[url=http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en.html]Chicago[/url] is located in the [wiki=dbc53d5e68cc5f00e604110fee9b3c1e]Midwest[/wiki]. It is the third largest city in the [wiki=f253efe302d32ab264a76e0ce65be769]United States[/wiki] with a population approaching 3 million. Chicago is a huge vibrant city and a metropolitan area that sprawls over 10,874km². It's well known for blues, jazz, comedy, shopping, and dining.
As the hub of the [wiki=dbc53d5e68cc5f00e604110fee9b3c1e]Midwest[/wiki], Chicago is easy to find -its picturesque [wiki=b2a0cac2017522d63f266cb0c48f9aa8]skyline[/wiki] calls across the waters of huge Lake Michigan, a first impression that soon reveals world-class museums of art and science, miles of sandy beaches, huge parks and [wiki=fae4078874430add0c96b040698a0292]public art[/wiki], and perhaps the finest downtown collection of architecture in the world.
With a wealth of iconic sights and neighborhoods to explore, there's enough to fill a visit of weeks or even months without ever seeing the end. Prepare to cover a lot of ground: the meaning of Chicago is only found in movement, through its subways and archaic elevated tracks, and eyes raised to the sky.
As far as Chicago's weather goes, well let's just say that Chicago is an enormous city so things tend to get blown out of porportion more than they would in other cities, that includes the weather. The winters in Chicago are indeed cold, but the same could be said for most of the United States from Maine to Utah, with the exception of the extreme south. In fact, Chicago receives less precipitation (snow and rain) in the winter than East Coast cities like New York City or Boston. And although Chicago is cold in winter, its Midwestern neighbor [wiki=c39584729495496984371f0ec2f38974]Minneapolis[/wiki] is generally colder in the winter. Chicago's summers are not much hotter than the East Coast, and definitely not as hot as the southern U.S. There is a good time to be had in any season in Chicago, and the summer offers an array of parades, festivals, and events.
The winter months from December to March will see cold temperatures with cold wind chill factors. Snow is usually limited to a handful of heavy storms per season, with a few light dustings in-between and a little more along the lakefront -in the local parlance, that's "lake effect snow". Chicago is a city that's well-accustomed to winter season, so city services and public transportation are highly unlikely to ever shut down.
A little-known fact: there are more days with a maximum temperature of 80-84°F (27-29°C) than any other five-degree range, this includes winter months. Chicago's summer days can feel as warm as Honolulu or as humid and sticky as Miami. During any random summer, temperatures in July or August may go above the normal average of 83°F and become hot and humid with dewpoints that can be similar to those found closer to the Gulf of Mexico. However, these heatwaves are not for the entire duration of the summer, but usually in patches of days. Summer nights are usually reasonable and you'll get a few degrees' respite along the lakefront - in the local parlance again, that's "cooler by the lake."
Chicago does have several months of nice weather. June and September are very pleasant; April and May are quite fine, although thunderstorms can occur suddenly. July and August are okay as long as a heatwave hasn't hit the entire country. Although there may be a slight chill in the air, October rarely calls for more than a light coat and some days that's not even necessary. And in some years, prolonged mild summer-like temperatures overlap into November.
Chicago literature found its roots in the city's tradition of lucid, direct journalism, lending to a strong tradition of social realism. Consequently, most notable Chicago fiction focuses on the city itself, with social criticism keeping exultation in check. Here is a selection of Chicago's most famous works about itself:
*Karen Abbott's Sin in the Second City is a recent best-seller about Chicago's vice district, the Levee, and some of the personalities involved: gangsters, corrupt politicians, and two sisters who ran the most elite brothel in town.
*Nelson Algren's Chicago: City on the Make is a prose poem about the alleys, the El tracks, the neon and the dive bars, the beauty and cruelty of Chicago. It's best saved for after a trip, when at least twenty lines will have you enraptured in recognition.
*Saul Bellow's Adventures of Augie March charts the long drifting life of a Jewish Chicagoan and his myriad eccentric acquaintances throughout the early 20th century: growing up in the then Polish neighborhood of [wiki=ab0c59b7e226316a6eec9c4a92e8b3c8]Humboldt Park[/wiki], cavorting with heiresses on the [wiki=8bd89ec3422669d78e6956635337b918]Gold Coast[/wiki], studying at the University of Chicago, fleeing union thugs in the [wiki=90d4e4d1f2b1dbbac358dd5c6e8a9830]Loop[/wiki], and taking the odd detour to hang out with Trotsky in [wiki=8dbb07a18d46f63d8b3c8994d5ccc351]Mexico[/wiki] while eagle-hunting giant iguanas on horseback. This book has legitimate claim to be the Chicago epic (for practical purposes, that means you won't finish it on the plane).
