EAT CHICAGO CLASSIC FOODS –
· Eat Chicago-style pizza…deep dish! Piping hot and oozing with cheese, with a thick tall golden pastry-like crust, abundantly topped with mozzarella cheese, chunky tomato sauce, and baked to perfection in under an hour. Try these tried and true favs: Lou Malnati’s, Giordano’s, Pequod's, Pizzeria Uno and Pizzeria Due.
· Stack seven toppings on a hot dog…the Chicagoan way! (All-beef hot dog on a steamed poppy seed bun, topped with yellow mustard, relish, tomato wedges, chopped onions, a pickle spear, hot peppers and celery salt) TIP: In Chicago, remember don’t order ketchup on your hot dog! Order up here: Portillo’s, The Wiener’s Circle, SuperDawg, and George’s Hot Dogs.
· Master the Italian stance as you sink your teeth into an Italian Beef sandwich, a historic icon and Chicago specialty. Thin slices of seasoned roast beef overflowing out of a long Italian roll dripping with juice, order it either hot (with giardiniera peppers) or sweet (with sweet peppers); dipped wet (a quick dunk), juicy (wetter), or soaked (even wetter!). Al’s Beef in Little Italy claims to be the inventor of the sandwich and has won countless awards since its founding in 1938, like being named on the best Sandwiches in America by Esquire and Top 10 Sandwiches in America by Travel + Leisure. Another popular place is Mr. Beef on Orleans. Big on flavor, quick on service (order fast), bring cash and a big appetite.
· Taste a Chicago tradition for more than 50 years, said to have been many last meal requests, deemed a good remedy for a hangover, and a stop for several past U.S. Presidents and Politicians who visit the city. A legendary cafeteria style diner to lunch on a Rueben or beef pastrami, Manny’s Cafeteria and Delicatessen.
· Devour handfuls of the caramel-and-cheese mix from world famous Garrett Popcorn Shop.
· Tackle and devour a prime cut at Chicago’s top steakhouses.
· Savor a delicious colorful scoop of summer – Chicago’s own Original Rainbow Cone.
EXPERIENCE CHICAGO’S CULTURE –
· Gaze up at a Titanosaur, the largest land creature known to man, at The Field Museum. Don't forget to say hi to SUE, the most complete and best preserved T-Rex ever discovered. The Field Museum of Natural History – Since 1921, a State-of-the-Art Science Museum with the world’s largest Tyrannosaurus Rex. 1400 S Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, IL 60605; (312) 922-9410.
· Meander the Art Institute of Chicago, Ferris Bueller-style to see the largest collection of Impressionist art outside the Louvre. Don’t miss the photo op next to the famous Lion Statues at Art Institute of Chicago – Founded in 1879 and located in Grant’s Park, one of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States. Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60603; (312) 443-3600.
· Watch rare and local aquatic creatures in stunning habitats at the Shedd Aquarium, which opened in 1930, famous for its 5-million-gallon state of the art indoor public aquarium, variety of habitat & views of Lake Michigan. Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, IL 60605; (312) 939-2438.
· Marvel at the wonders of the universe at Adler Planetarium, the first planetarium in the Western Hemisphere. Founded in 1930 by Chicago business leader Max Adler, a public museum dedicated to astronomy and astrophysics with high-tech exhibits & shows, and magnificent lakefront views. Bonus: photo op! Take in the Chicago Skyline from the Adler Planetarium 1300 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, IL 60605; (312) 922-7827.
EXPLORE THE CITY SIGHTS & LANDMARKS –
· Take in "landscape art under glass" at Garfield Park Conservatory, one of the largest conservatory's in the country. Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N Central Park Ave., Chicago, IL 60624; (773) 638-1766. Free Admission.
· Watch a light and water show on summer nights at Buckingham Fountain (jets shoot to a height of 150 feet!) Buckingham Fountain – A Chicago Landmark in the center of Grant Park dedicated in 1927, it is one of the largest in the world. Built in a rococo wedding cake style and inspired by the Latona Fountain at the Palace of Versailles, France. Free.
