The Windy City. Chi-Town. The Jewel of the Midwest. City by the lake. No matter what you call it, Chicago is a city that offers an experience like no other. Few cities in the world offer as many world-class museums, restaurants, landmarks, parks, sports stadiums, shopping, concert halls and famous neighborhoods. Arguably, maybe only Manhattan offers a more spectacular skyline but the views from the tops of Chicago's tallest buildings are some of the finest anywhere.
Stretching all along the lakefront of the sea-sized Lake Michigan, Lakeshore Drive is one of the most scenic drives in America which offers awesome views of the city as it changes from day to night.
There are so many "must-sees" in Chicago that a typical 4 day/3 night itinerary won't cover them all. So where to start? You could say it's all downtown (even though that's not totally accurate) but downtown is certainly the place for the lion's share of Chicago sightseeing. Why not start off with a city tour? There are many from which to choose offering just about any theme for a variety of tastes and interests; architecture, history, "gangster" history, food, fun, sports and the arts.
Chicago's architecture is a broad scope of over 100 years of different styles all in one place. From sleek, modern skyscrapers to some of the finest art deco and old world European, Chicago has it all. Like any American city its size, Chicago is very rich in history. From the great Chicago fire to Al Capone and the "untouchables", Chicago has certainly seen its share of major events. Few cities in America (or the world for that matter) offer as many different types of food and restaurants. Chicago is the birthplace of deep dish pizza, the Chicago hot dog, famous steaks and the list just goes on and on. Chicago is also home to many well-known sports teams from the Bears to the Bulls to the White Sox. Even if you aren’t able to catch a game in person, no trip is complete without a tour of the world famous home to the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field. The arts are also a very vital part of a trip to the city by the lake. The Chicago Symphony provides an extraordinary musical experience in a concert hall that rivals any of the famous halls in New York or London and Chicago is also home to numerous Broadway shows. And considered to be second only to the Louvre in Paris, The Arts Institute of Chicago boasts over 300,000 pieces of art including American treasures "American Gothic" and "Nighthawks".
The Arts Institute is just one of many outstanding museums in Chicago. The famous Museum campus is home to three stops on our must-see list; The Field Museum, home to some of the greatest natural history exhibits anywhere....and right next door sits the Shedd Aquarium, where visitors can experience the largest indoor aquarium in the world. At the end of the block is Adler Planetarium, America's first planetarium. From the front steps of this historic building, the views of the city skyline may be the best of all. Not to be outdone, just down the street is the Museum of Science and Industry, a museum which really does have everything!
After a day of enjoying exhibits and seeing spectacular displays, a great place to end the day and unwind is Navy Pier. Great restaurants, shops and attractions, it's another fantastic place to soak in all the glory of that downtown skyline.
Chicago is also home to many great parks from the enormous Lincoln Park (home of the famous zoo) to Grant Park (home of the enormous Buckingham Fountain) to the newest kid on the block, Millennium Park and its unusual art. The "Cloud Gate" sculpture (nicknamed the "Bean") is the highlight of this park and has now become one of the city's most famous landmarks. From the Willis Tower SkyDeck, you can spot all of these favorite sites from 103 stories up in the sky. And while you're still downtown, make sure you save some time for shopping the Magnificent Mile!
The suburbs also offer a wide variety of activities from parks and recreation to museums and education. And some of the best hotel accommodations can be found in the burbs, as well as Woodfield Mall, the world's first major indoor shopping mall and still one of the largest. Six Flags Great America is located in Gurnee and considered one of the best parks in Six Flags' prestigious chain.
Chicago is a city with many personalities, nicknames, history and….that skyline. It is always a pleasure to watch someone's reaction the first time they see it and even though it’s not just a skyline, no matter your interests, Chicago has something to offer everyone in your group. But it's so much more than just a fantastic skyline. It's not until you go inside that skyline that you see how incredible a trip to Chicago can be.