....We took a boat tour of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. It’s a great way to see the city, especially if you can get on the architecture tour, which books up days in advance. Chicago’s been a big-time city for more than a hundred years, and in every age builders have left their mark. The Chicago Mercantile Building employs 30,000 people and has its own ZIP code. Another building is covered with enough glass, they say, to make a pair of sunglasses for everybody in the country.
Out on the lake, we cruised along Navy Pier, a massive wharf lined with shops and booths, a Ferris wheel, and an IMAX theatre. There aren’t many better people-watching spots than Navy Pier on a weekend. You can take a water taxi from there to the Field Museum, art museum, and the world-class Shedd Aquarium, where dolphins put on a show and beluga whales swim in a pool designed to look, from inside the aquarium, like it’s part of Lake Michigan....read more about things to do in Chicago
Grant Park, Chicago's "front yard", owes its current glory to two very different reasons. The first is the fact that it was a
landfill. After the Chicago Fire of 1871, ashes and rubble were
pushed into the park and expanded its boundaries into Lake
Michigan. In the years after its dedication as a public space
Grant Park was quickly losing ground due to erosion. The erection of two breakwaters and the "waste not, want not" use of the city's rubble increased the area to the size it is now.
The second is to Aaron Montgomery Ward's dedication to keeping the lakefront "free and clear". In 1835 and 1836 the area was deeded as a public square. When Daniel Burnham created his much-heralded Plan of Chicago he laid out drafts for a formal landscape with civic buildings. Mr. Ward took umbrage with that design. The original deed said that the area was to "Remain Forever Open, Clear and Free of Any Buildings, or Other Obstructions Whatever," and he was determined to keep it that way. After almost 20 years in court he got his wish....read more about Grant Park
Chicago's Must See Attractions
The allure of Chicago is completely understandable. Located in the middle of the country amongst corn fields and pressed up against Lake Michigan, this fast paced action packed city is full of excitement. The winters are cold, but the summers are hot and fun-filled. There is more to do in Chicago, than someone could possibly complete in a lifetime.
But, for those travelers interested in seeing some of Chicago’s favorite sites through its residents’ eyes, please read on.
Signature Room at Hancock Tower - The top of the Hancock Tower provides one of the most amazing views of Chicago around. The Sears Tower may be taller, but the Hancock is closer to the lake and offers views of the Sears Tower itself. Skip the observation deck and instead make a trip to the Signature Room. You might run into local Chicagoans during brunch when prices are quite reasonable. Drinks are similarly priced to other lounges, so a nightcap is always a fun option, but dinner will set you back quite a bit. The restaurant is actually one floor above the viewing deck so you can enjoy an amazing view while eating and drinking. Location: Michigan Ave
Chicago Blues and Jazz - Chicago has long been well known as home to some of the world’s best Blues and Jazz musicians. This fact became evident even to non-music lovers in the 70s and 80s with classic movies such as the Blues Brothers and Adventure in Babysitting. For music fans, a trip to Chicago is not complete without experiencing some good blues or jazz. There are a wide variety of blues clubs located on the South Side and Jazz clubs such as the Green Mill in uptown, which has said to be frequented by Al Capone and other Chicago notables. But, if you are in town, check out the Chicago Blues Fest held in early June. Other summer music festivals include the Chicago Jazz Festival, Chicago Gospel Music Festival, and more. Location: The Green Mill is located at 4802 N. Broadway Ave.
Tru Restaurant - Charlie Trotter’s restaurant has made a name for itself throughout the United States and the world as the best place for a multi-course tasting menu. But locals know that the knew up and coming restaurant to beat is Tru’s restaurant. A four party visit will involve up to 12 courses, with each member of the party receiving different selections. Wow! One imagines how the cooks can possibly keep up, but throughout your 3 hour meal, you will never be disappointed by the wait staff or the chef. Location: 696 N. St. Clair St.
Chicago Museum Tour - Chicago has some of the best museums in the country. The Art Institute has one of the most amazing and large collections in the world. Take a walk through the museum on a Tuesday, when admission is free (although donations are always recommended) and if you are a movie fan remember the walk by Ferris Bueller. But, the Art Institute isn’t the only great museum in Chicago. The Museum of Science and Industry is a great museum where you can actually walk through a sub, and of course the FieldMuseum home to the Sue the largest T-Rex skeleton in the world.
