Chicago Summers

When: Every year since 2009

Seeing as this blog is relatively new, but we've been going to Chicago every summer for the past seven years, I thought I would give you all a quick catch-up post as to why we spend so much time there.

When I first found out we were going to Chicago for one of Todd's art shows, it peaked my interest.  I had never really cared that much about going, due to my ignorance of the city.  It was only after I had taken a course at my university on modern architecture that I finally realized how incredibly awesome Chicago was and what a deep history it had.

When we arrived, it felt like an oasis in the middle of, well, the midwest.  It was much larger than I had imagined and fully functioned as a cultural capital.  I immediately fell in love.  It turns out, the city reciprocated by falling in love with Todd's sculpture and has been an extremely lucrative market for him, leading us to return summer after summer.  Over the next six years, I had gotten to know the city.  Here are some of my recommendations for first timers or for veteran Chicago vacationers who might want to venture off the Magnificent Mile for a while (though, you should spend some time there too!).

Lincoln Park Zoo and Botanical Gardens - This zoo is outdoors and free.  It is a great place to spend the day as there are lots of exhibits/habitats and restaurants.  You must also stop at the botanical gardens that are just north of the zoo.  They are also free and its a great place to see many different types of plants.

Chicago Art Institute and Gardens - The Art Institute really is a must see.  Flanked by two large Lion Sculptures and located right off Michigan Avenue, the Art Institute is .  The gardens are simple and perfect.  They are one of my favorite places in the world.  The museum itself houses a large collection of permanent works and brings in special exhibits often.

Navy Pier - Touristy with lots of family fun and food.  You just can't go wrong visiting sure to grab a bag of Chicago's famous Garrett Popcorn and take a spin on the Centennial Ferris Wheel!

Grant Park - Large park centrally located between Lake Michigan and the city's skyscrapers.

Millennium Park - Located just north of Grant Park and includes a large water sculpture [Crown Fountain], amphitheater, playground...there's also a climbing wall and miniature golf at the neighboring Maggie Daley Park.

Field Museum - The Field Museum is one of our family's favorite spots in Chicago. It's one of the USA's premier natural history museums and a must see. Say 'hi' to Sue for me!

Shedd Aquarium - The Shedd Aquarium is educational and fin...I mean fun, especially if you have a budding marine biologist in the home.

Hop on Hop Off Bus Tour - One of the first things Todd and I do when we go to a new city is a hop on hop off bus tour.  It's such a quick and easy way to get your bearings and learn the basics of the different neighborhoods.

Magnificent Mile - Shopping anyone? Situated on the north end of Michigan Avenue from the Chicago River to Oak Street is the Magnificent Mile where you can find designer stores from Burberry to Prada and some of the city most famous landmark architectural gems.

Architectural Tour - Speaking of architecture.  This tour is a must do for anyone who is removing interesting in Chicago's architectural landscape and history.  We've done this tour more than once as it is fun for the whole family because it takes place on a boat on the Chicago River.  Some tours will even take you out onto Lake Michigan.  They even have evening cruises with fireworks!

Tiffany Dome in the Cultural Center -  This is one of my personal favorites.  Inside of the Chicago Cultural Center right of Randolph Street you will find this architectural beauty.  It's free and well worth a visit.

Things I still haven't done...yes, after seven summers (and some fall and winter trips stuck in there somewhere) I still have so much I want to see.

Alder Planetarium
Willis (formerly Sears) Tower Skydeck
Untouchables Tour
Jane Addams Hull House

Do you have anything to add to the list?  Any more recommendations for me?  Please let me know in the comments!

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