Don’t be shy when “Chi-Town” calls your name. Despite the rumours of cold, windy mornings, the largest city in Illinois offers a warm Midwestern welcome to travellers seeking sporting events, performing arts and a saucy piece of pizza. As a major political and media hub, Chicago has a serious side, but don’t underestimate the opportunities for fun and belly laughs that await you on Chicago holidays.
With attractions sprinkled all over the city, from Wrigleyville to Hyde Park, hotels in Chicago are available close to the top sites on your itinerary. You can even book accommodation near Lincoln Park for instant access to the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and your new furry or feathered buddies at the Lincoln Park Zoo.
Things to Do in Chicago
Let’s go out to the ballgame. Even if sports aren’t your thing, you’re a baseball fan when you’re in Chicago. Pick up some blue and red face paint and grab seats at Wrigley Field for the next home game. Once you’ve shouted with the locals, check out the bean-shaped Cloud Gate sculpture and jog through Millennium Park, because nothing puts your life into refreshing perspective like a reflective legume. North of Millennium Park, the Chicago Riverwalk is the perfect place to eat and shop to your heart’s content surrounded by gorgeous views and luxurious Chicago hotels where you can relax after a long, tiring day of…being on holiday. When you’re ready for more, make your way up the Magnificent Mile to the vintage Gold Coast neighbourhood for an arvo at the beach. Thencatch a comedy show at Second City Theater in nearby Old Town. Once a nickname for Chicago’s status as the lesser of the country’s biggest cities, “Second City” is now synonymous with the funniest people of the past century, including Tina Fey, Alan Arkin and Gilda Radner.
Getting To & Around Chicago
Breeze into “The Windy City” via two major transit hubs: O’Hare International Airport (ORD), located about 17 km northwest of downtown, or Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW), just 11 km to the southwest. With an efficient light rail system and bus routes weaving through busy streets, you can easily get from the airport to popular attractions and accommodation in Chicago with public transportation. But if you want to tackle traffic like a local, pick up one of our car hire options and hit the streets.
Best Time to Visit Chicago
You’ve no doubt heard that Chicago can get chilly in winter…but these cold months are among its most beautiful. The winter wonderland glows during The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival and other celebrations in November. The months between April and October are often warm, the events calendar is hopping and Chicago accommodation is especially affordable, so consider booking during this time if fun in the sun is important to you. To skip the crowds, avoid June–August, when most Americans are on summer holiday.
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"The Windy City"
The channelling of strong gusts between Chicago's skyscrapers may make it seem like it's windier here than anywhere else in the US, but there's another reason why Chicago is nicknamed the Windy City. Chicagoans are crazy about sport, from the Chicago Bears (football) to the Blackhawks (hockey) and the Bulls (basketball). Nearby Cincinnati is equally competitive and the term Windy City was probably first used by Cincinnati newspapers covering the rivalry between the two cities.
Reaching for the sky
Chicago is known for its architecture, not at all surprising when you consider that 10 of the 50 tallest buildings in the world are located here. The Illinois capital has been at the forefront of progressive architecture and tall buildings since the late 19th century when large parts of the city were rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1871. While two of the most prominent buildings, the Sears Tower and the Aon Centre, date back to the 1970s, the boom continues. Donald Trump's luxury apartment complex was completed recently and the 2000-foot Chicago Spire is scheduled to be completed in 2012.
It's not sheer height alone that makes the city's architectural face so interesting; some of America's greatest architects have left their mark on Chicago, including Solon S. Beman, Walter Burley Griffin, and perhaps the greatest of all, Frank Lloyd Wright. A Chicago Card gives you admission to the city's best-known skyscrapers and the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Society, and includes architectural walking tours.
Chicago and the arts
One of the best-known American paintings, Edward Hopper's Nighthawks, is exhibited in the Art Institute of Chicago. Next to Hopper, the museum houses an impressive collection of impressionist, post-impressionist, and American paintings. Also worth a visit is the Museum of Contemporary Art, which focuses on visual art from 1945 to the present day with emphasis on surrealism, minimalism, conceptual photography, and works by Chicago-based artists.
Chicago is serious about culture and you'll find museums dedicated to everything from Swedish-American life to Science and Industry. A definite must-see for young and old is the Field Museum - home to "Sue", the world's largest and most famous Tyrannosaurus Rex. To get a comprehensive overview of what the city has to offer, opt for a half-day sightseeing tour, which includes museum admission as well as a trip up Hancock Tower to see the city from above. However much time you spend exploring during the day, make sure you keep some time aside for a night out in Chicago. It's not called the home of the blues for nothing, and venues like the Chicago Blues Bar on North Halsted pay tribute to that seven nights a week. Hide