*Gwendolyn Brooks' A Street in Bronzeville was the collection of poems that launched the career of the famous Chicago poetess, focused on the aspirations, disappointments, and daily life of those who lived in 1940s [wiki=27f52d7f69c8cfa6b08d2ae4632a766d]Bronzeville[/wiki]. It is long out of print, so you'll likely need to read these poems in a broader collection, such as her Selected Poems.
*Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street is a Mexican-American coming-of-age novel, dealing with a young Latina girl, Esperanza Cordero, growing up in the Chicago Chicano ghetto.
*Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie is a cornerstone of the turn of the 20th century Chicago Literary Renaissance, a tale of a country girl in the big immoral city, rags-to-riches and back again.
*Stuart Dybek's The Coast of Chicago is a collection of fourteen marvelous short stories about growing up in Chicago (largely in [wiki=43f35cab58acc57442d1ebbfe9fbf2db]Pilsen[/wiki] and [wiki=ab0c59b7e226316a6eec9c4a92e8b3c8]Little Village[/wiki]) in a style blending the gritty with the dreamlike.
*John Guzlowski's Lightning and Ashes chronicles the author's experiences growing up in the immigrant and DP neighborhoods around [wiki=ab0c59b7e226316a6eec9c4a92e8b3c8]Humboldt Park[/wiki] in Chicago, talking about Jewish hardware store clerks with Auschwitz tattoos on their wrists, Polish cavalry officers who still mourned for their dead horses, and women who walked from Siberia to Iran to escape the Russians.
*Erik Larson's Devil in the White City is a best-selling pop history about the 1893 Colombian Exposition; it's also about the serial killer who was stalking the city at the same time. For a straight history of the Exposition and also the workers' paradise in Pullman, try James Gilbert's excellent Perfect Cities: Chicago's Utopias of 1893.
*Audrey Niffenegger's The Time-Traveler's Wife is a recent love story set in Chicago nightclubs, museums, and libraries.
*Mike Royko's Boss is the definitive biography of Mayor Richard J. Daley and politics in Chicago, written by the beloved late Tribune columnist. American Pharaoh (Cohen and Taylor) is a good scholarly treatment of the same subject.
*Carl Sandburg's Chicago Poems is without a doubt the most famous collection of poems about Chicago by its own "bard of the working class."
*Upton Sinclair's The Jungle sits among the canon of both Chicago literature and US labor history for its muckraking-style depiction of the desolation experienced by Lithuanian immigrants working in the Union Stockyards on Chicago's [wiki=1de2601f10671cf58bc8a43ff667ce77]Southwest Side[/wiki].
*Richard Wright's Native Son is a classic Chicago neighborhood novel set in [wiki=27f52d7f69c8cfa6b08d2ae4632a766d]Bronzeville[/wiki] and [wiki=c7d32f2e653a204407804c77adbd5d49]Hyde Park[/wiki] about a young, poor, black boy hopelessly warped by the racism entrenched in American society at the time.
Chicago is America's third most prolific movie industry after Los Angeles and New York, and there have been scores upon scores of films and television series filmed here. Here is a very small list of some very Chicago-centric movies that have been produced in the city. These are just a few:
* Ferris Bueller's Day Off (John Hughes, 1986). The dream of the northern suburbs: to be young, clever, and loose for a day in Chicago. Ferris and friends romp through the old Loop theater district, catch a game at Wrigley Field, and enjoy the sense of invincibility that Chicago shares with its favorite sons when all is well.
* Adventures in Babysitting (Chris Columbus, 1987). The flip side of Ferris Bueller - the dangers that await the suburbanite in the Loop at night, including memorable trips to lower Michigan Avenue and up close with the Chicago skyline.
* The Blues Brothers (John Landis, 1980). Probably Chicago's favorite movie about itself: blues music, white men in black suits, a mission from God, the conscience that every Chicago hustler carries without question, and almost certainly the biggest car chase ever filmed.
