What Is The Best Route To Avoid Chicago? With Tips And Tricks

Chicago traffic is UNHUMAN and leaves an extremely small window of chance to travel anywhere traffic-free. Chicago is crowded– thus it has plenty of traffic.

What is the best route to avoid Chicago

Traffic starts to slow starting each day around 6 am and congestion clears at 10 am. In the evening, traffic starts to slow at 3 pm, and lessens in most places around 7 pm. So what is the best route to avoid Chicago?

Let’s find it out!

What Is The Best Route To Avoid Chicago?

What is the Best Route

We have decided that The greatest method of bypassing Chicago traffic without rising the driving distance is to take I-290 and I-294. As we have 5 years of experience driving in Chicago.

When you move through I-90/I-94 south, you have to stay on I-39 and after you get to Indiana you have to take I-80 east to I-65 south. You cannot go anywhere near Metro Chicago.

When you are moving to Indianapolis, you should skip I-80 and stay on to I-39 south before reaching Bloomington. Then you have to take I-74 Eastbound and afterward I-65.

You should not take I-80, and take I-74 if you are going anywhere from Lafayette to the South. Make sure you should not move to the Chicago Metro area anyway.

When your destination is in Indy, you should take I-39 in Portage. In that way, you could avoid the whole mess.

So, In Bloomington, You should take I-74 after that catch I-65. In this way, you only have to pay 1.9$ instead of $19 if you take I-90 to I-294. By this route, you can also avoid bad traffic in Chicago

Coming From North

Coming from North

If you are approaching from the north or west, you can take I-39 to I-74 at Champaign, IL, and then catch I-74 east toward Indianapolis wherever you get I-65 to carry on your tour east or south.

South East Route

South East route

Approaching from the east otherwise south you will need to reverse that direction to go west or north.

From the Illinois or Iowa “Quad Cities” area, I-74 is a good route, with lesser traffic than I-80 to I-65.  I-74 and I-39 are outstanding roads with much less traffic.

Accidents frequently would slow and you might be stuck in traffic for a long time. Miserably, coming from Northeast Ohio, you truly do not have many options.

Worst Traffic

Worst Traffic

Several of the worst traffic is around Gary, Indiana wherever I-80, 90, 94, and 65 all intersect inside a couple of miles of each other.

If you take 90 or 94 over the city, going over the south side of Chicago, know that you will be okay on the interstates.

However, if you have to wander off the highway for gas or a meal, you might be in some of the higher crime localities very easily.

You could be to stay on I-80 to I-294, the Tri-State Tollway, and take it around the west side of the city. You could still encounter heavy traffic and construction, however, it keeps you out of the center of the city.

If you’re closer to I-70 than I-80, you might ponder an end-run totally around the city: I-70 to I-74 in Indianapolis; I-74 to I-39 in Bloomington, IL; I-39 north to Madison plus then state highways to Appleton.

However, adding so much extra distance might suck up the same–or more–time than sitting in Chicago traffic.

We could follow I90/39 South to I-80 E if we are approaching from Madison otherwise west. We can follow I94 to 294 S to I80 E If we are coming through Milwaukee.

On weekdays, generally, traffic lessens afterward at 9 AM. Traffic gets busy again around 3 PM. This must not be a problem on the I-39 option, on the other hand, might be an issue on the 294 option.

An alternative is to travel 80/94 west (loads of trucks) until you reach 355, as well as follow this north (not bad at all in the p.m.).

Follow 355, which leads into 290 until you get to 90 West, which takes you to Rockford. This route would be longer miles-wise, but there might be less congestion. Chicago traffic is truly unpredictable.

Consider Timing

Consider Timing

The good thing about the rush in Chicago is that it has set times. Not like LA where it’s continuously rush hour, you could beat the rush by leaving before it starts or after it ends. You can moreover, usually, find alternative routes that might be a little less crowded.

On Northeast Illinois interstate highways, the maximum traffic will be between 4 pm to 5 pm. The worst morning hour is from 7 to 8 a.m. which is not as heavy as the afternoon peak.

Chicago’s gridlock is considered one of the worst in the US, and perhaps the world. For most travelers passing over the Windy City, the first problem they need to deal with is getting out of the city as fast (and safely) as possible.

When they hit the open road, the road trip is officially on. But for daily travelers around the city, Chicago traffic could be their kind of hell.

How To Avoid Traffic

How to Avoid Traffic

You can use the smartphone app. They are updated every 5 minutes, and you can check which the least congested route home is before hopping in the car at the end of work.



Chicago has a very dangerous reputation, but perhaps one of the biggest risks for a tourist is crossing the street. So, pay close attention while walking around, particularly with traffic lights.

If at any time you feel uncomfortable on the street, just pop into a store otherwise restaurant plus call a cab or an Uber.

Use Common Sense

Use Common sense

You want to avoid Lake Cook Road throughout the day – it is heavily used. The Dan Ryan seems to vary from extremely slow to fast however confusing, with a lot of aggressive drivers. It is rarely a pleasant drive.

The greatest advice for traveling through Chicago is to plan your journey to pass through at nighttime, midday otherwise a weekend morning.

There are certain areas of Chicago you want to avoid, but they are not areas you would unintentionally end up in.

It’s always a great idea to ask your hotel for guidance and suggestions. Use your regular “travel sense” while going around Chicago, just as you will any other city in the world.


1. What Is The Greatest Way To Avoid Chicago Traffic?

As you have to go through the city area to avoid tolls you cannot minimize tolls and city traffic altogether. After you cross state you have to take US 41 to I 94 and take I-80 east if you want to avoid tolls.

You can pay few tolls and take I94 I294 and I80 if you want to avoid traffic. Except weekend mornings and late-night you shall hit pretty much traffic all the time.

2. What Is The Best Route Around Chicago On Fridays?

On Friday there is no way to avoid traffic. You can avoid some traffic if you take I-80 all the way to I-39. Then you have to take north to get I-90. You can follow the map to avoid traffic as Friday traffic is Insane in Chicago

3. What Is The Best Route To Drive From Indianapolis To Madison-WI And Vice Versa, Through Chicago Or Bypassing Chicago?

The absolute shortest and the fastest route will be I-65, I-90 east, I90/I94 if you would drive during rush hour. But you will have to give a toll of 3$ instead of Indiana toll road which is 1.5$.

Taking Tri-state I294 is another good route but with the toll. This is almost free even in rush hour.

Finally, if you have a smartphone you can download Windows Live Search. It has great software that has color codes in major metro areas to point out traffic volume.

4. Good Way To Bypass Chicago?

As there is a lot of construction, heavy trucks, and possible delays, your plan to bypass Chicago is an excellent idea.

Indiana 10 is a fine road, the distance is a bit long and you could make it in a good time.

If you use Mapsource, your price for this diversion is 6 additional miles plus 33 minutes. However, you would have a much lesser stressful drive. There will be small traffic congestion in Chicago along it is a push.

What is the Best car route through or around Chicago?

You can take I-294 around the city since the I-94 connector of North Chicago is reduced to one lane which would augment your travel time.

There is construction happening downtown which might slow things down too. Whatsoever you decide, pay attention to AM 780 for traffic reports. Take the tollway if Dan Ryan, Kennedy, or Eden is bad.


There are certainly some tolls, however, the entire Illinois toll plaza has open-road tolling. Thus you save time and money by getting EZ-pass.

There are no monthly or yearly fees if you acquire your EZ-Pass from Pennsylvania and select for paperless billing and fix your credit card for regular reload of money. I hope now you know what is the best route to avoid Chicago.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *