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Chicago vs. New York: What’s the Difference?

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Are you looking to take a little vacation in Chicago or New York? Or maybe you’re looking to move to two of the biggest cities in the United States. Let us take some of the hassles out of researching both of these destinations. Here, we can give you a complete overview of both cities.

Now, we won’t be able to cover all of what both cities have to offer because that would be pretty much impossible. You don’t want to hear me ramble on about the 1,500 pizza spots in both cities!

Chicago and New York City have much to offer regarding vacation destinations or living in either city. When looking at Chicago vs. New York City living, there is much to compare and contrast.

We will look at some of the top things to do in both cities and compare living and vacation rates. Chicago and New York City are both great places for kids as well! There are plenty of family-friendly activities for the entire family.

Let’s get out there and explore these two massive metropolises! Always check Skyscanner for some of the best deals on flights imaginable.

Chicago

Chicago skyline view from Lake Michigan with serene waters and skyscrapers
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

One thing that will be different between both cities is the Chicago vs. New York City time zone. Chicago’s time zone is Central Daylight Time, which is an hour behind what New York City would be.

New York City is in Eastern Daylight Time, making the time an hour ahead of the Chicago time zone. This isn’t much of a difference in time. The sun will go down and come up no matter which city you’re in!

The climates of the two cities are very similar, so you will be packing the same clothes for either trip. Both summers are identical. Hot and humid climates are expected in both cities each summer.

Chicago gets a foot more snow than New York City each year, and Chicago will be colder by 10 to 20 degrees in the winter months. On average, both cities get nearly 50 inches of rain in the spring and summer.

Early summer is the best time to visit each state, with less humidity and rain in both cities. The sunshine is beautiful in both cities, but don’t wait too long into the summer months, or you will definitely need a place to rest with good air conditioning!

The good thing about Chicago is that there is never a shortage of things to do. No matter where you live or where you go, there is always something happening! I will try to cover a brief list of fun things to do while you’re in Chicago or planning on moving there.

The problem is that there is so much to do I cannot cover it all! But let’s look at a number of great things to do in Chicago.

Haunted Attractions

  • Death Alley behind James M. Nederlander Theatre
Couch Place or The Alley of Death in Chicago
Marlin Keesler / Flickr, CC BY 2.0

After an infamous fire in 1903, 602 people died in the theatre that tragic night. Acting as a temporary morgue behind the theatre, the alley was a place to stack all the bodies before being transported to their final resting places.

Reports of cries, apparitions, and feelings of being touched or pushed have all been said to happen behind the theatre in the alleyway.

See Related: Chicago CityPASS Review

  • H.H. Holmes’ Murder Castle
Englewood Post Office, Chicago overlapping 
 former site of H. H. Holmes' Murder Castle
Marlin Keesler from Streamwood, IL / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0

If you’ve ever seen the show American Horror Story: Hotel, you know what type of dark secrets this house holds.

Based loosely on the “murder castle” of H.H. Holmes, debated as the United States’ first serial killer, American Horror Story: Hotel gives you a terrifying glimpse into what the real house was like.

H.H. Holmes’ house was designed by him, hiring a number of different contractors throughout the building period. Only Holmes himself knew the true entirety, the exact layout of the house. With stairwells leading to nowhere and false rooms, getting around the house was hard enough, let alone when a terrifying killer was after you.

Now a local post office, the basement is said to have been home to a number of odd sightings and feelings of intense anxiety while down in the basement, which was the original building sight for the house.

  • The Drake Hotel
The Drake Hotel building at night in Chicago
The Drake Hotel / Booking.com

Were you feeling daring on your adventure in Chicago? Check out The Drake Hotel, one of Chicago, Illinois’s most haunted attractions and hotels. A 1920 New Year’s Eve gala went wrong for a woman who caught her husband sneaking around with another patron.

The woman, dressed in all red, took the elevator to the 10th floor and immediately jumped to her death. Her apparition has been seen and has continued to haunt the Gold Coast Room, the Palm Court, and the entire 10th floor. If you want a non-haunted hotel room, book your next stay with Booking.

See Related: Day Trips from Chicago

Art

Cloud Gate sculpture reflecting Chicago skyline at Millennium Park
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Chicago has a massive art community. So, if you are an artist or love to be immersed in the art community, Chicago might be the place to consider for your next destination or even your new home!

  • Ken Saunders Gallery
  • The Project Room
  • Richard Norton Gallery
  • Vertical Gallery
  • Monique Meloche Gallery
  • Flat Iron Arts Building

These are just a few top galleries well-known to Chicago locals and non-locals alike. There are a number of other great art attractions in Chicago. You can’t forget to head to The Art Institute of Chicago.