* The Untouchables (Brian De Palma, 1987). With a square-jawed screenplay by David Mamet, this is a retelling of Chicago's central fable of good vs. evil: Eliot Ness and the legendary takedown of Al Capone. No film (except perhaps The Blues Brothers) has made a better use of so many Chicago locations, especially Union Station (the baby carriage), the Chicago Cultural Center (the rooftop fight), and the LaSalle Street canyon.
* High Fidelity (Stephen Frears, 2000). John Cusack reviews failed relationships from high school at Lane Tech to college in Lincoln Park and muses over them in trips through Uptown, River North, all over the city on the CTA, his record store in the rock snob environs of Wicker Park, and returning at last to his record-swamped apartment in Rogers Park.
* Batman Begins (Christopher Nolan, 2005) and its sequel The Dark Knight (2008). Making spectacular use of the 'L', the Chicago Board of Trade Building, Chicago skyscrapers, the Loop at night, and lower Wacker Drive, the revived action series finally sets the imposing power and intractable corruption of Gotham City where it belongs, in Chicago.
Some others include Harrison Ford vs. the one-armed man in The Fugitive, the CTA vs. true love in While You Were Sleeping, Autobots vs. Decepticons in Transformers 3, the greatest Patrick Swayze hillbilly ninja vs. Italian mob film of all time, Next of Kin, and the humble John Candy film Only The Lonely which captures the south side Irish mentality, the love and comfort of neighborhood dive bars, as well as the Chicago working class, and political power, theme with the repeated line "Sometimes it's good to be a cop".
Smoking is prohibited by state law at all restaurants, bars, nightclubs, workplaces, and public buildings. It's also banned within fifteen feet of any entrance, window, or exit to a public place, and at CTA train stations. The fine for violating the ban can range from $100 to $250.
Chicago's visitor information centers offer maps, brochures and other information.
* A centrally located place to pick up a host of useful, free materials. The Cultural Center itself makes a good first stop on your tour, with free, worthwhile art and historical exhibits throughout the year.
Chicago ( for [wiki=3eba602f401a070e5274969862ac3cd2]all airports[/wiki]) is served by two major airports: [url=http://ohare.com]O'Hare International Airport[/url] and [url=http://flychicago.com/midway/midwayHomepage.shtm]Midway Airport[/url]. There are plenty of taxis both to and from the city center, but they are quite expensive, especially during rush hours. Expect upwards of $40 for O'Hare and $30 for Midway. CTA trains provide direct service to both larger airports for $2.25 from anywhere in the city - faster than a taxi during rush hour and a lot less expensive.
Many large hotels offer complimentary shuttle vans to one or both airports, or can arrange one for a charge ($15-25) with advance notice.
Several daily buses headed to Davenport, Iowa City, Des Monies and Omaha at competitive prices. Onward connections to Denver.
* Very frequent service to destinations throughout the Midwest with connections to most of the US, Canada and Mexico. The main terminal is near the southwestern corner of the Loop. There are secondary terminals at the 95th/Dan Ryan red line station and the Cumberland blue line station.
* Frequent service to East Lansing, Grand Rapids with onward destinations availible. Daily service to Michigan's Upper Peninsula connecting via Greyhound in Milwaukee. Wifi and power outlets onboard.
* Express bus service to/from [wiki=28b140c1de2759d5460e8256a893e759]Ann Arbor[/wiki], [wiki=8b1c40ce6629723de95905617aaf5743]Atlanta[/wiki], [wiki=54565918039f63a89cf3e8d913752226]Chattanooga[/wiki], [wiki=cc8d66016f145d18ca43f658cf893ec8]Cincinnati[/wiki], [wiki=11b915670b63c790160e26af2dac39b7]Cleveland[/wiki], [wiki=e17cbc9ef9edd2aa69da07e0b515de2e]Columbia[/wiki], [wiki=e9c7810a2f9caab925b56a15c143888f]Columbus[/wiki], [wiki=09ea9b5e69df9e1385463fde29bc41cf]Dallas[/wiki], [wiki=dc8b11cba44a4c77e7267514037ddb33]Des Moines[/wiki], [wiki=1206c1cb107044f291a52d53fc9ec748]Detroit[/wiki], [wiki=62add51bf058d2faa05a9ceed960b9c6]East