Chicago. Friendly, Cosmopolitan, Best Little City in America
I think of Chicago as “New York Light” or “The Other Coast”. A dynamic city on the shores of Lake Michigan that boasts art museums, ethnic neighborhoods, architecture, night life and superb shopping that could go head to head with any international city.
The BEAN is the best place for a photo opp. The mirror-like, elliptical sculpture of stainless steel, in Millennium Park is a hoot to walk around and under. Named the Cloud Gate, it is known by the locals as the “Bean.” I took all sorts of photos because they make for some interesting and distorted images with the skyline behind, reflected twice or you holding up this 110-ton sculpture.
Enjoy the Lake. In the warmer months, I enjoy spending time outdoors in Chicago, which takes pride in its 30-mile lakefront. When I looked out the hotel window and saw this huge body of water, with no horizon or shoreline in the distance, I realized just how dazzling Lake Michigan could be.
There are sandy beaches, jet skis, sailboats riding the gusts, cyclists, sunbathers, and volleyball players.
Add Some Adventure and Exercise. Go For a Spin: Bike Chicago rents bicycles out of six locations in the city. I rented a bike and rode along the waterfront, by sandy beaches and handsome men and gorgeous women playing volley ball. Choose from any number of locations in neighborhoods or along the waterfront. (www.bikechicago.com).
Best View If You Don’t Have Vertigo. Zip up 103 floors to the Skydeck at Willis Tower, where over 1 million people a year stop by to look 1,353 feet straight down! You can walk out on obersvation platforms that are clear and give you a view between your toes and legs of the city below. If you have a clear day you can see 4 states from the Skydeck: Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan.
Must-See Museums include The Field Museum, a natural history museum, the John G. Shedd Aquarium, and the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum. They are located on 10 acres of park with views of the lake and Chicago skyline.
My all-time favorite is the Art Institute of Chicago, the 2nd largest art museum in the United States, which houses over 260,000 pieces of fine art, including rooms of Impressionist Paintings, as well as Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” and Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks”.
The new Modern Wing was designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Renzo Piano. The Terzo Piano is a the fine dining restaurant with an outdoor area with views of Millenium Park and architect Frank Gehry’s remarkable stainless-steel and wood band shell as well as the downtown skyline. My favorite time to go is at sunset on a Thursday evening, when the museum stays open until 8pm.
Chicago was my fourth stop on the Transitions Official Sight Seeing City Tour. See what the TOP TEN SIGHTS IN CHICAGO are, as voted by local residents. Watch the video of me at the sites and learn more at www.seemoresights.com
About the Author: Marybeth Bond, the Gutsy Traveler, National Geographic author of 11 travel books, featured guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show and founder of the Online Travel Magazine www.GutsyTraveler.com She has been featured over 1,000 times on TV, radio and print. She is a Contributor to CNN, CNN Airport Network and CNN.com Speaker, spokesperson, author, travel expert, Marybeth, the Gutsy Traveler walks the talk. She's an adventurer; biked two months across the USA, traveler to over 90 countries, media travel expert for CBS News, CNN, ABC, NBC, NPR and National Geographic.