Harold Washington Library Center

Library in The Loop

This grand, art-filled building with free internet terminals and wi-fi is Chicago's whopping main library. Major authors give readings, and impressive performances take place in the auditorium (Chance the Rapper often shows up for the OpenMike for teens on Wednesday evenings). The light-drenched, 9th-floor Winter Garden is a sweet spot for reading, writing or just taking a load off; the floor also has good exhibitions in its galleries. The 3rd-floor Maker Lab features 3-D printers and drop-in demonstrations.

It can be a bit confusing to get around. Escalators go up to the 3rd floor (home of the browsable newspapers and computer commons); from there transfer to the elevator to reach floors four through nine. And those green-copper creatures staring down from the exterior roof? They're wise old owls.