· Stand outside one of the world's tallest buildings at The Ledge, an all-glass balcony at Willis Tower's Skydeck Chicago. The Ledge at Skydeck Chicago – Iconic 110-story skyscraper featuring panoramic expansive views of Chicago extending to four states, from its 103rd story Skydeck with clear observations boxes. Skydeck Chicago/Willis Tower 233 S. Wacker Dr., Chicago, IL 60606; (312) 875-9696.
· Catch a game, take a tour, or take a pic at the marquee at Wrigley Field – Iconic Wrigley field is one of Chicago’s most storied landmarks with its retro-charm of its ivy-covered walls and manual scoreboard that millions of baseballs fan visit each year. Home of the Chicago Cubs, first opened in 1914, it is the 2nd oldest baseball stadium. Wrigley Field - 1060 W. Addison St., Chicago, IL 60613; (773) 404-2827.
· Enjoy some laughs at Second City – The most famous comedy venue and full-time training ground for Saturday Night Live. Every night live since 1959! Some of its famous alum include some big-name entertainers and comedians like John Belushi, John Candy, Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, Bill Murray, Martin Short, Steve Carell, Mike Meyers, Stephen Colbert, and Tina Fey, just to name a few. Second City, 1616 N. Wells St., Chicago, IL 60612; (312) 455-4000.
· Amaze at the fireworks and at a 196-foot Ferris wheel that rule the skies at Navy Pier all year round. Centennial Wheel, the Ferris Wheel located at Navy Pier – A former naval ship dock and training center transformed into lakefront playground with a 3,300-foot-long pier on the Chicago shoreline of Lake Michigan. Destination with carnival rides, restaurants, shops & fireworks. Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL 60611; (312) 595-5300.
· You'll recognize this one. Cloud Gate (a.k.a. the “Bean”), it's the iconic, bean-shaped huge sculpture in Millennium Park that mirrors and distorts the surrounding Chicago skyline. When people see this selfie, they'll know you're in Chicago. Millennium Park, 201 E Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60602. Free.
· Grant Park – Grant Park is a sprawling stretch of 319-acre land often called “Chicago’s front yard”, hugged by Lake Michigan to the east and the Loop District in the other directions, it houses many cultural landmarks including Millennium Park, Buckingham Fountain, and the Art Institute of Chicago. The park is host to many large-scale events and festivals like Lollapalooza and Taste of Chicago. Grant Park, 301 S. Columbus Dr., Chicago, IL 60605; (312) 742-3918. Free.
· Stroll along Magnificent Mile – Chicago’s premier commercial district. Vibrant bustling area home to upscale shops, luxe fashion outlets, cool restaurants, and posh hotels. Landmarks include the historic Chicago Water Tower, the neo-Gothic Tribune Tower, the terra cotta Wrigley Building skyscraper and the 100-story John Hancock Center, which has a rooftop observation deck with fine dining and panoramic city views. Magnificent Mile Association, 625 North Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.
· Walk, Run, or Ride along “The 606”, The Bloomingdale Line, an elevated railroad, now greenway recreational trail and park, running east – west on the northwest side of Chicago. Free.
· See Chicago's most iconic architecture from the water on an architecture boat cruise (TripAdvisor users ranked the Chicago Architecture Foundation Center River Cruise as Chicago's #1 tour!).
· Soak up the outdoors at the Chicago Riverwalk - An outdoor wine garden, fishing, kayaking and more — Eat, drink, play and explore a waterside wine patio, pier fishing, kayaking and more along the Riverwalk’s lush 1.25-mile pedestrian stretch, which runs along the south bank of the Chicago River from Lake Shore Drive to Lake Street.
· Indulge in a little more sun and some pristine stretches of sand along Lake Michigan at a few of Chicago’s best beaches: North Avenue Beach, a people watching haven, conveniently located next to the Lakeshore path for running, biking and rollerblading. Oak Street Beach a short stroll from Magnificent Mile, enjoy a game of beach volleyball, frolic in the water, or build a sand castle, all while enjoying the city skyline.