This is one of the most well-known art museums in the country and worldwide. Their works include more than 5,000 years of art from cultures all over the entire world.

The Museum of Contemporary Art is one of the largest museums dedicated to contemporary works of art in the United States. Chicago is home to some of the best street art and art installations in the United States.

Wherever you walk, no matter the neighborhood, you are bound to see some very beautiful pieces and installations as you walk to your next destination. New and fresh pieces always pop up, so your walk could be different each time you go the longer you stay in Chicago!

The most famous installation is Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate structure, called “The Bean” by most Chicagoans. Don’t miss your chance to have a great photo opportunity and see a world-famous art installation!

See Related: Best Chicago Walking Tours

Pizza

Chicago Style Pizza
905513 / Pixabay

As anyone from the United States knows, there has been a long battle between Chicago and New York City pizza. I said I wouldn’t complain about pizza in this article, but I can’t talk about Chicago vs. New York City without mentioning pizza at least once!

Here is a list of some of the top pizza joints in Chicago. And, of course, when I am talking about Chicago pizza, I am talking about the classic 1940s-style deep-dish pizza that is truly the ultimate Chicago pizza that everyone knows and loves.

I’ll make sure to list a few other choices as well. (Of course, there will be some debate over this topic, depending on who you talk to.)

Deep Dish
  • Burt’s Place
  • The Art of Pizza
  • Pequod’s
  • Lou Malnati’s
  • Nancy’s Pizzeria
  • Bacino’s
  • Ruth’s Panmade Pizza
Thin Crust
  • Barnaby’s
  • Candlelite
  • Armand’s Pizzeria
  • La Villa
  • Pat’s Pizzeria and Ristorante
  • Villa Nova
Thick Crust
  • My Pi Pizza
  • Chef Bill Kim’s Pizza and Farm Shop
  • Dimo’s Pizza
  • Bartoli’s Pizzeria

See Related: Is Chicago Safe for Travelers?

Tourist Attractions in Chicago

Navy Pier with Chicago Skyline
  • Oak Park
Oak Park houses in Chicago
Brad Pict / Adobe Stock

Just minutes out of downtown, see one of Chicago’s coolest suburbs. This is the famous hometown of Ernest Hemingway and the early home of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Visit the Hemingway Museum and check out the architectural tours of Wright-designed buildings. This is a great place for Chicago’s suburban tourist attractions.

  • Evanston
Buildings in Evanston, Chicago, Illinois
othman / Adobe Stock

With plenty of good bars and food, this suburb, located about 30 minutes from downtown, is the perfect place to spend a beautiful summer afternoon.

Check out the breathtaking Taj Mahal-inspired Baha’i Temple, one of only eight temples worldwide and the only one in the United States.

  • Magnificent Mile
Cars zooming along the road on the Magnificent Mile
dibrova / Shutterstock

This mile-long stretch of road in the heart of Chicago is home to a massive collection of commercial storefronts. The bustling area is home to nearly 500 upscale shops, fashion boutiques, high-class restaurants, and lush hotels.

There are a number of famous skyscrapers, as well as the 100-story John Hancock Center, which is equipped with an observation deck and fine-dining establishment. Score huge deals with CityPASS for all the top tourist attractions.

Facts You Should Know

Chicago skyline view from Millennium Park's Pritzker Pavilion - urban splendor (source: [Yoast](https://yoast.com/image-seo-alt-tag-and-title-tag-optimization/))
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

If you have never been to Chicago before, there are some things you should know before you hop on a plane. There is definitely a difference between a Chicago accent and a New York City accent.

Some people may say Chicago has a stronger accent, but the more noticeable of the two will be from New York. But you will definitely be able to tell if someone is from The Windy City if you hear them mention the Chicago Bears.

You will pay about three times less than in New York City for a house or travel to Chicago. The cost of living is immensely lower than in New York City, and the median range for the price of a home is three times less than in New York City. So, traveling to Chicago will also be much more affordable.

Transportation is a wonderful tool to utilize in Chicago. I believe Chicago’s transit system is one of the best in the country. It is very easy to navigate, and the lines are almost always on schedule.

And if you get turned around, don’t hesitate to ask a local. Chicagoans are very friendly! Uber, Lyft, taxis, and private car rental companies are also very popular around the metropolitan area. There is so much to do in Chicago itself. There isn’t much I need to list outside of the city center.

