on July 27, 2006
No tourist can come to Chicago and miss out on Millennium Park--it has some of the most people-friendly works of art I've seen as well as the requisite lawns and trees. One of Chicago's icons is the giant "bean," a huge silver sculpture on the edge of the park facing Michigan Avenue. It's hard to resist taking photos of your reflection in the smooth silver surface and playing "Where's Waldo?" Be sure to walk underneath it and get the kaleidoscope effect of seeing hundreds of your own face. During the summer, it seems to get pretty crowded, but it's also a good spot to people watch. There are picnic tables and benches surrounding it, as well as a refreshment stand, so it's a good place to take a break on a hot day. My second favorite part of Millennium Park is the face towers, two tall towers of glass cubes that cover some kind of digital screens that display various faces of Chicagoans. It's fascinating to watch these faces as they change expressions and look right back at you, then purse their lips as a fountain of water shoots out of their mouth. I could watch it for hours! Guidebooks will tell you the details of how it all works, but I'll tell you that it's a great experience in a relaxing sense. It's almost interactive (and really can be if you feel like joining the kids splashing around in the shallow water between the two towers). Other than that, check out the huge silver stage structure, then kick off your shoes and lounge on the lawn. Grant Park is all towards the south of Millennium Park, so head that way and get your snapshots in front of another great Chicago icon--Buckingham Fountain. Of course, it's all free!
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