Chicago Architecture Tour - Chicago’s name in architecture, began in the 1800s and continues today. If you want to take a walk and see the great architecture of Chicago, there is more than a day’s worth of sites. You can begin with famous buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright (check out the Unity Temple at 875 Lake St) and Louis Sullivan (Visit his famous Carson Pirie Scott flagship on State St). The Monadnock, and Mies van der Rohe’s Post office are also well worth a visit. For some modern masterpieces, visit the Illinois Institute of Technology’s campus to see Mies’ Crown Hall, Rem Koolhaas’ Campus Center, and Helmut Jahn’s new Dorms. A visit to Millennium Park is also worth a trip, where you can see one of Gehry’s latest and soon Renzo Piano’s addition to the Art Institute.....read more about Chicago's Must See Attractions
Chicago's Tallest Buildings
The city of Chicago is famous for its skyscrapers, and this thriving metropolis is home to some of the tallest buildings in the country and the world. The world famous Chicago Sears Tower is currently the tallest building in the United States and the fifth tallest building in the world, rising an astonishing 1,451 feet into the Chicago sky. At 108 stories, the Sears Tower also holds the distinction as the building with the most floors in a completed building.
The Sears Tower also holds the distinction of being the tallest skyscraper in the world in terms of pinnacle height. The pinnacle height, including the antenna on its western side, is an amazing 1,730 feet.
A quick look around the Chicago skyline reveals that the Sears Tower is not the only tall building in town. Chicago boasts many skyscrapers that stretch far into the sky...read more about Chicago's Tallest Buildings
Chicago, a Children's Playground - 4 Chicago Attractions the Kids Will Love
Keeping the kids amused on a vacation is a pressing concern for any parent, grandparent, or caregiver. The key is to plan ahead and research the kid-specific activities a city has to offer. Chicago is a wonderful city to visit, especially if you have children. Chicago is home to some of America's finest museums, theater experiences, and has a long standing history with the Ferris wheel...read more about Chicago Attractions Kids will Love
There are many things to see and do in Chicago. Grant Park, situated on the edge of the Lake, and venue of the 1890 World’s Fair, is a site in itself, but also home to the Museum of Science and Industry, where you can enter a submarine, see dinosaur bones and discover what scientists are inventing for the future. The Museum of Science and Industry is the largest science museum in the Western hemisphere, and there is something to fascinate anyone from four to ninety-four.
Another unique Chicago experience is a tour of houses built by Frank Lloyd Wright. These are located throughout the city, with many in the suburb of Oak Park. They have weathered the test of time, and are lovely to look at and admire how they still feel livable and fit with their environment. Maps are available for a driving tour of the houses...read more »
Anderson Japanese Gardens
What better place to be on a sunny spring day than in a fertile garden surrounded by luxuriant plants and bubbling brooks. One such magic location is Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford., Illinois. As you enter the garden. all your senses are rewarded. A fresh earthy fragrance mingles with the sounds of a small tumbling stream and multi-shades of green greet you...read more »
Erlander Museum - Rockford Illinois
Rockford, Illinois has the third largest concentration of Swedish people per capita in the United States. Erlander Museum in Rockford preserves Rockford's Swedish roots. It's named for John Erlander and his daughter Mary. The Englander family is typical of many Swedish immigrants to Rockford. John emigrated from Sweden to Chicago, Illinois and then Rockford. He worked as a tailor and later opened a furniture store in partnership with other Swedish men...read more »
Tinker Swiss Cottage - Rockford Illinois
The history of Tinker Swiss Cottage plays out like a Victorian soap opera. The typical elements that would create a intricate soap opera are all present; unconventional December-May romance and a May-December one as well, poor boy making good, rich and famous adversary pitted against unknown entrepreneur, legal battles, huge inheritances, untimely death, and unconventional business dealings. Throw in a young man's trip to Switzerland and a honeymoon in Hawaii and what more could fans ask...read more »