7 Best Tips for Attending the Chicago Auto Show: Everything you Need to Know in 2023

The Chicago Auto Show takes place at McCormick Place every February. We've got tips to help you get the most out of your visit.

The Chicago Auto Show is a fabulous annual tradition that returns to McCormick Place for ten days every February.

As someone who’s obsessed with road trips, I look forward to the Chicago Auto Show every year. I see the shiny vehicles and instead of pieces of machinery. I see adventure, possibilities, and the open road.

The Chicago Auto Show is more than a static display of vehicles, although many of them, like the classic Corvette featured below from 2021’s summer show, can just sit there and look pretty.

There are interactive exhibits that make it a full, fun day for friends, family, and any driving enthusiast.

Classic 1960 Corvette at the Chicago Auto Show

Related: things to do in Chicago on a budget

The Chicago Auto Show is the largest auto show in North America and an annual must-do tradition. The first show took place in 1901 and the 2023 edition will be the 116th recurrence.

Since day one, it’s had indoor driving tracks. There were even electric vehicles at the very first show.

I’ve been attending the Chicago Auto Show for over fifteen years, and during that time I’ve learned a few things about making this show as enjoyable as possible.

Here are my top tips for attending the Chicago Auto Show, and everything you need to know before you go, including how to get discounted tickets and save on parking.

7 Tips for Attending the Chicago Auto Show

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Chicago Auto Show 2017

1. Wear comfortable shoes
The Chicago Auto Show is the largest auto show in North America, covering 1.2 million square feet. Be nice to your feet and wear shoes with some decent tread.

Chicago Auto Show

2. Get Discounted Admission by feeding others
Bring three cans of food and you’ll get a Chicago Auto Show coupon for $5 off a full adult admission. You can bring them on Wednesday through Friday.

All food collected will benefit A Safe Haven Foundation. A Safe Haven helps Chicagoans experiencing homelessness become self-sufficient through phased housing, healthy lifestyles, and employment.

Birds eye view of the Chicago Auto Show

3. Take advantage of weekday discounts
Stop by CATA-member new car dealerships to get discounted weekday discounts to the Chicago Auto Show. 

The show’s open until 10pm every day except the last day, when it’s open until 8, so even if you have to work during the week you can still take advantage of this offer.

Kia Sorento Hybrid at the Chicago Auto Show

4. Thank you for your service: First Responders / Military Appreciation Day
Are you a first responder or current or former member of the U. S. Military? Attend on February 14 and your ticket is free. Any of your guests will get a voucher for $10 admission.

First responders include police officers, EMTs, paramedics, and firefighters.

Acura at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show

5. Get Discounted Parking
If you’re driving to the auto show, parking at McCormick Place is expensive. Check SpotHero to save on parking in Chicago.

6. Know Before You Go
Check out a map of the show floor (not available yet) ahead of time and plot your course.  

Chicago Auto Show

7. Relax and Have Fun!
This is probably the most important tip of all. The show is big and boisterous and loud and c-r-o-w-d-e-d! Allow plenty of time and just relax.

There are going to be a few hundred other people who want the same shot of your dream car, who want to ride the cool Jeep and Dodge Ram tracks, and who want to test out all the new interactive tools.

Think of it like a trip to Great America during the middle of the summer, except you could actually take home these rides!

Chicago Auto Show FAQs

Here are a few highlights of this year’s Chicago Auto Show, as well as details on how to attend.

When is the 2023 Chicago Auto Show?

The Chicago Auto Show is February 11 – 20. It’s open from 10am to 10pm on February 11 – 19 and from 10am to 8pm on February 20.

Related: Check out all these things to do in Chicago in winter.

Where is the Chicago Auto Show?

The Chicago Auto Show takes place in the South Exhibit Hall at McCormick Place, 2301 S. King Dr, Chicago, IL 60616

Map of McCormick Place and the Chicago Auto Show

One of the many Jeeps at the Chicago Auto Show

What indoor tracks will be at the Chicago Auto Show?

Camp Jeep has been a staple at the show since 2005. This indoor track “features an 18-ft., 35-degree ‘mountain’ where passengers experience the extreme off-road and traction capabilities of Jeep’s latest vehicles.”

Camp Jeep track at the Chicago Auto Show

Ford Built Wild debuts globally at the Chicago Auto Show with a 30,000-sq.-ft. custom experience showcasing the new Bronco family. 

Ford Built to Electrify also debuts at the Chicago Auto Show with an 11,000 sq.-ft. experience showcasing Ford’s commitment to electric vehicles, including the all-new Ford F-150 Lightning and Mustang Mach-E GT. 

