Forget Paris. Looking for a city break a bit further afield? New York? Been there, done that. OK, the USA, now we’re talking. But let’s go a little leftfield – how about experiencing a big city in the heart of America – Chicago? (In no particular order) we take a tour of 10 of the biggest and best sights and attractions of the Windy City.
1. (and 2.) John Hancock Observatory and Skydeck Chicago
First up, let’s get our bearings. We have two options for getting a bird’s-eye view of the city. The famous Chicago Tribune says that the John Hancock Observatory offers Chicago’s best view, and who are we to argue? Take the multimedia Sky Tour or the open-air Sky Walk for an exhilarating experience. Or step up to Skydeck Chicago and step out on The Ledge – see the world from glass boxes that jut out from the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower, one of the world’s tallest buildings. The view from both spans 80 miles and four states.
Forget glass cabinets, this is one heck of a museum. Take off on a Boeing 727 for a simulated flight; descend down a mineshaft for a tour of a realistic coal mine; witness robots at work in a toy factory, explore a German submarine captured during World War II and watch awesome 3D flicks on a giant IMAX screen.
3. (and 4.) Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs
Experience the great all-American game of baseball in Chicago. You have two teams to choose from: the world champions Chicago White Sox, and the Chicago Cubs. Cheer on the White Sox at the South Side U.S. Cellular Field, where they set off fireworks if the home team make a home run, while on the North Side the Cubs play at historic Wrigley Field, one of the oldest ballparks in the country, complete with ivy-covered walls and scoreboard still operated by hand.
5. Navy Pier
You’ll have fun, fun, fun down at Navy Pier. Take a ride on the sky-high Ferris wheel or a sightseeing or dinner cruise on Lake Michigan, take in a live performance at the outdoor Skyline Stage or the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, or take a break with a micro-brewed beer and a bratwurst at Landshark Beer Garden.
The second-largest art museum in the United States is home to more than 300,000 works of art, including American Gothic by Grant Wood and Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. See one of the world’s most notable collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, as well as an impressive showcase of contemporary artworks in the new Modern Wing.
It wouldn’t be a city break without a spot of shopping. Macy’s on State Street is a quintessential Chicago experience. One of the world’s largest department stores, this flagship Macy’s store covers an entire city block and features 10 floors of retail space, taking in everything from beauty and fashion to entertaining. You’re sure to find a little something to treat yourself on.
8. Chicago Public Beaches
Beaches probably don’t spring to mind when you think of Chicago, but in fact the city boasts 26 miles of lakefront, including some lovely beaches. It’s the place to take in a slice of real American life, from joggers and games of volleyball to swimmers and sail boaters. And of course, admission is free.
In the heart of the city, surrounded by Chicago’s amazing architecture, you’ll find a state-of-the-art park designed for the new millennium. Admire the Cloud Gate sculpture, the Crown Fountain and the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion. The park also hosts concerts, and family activities, like alfresco dining in the summer and an ice skating rink in the winter.
10. The Doughnut Vault
There’s Dunkin’ Donuts, there’s Krispy Kreme, and then there’s the Doughnut Vault. Even the inevitable queue is part of the experience at this essential taste of Chicago culture. The good Vault serves up doughnuts like you’ve never seen, ‘until they run out’, so get there early, as they say!