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Chicago Travel Guide, Illinois

Founded in the early 1800s, Chicago is positioned between civilization and wilderness and many aspects of modern life had their start here. Chicago really does have it all, with less infrastructural problems than its coastal rivals.

Though residents complain about the cold weather that lasts almost through the whole year, at least on a winter day, they can duck into such popular clubs as Andy's, where there's hot jazz even at noon. The best time to visit is between May and October when the weather is the most predictable. Then you could head out to ivy-covered Wrigley Field to catch baseball's Cubs in action, or take a cruise boat under the bridges of the Chicago River at sunset.

If you want to visit a vibrant, energetic city that's rich in heritage, culture, entertainment, and commerce, Chicago runs right up there with the big dogs. You could start by visiting downtown which is the center for government, finance, and commerce of Chicago and is encircled by The Loop, named for the elevated train tracks that loop around the central area. Tall skyscrapers such as the world's second-tallest building, the Sears Tower, and the Chicago Board of Trade are landmarks for this part of town. The North Side of Chicago encompasses Chicago's premiere shopping district, the Magnificent Mile, many historic buildings and residential areas, at least four important museums, and the John G. Shedd Aquarium. Chinatown is located in Near South Side and don’t leave out South Side home to the beautiful Washington Park, The University of Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry.

Chicago is home to internationally recognized names in the entertainment scene: the Chicago Symphony, Lyric Opera, and Steppenwolf Theatre, Gutsy Steppenwolf Theater regularly showcase the talents of remarkable local actors. The Grammy-laden Chicago Symphony Orchestra is appreciated both at home and abroad and the Lyric Opera's lavish productions boast world-class singers and conductors. And let’s not forget film criticism, TV talk (who doesn't know Oprah!) and Second City Comedy Club whose talented performers have included the brilliantly funny Mike Nichols and Elaine May, Jim and the late John Belushi, Bill Murray, and George Wendt.

Chicago's self-image with criminal syndicates, run by gangsters like Al Capone, has faded as, these days, the tourist authorities play down the mobster era.

From those who enjoy arts to those who want to take in all the major museums and attractions, this city can satisfy your every request. There is a wide range of excellent museums (many of which have one day of free admission per week), restaurants, sports and highbrow cultural activities. Live music with a phenomenal array of jazz and blues is played in many clubs. The rock scene is also present with a prolific number of bands.

An excellent advantage the city offers is that almost everything is noticeably less expensive than in other US cities. For example, eating out, costs much less than in New York or LA, but is every bit as good.

With its beautiful skyline and views of Lake Michigan plus award-winning restaurants, its many architectural treasures, and some of the finest museums in the world, Chicago is a city to return to again and again.

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Read our members' reviews about Chicago

  • ShawnosaurusCemitas Puebla
    review by Shawnosaurus posted more then 30 days ago
    If you're in Chicago, have any ability to move around, and love Mexican food, then you should try Cemitas Puebla. It's not a fancy place by any means, but they serve fantastically tasty food. Definitely try the namesake Cemitas! They come in a variety of flavours and are a delicious...
  • mohds2Curiosities about Chicago
    review by mohds2 posted more then 30 days ago
    The structures of today's Chicago were laid out by a number of the most important architects reconstructing the metropolis after the Great Fire. Daniel Burnham planned the primary visionary of urban diagram for a city, the 1909 Chicago plan. It was nicknamed 'Paris on the Prairie' and built-in...
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Read our members' travel tips about Chicago

  • lindamuraCaffe De Luca
    travel tip by lindamura posted more then 30 days ago
    Caffe de Luca is not a very special place, but it's very cosy and pleasant. It is located in the heart of bucktown and I loved to have breakfast here. The waiters are really very nice, even by American standards and they have free...
  • cipristbAdler Planetarium
    travel tip by cipristb posted more then 30 days ago
    I have been here only once, but it was so great. The Planetarium functions since 1930 and is not only a planetarium but also a chain of exhibits. First you can watch the sky with the extremely accurate Zeiss Projector, you feel like...
  • AnonymousChicago Blues Festival
    travel tip by Anonymous posted more then 30 days ago
    The Chicago Blues Festival usually takes place every year in early June in Grant Park. It is the largest Blues Festival in the world, so it's an absolute must for blues-lovers. The festival features three days of performance by top-class...
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Chicago City Ratings

  • Rating78%
    City Rank163
  • History & Culture: rated for 90%
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  • Family & Fun: rated for 60%
  • Outdoors Activities: rated for 40%
  • Food: rated for 90%
  • Sightseeing: rated for 90%
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  • Public Transportation: rated for 80%
  • Must visit this place: rated for 80%
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