Chicago Journals

Bill at home in CHICAGO - Activities

Best of IgoUgo

A travel journal to Chicago by billmoy

Chicago Cultural Center Photo, Chicago, Illinois More Photos
Quote: Chicago is a world-class city with many interesting activities and attractions. I am a lifelong resident of Chicago. I like to say that I have been around the world, but I still like returning home to my birthplace, Chicago.

Bill at home in CHICAGO - Activities

Best Of IgoUgo

Overview

Chicago Cultural Center Photo, Chicago, Illinois
Quote:
Admittedly, you will like Chicago more if you like urban centers and have a tolerance for unpredictable weather. The city offers a true American melting pot of cultures, foods, activities, music, etc. You can enjoy scenic boat tours along Lake Michigan or the Chicago River. Grant Park is Chicago's "backyard," hosting various musical fests and the annual blockbuster and gutbuster "Taste of Chicago." I have been a member of the Art Institute for 15 years, but there are other fine museums like the Museum of Contemporary Art, Terra Museum of American Art, Museum of Science and Industry, and the Big Three of the Museum Campus (Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium). Chicago is an ...Read More

Hancock Building Observatory

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Attraction | "John Hancock Center Observatory"

Hancock Building Observatory Photo, Chicago, Illinois
Quote:
While the Hancock Observatory is not the tallest one in Chicago (the Sears Tower owns that title), it is usually regarded as the one offering the best high-rise views of Chicago. This is because of its proximity to Lake Michigan and the landmarks of the Magnificent Mile. The 94th floor observatory also features a fairly new section called the Skywalk, billed as Chicago's highest open-air viewing deck a thousand feet above the Magnificent Mile. Unlike the former World Trade Center of New York, which had a rooftop observatory, you are still inside the Hancock. Still, it is a unique experience to be wind blown so high up in the air. For a few dollars extra, you can get a Sky Tours headset with aud...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 17, 2003

Hancock Building Observatory
875 North Michigan Ave.
Chicago, Illinois 60611
(312) 751-3681

Willis Tower (Sears Tower)

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Attraction | "Sears Tower Skydeck"

Willis Tower (Sears Tower) Photo, Chicago, Illinois
Quote:
The Sears Tower no longer has the official title as the world's tallest building (the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, have that designation now), but it is still the tallest building in North America (1450 feet not including the antenna towers; 110 stories). It also has Chicago's highest observatory at 1353 feet, though most agree that the views are nicer from the lower observatory at the John Hancock Center. Completed in 1973 and renovated in 1993, the Sears Tower was designed and engineered by Bruce Graham and Fazlur Khan of the architecture firm Skidmore Owings and Merrill, the same esteemed team that brought the John Hancock Center to Chicago's skyline. Conceptually, the plan of ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 17, 2003

Willis Tower (Sears Tower)
233 South Wacker Drive
Chicago 60606-8615
(312) 875-9447

Art Institute of Chicago

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Attraction

Art Institute of Chicago Photo, Chicago, Illinois
Quote:
This is the best all-around art museum in the city. I have been a member of the Art Institute since 1987. Someone asked me why I would want to look at the same paintings over and over again. I asked him if he liked a song, would he not want to hear it again and perhaps appreciate subtle nuances each time? After greeting the two lions standing guard at its main Michigan Avenue entrance, you can see quite a variety of art, including its impressive Impressionist collection. There is usually a special exhibit going on, with some that will require a special entry ticket. Tuesday is still the day for free admissions, but the late day is now on Thursdays when the museum closes at 8pm. The weekend crowd...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 17, 2003

Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Ave.
Chicago, Illinois 60603
(312) 443-3600

Chicago Cultural Center

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Attraction

Chicago Cultural Center Photo, Chicago, Illinois
Quote:
This luxurious building is an excellent place to start if you are a first-time visitor to Chicago. I recommend a stop at the Visitor Information Center on the north (along Randolph Street) side of the first floor. You can stock up on free maps and brochures here, and there are a few tables where you can plan your itinerary through the city. You can also arrange to ride the free Loop tour train that starts here during the weekends, or take walking tours of the building itself or the city. The Beaux-Arts-style landmark, which calls itself the "Architectural Showplace for the Lively and Visual Arts," does live up to its billing as a cultural center. While I would not rate it as highly as the great ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 17, 2003

Chicago Cultural Center
78 East Washington St
Chicago, Illinois 60601
+1 312 744 6630

