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The Midwest’s number-one attraction is the place in Chicago for lakefront fun. Board a sightseeing or dinner cruise boat, and see a live performance at the outdoor Skyline Stage or acclaimed Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Dine at one of Navy Pier’s many boardwalk restaurants and browse the unique shops and stands (a great place to pick up a souvenir).
Skydeck Chicago - The Ledge
Step out and enjoy a view like you’ve never experienced before at Skydeck Chicago’s The Ledge. Located on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, the Ledge’s glass boxes jut out from the side of the skyscraper, offering unparalleled views of Chicago and four neighboring states.
Strap a mask and flippers onto your imagination and chart a course to Shedd Aquarium. Have you ever seen eye-to-eye with a dolphin? Said hello to a penguin on a stroll to the South Pole? Immersed yourself in a flooded Amazon forest? Or met a friendly beluga whale? You can do it all at Shedd! Photo courtesy of the John G. Shedd Aquarium
In the heart of the city you’ll find a state-of-the-art park designed for the new millennium. Discover the reflective Cloud Gate sculpture, the multimedia Crown Fountain and the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion, all with Chicago’s stunning architecture as a backdrop. The park is also host to many free cultural programs, concerts and family activities. Plus, there's alfresco dining in the summer and an ice skating rink in the winter.
The Field Museum
Discover Sue, the largest and most complete T. rex ever found! At the Field Museum you can also get a bug's-eye view in the Underground Adventure, descend into an Egyptian tomb, be dazzled in the Hall of Gems, come nose to nose with the infamous man-eating lions of Tsavo, and walk among dinosaurs in Evolving Planet.
Taste of Chicago
Taste of Chicago is the nation's premier outdoor food festival showcasing the diversity of Chicago's dining community. The delicious array of food served at Taste of Chicago is complemented by music and exciting activities for the entire family. Every summer since 1980, Chicago's beautiful Grant Park on the city's magnificent lakefront has been home to the world's largest food festival.
Lincoln Park Zoo
Located in the heart of the city, the free Lincoln Park Zoo features an impressive ape house, the Farm-in-the-Zoo, a charming children’s zoo, and rides on an old-fashioned carousel. Catch ZooLights during the holidays, when the zoo features glittering light displays and seasonal family activities. The zoo was one of the locales featured in the film Return to Me.
Museum of Science and Industry
A world of discovery awaits at the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere. Explore more than 800 exhibits, including the legendary U-505, a German submarine captured on the high seas during World War II; take off on a Boeing 727 airplane for a simulated cross-country flight; descend down a mineshaft for a tour of a realistic coal mine; and witness robots at work in a toy factory. Take a seat at the museum’s Omnimax Theater and watch awesome 3D flicks on a giant screen.
Kayak through canyons of skyscrapers and architectural wonders, or explore the waters just off beautiful Lake Michigan. Kayak Chicago is Chicago’s premier full-service outfitter, offering a variety of tours with certified instructors and guides. It’s a truly unique way to experience the urban landscape.
There's more than 200 beautifully landscaped acres to explore at Brookfield Zoo. Highlights include dolphin shows at Seven Seas, ape encounters at Tropic World and the chance for kids to dress up and play veterinarian at the Hamill Family Play Zoo. The zoo also offers an old-fashioned carousel and a wide variety of shopping and dining options.
Magnificent Mile Shopping
You'll find world-class shopping, dining, lodging and entertainment throughout the Magnificent Mile area. With four shopping centers, renowned boutiques and locally acclaimed designers, Chicago's Magnificent Mile area is a shopper's paradise. After you've shopped 'til you dropped, dine at one of our superb restaurants, see Chicago's famous skyline from the John Hancock Observatory, or catch a show at an area theater.
Broadway in Chicago
Broadway In Chicago presents the hottest shows in Chicago's bustling Downtown Theater District. On the stages of the Oriental Theatre, Cadillac Palace Theatre, Bank of America Theatre, Auditorium Theatre and Broadway Playhouse, you will discover theater productions direct from Broadway, along with world premieres.
