minutes. Hyde Park is full of museums, historical buildings and landmarks, and churches. In September, the free Hyde Park Jazz Festival draws hundreds of music-loving Chicago-ians to enjoy all the different sounds of jazz.


The stops that have little to no information are ones I am not very familiar with. Stay tuned, because I will visit them and return with information!

What else would you like to see?

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