In most places in the country, voting is looked upon as a right and a duty, but in Chicago it’s a sport. In Chicago not only your vote counts, but all kinds of other votes — kids, dead folks, and so on.
– Dick Gregory, Civil rights activist
Things to know before you go
- Best time to visit is in the Spring and Fall: April, May, September, October
- Worst time to visit is in the Winter and Summer. It’s either very cold or very hot: January, February, March, June, July, August, November, December
- Chicago is 3rd largest city in US by population (behind NYC and LA)
- Chicago has a flag – read about it on Wikipedia
- Chicago has a large Polish population
- Chicago has many really tall buildings. The boat architecture tour is a great way to get introduced to all the incredible architecture of Chicago. But there are 2 tall buildings that appear on tourist maps more than others. Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) which has the Skydeck observation deck and the John Hancock Center which has the 360 Chicago observation deck. You can buy tickets and get to the observation decks of both these buildings. Willis tower is taller than the John Hancock Center. The Willis Tower’s Skydeck is located on the 103rd floor, 1353 feet off of street-level below. The John Hancock Center’s 360 Chicago observation deck is located on the 94th floor, 1030 feet off of street-level below.
- Visit Wrigley Field – maybe catch a Cubs game
- River cruise architecture tour – Wendella Boats and Chicago’s First Lady are 2 popular options. Experience the boat architecture tour from home by watching this youtube video
- 360 Chicago Observation Deck in the John Hancock building – Located on the 94th floor of the historic John Hancock Center in the heart of downtown Chicago, 360 CHICAGO offers breathtaking views of the city and Lake Michigan. The “TILT” experience is alright, but it’s only $7, so might as well do it. You buy tickets for TILT at the observation deck, if you feel like it (don’t have to decide while you are on ground level)
- Sky Deck / Ledge in the Willis Tower – perched 103 floors and more than 1,353 ft over the city streets. The Willis Tower (built as and still commonly referred to as the Sears Tower), is a 108-story, 1,450-foot (442.1 m) skyscraper. At completion in 1973, it surpassed the World Trade Center towers in New York to become the tallest building in the world, a title it held for nearly 25 years and remained the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere until 2014.
- Visit the Field Museum of Natural History
- Visit the Tribune Tower building (435 North Michigan Ave, Chicago IL). This is a really unique building – the outside wall of the building has some real special, exotic rocks embedded into it. These rocks are from the most awesome and exotic places on earth – like The Great Pyramid, Great Wall of China, Taj Mahal, Parthenon, Angkor Wat, Colosseum, The Alamo, Abraham Lincoln’s Tomb, Petra, etc. You can walk around the outside of the building, right on the sidewalk and gaze at these rocks. Most rocks are actually accessible, and you can touch them, if you desire. There are 149 rocks at last count, with new rocks rarely added. Here’s a list (with pictures)
- Go to Millennium Park and see the Cloud Gate “Bean” sculpture – not very great, but you have to do it.
- Also in Millennium park, is the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. The structure is designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry – the same designer behind the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
- Visit the Chicago Cultural Center – be sure to see the TWO domes: The Tiffany dome and the Healy and Millet stained glass dome. The Tiffany Dome is on the south end of the building (toward Washington St) and the Healy and Millet stained glass dome is on the North end of the building (toward Randolph St)
- Visit the The Baha’i Temple – it is 1 of 8 dedicated Baha’i temples in the world – and the oldest surviving
- Visit the Picasso sculpture (Daley Plaza 50 W. Washington St. Chicago, IL 60602)
- Visit the Chicago Theater and partake in the Marquee Tour
- Walk / Shop / Eat The Magnificent Mile
- Ride the “L” (elevated rapid transit train)
- Visit the Navy Pier if you have time – but it is very lame. I would skip it if I was short on time.
- MUST Try Portillo’s Italian Beef sandwich with hot peppers
- London House Rooftop – good view of Chicago river and the bridges
- Cindy’s Rooftop Restaurant – this place has Fantastic panoramic views of Millennium park – reservations are required weeks in advance
- Right on the River
- City Winery
- Tiny Tapp
- Bridge House tavern
- Right by the River
- Chicago style Deep Dish Pizza is as bad as it looks. But if you have to try it, try it at Giordano’s or Lou Malnati’s
To Do for next time
- The Art Institute of Chicago
- Sears Tower / Willis Tower Skydeck
- Museum of Science and Industry
- National Museum of Mexican Art
Pictures taken with iPhone 6