I consider myself quite the globetrotter, yet some of my best trips have been close to home. When it comes to the Midwest, Chicago is hands down one of the most diverse and interesting cities around. Read on for five of my favorite Chicago attractions.
Lincoln Park Conservatory
Built in stages between 1890 and 1895, Lincoln Park Conservatory was originally intended to house exotic plants, and to grow the plants needed in Chicago’s parks. Architect Joseph Silsbee built this wonder during a time when people were concerned about the effects of industrialization, resulting in a fascination with nature. There are four display houses at the Conservatory: the Palm House, Fern Room, Orchid House, and Show House. With rare exception, Lincoln Park is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and admission is free.
Located in the heart of the Windy City, Millennium Park is home to the famous Cloud Gate sculpture (a.k.a. The Bean) and hosts countless concerts, exhibitions and family activities.
For more than 140 years, this area was a blight on the Chicago lakefront, until 1997, when it was transformed into an award-winning public park. Whether you’re looking for a place for an afternoon picnic, or looking for a tour of Chicagoan art and architecture, this is the place to go!
Chicago Cultural Center
There’s so much to do at the Chicago Cultural Center that I don’t even know where to start. The Chicago Landmarks Before the Lens exhibit has been running since 1994, and will continue until 2020, so that’s always a good bet. There are also usually several other exhibits from which to choose, along with film viewings, music, lectures, and various theater productions. Once you’ve had your share of cultural events, you can shop for unique items made by local artisans, eat at the restaurant of your choice, or marvel at the Tiffany Dome, which has been fully restored to its former splendor.
Adler Planetarium was the first planetarium in the Western Hemisphere, and offers exhibitions, family activities, and three planetarium theaters. The last time I visited, I checked out the Deep Space Adventure exhibit, which explores space exploration through scientific simulations and observations from the most advanced telescopes in use today – resulting in unbelievable visualizations and unforgettable memories.
A trip to Chi-town isn’t complete without a visit to Navy Pier. Whether you’re getting lost in the Funhouse Maze, viewing the city skyline from atop the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel, or shopping and dining to your heart’s content, there’s always something to do at the Pier. Alternately, you can watch a film on the six-story, 60×80-foot screen of the IMAX Theater, or take in a show at the award-winning Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
As you can see, there’s lots to do in the Midwest if you just know the right place to go. Whether you prefer culture, nature, outer space, carnival rides, or Shakespeare, Chicago has you covered!