There isn’t much hiking in Chicago, but trails are interwoven throughout the city. It’s such a vast city to immerse yourself in. Taking it all in and being in a massive metropolis is fun. You can easily get to Lake Michigan to spend a little time on the beach or by the water!

Looking for travel insurance for your trip? SafetyWing offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while traveling and claim online from anywhere in the world.

See Related: Best Attractions in Chicago

New York City

Busy NYSE on Wall Street with American flags and statue
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Like Chicago, New York City has an incredible amount of fun to offer. Whether you are living in either city or deciding where to vacation next, it is good to look at both options. As mentioned above, the city so nice they named it twice is going to cost you a pretty penny to actually live in.

Housing market prices are some of the highest in the United States, usually within the top five options throughout the country. Rent has decreased significantly over the last five years but still comes in at around $2,300 for a one-bedroom apartment or a studio, depending on the area.

There are options for hiking outside the city, but New York City is a sprawling metropolis. You’ll have to drive pretty far before you make it somewhere to find a trail!

Looking at New York City vs. Chicago’s crime rate, Chicago has almost double the violent crime rate that New York City has. So this is something to consider if you plan to move to either city permanently.

Getting around the city can be challenging if you have never been there before. Rideshare apps like Uber, Lyft, taxis, car rental companies, and public transit are the way to go in New York City.

Less than half the New York City population actually owns one or more vehicles. Public and private transport are the main options for getting around town.

Fun Facts About New York City

Empire State Building

There are so many different fun facts about New York City. Here are a few to add to your list of facts for the heck of it!

  • New York City is famous for pizza…well, it’s actually home to the first-ever United States pizzeria.
  • More than 800 languages are spoken within the city. This makes it the most linguistically unique and diverse city worldwide.
  • Honking your car horn in the city is illegal.
  • New York City was actually the first capital of the United States.
  • The Empire State Building gets hit by lightning about 23 times a year.
  • New York City’s Federal Reserve Bank has the largest gold storage in the entire world.
  • New York City is home to the most billionaires in the world.

Visit GetYourGuide to find top deals on attractions, tours, and activities.

See Related: New York Pass Review

Things to do in New York City

Grand Central Terminal
 Rush Hour
Nicolai Berntsen / Unsplash

Here is a brief overview of some of the most popular things to do in New York City. The city is so big that I can barely cover all the boroughs!

  • LuminoCity is a massive light show installation in Randall’s Island Park. This is a great kid-friendly activity that is fun for the entire family!
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, better known as The Met, is the largest art museum in the United States. There are over 2 million artifacts within its collection.
  • ARTECHOUSE is an innovative space for immersive art installations made by new media artists. Powerful laser projection technology will place you in the center of the digital art that you’re viewing.
  • The Empire State Building is one of the most famous buildings in the world and the most famous in New York City. Learn about the history of the building and tour the building, which is more than 80 floors long, to the observation deck.
  • The Bushwick Collective is a beautiful stretch of blocks in Brooklyn filled with street art and graffiti from local Brooklyn artists. Some neighborhood locals call this colorful stretch the Brooklyn, New York City art gallery.

Hidden Attractions in New York City

Rooftop Garden and Outdoor Lounge
tomaswon / Pixabay

Hit these hidden attractions in New York City and live like a local for a day while escaping tourist traps that are all around NYC! Boroughs will list these attractions.

Brooklyn

Aerial View of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City
dell / Adobe Stock
  • Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm
  • Pop-up Farmers and Flea Markets of Brooklyn
  • Brighton Beach
  • Bushwick Open Studios
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Brooklyn Block Parties

Manhattan

Crowd and establishments in New York's Times Square
Let Go Media / Shutterstock.com
  • Tannen’s Magic Shop
  • Times Square Hum
  • Grand Central Ceiling Dark Patch
  • Marilyn Monroe’s Subway Grate
  • Houdini Museum
  • New York’s Hidden Tropical Forest in the Ford Foundation building

Queens

Aerial view of Queens, New York
demerzel21 / Adobe Stock
  • Surreal Elevator
  • Houdini’s Grave
  • The Underground Home
  • The Birthplace of Scrabble
  • Louis Armstrong House
  • The Welling Court Mural Project

The Bronx

New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx
GufinnaBerg / Adobe Stock
  • The New Fulton Fish Market
  • New York Botanical Garden
  • Little Italy
  • The Bronx Beer Hall

Staten Island

Aerial View of Staten Island New York
Leon718 / Adobe Stock
  • Staten Island Range Lighthouse
  • Alice Austen House
  • Arthur Von Briesen Park
  • Tugboat Graveyard
  • Paramount Theater

When ready to go to New York City, book a flight deal from the alerts with Going (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights).

