Known for Universities, Skyscrapers and Scenery
Stroll museums and parks filled with art, and catch live blues any night of the week in Chicago’s bustling Downtown district. Or catch a lively sports game in this home to the Cubs and White Sox baseball teams, and the Chicago Bulls basketball team.
This metropolis is the third largest city in America, but getting around is easy thanks to the efficient above ground train, the ‘L’. Get your bearings from the tallest skyscraper in the US, Willis Tower, which defines the city’s skyline. The viewing platform, 1,353 feet (412 meters) above the busy streets, offers unparalleled vistas of Lake Michigan, Navy Pier, and other main attractions.
Lincoln Park, just north of downtown, has beaches, sporting grounds and landscaped gardens. Soak up the history of the Windy City at the Chicago History Museum, located on the southern end of the park. Take a stroll through the indoor gardens of the Lincoln Park Conservatory, or spend an afternoon at the Lincoln Park Zoo. This public zoo houses more than 1,000 animals. Brookfield Zoo, 12 miles west of the city center, is more than double the size and features dolphin displays, big cats, a variety of primates and more.
Head back into the Loop district downtown for some of the best shopping in the city, along Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile. It’s a good place for lunch or dinner, or people watching while you sip a coffee or beer. Just south of the Magnificent Mile is the expansive Art Institute of Chicago well worth a visit for its collection of European and American masterpieces that include Monet, Van Gogh, and much more. Nearby is Millennium Park, a meeting place with public art and spectacular summer concerts.
Chicago’s Museum Campus is located in the South Loop, just a few miles by car or a few stops on the “L” from downtown. The Field Museum is filled with natural history, while the Museum of Science has interactive exhibits such as a mock coal mine and an airplane.
Some of America’s most influential figures came from Chicago. Visit the Ernest Hemingway Museum and House, where the famous writer was born. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s first house is in the pretty Oak Park neighborhood (called the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio). He designed many houses and buildings in the area, including Unity Temple, considered one of his best. On your way back into town, stop off at the Garfield Park Conservatory, an urban oasis of rare and exotic plants.
No trip to Chicago would be complete without catching a baseball game at the legendary Wrigley Field. At night, head to Navy Pier, packed with lively bars and restaurants. Another option is to head out for a night of blues at one of Chicago's legendary clubs. Check out B.L.U.E.S. near downtown on Chicago's north side or Kingston Mines a few miles north near Lincoln Park. Both of these long established venues have music every night of the week.
Equal parts boat and buildings, this river cruise gives you a from-the-water perspective of Chicago skyline and up-close views of its most iconic structures. Board an open-roofed vessel and float with the current as an architecture expert shares the fascinating history behind the Windy City's most renowned buildings.
Take a breezy spin around the Windy City as you discover the parks, architecture, and jazzy atmosphere of Chicago on a double-decker bus. Get a lay of the land in this Midwest metropolis by bus, and hop on and off at landmarks like Millennium Park, the Magnificent Mile, and the Willis Tower.
Take in the view from the sky-high heights of the Willis Tower, the second-tallest building in the United States. From the 103rd floor, look out over 4 states and the Windy City's urban sprawl, and then test your vertigo on a glass balcony to peer down at the streets and skyscrapers of Chicago beneath your feet.
If you're in Chicago and you're part of the cider's fan club, make sure to make a stop at the Northman. This place has a vast selection of American and imported ciders that should please your tastebuds. It's impossible to not find your match made in heaven. Service is great.
The Chicago Botanic Gardens are easy to get to via bicyle. Rent at any of the local bike shops and take a few hours to ride the paths in and around the gardens. Visit in the early summer to see most everything in bloom, or in the early fall to see the leaves change.
If you've got children or you're just a big kid yourself, the ToyMaker 3000 is not to be missed. Why buy something from a gift shop when you can actually build your own souvenir with automated robots?
Head North on Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile to do some serious window shopping. As you get closer to the lake, the stores get nicer. And if your budget allows, sneak off to one of the side streets to get a treat at Jimmy Choo or Prada.
If you’re visiting the Art Institute or Millennium Park, The Gage is a perfect spot to visit for lunch. Their daytime menu prices are surprisingly affordable for such a high-tourism area, and the food is always delicious.