The third largest city in the United States, the "Windy City" is more than a fabulous playground for the best architects in the world. It’s also a world capital of the arts and gastronomy, a major sports mecca, and the city of Al Capone–and now Barack Obama, who still lives in the Kenwood neighborhood. For the little boy within, Chicago was also the backdrop for several major action movies. But the city also has a lifestyle that’s both refined and excessive, and some of the liveliest nightlife to be found.
1 - The city at your feet
Downtown Chicago is a true skyscraper forest that provides unique observation points that put this beautiful city at your feet. At the 412-meters high, 103-floor Willis Tower, enter the glazed cubes on the Skydeck jutting from the structure. It’s like walking on air. For those who run on adrenalin!
At the John Hancock Center’s Skywalk, wander the exterior pathways to really understand why Chicago is nicknamed “The Windy City!”
And for the opposite experience, stroll under the feet of the "giants" by getting on one of the boats that cross the Chicago River
2 - Pizza shock and fancy menus
Chicago has developed many menu items that have become legendary in the US, like the “deep dish pizza."
This pizza typically has a thick crust with mozzarella on the bottom and tomato sauce on top, and any number of garnishes in between, all cooked in a deep dish. For a taste, make a detour to Pizzeria Uno, where deep dish pizza was invented in the early 1940s.
And Chicago’s gastronomy scene has no shortage of great restaurants, including the Sixteen (Michelin star) and for carnivores, Gibsons Bar and Steakhouse, with its own USDA Gibsons Prime Angus certification.
3 - The “Bean” will make you smiley
Because it looks like a big legume, Cloud Gate is nicknamed “The Bean,” If you leave Chicago without taking and posting pictures of yourself reflected in its polished surface, and from all the most amusing angles, no one will ever believe you set foot in this beautiful city of art!
4 - A city tour in the skytrain “The Loop”
Chicago’s core is ringed by an elevated rail system, earning it the nickname “The Loop.” It includes the business district and is a great way to explore the city. Completed in 1897, its history is closely linked to the development of the city, a transport hub that serves the whole of the central United States.
During the ride, you will find yourself in the real-life settings of some of your favorite films, including the Blues Brothers, Batman, Natural Born Killers, Ocean's Eleven, Spider-Man or the Untouchables.
5. Take some pics on Route 66
The corner of Jackson and Jefferson streets marks the start-point for the legendary Route 66. Don’t miss a selfie op beside the mythic sign that symbolizes the onset of great adventure. Then make sure to have lunch at Lou Mitchell's, an authentic old-style diner founded in 1923.
6 - Sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the 7th inning at a Cubs gamee manche des Cubs
If you are a sports fan, in Chicago you’ll be like a kid in a candy store!
Chicago in summer is a baseball mecca with two major league teams. Not taking anything away from the American League’s White Sox, a game at Wrigley Field, the home of the National League Cubs, is a must. Built in 1914, the scoreboard for games is changed manually and the vines that cover the field’s brick wall impart a unique charm to this legendary stadium. Before the 7th inning, you might hear a celebrity singing the famous "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" along with the rest of the crowd.
Otherwise, a visit to the United Center is essential to pick up a Blackhawks or Bulls souvenir, or have a photo op with the bronze statue of Michael Jordan, of local and international basketball glory.
7 - The richness of the Art Institute of Chicago collections
If you can only visit one of the many museums found in Chicago, it should be the Art Institute of Chicago. The city’s generous patrons have bestowed upon it collections representing 5,000 years of art history. The bronze lions guarding the building's entrance also have become an emblem of the city.
8 - A jog along Lake Michigan and beaches
Chicago has restored a magnificent access to the banks of Lake Michigan with the Lakefront Trail. You can walk, jog or pedal over several kilometers of trails while enjoying the fresh air in a bustling linear park and many beaches.
Navy Pier in Millenium Park is one of Chicago’s major attractions, Navy Pier in Millennium Park, is one of the main attractions of Chicago, with its long covered pier lined with shops, restaurants, bars and cafes and leading to an amusement park dominated by a large Ferris wheel.
9 - Beautiful places to buy beautiful things
In the Old Town quarter verging on Lincoln Park, you can stroll through charming small shopping streets, before taking Madison Avenue to walk the Magnificent Mile: the perfect place to find luxury boutiques, trendy and popular labels.
10 - Evenings filled with music and laughter
Everywhere in Chicago can be heard bursts of laughter from the many comedy clubs, the echo of Louis Armstrong’s trumpet in the numerous jazz spots, and the electric guitar of Muddy Waters in the blues bars.
Book an evening at the Green Mill jazz and swing lounge, a former speakeasy during Prohibition where Al Capone was a regular.
B.L.U.E.S. is a temple for hard-core blues fans, while at Buddy Guy’s Legends you just might come across the famous singer and guitarist in person.
It was in Chicago that improve stand-up comedy was born, as was Second City, the incubator that formed such talents as Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert and many, many more.
Attend one of the open-air free concerts held at Jay Pritzker Pavilion for a truly unique experience. The venue in Millennium Park was designed by Frank Gehry and is a true wonder.
It’s for those who love architecture, art, sports or cuisine. Or, who want to feel the rhythm of a city that is rich in history yet anchored in modernity and one with nature, Chicago has it all, and has planted its flag as a prime destination.