Known as “The Windy City”, there is more to Chicago than just the Chicago Bulls, the Chicago Cubs, and the White Sox.
Chicago is the third most-populated city in the U.S. and is the origin of many of the country’s cultural and industrial exports, such as the skyscraper, McDonald’s, Boeing, the deep dish pizza, and The Blues Brothers.
Now getting around Chicago might seem complicated with the streets laid out in a grid but going around the city will let you discover a variety of attractions.
1. John Hancock Center – The John Hancock Center is no longer called by that name; it’s now known as 875 North Michigan Avenue. However, as the fourth-tallest building in Chi-Town, it has a 360-degree view of the surrounding area – a radius of around 80 miles encompassing the city, Chicagoland, and up to four states.
While most tourists go up to the observation deck, visitors are charged $21 for adults and $14 for children. However, going up to the 95th-floor restaurant is free. Of course, you must get a drink, but a cocktail there would be cheaper than the same cocktail at the observation deck.
2. Hyde Park – While the Loop is often considered the cultural heart of Chicago, Hyde Park isn’t a bad place to take in some culture as well. The neighborhood is home to some of the foremost cultural institutions in the city, such as the Museum of Science and Technology. The Robie House, built by the architect Frank Lloyd Wright, is open for tours on Thursday to Monday. The Oriental Institute Museum, located on the sprawling, magnificent campus of the University of Chicago, contains archaeological finds from the Middle East.
3. Chicago Pedway – Should you drop by Chicago in the middle of winter, you’ll understand why the locals call it “Chiberia” – temperatures could go down to as low as -23°F. However, you could still get around by taking the Chicago pedway, a series of underground walkways that stretches from Maggie Daley Park in the Loop’s east side to the parking facility at the corner of Madison and La Salle streets. The pedway might be a tangled mess, but it’s still the best way to get from Point A to Point B within the Loop.
4. Water Taxis – If you’re in Chicago in the warmer months and have some time to kill, head down to the Navy Pier and take the Shoreline water taxi. The red, white, and blue water taxis take two routes: one going to the Museum Campus area by the lake, another going to Willis Tower (which was known as Sears Tower until fairly recently). Both are equally scenic routes. The Chicago water taxi, on the other hand, is painted yellow and goes from Michigan Avenue to Chinatown, with two of seven stations closed on weekends.
5. Chicago Athletic Association Hotel – If you can’t imagine going through the day without coffee, Chicago has hundreds of coffee shops. However, if you want to visit a place where you can sample some of the best coffee blends from over the country, Fairgrounds at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel offers beans from Chicago, California, Portland, Milwaukee, Nashville, and New York. If you’re not in a hurry, you can enjoy your coffee and a sandwich at Fairgrounds’ patio with a view of Milleninum Park.
6. Chicago deep dish pizza is the city’s shining culinary legacy. It’s not a snack like most pizzas; it’s a meal in a slice. Most tourists go to the pizza places downtown, such as Gino’s East, Unos and Dues, and Giordano’s. Locals, though, prefer going further afield – the South Side is home to Beggar’s Pizza, Home Run Inn Pizza, and Connie’s Pizza. You could also have an Italian beef sandwich at Al’s Beef downtown or Mr. Beef On Orleans, in the River North neighborhood.
7. Chicago Picasso – Chicago is home to an impressive array of public art, including works by Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Alexander Calder, and Anish Kapoor. The 50-foot tall Chicago Picasso in Daley Plaza is the first piece of public art in the downtown area and was a gift to the city by the eccentric artist. Up to now, there is still an ongoing debate about what the sculpture represents. Possible inspirations include a French model, a baboon, the Egyptian deity Anubis, and an Afghan hound. Whatever it is, though, the Chicago Picasso is a distinctive Chicago landmark, one that has appeared in films such as The Fugitive, The Blues Brothers, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
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