Chicago, Illinois is without a doubt, one of the most popular and exciting vacation spots in all of North America. Forbes magazine states that Chicago’s Navy Pier is the tenth most visited tourist attraction in the United States of America, making it more popular than both Hawaii’s famous Waikiki Beach and the Grand Canyon in Arizona! Overall, over 45 million people visit the Windy City per year.
While rides, entertainment, exhibits and the overall family fun atmosphere of the Navy Pier are a top pull, there are plenty of other options to keep you busy during your stay to Chicago.
Rising 1,454 feet over the downtown area, the Willis Tower just may be Chicago’s most noticeable sight and a popular tourist destination in its own right. Previously called the Sears Tower, it stands 110 stories tall – making it the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Tourists to the Willis Tower can take a short elevator ride up to the 103rd floor sky deck. The famous skyscraper is positioned near the famous Chicago River in the heart of the “Loop” area and is within close proximity to several of the many Chicago hotels downtown. The views of sunsets from the top of the Willis Tower are incredible, so be sure to take advantage of this speedy elevator ride. (It closes at 8 p.m during the winter, and 10 p.m. in the summer).
For the more refined, or those who just appreciate true beauty, the Art Institute of Chicago stands out as another of Chicago’s most preferred destinations. Located in beautiful Grant Park, it’s home to many world-famous paintings, including works by artists such as Andy Warhol. It’s also world-renowned for its number of impressionist works.
Of course, a trip to the Windy City wouldn’t be complete without diving into one of area’s famous Chicago culinary dishes. From elegant, five-star gourmet restaurants offering the catch of the day, to a slice of the World-famous Chicago-style pizza, to a good old-fashioned Chicago hot dog, you should make it a point to experience an authentic taste of the second city.
Don’t spend all your money on food though. You’ll require it for the incredible number of shopping options available to you at the Magnificent Mile. Officially referred to as Michigan Avenue, the Magnificent Mile, is a stretch of higher-end shops, including Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Stuart Weitzman and more. Classy nightclubs, and fine dining establishments are plentiful along the Magnificent Mile, and they’ll keep you refreshed during those marathon shopping excursions. There are also a variety of museums and architecturally stunning skyscrapers along the boulevard, including the John Hancock Center and the Wrigley Building.
For sports fans, Chicago’s sports history is legendary, with classic stadiums that include Wrigley Field, the United Center (home to Michael Jordan’s famous exploits), and Soldier Field. Soldier Field, the home of the Bears, is a mix of old-school feel and modern architecture, and this unique stadium sits directly on the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Just north of Soldier Field sits the Field Museum, probably the most prestigious museums within the entire planet.