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

Are you looking to take a little vacation in either 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 well, that would pretty much be impossible. You don’t want to hear me ramble on about the 1,500 pizza spots in both cities!

Chicago and New York City both have so much to offer, as far as vacation destinations go, or living in either city in general. There is a lot to compare and contrast when looking at Chicago vs New York City living.

We’re going to be taking a look at some of the top things to do in both cities, as well as compare rates of living and vacationing. 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 make sure to check Skyscanner for some of the best deals on flights imaginable.


split view of Chicago skyline

One thing that is going to be different from both cities is going to be Chicago vs. New York City time zone. Chicago time zone is Central Daylight Time, making the time 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 really 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 similar. 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 is going to be colder by 10 to 20 degrees in the winter months. Both cities get nearly 50 inches of rain on average in the spring and summer months.

Early summer months are the best times 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 literally never a shortage of things to do. No matter where you live or where you go, there is always something happening! I will try and 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 simply cannot cover it all! But let’s take a look at a number of great things to do in Chicago.

Haunted Attractions

  • Death alley behind James M. Nederlander Theatre

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 served as a place to stack all of the bodies before being transported to their final resting places. Reports of cries, apparitions, and feelings of being touched or pushed have all said to happen behind the theatre in the alleyway.

See Related: Chicago CityPASS Review

  • H.H. Holmes’ Murder Castle

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

Based loosely on the “murder castle” of H.H. Holmes, debated being 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 by itself, let alone when a terrifiying 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

Feeling daring on your adventure in Chicago? Check out one of the most haunted attractions and hotels in Chicago, Illinois. A 1920 New Year’s Eve gala went terribly 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, make sure to book your next stay with Booking.

See Related: Best Day Trips from Chicago


the bean downtown chicago

Chicago has a massive art community. So if you are an artist yourself, or love to be immersed in the art community, Chicago might be the place to consider for your next destination, or maybe even you’re 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 of the top galleries that are 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 around the world. Their works include more than 5,000 years of art from cultures all over the entire world.

Museum of Contemporary Art is one of the largest museums dedicated to contemporary works of art in the entire United States.

Chicago is home to some of the best street art, and art installations in the entire 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 pop up all the time, so your walk could be different each time you go the longer you stay in Chicago!

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

See Related: Best Chicago Walking Tours


deep dish pizza from Chicago

As any person from the United States knows, there has been a long battle between Chicago vs. New York City pizza. Now I know I said I wasn’t going to ramble on about pizza in this article, but you know 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 according to 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

Make sure you’re lounging in comfort and style while waiting for your flight after a big slice of pizza with Priority Pass.

See Related: Is Chicago Safe for Travelers?

Tourist Attractions in Chicago

Navy Pier with Chicago Skyline
  • Oak Park

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

Visit the Hemingway Museum and check out the architecture tours of Wright-designed buildings. This is a great place for Chicago suburbs tourist attractions.

  • Evanston

With plenty of good bars and food to find, 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, which is one of only eight temples in the world and the only one in the entire United States.

  • Magnificent Mile

This mile 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 and 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

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 vs. a New York City accent. Some people may say Chicago has a stronger accent, but the more noticeable of the two are going to 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 are going to pay about three times less than what you would in New York City for a house, or even just to travel to Chicago.

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

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

And if you get turned around, don’t be afraid 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 to do in Chicago, but there are trails interwoven throughout the city. It’s such a vast city to immerse yourself in, it’s fun to take it all in and be in a massive metropolis. You can easily get to Lake Michigan if you want to spend a little time on the beach or be by the water as well!

No matter where you are vacationing or moving to, make sure to have traveler insurance through World Nomads for any type of situation that may arise.

See Related: Best Attractions in Chicago

New York City

NYC skyline

Like Chicago, New York City has an incredible amount of fun to offer. Whether you are going to be living in either city or trying to decide 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 you will find in all of the United States. Usually within the top five options throughout the country. Rent has decreased a significant amount over the last five years, but still coming in at around $2,300 for a one-bedroom apartment, or possibly even a studio, depending on the area.

There are options for hiking outside of the city, but New York City itself 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 take into consideration if you are planning on moving to either one of the cities permanently.

Getting around the city can be challenging if you have never been there before. Rideshare apps such as 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 obviously 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 in the entire world.
  • 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.

Make sure to visit GetYourGuide in order to find top deals on attractions, tours, and activities.

See Related: New York Pass Review

Things to do in New York City

Grand Central Station NYC

Here is a brief overview of some of the most popular things to do in New York City. The city is so big itself, I will barely be able to cover all of 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 or better known as The Met is the largest art museum in the entire 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 building in New York City. Learn about the history of the building, and tour the building more than 80 floors 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 locals from the neighborhoods call this colorful stretch the art gallery in Brooklyn, New York City.

Hidden Attractions in New York City

stock photo of garden lounge

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! These attractions will be listed by boroughs.


  • Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm
  • Pop-up Farmers and Flea Markets of Brooklyn
  • Brighton Beach
  • Bushwick Open Studios
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Brooklyn Block Parties


  • 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


  • Surreal Elevator
  • Houdini’s Grave
  • The Underground Home
  • The Birthplace of Scrabble
  • Louis Armstrong House
  • The Welling Court Mural Project

The Bronx

  • The New Fulton Fish Market
  • New York Botanical Garden
  • Little Italy
  • The Bronx Beer Hall

Staten Island

  • Staten Island Range Lighthouse
  • Alice Austen House
  • Arthur Von Briesen Park
  • Tugboat Graveyard
  • Paramount Theater

When you are ready to go to New York City, make sure to book a flight with Going (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights).


Guggenheim exterior NYC

As we all are well aware, New York City is home to some of the best art and art galleries in the entire world. 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, make sure to rest them at a nice stay booked through Vrbo!

See Related: London vs. New York


wood fired pizza

Anyone who has lived in the United States before has surely 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

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 even move to, I hope this comparison helped your choice on where to stay next.

Both cities are beautiful and immerse you in many different cultures and new experiences, while exploring new territories to you, amongst the massive sprawling metropolises. Each city has their own unique quirks and each are 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 take your time so you’re able to experience as much as you possibly can.

I hope you are able to 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!

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