Chicago, United States
Chicago Attractions: What to Do and Where to Go
Whether you're admiring all the splendor of the city of Chicago from the top of the Sears Tower or the John Hancock Center, walking through the impressive downtown surrounded by fascinating skyscrapers, or even taking a boat trip on Lake Michigan, the "Windy City" definitely has plenty of charm for the millions of visitors that come here each year.
Spring and summer are the most fun and attractive seasons to explore this exciting city. Between April and August, when the weather allows you to walk on the streets without wearing lots of warm clothing, you can find a wide range of interesting activities to enjoy. During spring and summer many festivals and fairs take place, such as the gastronomic event, called the Taste of Chicago, the Do-Division Street Fest & Sidewalk Sale, and the Chicago Air and Water Show. There are also street markets, natural reserves and theme parks, such as Six Flags and Millennium Park, along with outdoor concerts, including the Chicago Mayfest and the Grant Park Music Festival.
Excursions and trips, sporting events, and parades, like the one on St. Patrick's Day, are some of the many attractions offered by the city. Places like the Brookfield Zoo and Lincoln Park Zoo, although open all year round, are best visited on a sunny summer's day. The 26 miles of beaches, bathed by Lake Michigan, are open from May through September. Fall and winter, the coldest months of the year, do not stop a great city like Chicago that offers many year-round attractions, such as the music festival Oktoberfest and the Chicago Auto Show, held at the impressive McCormick Place, one of the largest convention centers in the world. There are also the incredible Thanksgiving and Christmas parades, along with the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, which is a Disney parade that officially kicks off the Christmas season. Concerts and sporting events, such as professional football, hockey and basketball games, are also well worth enjoying.
The avant-garde Millennium Park is a tribute to landscaping, architecture, music, and amusement. This park, that covers 25 acres in the heart of downtown, west of Lake Michigan, is a modern marvel and a true piece of contemporary architecture. It is located next to Michigan Avenue, and most of the activities are free. Enjoy a recital or a classical music concert at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, an extraordinary building made of stainless steel that rises 121 feet above the ground and has four thousand seats. The pavilion also features a green area right in front of the stage with a capacity for up to seven thousand people. This is definitely one of the main attractions in Chicago. The Crown Fountain, located within the park, is actually two fountains made of liquid crystal screens that stand 50 feet high. Images and video of the faces of local residents are projected onto the screens, and an illusion is created that water is actually spouting from their mouths.
Another great attraction at Millennium Park is Cloud Gate or the "Jelly Bean"; a piece of art by Anish Kapoor. This metallic sculpture weighs 110 tons and looks similar to a stainless steel giant bean. It's beautifully polished and almost has an extraterrestrial look. At Millennium Park you will find an ice skating rink, open to the public only during winter months. You can also visit the Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance, featuring the most advanced technology; or perhaps stop by the magnificent Lurie Garden and the very unusual BP Bridge.
Navy Pier is a place in Lake Michigan, east of downtown Chicago that is visited by millions of people each year because of its many attractions, and splendid panoramic views of the city. It has an amusement park with several mechanical attractions, such as the 151 ft high Ferris wheel or the flying chairs. Let your children play and learn at the Chicago Children's Museum. Have fun at the Amazing Chicago's Funhouse Maze. Enjoy the theatrical and musical performances offered in many areas of the pier. See a performance at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, or watch the latest movies at the IMAX Theater on a giant 59 by 79 ft screen. In summer you can listen to live music at the Beer Garden. Navy Pier also features many boat trips, ranging from a luxurious dinner aboard a yacht that includes dancing and entertainment, to trips on speed boats that cruise alongside the city's coastline.
You haven't seen Chicago if you don't see it from the viewing platform at the top of the Sears Tower. This attraction is open 365 days of the year, enabling visitors to have a spectacular panoramic view from 1352 feet above the ground and discover all the splendor of the third most populated city in the United States.
John Hancock Center
The John Hancock Center is the third tallest building in Chicago, after the Sears Tower and the Aon Center (formerly the Amoco Building). Just like the Sears Tower, this marvelous building also features a viewing platform on the 94th floor. Another of this skyscraper's attractions is the famous and elegant restaurant, The Signature Room, located on the 95th floor.