Museum of Contemporary Art

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Attraction

Museum of Contemporary Art Photo, Chicago, Illinois
Quote:
While most people believe the Art Institute of Chicago is the city''s best art museum, some feel the MCA is a more cutting-edge establishment with a certain urban-slanted attitude that may be just right for Chicago. Designed by the German architect Josef Paul Kleihues, it opened on June 21, 1996, as a replacement for the much-smaller MCA on East Ontario Street. Because of its birth date (which is shared by the author), it holds an annual "Summer Solstice" event with all-night entertainment and festivities that include music, performances, and food. The MCA''s permanent collection includes works by Alexander Calder, Sol LeWit, Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, and Ed Paschke. While the perm...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 17, 2003

Museum of Contemporary Art
220 East Chicago Ave
Chicago, Illinois 60611
+1 312 280 2660

Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum

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Attraction | "Adler Planetarium"

Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum Photo, Chicago, Illinois
Quote:
The Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum may be the least flashy of the Big Three of the Museum Campus, but the venerable institution is still known as the first planetarium built in the Western Hemisphere. Architect Ernest Grunsfeld, Jr. garnered awards for this 1930 design, thanks to its understated classic simplicity. Its twelve-sided block features red and black granite and a carved detail of a zodiac sign at each corner. The original building is now skirted on its eastern flank with a modern glass addition, which has a few fun interactive displays as also serves as a dramatic setting for receptions. The Adler has two full-size planetarium theaters, with interesting programs that are a ter...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 23, 2003

Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum
1300 South Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, Illinois 60605
(312) 922-7827

John G. Shedd Aquarium

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Attraction | "Shedd Aquarium"

John G. Shedd Aquarium Photo, Chicago, Illinois
Quote:
Acclaimed as the "world's largest indoor aquarium", the Shedd has over 8000 animals and over 650 different species. It has received numerous boosts over the last few years thanks to the ultra-popular Oceanarium and new exhibits centered on the Amazon, seahorses and sharks. Kids and adults alike enjoy daily feedings of the exotic sea creatures. The John G. Shedd Aquarium opened in 1930, so it is one of the oldest public aquariums in the world. It was designed by the long-running architectural firm Graham, Anderson, Probst and White with a Greek Revival look in a stylistic reflection of the nearby Field Museum. The original octagonal building features a Doric portico, a low pyramidal skylight and...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 23, 2003

John G. Shedd Aquarium
1200 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, Illinois 60605
(312) 692-3274

Navy Pier

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Attraction

Navy Pier Photo, Chicago, Illinois
Quote:
Since reopening in the 1990's, the revitalized Navy Pier has emerged as one of Chicago's premier recreational tourist attractions. On the surface, Navy Pier is basically one big, brash tourist mecca for shops, fast food, and general goofing-around. However, one must look past the gaudy and glossy surfaces to experience a Chicago destination that has had a varied history and a bright future. Navy Pier was originally conceived as part of the famous Burnham Plan of 1909 for Chicago. Navy Pier opened in 1916 with ship docking facilities as well as public entertainment facilities. Since then, its 3000-foot length has been utilized as a military training base, a Chicago campus for the University of I...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 23, 2003

Navy Pier
600 East Grand Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60611
(312) 595-5300

Chicago School of Architecture

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Attraction | "The Chicago School of Architecture"

Chicago School of Architecture Photo, Chicago, Illinois
Quote:
This is not actually a "school", but more of a style that developed in Chicago due to technological advancements in building construction between 1880 and 1920. Thanks to the use of strong structural steel frames, buildings could be built to look a bit more "skeletal" and lighter in design. Instead of massive load-bearing masonry walls that needed to be several feet thick to support the floors above, the skeleton steel frames could be much thinner and have more openings in the walls. Therefore, architects and engineers were able to incorporate more windows to create more airy designs. Many new commercial buildings used "Chicago School" windows, which are large rectangular openings that were very wide ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 23, 2003

Chicago School of Architecture
845 West Harrison Street
Chicago, Illinois 60607
(312) 996-3335

Modern Sculptures

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Attraction | "Great modern sculptures in Chicago"

Modern Sculptures Photo, Chicago, Illinois
Quote:
Chicago is blessed with many modern sculptures that are tourist destinations in their own right. The most famous ones are in the heart of the Loop, although they would probably be famous in more remote locations as well. Along an easily walkable 5-block stretch of Dearborn Street, there are five significant sculptures that are either along this street or within one block from it. We lead off with the Picasso sculpture, the fairest of them all at the northwest corner of Dearborn and Washington. This is probably the most beloved modern sculpture in Chicago, but this was not always the situation. It was unveiled in 1967 as the artpiece in the middle of the plaza of the Civic Center (now Daley Cente...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 10, 2003

