Ten Things to do in Chicago
By ASPR Staff
1) Millennium Park
As Chicago’s town square in the heart of downtown, Millennium Park offers a wide variety of musical, artistic, and architectural attractions. Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Gate,” a giant reflective sculpture shaped like a bean, has become an icon of Chicago. Stop by the park for a picnic lunch, evening concert, or a lovely outdoor stroll to explore some of its many offerings.
2) Navy Pier
Historically an active pier, a Navy training base, and a college campus, Navy Pier is now the place Chicagoans of all ages go for fun. Navy Pier is home to the 3-story Chicago Children’s Museum and a number of amusement rides that are especially fun for kids. Visitors will also enjoy the lovely Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows, over 50 small boutiques and shops, and wide variety of restaurants. From shopping to museums to rides, Navy Pier truly holds something for everyone. Make sure to catch a ride on the 150-foot Ferris wheel for breathtaking views of the Chicago skyline!
3) Museum of Science and Industry
With a mission of inspiring the next generation of science and technology leaders, the Museum of Science and Industry draws millions of guests every year to its interactive galleries. With more than 20 permanent exhibits concerning transportation, weather, mining, and geology, visitors of any age can enjoy exploring and learning about elements of everyday life. In August 2011, the museum will also host the sensational “Body Worlds” of Gunther von Hagens’ plastinates, a popular traveling exhibition of the human body.
4) The Art Institute of Chicago
Known for its impressive Impressionist gallery and a dedication to contemporary American and European artwork, the Art Institute of Chicago is a good stop for even casual art lovers. You probably will not see all 300,000 pieces in the museum’s collection, but you can certainly find sculptures, paintings, and artifacts from any century that interests you!
5) Eli’s Cheesecake Company
For those travelers seeking some entertainment off the beaten path, a tour of the Eli’s Cheesecake Company factory will prove just the thing. Eli’s Cheesecake wows food critics (even Oprah) with its delectable treats distributed across the nation, and the staff have created countless inaugural cheesecakes for Chicago mayors and US presidents. Enjoy a slice of your choice at the culmination of the tour as well as the opportunity to purchase heavily discounted cheesecakes with imperfect cracks in the top.
6) John Hancock Observatory
Chicago is a city with a lot of skyscrapers. However, the John Hancock Observatory is the only Chicago skyscraper with an open-air SkyWalk where visitors can take in both the view and the wind. At 100 stories and 1,000 feet, the John Hancock building is the sixth tallest building in the country, offering views of four states as well as of the Miracle Mile shopping strip directly below. It also boasts beautiful views of the Chicago skyline at night.
7) Lincoln Park Zoo
The Lincoln Park Zoo is a great (and free!) option for family fun, exhibiting more than 1,000 animals. Whether you fancy typical Midwestern farm animals or a menagerie of more exotic African species, the Lincoln Park Zoo will more than accommodate. The 35-acre zoo is located within the much larger Lincoln Park along the coast of Lake Michigan, so visitors can even inspect the local flora and fauna outside the zoo’s parameters!
8) Catch a Baseball Game
With the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field (or “New Comiskey Park”) and the Cubs at the second-oldest stadium in major league baseball, Wrigley Field, Chicago is a town that loves its baseball. Be sure to catch a game even if you’re not wild about the sport. The enthusiasm of the fans will sweep you along, and both stadiums are worth a trip to explore and enjoy!
9) Eat Chicago Dogs and Deep Dish Pizza
There are two treats that constitute the Chicago culinary experience: Chicago dogs and Chicago-style deep dish pizza. For a legendary hot dog covered in mustard, relish, onions, and an assortment of garden vegetables, look no further one of the city’s many Chicago-dog food stands and restaurants. For a more substantial dining option, look for a Pizza Uno location (or one of many other pizzerias) to order a massive Chicago-style deep dish pizza. The standard crust pushes nearly three inches in height to hold in all the sauce, cheese, and toppings. Both Chicago specialties are available across the city, even though the locals will forever argue about the “best” restaurants for each!
10) Magnificent Mile
If you are looking for great shopping, look no further than the Magnificent Mile on Michigan Ave. With more than 450 retailers in the span of about 15 blocks, there is no shortage of options for shoppers of any age and interest. The Magnificent Mile and its surroundings also host a wide variety of restaurants, so exploring this part of the city around meal times can be particularly rewarding.