Chicago's First Lady Cruises
Join us on Chicago's #1 architecture tour! Only the Chicago Architecture Foundation and Chicago's First Lady Cruises can showcase Chicago's world renowned city architecture with style, class and comfort. Learn about the architecture and design of over 50 buildings as described by CAF-certified Volunteer Docents/Guides. Don't settle for imitations, look for the CAF logo. Cruises depart daily. Open-air and air-conditioned seating is available. Full Service Bar onboard each vessel. Cruising April - November. Visit our website for full schedule. For a truly unique CAF Cruise experience, join us for our specialty river cruise experiences, including: Capture Chicago Photography Cruise, summer Saturday and Sunday mornings at 9am; Twilight Cruise, summer Thursday, Friday and Sunday evenings at 7:30pm; American Girl Dinner + River Cruise, select summer afternoon and evenings. For more information, visit www.cruisechicago.com/architecture_tours and view our "NEW for 2014" tab.
Art Institute of Chicago
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, Edward Hopper's “Nighthawks” and more. Renowned for its rare master works, at The Art Institute visitors can experience one of the world’s most notable collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art. With the addition of its Modern Wing, the museum now features an impressive showcase for its contemporary artworks.
The Morton Arboretum
Magnificent, 1,700-acre museum of trees and plants from around the world. Hiking trails, paved roads, restaurant, gift shop, open-air tram and handicapped accessible facilities.
Fashion Outlets of Chicago
The new Fashion Outlets of Chicago is an unparalleled shopping environment, where fashion meets art and fine dining! Shop over 130 designer outlets, including Tory Burch, Coach, Prada, Bloomingdales The Outlet Store and Last Call by Neiman Marcus. Located just minutes from O’Hare International Airport.
Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
Kick off the holiday season and create your special memories on The Magnificent Mile in 2014! The BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, the nation’s largest evening holiday celebration, jump starts the holiday season on Saturday, November 22 with a full day of family friendly activities, concerts by top musical artists and the best holiday shopping. The day’s excitement culminates with a grand evening parade down Michigan Avenue marshaled by Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse from Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, illuminating one million lights on 200 trees. The parade concludes with a grand finale fireworks show over the Chicago River.
360 Chicago - TILT
360 Chicago's (formerly John Hancock Observatory) epic new attraction that will forever change the way visitors see Chicago. TILT debuts in the spring of 2014, providing the ultimate window to the Windy City. A one-of-a-kind experience, TILT is an enclosed, glass and steel moveable platform that holds up to eight visitors per cycle. Once safely situated inside, the platform slowly tilts outward to an adventurous angle, generating downward-facing views of Chicago – from one thousand feet above The Magnificent Mile®. TILT gives thrill-seekers an exciting and safe way to take in unsurpassable views of the city, from a never-before-seen angle. Check website for opening dates and hours.
Family entertainment center featuring Illinois' largest indoor roller coaster, go-karts, bumper cars, Tilt-A-Whirl, bowling, and hundreds of video and redemption games.
A cruise aboard Odyssey lets you see Chicago from a whole new perspective. You’ll enjoy a three-course, locally-sourced menu, upscale DJ entertainment, a sophisticated ambiance and breathtaking skyline views. Cruise with Odyssey for a brunch, lunch, dinner or specialty cruise, or consider Odyssey for your next group event.
Water Tower Place
At the pinnacle of Chicago's famed Magnificent Mile, Water Tower Place is Chicago's premier shopping destination. Its stunning eight-level atrium features more than 100 of your favorite stores and restaurants plus a mix of distinctive specialty shops and boutiques. It offers a unique, high-energy urban shopping experience you simply won't find anywhere else in the city. In short, Water Tower Place is the place to shop.
Chicago Public Beaches
Chicago’s 26 miles of lakefront and beaches are free and open to residents and visitors alike. In fact, they were foremost in Daniel Burham’s plan to make Chicago’s lakefront and beaches always open and unobstructed for the public to enjoy. And to this day, you can see that his vision is still alive and well, from the joggers and volleyball players to the swimmers and sail boaters who take to the lakefront every day. Of course, admission is free.
Tall Ship Windy
Navy Pier's resident 148-foot, four-masted schooner pays tribute to the Great Lakes' rich maritime heritage during a variety of cruises each day.
The Chicago Riverwalk trail in downtown Chicago is an easy way to experience the vibrant city while exploring some of its more nature-oriented offerings. This trail is rated as easy, and will take you only 2.5 hours or 4.2 miles round-trip to complete.