Weekend Travel: Chicago

Autumn is a great time to visit Chicago, the dominant city in the U.S. Midwest and the third-largest in the country, after New York and Los Angeles.

Chicago considers itself second to none, and its pride shows in bold skyscrapers, generous public spaces and big-city style.

To get a real sense of the city and see the sights, you should give yourself at least three days. We spent two days there recently and will return for more. The spring, summer and fall seasons are preferable because the city closes in on itself when the winter chill forces people indoors.

Like the rival cities on the East Coast, Chicago really does have something for everyone, with a healthy dose of Midwestern sensibility thrown in.

Shoppers will thrill at strolling the Magnificent Mile. Located on North Michigan Avenue, between the Chicago River and Lake Shore Drive, the Mile is a wide boulevard with exclusive shops and boutiques selling brand-name goods found in the world's great avenues.

Chicago is also a city of arts and culture. Walking south of the river on Michigan Avenue, you can spend time at the impressive Art Institute or catch a concert at Millennium Park. The Park has something for everyone, including green space, interactive fountains, and the impressive Cloud Gate sculpture (below) that draws people like a magnet to it's mesmerizing reflections. (Some call it the "Bean.")

Chicago is defined by its downtown buildings. Known for its gigantic Sears office tower, the city has many interesting buildings worth seeing. Walking tours offered by the Chicago Architecture
Foundation are highly recommended.

The Wrigley building (left, below) and other classic towers like the Tribune building are contrasted by modern skyscrapers like the nearly completed Trump International Hotel and Tower (right, above).

When visiting the area, consider taking a Chicago river cruise tour. In the city's early years the river was an important transportation artery for goods and services. Many of Chicago's most important landmarks are located along the river. When your legs ache from too much walking, the guided tours on the cruise offer a pleasing and relaxing respite (below, left).

At the end of the day, if you're in a romantic mood, take the elevator ride up to the 96th floor of the John Hancock building and spend some time in the Signature Lounge (no cover charge.) You can enjoy the city at your feet while you sip your favourite drink.

There's so much more to see and do in Chicago.
Here are some additional links:

The City of Chicago's official tourism site.
See also Choose Chicago (nice photos) and
Chicago on Wikipedia

Related in Zanepost:
Frank Lloyd Wright tour

Photos by P and RZ
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