Ford Built Wild – ‘BUILT WILD’ showcases the capability of Ford’s Bronco family of vehicles. The highlight is a Bronco off-road course, where visitors will tackle a 38-degree Bronco Mountain.

You’ll feel the thrill of the climb while learning more about impressive Bronco tech like G.O.A.T. (Goes Over Any Terrain) Mode capabilities and technology that makes off-roading even more exciting and intelligent.

In Ram Truck Territory, attendees can take a ride in a Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 around the 28,000 “ultimate in-truck adventure.” Riders will climb Ram Mountain, a 13-ft. high, 30-ft. long course element with 30-degree approach and departure angles.

Hyundai Track – Auto show attendees can experience the IONIQ 5 first-hand while visiting the Hyundai booth (must be 18 years or older to participate).

After registering for the drive, participants will be driven by a professional driver around the course highlighting the vehicle’s awarding winning features.

Toyota Test Track – Toyota presents “An Electrified Drive For All Seasons” ride and drive course at the 2023 Chicago Auto Show.

This four-seasons-themed demonstration area will provide passenger-only access to Toyota’s hybridized vehicles, including Prius, RAV4, Sienna, Sequoia and Tundra. 

Electric Vehicle Track – Thanks to a partnership with ComEd, the 2023 Chicago Auto Show features a battery-powered electric vehicle test track that will allow attendees go for a ride in some of the latest battery-powered electric vehicles.

Participating manufacturers include: BMWCadillacChevrolet, Nissan and Volkswagen.

What cars can I take for an Outdoor Test Drive?

Sport Bronco riding the Ford Built Wild Track

Want to go for a ride?

The 2023 Chicago Auto Show will offer attendees the opportunity to get behind the wheel for a test drive. Test drives operate every day. You can sign up for the test drives on the show floor. Here is a list of the participating manufacturers, check back for updates.

FORD – Hours of Operation. 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

  • Vehicle list to come

KIA – Hours of Operation, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

  • Carnival
  • EV6
  • Niro EV
  • Seltos
  • Sorento, Sorento PHEV
  • Sportage
  • Telluride

SUBARU – Hours of Operation, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

  • Ascent
  • Crosstrek
  • Forester
  • Impreza
  • Legacy
  • Outback
  • Solterra

VOLKSWAGEN – Hours of Operation, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

  • Atlas
  • Atlas Cross Sport
  • ID.4
  • Jetta
  • Taos
  • Tiguan

How much is the 2023 Chicago Auto Show?

Tickets to the 2023 Chicago Auto Show are $15 for adults, $10 seniors for 62+, and $10 children 4 to 12.

Can I purchase tickets to the 2023 Chicago Auto Show at the door?

Yes, you can purchase tickets to the 2023 Chicago Auto Show at the door. McCormick Place is cashless, so bring a credit or debit card.

Yellow Ford Bronco at the Chicago Auto Show

Can I purchase food and drink at the 2023 Chicago Auto Show?

Absolutely! There are vendors on the show floor.

Can I bring my own food to the 2023 Chicago Auto Show?

Yes, you can bring food and beverages to the Chicago Auto Show. However, outside alcohol is not permitted.

Can I get a drink at the show?

Yes. They have alcoholic beverages available for purchase.

Where is Chicago Auto Show parking?

As mentioned above, you can find discounted parking with SpotHero. However, if you’re looking for something closer, you can use park on-site at McCormick Place.

There are three McCormick Place Lots. Lot A is a 6-level garage with a covered walkway to McCormick Place, Wintrust Arena, Marriott Marquis, and Hyatt Regency McCormick Place.

Lot B is an outdoor parking lot, and Lot C is an underground garage.

  • Lot A: 2301 South Prairie Avenue, Chicago, IL 60616; $25 for up to 16 hours and $38 from 16 to 24 hours
  • Lot B: 3050 South Moe Drive, Chicago, IL 60616; $16 per day
  • Lot C: Fort Dearborn Drive, Chicago, IL 60616; $25 per day

There are no in-and-out privileges at these lots.

Hotels Near the Chicago Auto Show

Hyatt Regency McCormick Place

Location, location, location. You can’t get a better location for a hotel near the convention center than Hyatt Regency McCormick Place–it’s in the name! This hotel connects to the convention center and is the official hotel for the Chicago Auto Show.

Check rates and reserve a room.

Marriott Marquis Chicago, hotel near McCormick Place

More hotels near the Chicago Auto Show:

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