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Top Places in Chicago to Visit
Chicago is a world-class city located on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan. It is a great place for a family vacation. There is an innumerable amount of things to do there. Chicago is home to the tallest building in the United States, famous museums, and so much more. Let us look at the best places in Chicago to visit.
Willis Tower (Formerly Sears Tower)
Another famous attraction in Chicago is the Willis Tower, the tallest building in the United States. It was the tallest building in the world until 1998. The building itself stands at 1,450 feet; however, the antennas on its roof extend the height of the building to 1,729 feet. Visitors are encouraged to check out the Sky Deck on the 103rd floor. They do charge an admission fee to go up there, but it is definitely worth it. The elevator ride takes one minute to go all the way to the top. Once you arrive at the top, there are ample windows that allow visitors to view the beautiful Chicago skyline. On a clear day, you can see into four states from the Sky Deck (Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan). As you work your way around to the west side of the building, you can walk out on several all glass ledges that allow you to see just how high you really are. They are a great place for taking picture. One tip if you plan to buy souvenirs, there is a gift shop on the Sky Deck, but also a large one when you go back down to the bottom.
Navy Pier is one of the great places in Chicago to visit. It is on an actual pier that juts out in to beautiful Lake Michigan. It is an amazing place to walk and enjoy the views of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan in the summer. You can take several different types of cruises and boat rides from the pier. One of the first things that you will notice as you approach Navy Pier is the 150-foot tall Ferris wheel. The Chicago children’s museum is located inside along with opportunities to shop and eat. Navy Pier is host to many events throughout the year. During the summer months, Navy Pier has fireworks every Wednesday and Saturday nights. Around Christmas time, they offer a beautiful and fun winter wonderland with rides, ice-skating, and much more. My kids love it there.
Wrigley Field is one of the most famous places in Chicago. It is home to the Chicago Cubs, also known as the loveable losers. Wrigley was built all the way back in 1914 and used to also be home to the Chicago Bears. Six years after the Cubs last won a world series. Wrigley was the last major league baseball field to add lights, which it did in 1988. It boasts ivory covered walls in the outfield along with a center field scoreboard that is operated manually. Game day in and around Wrigley Field is a truly great experience. It is a beautiful place to watch a baseball game.
The Shedd Aquarium is one of the top aquariums in the United States. It first opened its doors back in 1930. It is located on Chicago’s museum campus, which is right on the shore of Lake Michigan. The Shedd offers a huge circular tank that features a Caribbean Reef that is filled with all kinds of tropical fish, including stingrays, sharks, eels, and more. They have many more tanks focus on aquatic life all over the world. The Oceanarium is a must see. It contains dolphins, beluga whales, otters, and more. The huge windows in there overlook Lake Michigan.
Millennium Park is a great place to go to hear live music, see different kinds of art, hang out, and eat. It is also home to what Chicagoans call the “bean”, which is really named “Cloud Gate.” It reflects the Chicago skyline on one side. It is like a giant mirror. Another of the fun attractions is the Crown Fountain, which is made up of two 50-foot towers that project an image on each one and have water intermittently flowing out of it. This is a hotspot on hot summer days. Millennium Park is located just off of Michigan Avenue.
Grant Park is a large park that contains many different Chicago attractions including the Art Institute of Chicago, Buckingham Fountain, and the Museum Campus (Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, and Adler Planetarium). Grant Park is host to many festivals and concerts. The park has several miles of walking trails.
Museum of Science and Industry
The Museum of Science and Industry is my favorite museum in Chicago. This is one of the great places to visit with kids. There is so much for them to see and do there. The museum has many permanent exhibits such as the coalmine, submarine, and the Pioneer Zephyr. It also has several temporary exhibits that are only there on a limited basis. In 2012, they are featuring a Mythbusters exhibit that allows you to try your hand at confirming or busting myths. My favorite exhibit is the model train layout of Chicago. They really did a wonderful job with it.
Downtown Chicago Attractions
Chicago’s famous “Magnificent Mile” is a shopper’s paradise. It is full of upscale shopping along with restaurants, hotels, commercial buildings, and more. The Magnificent Mile runs along Michigan Avenue between the Chicago River and Oak Street. It also boasts some of the most famous buildings in Chicago including the John Hancock Center, Trump Tower, Water Tower Place, Palmolive Building, and the Drake Hotel. Around Christmas time, the Magnificent Mile is lit up with Christmas lights.
If you love cheese popcorn, you have to go to Garrett’s Popcorn Shop. They have the most amazing cheese popcorn that I have ever tasted. Garrett’s popcorn is a very popular gift for Christmas. The line to purchase it goes out the door.
This is only a small fraction of what Chicago has to offer. These are what I would consider the best of the best places to visit. The best way to get around downtown Chicago is to use public transportation or walking depending on the distance.