Chicago's hospitality industry is filled with new openings, renovations and developments that make Chicago the global visitor destination that it is. Following is a sampling of these new developments, attractions and restaurants:
The 334-room Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago, located on the first 18 floors of the architecturally acclaimed 81-story Aqua Tower, opened November. 1, 2011. Public spaces pay homage to the city of Chicago with such elements as an eye-catching lobby wall that features backlit glass bricks symbolic of the Chicago skyline witnessed from a distance; steelwork that recalls the city's reputation as the birthplace of the modern skyscraper; reclaimed bricks, wood and steelwork - supporting Carlson's commitment to responsible business; and in the Filini bistro, mosaic flooring that echoes the design of grates used by the city to protect young trees.
Ian Schrager's PUBLIC Chicago is a transformation of the fabled 285-room Chicago institution, The Ambassador East, built in 1926. In its hey-day, this esteemed hotel and its world famous restaurant, The Pump Room, played host to celebrities and people from all over the world. The original Pump Room opened on October 1, 1938. The re-imagined and re-invented new Pump Room opened October 12, 2011, 73 years later nearly to the day. Schrager has opted for a restrained, refined and classically cool approach to design. It is a new simplicity-a "sincere chic" that is tasteful and understated without attitude, where quality and comfort are paramount. The spacious, oversized guest rooms and suites (some with spacious outdoor terraces and gardens), as well as all of the public spaces, possess an enduring look and exemplify this "sincere chic."
Broadway in Chicago productions on legendary downtown stages include mega-hits straight from Broadway and world premieres.
Winner of four 2011 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Memphis - at Cadillac Palace Theatre - explodes with dancing and irresistible songs in this thrilling tale of fame and forbidden love in the underground dance clubs of 1950s Memphis, Tennessee.
In Come Fly Away - the new Broadway show at Bank of America Theatre which blends the music of Frank Sinatra and an on stage big band with the creative vision of Twyla Tharp - 15 of the world's best dancers tell the story of four couples falling in and out of love.
Based on the popular book, Love, Loss & What I Wore features a rotating cast of stars who use clothing, accessories, and the memories they trigger to tell funny and often poignant stories on the stage of the new Broadway Playhouse on the north side of Water Tower Place.
High-flying Mary Poppins returns to fill Cadillac Palace Theatre with its irresistible story, unforgettable songs, breathtaking dance numbers, and spectacular stage-craft and dazzle audiences of all ages.
Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting at Lookingglass Theatre Company. Baseball's Opening Day is one week away, and Branch Rickey, General Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, will call up Jackie Robinson to break the color-barrier and play as the Major League's first black ballplayer. Begins January 4, 2012
Million Dollar Quartet continues to delight audiences at The Apollo Theatre by recreating the one unforgettable night in 1956 that legendary rock N' roll icons Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Elvis Presley came together for a recording session.
At the Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning Goodman Theatre, Race, by Pulitzer Prize winner David Mamet ruthlessly examines guilt and oppression via a compelling crime mystery.
On stage at Steppenwolf Theatre Company - Penelope, the newest play by powerhouse Irish playwright Enda Walsh, is an eloquent, wildly funny riff on life, love and the war at home.
The Second City offers a thought-provoking, irreverent and hilarious new show, South Side of Heaven, that explores the many fates that propel our world and universe. From the cultural divide between Cubs and White Sox fans to the delicate distinction between dancing and stripping, South Side of Heaven rejoices in the earthly and ethereal. A President, an outgoing Mayor and a creepy TSA agent are all just part of the natural flow of South Side of Heaven.
Confirming that Chicago is one of the world's finest dining destinations, the first-ever Michelin Guide Chicago offers a new way to find the city's culinary stars! This handbook identifies three-star restaurants Alinea and L20 and two-star restaurants Avenues, Charlie Trotter's and Ria. It's valuable for navigating the 18 restaurants whose one-star rating identifies eateries which offer "cuisine consistently prepared to a high standard." And it also notes the 46 eateries recognized as Bib Gourmand restaurants - defined as "Inspector's Favorites for Good Value" - denoting high-quality restaurants that serve two courses and either dessert or wine (minus tax and gratuity) for less than $40.
Saluting the city's standout breakfasts - only in Chicago did Michelin inspectors recognize breakfast as a meal type - the Guide showcases Breakfast Specialists. Also included are 109 under-$25 restaurants, neighborhood specialty spots, and food and wine events.
Crowds flocking to the extraordinary new BODY WORLDS & The Cycle of Life exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry are seeing firsthand what happens inside humans throughout the life cycle. More than 200 plastinates - actual specimens preserved through a process pioneered by Dr. Gunther von Hagens - show the human body throughout the arc of aging and from healthy conditions to distress to disease. The exhibit which runs through September 5 at MSI, the western hemisphere's largest science museum, also explores conception and pre-natal development; sight and vision, including the vision challenges faced by artists Claude Monet and Edgar Degas; and what scientists know about the world's oldest living people.
Chagall's America Windows - one of the most beloved works in the vast collection at The Art Institute of Chicago - is back and taking centerstage in a new presentation at the east end of the Arthur Rubloff building following an intensive five-year period of restoration and archival research.
Adler Planetarium unveiled its renovated Sky Theater in 2011. The new theater's first show will engage visitors in a thrilling space adventure that showcases the new theater's leading edge technologies, theater quality sound, and custom special effects.
Chicago has no shortage of events to explore throughout the year...
Winter WonderFest - experience the winter season inside 170,000 square feet of family-friendly holiday fun. December 12, 2011- January 8, 2012.
Chicago Boat, Sports & RV Show - Envision yourself in the middle of summer: The Midwest's largest sports show is a one-stop shop for everything boating and RV. January 12 - 16, 2012
Chicago Auto Show - The Chicago Auto Show is the largest of its kind in North America and the longest-running auto show in the world. The 104th show will feature a total of 1,000 vehicles, including world introductions, experimental and concept cars, and antique and collector cars. February 10-19, 2012
Not to miss... Chicago Restaurant Week, Chicago's celebration as a world-class dining destination February 17-26, 2012. Chicago's most celebrated chefs will return to the kitchen with more spice an bigger flavors infused into three-course, prix fixe lunches and dinners. A showcase of Chicago's finest culinary talents, Restaurant Week 2012 will remind diners why the Michelin Guide, Saveur and more consider Chicago "America's new culinary star."
Chicago Flower & Garden Show - Get a summer infusion. This year's "Hort Couture" theme will showcase more than 25 vibrant gardens inspired by fabric textures and colors. March 10-18, 2012
St. Patrick's Day Parade/Dyeing of the Chicago River - Irish heritage is toasted with a grand spectacle every St. Patrick's Day. As part of a more than 40-year tradition, the Chicago River goes green as 25 pounds of dye colors the water a bright Kelly green between Columbus and Wacker Drives. The festivities continue as revelers parade along Columbus Drive. March 17, 2012