The New York City of America’s Midwest, not only is Chicago dynamic, but its residents are the most welcoming of any major American city—according to an analysis by Twitter. Historically home to some of the world’s most gifted individuals, its bustling business world, active community groups, and numerous universities have nurtured world-class museums, architecture, and a thriving cultural scene. Our three-day visit only scratched the city’s surface.
Architectural River Cruises
A melange of architectural styles, Chicago is home to many of the world’s first skyscrapers—with new construction constantly changing the city’s skyline. Proud of their city’s architectural prowess, the highly-trained volunteers of the Chicago Architecture Foundation, in partnership with Chicago’s First Lady Cruises, offer river cruises on the Chicago River. Sailing through the heart of the city on a sunny day—the city’s architectural splendour enveloping devotees—with a drink or camera in hand makes this the one organized tour through Chicago not to be missed.
Art Institute of Chicago
Who knew that art would be rated the number one attraction of 483 Things to do in Chicago by TripAdvisor. But it’s no surprise when the venue is the Art Institute of Chicago, which is home to one of the greatest art collections on Earth, and was voted the number one museum in the world by TripAdvisor. Housed in several buildings connected by a bridge, the collection covers five millennia of human art. So much art to see, so little time? No problem, because the museum provides a “don’t miss” list to every time-challenged art-lover.
Goose Island Brewpub
If you like craft beer you’ll love Chicago. With over 50 breweries, the choice is endless. Chicago’s oldest operating brewery is legendary Goose Island. Their Clybourn location houses both a brewery and pub with upscale fare based on seasonality. Goose Island has a team of 2-3 brewers who produce beers almost entirely for on-site consumption, to the tune of over 100 unique recipes a year, with at least one new beer premiering every week… Yum!
Oak Park, Home to Wright and Hemingway
Leafy suburbs are usually a big yawn, but not so Oak Park, which nurtured two of America’s greatest artists, Frank Lloyd Wright and Ernest Hemingway. Icons of architecture and literature, their early years come to life at Wright’s Home and Studio, and Hemingway’s Birthplace Home. With over a dozen Wright and Hemingway-related properties to see, pleasant Oak Park cafes and parks provide a respite for aficionados of both men.
Opened in 2004 (four years behind schedule) some things are worth waiting for… and Millennium Park is no exception. The futuristic Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion is the perfect venue for free summer concerts and festivals. Luck being with me, our visit coincided with the annual Chicago Jazz Festival, where a hot summer’s afternoon melted into an evening of cool jazz.
The Field Museum
Home to Kenya’s 1898 Tsavo Man-eaters and Sue, the largest and most complete T. Rex ever found, what is not to like about The Field Museum, whose collection spans 4.5 billion years and is backed by 26 million cultural and natural history artifacts. If man-eating lions aren’t your thing, then descending into an ancient Egyptian tomb might be. The possibilities are endless. Need a rest? Catch one of the five films playing, we caught the 3D – Galapagos.
Museum of Science and Industry
Americans do things just right when building major museums, and Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry—the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere—is no exception. Filled with amazing static and interactive displays, it’s the most diverse I’ve ever seen in a science museum. What blew me away was the massive hall, built to house a German Second World War submarine, the U-505, along with the Robot Revolution—an interactive, cutting-edge collection of robots from around the world.
All photos by Joseph Frey – All Rights Reserved