Modern Sculptures
Dearborn Avenue
Chicago, Illinois

Field Museum

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Attraction

Field Museum Photo, Chicago, Illinois
Quote:
To this observer, this gargantuan museum is the best of the Museum Campus lot. Besides having excellent and diverse permanent collections, the Field Museum of Natural History has been able to present blockbuster special exhibitions ranging from Egyptian relics to baseball to chocolate. The museum has occupied its current neo-classical building since 1921. The noted architectural firm Graham, Anderson, Probst and White, completed this building after initial plans were started in 1912 by its predecessor firm, D. H. Burnham and Company. The museum was originally founded as part of the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 to display a vast collection of anthropological and biological items. The muse...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 10, 2003

Field Museum
1400 South Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60605
(312) 922-9410

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

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Attraction

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum Photo, Chicago, Illinois
Quote:
This relatively new museum is the centerpiece for the Chicago Academy of Sciences, which dates back to 1857. The Nature Museum is located in a pleasant area of Lincoln Park at the corner of Fullerton Parkway and Cannon Drive. The 1999 building seems to blend in with nature itself. When you are inside the museum, there are window views to reconnect you with the great outdoors. The definitive experience is a visit to the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven. It is fun to wander into the humid sanctuary to witness a lovely collection of living butterflies in an approximation of their natural environment. Over 50 species of butterflies are housed in this greenhouse. There is an interesting area with delicate...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 10, 2003

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
2430 North Cannon Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60614
+1 773 755 5100

Buckingham Fountain

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Attraction | "Buckingham Fountain and Grant Park"

Buckingham Fountain Photo, Chicago, Illinois
Quote:
Grant Park is sometimes called Chicago's "front lawn", as it is a gathering area for the city's many summertime festivals. A typical day at the annual Taste of Chicago will find swarms of sweaty folks caked on the grassy plain. The Chicago skyline looks very dramatic when viewed from anywhere on the vast greenspace. Soon the prominence of Grant Park may be eclipsed by the emergence of the Millennium Park, which was designed by the architect who made Bilbao famous, Frank Gehry. As potentially exciting as Millennium Park could be, it will eventually take up only a bit of the northern part of current Grant Park. Daniel Burnham was the visionary whose Burnham Plan of 1909 illustrated a plan for muse...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 10, 2003

Buckingham Fountain
500 South Lake Shore Dr
Chicago, Illinois 60605
(312) 742-7529

Millennium Park

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Attraction | "Millennium Park (Part 1)"

Millennium Park Photo, Chicago, Illinois
Quote:
The grand opening of Millennium Park occurred the weekend of July 16-18, 2004. Although initially panned because of various budget overruns and delays (they missed the beginning of the new millennium by only a few years), the new drawing card of Chicago has proven to be immensely popular, exciting, attractive, and dare I say it, FUN. Locals have embraced the project as a Chicago landmark already, and tourists have placed it at the top of their must-see lists. Here are some of the highlights of the new 24.5 acre Millennium Park. Perhaps the most anticipated element of the complex is the Jay Pritzker Music Pavilion, designed by Mr. Guggenheim Bilbao himself, architect Frank Gehry. He has one of th...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 28, 2004

Millennium Park
222 N. Columbus Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60601
(312) 861-9503

Millennium Park

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Attraction | "Millennium Park (Part 2)"

Millennium Park Photo, Chicago, Illinois
Quote:
(continued from Part 1) At Millennium Park the talk of the town is the new landmark sculpture called "Cloud Gate", although most people simply call it "the Bean" because it looks like a giant silvery jelly bean. This brilliant work was designed by Anish Kapoor, a London artist born in Bombay. His first work in the States has quickly become a favorite with the public, which is notoriously skeptical of anything new or original. The stainless steel object is deceptively simple. At first glance it just looks like a big bean, but the fun begins as you approach it. The reflective convex surface becomes a giant funhouse mirror, so buildings across Michigan Avenue can now be viewed with a fre...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 28, 2004

Millennium Park
222 N. Columbus Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60601
(312) 861-9503

Millennium Park

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Attraction | "Millennium Park (Part 3)"

Millennium Park Photo, Chicago, Illinois
Quote:
(continued from Part 2) Here are some Millennium Park attractions that may not be as high-profile but are worth a look nevertheless. The Lurie Garden is still a work in progress, but its 2.5 acres are a peaceful place for a stroll. The variety of local and imported plantings is impressive. A miniature forest of trees acts as a hedge between the throngs of visitors and the delicate garden. In turn, the trees are safely fenced off from the crowds. The garden is bisected by a boardwalk and a little stream, but it sputters at its south end at Monroe Drive to look like a bad leak. Perhaps when it is fine-tuned the water will cascade over the edge to extend the presence of the park towards t...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 28, 2004

Millennium Park
222 N. Columbus Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60601
(312) 861-9503