I love Chicago! There's tons of stuff to do and see, It's easily accessible to me, and mostly I feel like a different person when I'm there. Something about the big city appeals to me. I guess it's the fast pace of life and the fact that I can strap on my most comfy shoes and walk all over the center of the city. After all the best way to explore a city is on foot.
So for any of you that have never been to the Windy City and want ideas on the best things to do while there, I've made a list of my top 5 things I like to do when I'm in Chicago. I've been there several times and I'll admit I haven't done it all, but of all the things I have done these are my favorite. Keep in mind these are not in any particular order.
1). The 90 minute Architectural boat tour. There are a few of these, but I have done the one by Wendella Boat Tours every time. It truly is a must do for the first time visitor. It gives you a little orientation of the city. The information provided by the guides is interesting and the plus to doing the 90 minute tour is you go out into Lake Michigan for a great view of the Chicago skyline.
2). The view from the 360 Chicago Observation Deck at the top of the John Hancock building. In my opinion this is the best place to take in a sweeping view of Chicago and beyond.
3). Visiting the animals at the Lincoln Park Zoo. A short bus ride form the center of the city in the Lincoln Park neighborhood is the free Lincoln Park Zoo. I was incredibly impressed with this zoo. It's the perfect size and perfect for the kiddos. What's my favorite thing there? Hands down watching the Meerkats play is a treat. They always bring a smile to my face cause they are so darn cute!
4). Art Institute Of Chicago. If you love art you have to go to the Art Institute. The special expeditions are always changing, so there is something new to see. I am especially waiting for the special Van Gogh 3 Bedrooms exhibit that will begin in February and run through May.
5). Millenium Park. After (or before) visiting the Art Institute, as long as you are in the neighborhood, take a stroll through Millenium Park. An oasis in the middle of the city, the park always has something going on. Visit Cloud Gate (aka the bean), the Crown Fountain, and Lurie Garden in the summer. In the winter you can lace up your skates and take a spin at the McCormic Tribune Ice Rink.
6). Shopping alone the Magnificent Mile and State Street. Ok I know I said my top 5 things, but I cannot leave out something for those of us who love to shop! Really, Michigan Avenue is world famous for shopping and I love the mix of designer stores on the North end, but I love State Street shopping just as much. Most people think that shopping downtown is not for the budget conscience, but really with the great mix of discount retailers such as TJ Maxx and Nordstrom Rack, you really can find a bargain! I know, because while I do splurge once in a while, I am always looking for the biggest bang for my buck. There's something for everyone on these 2 streets.
I hope this helps those of you that are going to Chicago for the first time, or maybe you've been before but never seen something on my list. Chicago is a great city to visit with world class theater, eating, sporting events, shopping, and art. Put Chicago on you list of places to visit and you will not be sorry. Oh, and don't forget to find one of the many Garrett Popcorn shops throughout the city and go stand in line to pick up some of that famous Chicago mix. After all, you need some refueling after all that shopping!!