Photo: Wright Way Photography
The Ultimate Chicago Checklist
Visiting Chicago means that you have access to some of the country's most recognizable attractions. Print this ultimate checklist for a roadmap to the city's iconic highlights — from the "Bean" and beyond.
1. The "Bean"
Anish Kapoor's famous Cloud Gate sculpture — called the "Bean" by locals — is a popular, mind-bending installation in Millennium Park. The 110-ton (yes, ton) structure is made of seamless stainless steel, perfect for reflecting Chicago's stunning skyline in its smooth arches. Wander beneath the Bean, around its mirrored plates, close to its cool exterior and all around the plaza to snap photo after photo of playful memories.
2. Buckingham Fountain
The centerpiece of Grant Park, the enormous Buckingham Fountain offers visitors a dazzling music-, light- and water-show each summer evening. Beginning at dusk, each hour, the major jet sprays water 150 feet from the ground for 20 minutes, accompanied by sparkling lights and sounds that sweeten the show.
3. The Chicago Theater District
In the Loop, brightly lit marquees — like the iconic C-H-I-C-A-G-O marquee of The Chicago Theatre — mark your arrival within the city's famous theater district. Here, you'll find incredible offerings from organizations like Broadway in Chicago throughout theaters like the Cadillac Palace Theatre (inspired by the palaces of Fontainebleau and Versailles) and the Oriental Theater (a virtual museum of Asian art). It's a true show-stopper.
4. Navy Pier Ferris Wheel
Modeled after the very first Ferris wheel (which was built for Chicago's 1893 World's Columbian Exposition), the Navy Pier Ferris wheel stands 150 feet tall and provides unparalleled views of the Chicago skyline and lakefront. Take the seven-minute ride in one of the Ferris wheel's gondolas and get a glimpse of the city you won't get anywhere else.
5. Willis Tower
The Willis Tower isn't just a Chicago icon; it's also the tallest building in the entire Western Hemisphere. For incredible views of the Chicago skyline — named Best Skyline in America by Travel + Leisure readers — take your sightseeing to new heights … literally. The view from this building's The Ledge at Skydeck Chicago puts you on top of an all-glass encasement more than 100 stories above the bustling streets.
6. The Magnificent Mile
Far and wide, Chicago is a shopper's seventh heaven. A walk down The Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue reveals hundreds of high-end stores and retailers, from Tiffany & Co. to Topshop, not to mention department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue. Shop your favorites or simply walk up and down the Avenue, home to recognizable landmarks like the Water Tower and Pumping Station, John Hancock Center, Tribune Tower and Wrigley Building, plus world-class restaurants like NoMI Kitchen and Spiaggia.
7. Sue, the T. Rex at The Field Museum
A 40.5-foot T. rex leans forward as if to pounce on passersby. Luckily for The Field Museum visitors, the 3,922-pound skeleton hasn't moved on its own in 67 million years. The world's largest and most complete T. rex ever found, named Sue, is just one of the Field's 24 million extraordinary specimens on rotating display.
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