Welcome to the Windy City! While Chicago’s nickname is courtesy of the blustery weather, it’s the heights that it should be known for. Home to towering skyscrapers and sky-high spending sprees, this town was built to exceed expectations. Here you’ll find the essentials for raising the bar on your own trip to Chi-town.
Millenium Park– the playful heart of the city is alive with public art
- Cloud Gate - aka 'The Bean', is Anish Kapur’s brilliantly polished 110-ton sculpture that is undoubtedly the park’s biggest draw
- Jay Pritzker Pavillion - designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, the pavillion is a 120ft-tall band shell that towers like a metallic crown over the park
- Crown Fountain - designed by Jaume Plensa, this 50ft-high water sculpture projects images of Chicagoans spitting out water onto squealing children (and sometimes adults) below
Pizza – there’s deep love for this deep dish
- Pizzeria Uno - this is the original PU location, on E Ohio Street, where it's said that deep dish pizza was invented; a medium pie will feed a family of four
- Giordano’s - possibly the best pie in Chicago - order the 'special', stuffed with sausage, mushroom, green pepper and onion, and decide for yourself
- Gino’s East - so good you’ll want to take one home with you - and you can. They ship!
Architecture – out of the ashes of the Great Fire of 1871 rose these edificial phoenixes
- Monadnock Building - the largest office building in the world when completed in 1893, its internal steel frame gave rise to the skyscraper
- Auditorium Building - one of the best-known designs of Adler & Sullivan, of the ‘Chicago School’ of architecture, the Auditorium was declared a National Landmark in 1976. The building now houses the Auditorium Theater, the resident home of the Joffrey Ballet.
- Robie House - designed by the nation’s great architectural mind, Frank Lloyd Wright in 1909. The striking horizontal lines of the home, inspired by the flat Mid-Western landscape, exemplify the ‘Prairie School’ movement.
- Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise - see the city and many of its architectural masterpieces from a unique perspective - aboard a river boat cruise
The Magnificent Mile – every shopaholic needs a little retail therapy now and then
- Filene’s Basement - elbows out, ladies: everything in this famous discount department store is 30-60% off. 'Running of the Brides' takes place once a year, where brides can save thousands of dollars on a gown. There’s a reason the moniker is reminiscent of Pamplona…
- American Girl Place - make your little girl’s dream come true at this doll emporium - it will only cost you $100 for the doll, $32 for her swimsuit, $18 for her camping equipment, $54 for her china tea set… If you don’t break the bank on the dolls alone, there are always dining options, in-store party planning, and seasonal events.
- The rest of it - everything else your little heart desires: Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom's, Macy's, Neiman Marcus, Saks, Gucci, Armani…
For more on what to do in Chi-town check out these great ideas from the Thorn Tree travel forum.
This article was originally published in August 2009. This article was refreshed in August 2012.