Art

Exterior of Guggenheim Museum
KaiPilger / Pixabay

As we all know, New York City features some of the world’s best art and art galleries. Because of its sheer size, NYC is home to many different artists and different types of art.

Here is a quick list of some of the top art galleries around the city.

  • 303 Gallery
  • Gagosian (Multiple locations)
  • Agora Gallery
  • New York Art World
  • The Guggenheim
  • Eden Fine Art Gallery
  • Gladstone Gallery
  • Mnuchin Gallery
  • The Journal Gallery
  • Salomon Arts Gallery
  • Kasmin Gallery

If your feet are tired of walking, rest them at a nice stay booked through Vrbo!

See Related: London vs. New York

Pizza

Wood Fired Pizza in Chicago

Anyone who has lived in the United States before has undoubtedly heard the famous debate over who has the better pizza: Chicago vs. New York City. It’s all based on who you ask, and I’m not about to be in the middle of this debate to be the tiebreaker!

Here is the list of top pizza options in New York City. (I’m not a local, so don’t get mad at me if the wrong pizza joints are on the list!)

  • Lombardi’s
  • Joe’s Pizza
  • Bleecker Street Pizza
  • Rubirosa Ristorante
  • Patsy’s Pizzeria
  • Lucali
  • Scarr’s Pizza
  • New Park Pizza
  • Alfie’s Pizza
  • Lucia Pizza

See Related: Where to Stay Outside of New York City

Is it better to live in New York or Chicago?

The Crown Fountain at Millennium Park, Chicago - LED-illuminated glass-brick tower with human face, city skyline backdrop.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Choosing between living in New York and Chicago involves individual priorities, lifestyle preferences, and specific needs. The choice between New York and Chicago hinges on personal factors like job prospects, lifestyle desires, and financial considerations. Both cities, with their distinct charms, promise enriching experiences.

Here’s a comparative overview:

  • Pace & Lifestyle: New York is synonymous with a bustling, fast-paced environment driven by its role as a global hub for finance, media, and arts. Chicago, in contrast, offers a more relaxed ambiance characterized by its rich cultural heritage and tight-knit communities.
  • Economic Opportunities: While New York leads in sectors like finance, media, and fashion, Chicago boasts a diverse economy with strengths in finance, technology, manufacturing, and food.
  • Cost of Living: Chicago generally offers a more affordable living experience than New York, from housing to everyday expenses.
  • Cultural & Recreational Activities: New York’s cultural tapestry is vast, with countless theaters, museums, and landmarks. Chicago, known as the “Windy City,” is renowned for its vibrant food scene, iconic architecture, and music, especially jazz and blues.
  • Safety & Environment: New York has seen improvements in safety over the years and offers a unique coastal climate. With its central location, Chicago experiences a mix of weather patterns and has neighborhoods known for their tranquility and safety.

Chicago vs New York City Comparison Infographic

Check out our comparison guide to Chicago and New York City.

Chicago vs New York City Infographic

What is Better, Chicago or New York City?

So, no matter where you choose to vacation or move, I hope this comparison helped you choose where to stay next. Both cities are beautiful and immerse you in many different cultures and new experiences while exploring new territories amongst the massive, sprawling metropolises. Each city has its unique quirks, and each is ready to show you their true colors.

Be ready, because both cities can be loud and fast! But also, there is so much to each city that it is important to slow down and experience as much as possible.

I hope you can take time in each city and explore and immerse yourself in all the things both of these great cities have to offer. Cheers to exploring new beautiful cities!

FAQs

Is New York similar to Chicago?

New York and Chicago are major cities in the United States, but they have distinct geographical, demographic, and cultural differences. While both cities have a diverse population and are known for their impressive skylines, New York is located on the East Coast and is known for its bustling streets and iconic landmarks like the Statue of Liberty.

In contrast, Chicago is located in the Midwest and is known for its deep-dish pizza and famous sports teams like the Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bulls. While there may be some similarities between the two cities, they each have unique characters and charm.

Do New York and Chicago have a rivalry?

New York and Chicago have a longstanding rivalry as two of the largest and most influential cities in the United States. This rivalry dates back to the early 20th century when both cities competed for economic and cultural supremacy. Today, the rivalry is mostly friendly and centered around sports, food, and culture, with each city claiming superiority in various areas.

Which is more popular, Chicago or New York?

Chicago and New York are two of the most popular cities in the United States. While both cities are well-known and attract millions of visitors yearly, New York is generally considered more popular than Chicago. This is due to its larger population, more extensive public transportation system, and greater cultural and entertainment offerings.

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