The city of Chicago recently celebrated its 180th birthday and with it, a fascinating look back at the Second City’s history and all there is to come. I visited Chicago with my husband over the spirited weekend of St. Patrick’s Day and already can’t wait to come back. They dye the river green for the occasion and it is such a sight to see! Chicagoans are truly passionate about their city and it’s not hard to see why. Delicious food, educational establishments featuring the city’s cultural history and arts and entertainment scene only scratch the surface of Chicago.
Our accommodations were at the Best Western River North (which received the 2017 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence) in the heart of the popular River North neighborhood. The hotel recently underwent a renovation and is modern and luxurious for such great value. General Manager Heidi Bitar noted that the hotel has partnerships in place with several of the museums, allowing guests to purchase the museum tickets at the hotel at a discounted price, going above and beyond for guests.
The weekend included a fine dining experience at the new Truluck’s Seafood, Steak and Crab House; the Chicago Chop House; an action packed Chicago Bulls game and one-of-a-kind experiences like the Chicago Food Planet’s Best in Chow Food Tour and The Ledge at Skydeck Chicago.
Read on to see why you should make the Windy City number one on your travel list.
Chicago is immortalized in tourist history by one image: the bean. Officially know as Cloud Gate, the mirrored bean sculpture is located in Millennium Park, a public park in the Loop area of Chicago. A centerpiece to the park is the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion, which is the backdrop for hundreds of free cultural programs including concerts, exhibitions, tours, and family activities.
Find Millennium Park at 201 E Randolph St.
Located at the top of the Sears Tower (renamed Willis Tower in 2009, but no local calls it that), it’s the best view of Chicago day or night. Thrill seekers can wait in line and step out onto The Ledge, a glass balcony hovering 103 stories above the air. On the way up, learn about the history of the tower and Chicago like the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and the origin of deep dish pizza.
Skydeck Chicago is located at 233 S Wacker Dr. Learn more at www.theskydeck.com.
The Shedd Aquarium features 80 habitats including some of the world’s most fascinating animals in Waters of the World. Learn about yearly flood cycles of the Amazon and get a diver’s eye view of a coral reef in the Philippines. Encounter beluga whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, sea lions and sea otters in the Abbot Oceanarium, which is a treat for the entire family.
The Shedd Aquarium is located at 1200 S Lake Shore Dr. For more information, call 312-939-2438 or visit www.sheddaquarium.org.
The Adler Planetarium
Founded in 1930 by Chicago business leader Max Adler, the Adler Planetarium is a public museum dedicated to the study of astronomy and astrophysics. With a variety of exhibits to explore and shows to see, learn about the sun, moon, stars, solar system and the great galaxy above, there’s something for everyone.
The Adler Planetarium is located at 1300 S Lake Shore Dr. Call 312-922-7827 for more information, or visit www.adlerplanetarium.org.
Also be sure to check out these great attractions:
Navy Pier (www.navypier.org), The Field Museum (www.fieldmuseum.org), Chicago Cultural Center (www.cityofchicago.org), Art Institute of Chicago (www.artic.edu), The Museum of Science and Industry (www.msichicago.org), Wrigley Field (www.mlb.com/cubs) and 360 Chicago Observation Deck (www.360chicago.com).
If you’re in Chicago for a decent amount of time and want to see all there is to offer, look into getting a CityPASS booklet, which allows you priority entry into much of the above with fast passes to cut lines and shorten wait times. Adult passes are $106 and children are $89. Visit www.citypass.com/chicago for more details.