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Chicago

Mr. Harper's Travel Guide

Rising up from the southwestern edge of oceanic Lake Michigan, Illinois’ largest city (and the nation’s third-largest metropolis) has endured devastating fires, Al Capone’s corruption and beleaguered baseball teams. Yet its hearty Midwestern character not only endures but flourishes, with dazzling architecture, gritty ...

Rising up from the southwestern edge of oceanic Lake Michigan, Illinois’ largest city (and the nation’s third-largest metropolis) has endured devastating fires, Al Capone’s corruption and beleaguered baseball teams. Yet its hearty Midwestern character not only endures but flourishes, with dazzling architecture, gritty blues, innovative live theater and comedy, world-class restaurants and a welcoming heartland disposition. 

Most visitors stay in or near the downtown “Loop," the central business district circumscribed by the elevated metro tracks, and there are ample attractions here, from the nation’s tallest skyscraper, Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower); to the Beaux-Arts Chicago Cultural Center, boasting elaborate mosaics and the world's largest Tiffany glass dome; to the resplendent civic green spaces of Grant and Millennium Park. The justly renowned Art Institute of Chicago can constitute an afternoon alone. And in warm weather, there is no better introduction to the city than a fascinating architectural boat tour along the river (the Chicago Architecture Foundation has the best).

But to really get to know Chicago, venture out into the neighborhoods, exploring the North Side’s theaters, bars and clubs (and its vintage baseball stadium, Wrigley Field), or the bohemian havens of the West Side, where, in Wicker Park, an independent arts scene thrives and Polish and Ukrainian businesses and cultural attractions offer a taste of the city’s Slavic roots. A remarkable string of parks, beaches and marinas borders the entire eastern side of the city and Lake Michigan.

bird icon Hotels & Restaurants in Chicago

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