Chicago is a great city. Often referred to as The Windy City, it is one of the biggest cities in America located on the shores of Lake Michigan in Illinois. The name ‘Windy City’ is often suggested as being down to the gusts of wind that come off the massive Lake Michigan but many believe it is in fact attributed to the hot air bellowed by Chicago politicians aimed at New York to attract the World’s Fair to the city. However it came about The Windy City is its most common nickname.
Chicago has plenty to see and do. Things such as shopping, restaurants, cafes, bars, theatres etc are plentiful in Chicago but these are not specific reasons to visit Chicago, yeah, they are great but let’s be honest, every city has good restaurants, nice bars, hip cafes and plenty of shops.
Our list of 5 reasons to visit Chicago list the unique aspects of Chicago that are a draw for tourists looking for a city break or holiday somewhere new.
1. Navy Pier
The 3,300-foot pier on the shores of Lake Michigan is a popular haunt for tourists and locals alike. There is much to see and do at Navy Pier such as exhibition facilities, family attractions like the Children’s Museum, parks & gardens, shopping, restaurants, a maze and the iconic Centennial Wheel which offers fabulous views of the lake and city. There are lots of sightseeing tours departing from Navy Pier with lake cruises, dinner cruises and water taxis that head into the city up the Chicago River.
Yeah, most cities have a museum or three but there are some excellent galleries and institutions in Chicago. Art, Science, Space, Culture, History, Kids – there is something for all kinds of culture vultures visiting Chicago. The Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Science and Industry, Adler Planetarium, The Field Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago History Museum, Chicago Children’s Museum, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and many other institutions are located in the city.
3. Observation Decks
The skyline of Chicago is adorned by some very tall buildings. From 80+ story residential buildings to the 443metre Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) Chicago has some very impressive skyscrapers and there are plenty of observation decks at the top of these buildings where you can get a birds eye view of the city, Lake Michigan and surrounding areas. The SkyDeck on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower is home to the Ledge – glass boxes which extend out of the building so you can take in an unobstructed view of the city below. Obviously give this one a miss if heights are a problem for you. 360 Chicago at the John Hancock Center on Michigan Avenue is another fabulous place to get incredible views as is The Terrace at the Trump International Hotel and Tower.
4. Chicago Riverwalk
For over a mile from Lake Shore Drive to Lake Street the Chicago Riverwalk is a new addition to the recreational activities on offer in Chicago. You can try your hand at kayaking on Chicago River or a more sedate option would be to take one the many river tours which depart along the Riverwalk. There are lots of cool bars, restaurants and a few museums accessible from the Riverwalk. It is a great place to spend a few hours (or longer) especially when the sun is out.
5. Millennium Park
The premier green space in Chicago, Millennium Park is a 25-acre area of green space with art installations, concerts, fountains, gardens, ice skating and more. Cloud Gate is the centrepiece of the AT&T Plaza at Millennium Park…you may know it as ‘The Bean’ named as such because of its shape. You will have to search long and hard to find a tourist who hasn’t got a photo of themselves stood in front of ‘The Bean’
Getting to Chicago
You can fly direct to Chicago from London with American, British Airways and other leading airlines. It takes approximately 8 hours 45 minutes to make the 4000-mile journey with connecting flights taking an hour or two longer. Most flights land at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD). O’Hare is one of the busiest airports in the world serving millions of passengers every year, so it is advisable to book transfers in advance for cost effective, timely travel to your hotel.
Flights to Chicago with the Savvy Flyer start from just £410 in economy and from £1800 in first class.
Popular Choice: Business Class Flights to Chicago from London from £875.