Capital of the state of Illinois, Chicago is home of the blues and jazz music scene, the heart of comedy and the skyscrapers. Referred to as the “Windy City, it is the centre of finance, industry & culture in the region. Chicago is also home to the second busiest airport in the nation, O’Hare International. Chicago was popularly known world-wide for its violent gangsters in the 1920s.
Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) convenient and easy-to-use buses and elevated/subway train lines – including the famous “L” – easily gets you around town. Free trolleys can be found plying. Chicago has also been recently voted as the best cycling city in the country.
Hailing a taxi is no difficulty. But during the warm weather months, you can also board one of the water taxis which run along the Chicago River or lakeshore, as a scenic and relaxing option. Chicago’s downtown pedestrian walkway system of underground tunnels and overhead bridges is also a convenient way to get around when traveling on foot.
Navy Pier – Located on Lake Michigan, East of Chicago’s Downtown, Navy Pier has been a Chicago landmark ever since it first opened in 1916. Navy Pier Park is an outdoor landscaped area which features attractions such as the permanent 150-foot-high Ferris wheel, a musical carousel, an old-fashioned swing ride and an 18-hole miniature golf course.
Millennium Park – This award-winning park is famous for its innovative architecture and landscape design. The park’s most outstanding feature is the state-of-the-art outdoor concert venue, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, which hosts regular concerts. Another fascinating piece of architecture is the polished stainless steel Cloud Gate. Other interesting features include the Crown Fountain, the Lurie Garden, BP Bridge, and the Millennium Monument.
Lincoln Park – Chicago’s largest park, it contains several attractions, bathing beaches, a botanical conservatory, golf course, grassy meadows, formal gardens and sports fields. Pride of place is held by the standing statue of Abraham Lincoln, sculpted by Augustus Saint-Gaudens.
Lincoln Park Zoo – Established in 1868, it is amongst the oldest and most modern zoological gardens in the country and is open throughout the year. Along with a variety of wonderful animals, Lincoln Park Zoo also features its SBC Endangered Species Carousel ride, paddle boat and swan boat rides, the LPZOO Express train ride, the 4-D Virtual Safari simulator and a Safari Audio Tour.
Sears Tower – Located on the 103rd floor, the Sears Tower Skydeck is one of Chicago’s most famous tourist attractions. Elevators whisk visitors up to the observation deck where the views stretch out across the city and Lake Michigan and as far as neighboring states on a clear day. Sears Tower is one of the tallest buildings in North America and the world.
Art Institute of Chicago – An impressive pair of bronze lions guards the entrance to the Art Institute of Chicago in South Michigan Avenue, housing one of the greatest art collections in the world. The Institute has it all, from Japanese Ukiyo-e prints and ancient Egyptian bronzes to masterpieces of 20th century sculpture.
Hancock Building – The John Hancock building is Chicago’s third highest skyscraper with a distinctive x-bracing exterior skin, and its Observatory also offers great views of the city. Located on the 94th floor, the Observatory boasts of the city’s only open-air skywalk, as well as 360-degree views, a talking telescope, audio Skytours that provide an overview of the city with 16 stops, and the History Wall. An annual ‘Hustle up the Hancock’ stair climb race up the 94 floors is held every February.
Museum Campus – The Museum Campus is the park area south of Grant Park, where the following three museums/attractions are located:
Adler Planetarium – Located on Lake Shore Drive at Chicago’s Museum Campus, this is home to more than 35,000 square feet of exhibits, and the only museum in the world with two full-size planetarium theaters.
Field Museum – Home to ‘Sue’, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil ever found, it offers other marvels like descending into an Egyptian tomb; watching a glowing lava flow; and getting up close and personal with the man-eating lions of Tsavo.
Shedd Aquarium – it is the world’s largest indoor aquarium and houses more than 8,000 river, lake and sea creatures. The main attraction is the Caribbean Coral Reef exhibit and other marine habitat exhibits like a recreation of the Amazon basin and a ‘Seahorse Symphony’.
The Oprah Winfrey Show – The world famous Oprah Winfrey show is shot here in Chicago. One can visit the studios and if you reach early enough, you may be a part of it!
Other attractions include Museum of Science & Industry, Notebaert Nature Museum & the Chicago Children’s Museum.
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