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The Gateway Cities: Chicago, IL

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Chicago at a Glance

Chicago’s great magic lies in its mix: sophisticated yet friendly, and bustling city streets adjacent to sparkling Lake Michigan. Plus, the stunning year-round array of things to do along with its plethora of free activities, make Chicago the perfect destination for any vacation!

Must-See in Chicago
Chicago loves sharing its treasures, and this list will help you find them. Discover these must-see attractions that distinguish this great metropolis from every other city in the world.

  • See magnificent views of the city from the Skydeck Chicago at Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) or the John Hancock Observatory.
  • Stroll beside beautiful art, a monumental fountain, and lovely gardens in awe-inspiring  Millennium and Grant parks.
  • Cheer your heart out at explosive Blackhawks hockey, Bulls basketball, Cubs and White Sox baseball, Bears football, and Fire soccer games.
  • Hit the Ferris wheel and then play, eat, shop, and enjoy unforgettable cityscape views from Navy Pier.
  • Board a sightseeing boat or take a walking tour with the Chicago Architecture Foundation.
  • In the shadow of skyscrapers, see some of nature’s greatest animals at the free Lincoln Park Zoo.

That’s not all the great attractions that Chicago has to offer. Click here to discover even more.

Chicago is home to seven AAA Five-Diamond restaurants, which is the most of any city in the U.S. The city is also famous for its deep-dish pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs. Downtown and in Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods, countless ethnic restaurants are ready to serve up your favorites or introduce you to new ones. Try Italian cuisine in the Little Italy neighborhood or Greek cuisine in Greektown.  Meat lovers will enjoy Chicago as well at any one of the numerous steakhouses and restaurants specializing in pork dishes. Finally, Chicago is home to a number of celebrity chefs, several of whom have made appearances on – or won – competitive reality cooking shows. You’ll find such amazing chefs as Grant Achatz, Rick Bayless, Stephanie Izard, Paul Kahan, Art Smith, and others.

Whet your appetite with even more dining options at

Museums and Culture
Check out Chicago’s famous Museum Campus along the lakefront:  At the Shedd Aquarium, you’ll find over 22,000 aquatic creatures including sharks, beluga whales, dolphins, sea otters, and more. At The Field Museum, dinosaur lovers can see 67-million-year-old Sue, the largest, most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered. Finally, you and your kids can explore the wonders of the universe at the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum.

Once you’ve explored the campus, head to the Museum of Science and Industry, the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere.  Or, explore the Art Institute of Chicago, the second largest art museum in the U.S. Once there, you’ll stroll though the 264,000 square foot Modern Wing, a new home for the museum’s collection of 20th- and 21st-century art.

Also, don’t miss the DuSable Museum of African American History, the first and oldest institution of its kind in the country. It is dedicated to the collection, preservation, interpretation and dissemination of the history and culture of Africans and Americans of African descent.

Finally, head to the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.  This museum includes a world-famous collection of artifacts from the ancient Middle East, including a recreation of an Assyrian palace and a 17-ft.-tall statue of King Tut.

Discover more museums to explore at

Theater and Performing Arts
Catch a Tony Award®-winning play or Broadway-bound world premiere at a Broadway in Chicago theater in downtown.  Or, see a cutting-edge show at the Goodman Theatre, the Steppenwolf Theatre CompanyLookingglass Theatre Company, or at one of the over 200 venues throughout the city.

Also, don’t miss stunning ballet at the Joffrey Ballet or breathtaking opera at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Head to The Second City, birthplace of Chicago-style improv, as they serve up serious laughs. Then catch a nationally-touring act at The Chicago Theatre.  Finally, inspire your senses with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra or tap your toes to Million Dollar Quartet, a re-enactment of the famed 1956 recording session that brought together legendary Rock N' Roll icons Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley.

Find more performing arts and entertainment options at

Stroll along the Magnificent Mile and discover great shopping at Water Tower Place, The Shops at North Bridge, The 900 Shops, Nordstrom, and more.  Or walk along State Street, and make a stop at Macy’s on State Street, the world’s second-largest department store..

For upscale shopping, Oak Street is a street of dreams. Find Kate Spade, Barney’s New York, Prada, and other exclusive retailers and salons. Express your individuality with finds from one-of-a-kind boutiques along the tree-lined streets of Lincoln Park and Armitage Avenue.  Looking for boho chic? Get it and more in the Wicker Park/Bucktown shopping district that Vanity Fair magazine labeled “a square mile pulsing with sassy boutiques.”

Click here for more information on place to shop ‘til you drop in Chicago.

Of course, this is just a sampling of all the great things this beautiful city by the lake has to offer. Visit to read about Chicago’s all the above plus hotels, nightlife, free attractions, and much much more.


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