Popular Places to Visit and See in Chicago, IL

Chicago’s beauty is made timeless in such attractions like its Blues music and symphony orchestra, its world-known sports teams and live theater, and its celebrated architecture and Midwest scenery. The Windy City is indeed sure to blow you awayóbut only with all the fun and excitement you could ever desire it to offer.

Landmarks and Attractions in Chicago

In the heart of the Midwest and on the lip of Lake Michigan, Chicago is best seen from the famous observation deck of the Sears Tower (recently renamed Willis Tower, and second tallest in the world). The Tower is full of offices, retail spaces, restaurants, and multimedia exhibits and murals. East of downtown Chicago on Lake Michigan there is Navy Pier, a showcase of memorable entertainment, dining, and shopping facilities such as the Chicago’s Children’s MuseumChicago Shakespeare Theater and Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows, Crystal Gardens, a Ferris wheel, golf course, and dinner cruises. Downtown you’ll find countless museums and schools, as well as the McCormick Place Convention Center (the nation’s largest), linked to the retail and shopping promenade Grand Concourse. Other hard-to-miss landmarks include the Michigan Avenue Bridge, the splendid Buckingham Fountain (on display hourly in the summer), the Batcolumn and Picasso statues, the gold-and-green-tiled Carbide and Carbon Building, and the attractive Baha’i temple at Wilmette. Architecture buffs will fall in love with Chicago, birthplace of the skyscraper and of structures by world-famous architects (like Frank Lloyd-Wright). Don’t forget the tremendous annual Chicago Air and Water Show in August!

Nightlife and Family Fun in Chicago

Check out the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Shedd Aquarium for some fascinating educational fun, or head to the Art Institute of Chicago (one of the world’s greatest museums and schools) with over 300,000 works on display. Seat yourself in the historic Wrigley Field and cheer on the Cubs. You can cool off in the lushMillennium Park or 1,200-acre Lincoln Park (including a zoo, museum, conservatory, and beach). Join a Chicago Architectural church tour to explore some of the most unusual religious sites under the sun. And if you’re up to it, there’s Weird Chicago Tour: An Alternative Tour of Chicago’s Ghosts, Local Legends, and Best Kept Secretsówhat’s not to love?

When the sun drops and the moon rises, the fun is only beginning. Laugh away with the budding comedy superstars at Second City, wander trendy bar districts and blues bars, and join the vibrant dancing in the clubs till the dawn. Check out the Baton Show Lounge for a unique playbill of popular female impersonators.

Off the Beaten Path in Chicago

Consider a different lifestyle choice by taking a trip to the jaw-dropping mansions in Chicago’s wealthiest neighborhood Gold Coast. Take an architectural and historical tour by river-cruising with the Chicago Architecture Foundation or by browsing the gothic campus and bookshops in Hyde Park. Get a personal perspective on Chicago’s geography by trekking through scenic paths at the Cook County Forest Preserves. Or check out the fascinating International Museum of Surgical Science (just not right before lunch).

Restaurants and Shopping in Chicago

In the summer, Chicago hosts a huge, delicious, and annual Taste of Chicago festival. But there are year-round, classic delights to be had in this city. Pick a drink and toast the spectacular views from 96-stories-above-ground in Signature Lounge. Enjoy deep-dish heaven and sample a cheese-oozing pizza Chicago-style (a great place is Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria or the father of deep-dish pizzaPizzeria Uno). And, last but not least, that Chicago-style hotdog you were eyeing at that street corner stand is a definite famous must.

In Chicago, you’ll discover everything between upscale boutiques to discount outlet malls. The most popular site is the Magnificent Mile (including everything from department stores to big-name retailers and eclectic specialty shops), flanked by hundreds of restaurants and eateries. Explore more shopping and dining extravaganza at State Street nearby, or the chic upscale boutiques on Oak Street. The city’s suburbs also offer a wide and pleasing range of shopping centers, such as the Woodfield Mall and lovely outdoor malls such as Old Orchard.

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