The city's showpiece is a trove of free and arty sights. It includes Pritzker Pavilion, Frank Gehry’s swooping silver band shell, which hosts free concerts most nights in summer (6:30pm; bring a picnic and bottle of wine); Anish Kapoor's beloved silvery sculpture Cloud Gate, aka the 'Bean'; and Jaume Plensa’s Crown Fountain, a de facto water park that projects video images of locals spitting water, gargoyle style.

The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink fills with skaters in winter (and al fresco diners in summer). The hidden Lurie Garden blooms with prairie flowers and tranquility. The Gehry-designed BP Bridge spans Columbus Dr and offers great skyline views, while the Nichols Bridgeway arches from the park up to the Art Institute's small, 3rd-floor sculpture terrace (free to view).

Want more? Free yoga and Pilates classes take place Saturday mornings in summer on the Great Lawn, while the Family Fun Tent provides free kids' activities daily in summer from 10am to 2pm.