The Museum Campus is an area located in front of Lake Michigan, in downtown Chicago. It is the home of three of the most prestigious museums in the Midwest: The Shedd Aquarium, The Adler Planetarium, and The Field Museum of Natural History, as well as the remodeled Soldier Field Stadium of the Chicago Bears football team. Designed and constructed in the 1920's with a striking Beaux Arts architectural style, the Shedd Aquarium looks out over Lake Michigan. This remarkable two level building houses more than 21,000 species of marine life, birds, snakes, amphibians and insects. Explore the different sections, such as the shark tank, the Caribbean Reef where there is a diver inside the tank feeding the fish and providing information, as well as the Oceanarium that has belugas, otters, dolphins, and penguins.
The Adler Planetarium is located in an area known as Northerly Island, a manmade peninsula within the grounds of the Museum Campus. This outstanding site was the first planetarium constructed in the West Hemisphere in 1930. Nowadays it is in the National Register of Historic Places, and it is the only planetarium that has three theaters, where you can learn all about space. They also have an excellent collection of old astronomical instruments. The Field Museum of Natural History, with its impressive neoclassic style, houses dozens of permanent anthropological, geological, botanical, and zoological exhibits, as well as many other temporary exhibits. One of the main attractions is Sue, the largest and best preserved skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex ever found, along with the most inclusive fossil exhibit, called the "Evolving Planet", where you can learn about four billion years of the Earth's history.
The Art Institute of Chicago
One of the most prestigious museums and art schools in the world is the Art Institute of Chicago, located on the stylish and exclusive Michigan Avenue in downtown. The museum exhibits all forms of fine art mediums, from all cultures and historical periods. The Art Institute of Chicago is famous today due to its extensive collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings, such as the priceless paintings by Claude Monet, Renoir, Paul Cezanne, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Vincent van Gogh, and works of art by El Greco, Rembrandt, Zurbaran, and Goya.
The Museum of Science and Industry
In the cultural area of Hyde Park, in southern Chicago, you can find the renowned Museum of Science and Industry with its three floors full of permanent and temporary exhibitions. As of today, it is the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere and home to more than 35,000 artifacts, along with numerous activities for the whole family. The most important exhibits are a German submarine, a carbon mine, a model of the first passenger diesel train, measuring 1083 feet, and a space shuttle used in the Apollo 8 mission.
In Chicago, you can enjoy exciting sporting events year round. The city is home to nine professional organizations, such as the Bears football team that play from August through January, and the Cubs and the White Sox, both playing in the Major League, from February to October. The famous Bulls basketball team, play from November to April, and you can go and watch the Blackhawks ice hockey team, from October to April.
In Chicago there are excursions of all types suitable for everybody, including walking, boating, or biking tours. You can also go on an open top bus through the city or around the suburbs. Do not miss the opportunity to explore this metropolis by taking a professional guided tour. Take a boat tour during the day and get to see the city's beautiful coastline, while at night hop aboard a luxurious yacht for a romantic dinner cruise. One of the best and most popular tours is the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise, where you'll travel down the river and learn all about Chicago's amazing architecture. There are also tours on board old fashioned buses or double deckers, around the city to the many different neighborhoods. Enjoy the buildings, the parks, the historic sites, as well as the eye-catching pieces of public art in the Windy City.
The beaches are a popular attraction during the summer months. The 26 miles of beaches are great for visitors to enjoy many recreational activities, both in Lake Michigan and on the golden sands.
Aside from the famous and very popular Museum of Science and Industry, and the Art Institute of Chicago, the city also has a large variety of museums that can be visited anytime of the year. Some of the most significant are:
- Chicago Children's Museum
- Chicago's Cultural Center
- The Museum of Modern Art
- Chicago History Museum
- The Museum of Contemporary Photography
- National Museum of Mexican Art
Other Attractions You Should Not Miss
a picturesque fountain located in Grant Park, in downtown.
green areas and places to relax and walk along the southern banks of the Chicago River.
an excellent place to go for a walk or savor a delicious dish from the Far East.
Civic Opera House:
from September through March enjoy the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
a large recreational area that houses Millennium Park, Buckingham Fountain, and the Art Institute of Chicago.
Harold Washington Library:
an impressive place in the heart of the city.
Lincoln Park Conservatory:
enjoy hundreds of plants all year round.
an attractive zoo a few blocks north of downtown.
McCormick Tribune Plaza & Ice Rink:
the largest ice skating rink in the Chicago.
Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament:
dining and entertainment that takes place in a medieval castle. It is located approximately 45 minutes outside the city.
the most famous theme park in the region, 45 minutes from downtown Chicago.
home to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
The Elevated Train or "L" Train:
take a trip on the train through the Loop area and see the city's skyscrapers in all their splendor.
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