Lansing[/wiki], [wiki=72bb7863865813f614137193f914254d]Grand Rapids[/wiki], [wiki=8b9c1179fe8a1c342a1950be99ac9c90]Indianapolis[/wiki], [wiki=864e24b0c2e20d947211aa9b413f36d5]Iowa City[/wiki], [wiki=9cdcc316e7fb3f97eb08f790c2c9f5a4]Kansas City[/wiki], [wiki=aab0f98ace528973194071723386905c]Little Rock[/wiki], [wiki=4fba925a7279f52a42d0f614b063e707]Louisville[/wiki], [wiki=9ebd7e71415b8e07fea9120eb1a68891]Madison[/wiki], [wiki=0d4202ede83d91da6cd4482e1ca91783]Memphis[/wiki], [wiki=effc4bc76d86b41cbeed8e03884dcf87]Milwaukee[/wiki], [wiki=c39584729495496984371f0ec2f38974]Minneapolis[/wiki], [wiki=c47b477c59cfb61c7f36e60059def42f]Nashville[/wiki], [wiki=87809c954948d8a20507bee3648281b3]New York[/wiki], [wiki=e4a844a856620c8b4d6949c587872f10]Omaha[/wiki], [wiki=529d1860c3e3456fe0cf9a80b2853877]State College[/wiki], [wiki=6d25b766c477f95b5f7648fa17ba9bd5]St. Louis[/wiki], [wiki=e7e974e6606e3768d879d69584a5f7da]St Paul[/wiki] and [wiki=f9d0607504f80c2092fca842046427fe]Toledo[/wiki]. Double Deck Coaches with WiFi, Restrooms, Power Outlets and seats starting at $1.
* Offers daily service between several colleges/universities and cities around the Illinois area. Common destinations are Peoria, Normal, Champaign, Chicago.
* Offers 14 buses daily, departing every hour, from O'Hare to Southeastern Wisconsin and Milwaukee, including Milwaukee Airport.
Chicago is historically the rail hub of the entire United States. Today, [url=http://amtrak.com]Amtrak[/url], ☎ +1 800 872-7245, uses the magisterial Union Station (Canal St and Jackson Blvd) as the hub of its Midwestern routes, making Chicago one of the most convenient U.S. cities to visit by train, serving the majority of the passenger rail company's long-distance routes, with options from virtually every major U.S. city. With its massive main hall, venerable history, and cinematic steps, Union Station is worth a visit even if you're not coming in by train.
Most (but not all) Metra suburban trains run from Union Station and nearby Ogilvie/Northwestern Station (Canal St and Madison St), which are west of the Loop. Some southern lines run from stations on the east side of the Loop. The suburban trains run as far as [wiki=7a34e7eb5f8afe27779799902d150360]Kenosha[/wiki], [wiki=e540abfcbaa503b6944806fe15d1d826]Aurora[/wiki], and [wiki=d9cde1d43624beb47b77586aeb11cc5f]Joliet[/wiki], while the South Shore line runs through [wiki=c5376d00573c5858adf7ed894d0491b9]Indiana[/wiki] as far as [wiki=7f264fbfd800eff20a29e1f7ede264f1]South Bend[/wiki]. Several CTA buses converge upon the two stations, and the [wiki=90d4e4d1f2b1dbbac358dd5c6e8a9830]Loop[/wiki] CTA trains are within walking distance.
Chicagoans refer to some expressways by their names, not the numbers used to identify them on the signs you'll see posted on the U.S. interstate highway system. So you'll have to commit both name and number to memory. I-55 (the Stevenson Expressway) will take you from the southwest city and the southwest suburbs to downtown Chicago. I-90/94 (called The Dan Ryan south of downtown) comes in from [wiki=c5376d00573c5858adf7ed894d0491b9]Indiana[/wiki] to the east (via the Chicago Skyway - I-90 and Bishop Ford Freeway - I-94) and from central Illinois (via I-57). I-90 (called The Kennedy north of downtown) comes in from the northwest city and northwest suburbs. I-94 (called the Edens Expressway) comes in from the North Side and the northern suburbs to downtown. I-80 runs south of the city in an east-west direction, linking with several north-south expressways.
The Illinois tollway, which in addition to I-90, consists of I-88 which serves the west suburbs, I-355 (called The Vets or The Veterans Memorial Tollway) which connects Joliet with Schaumburg, and I-294 - The Tri-State which runs from the South Side to the far Northwest Side and passes next to O'Hare Airport. Be prepared for toll booths off to the right hand side of the tollway which will cost about $1.50 per booth, a much lower cost than you will find on tolls in New York City or the Los Angeles area. When traveling the tollway, always have a few dollars in cash and coins to pay at the booths, which are staffed on mainline toll plazas.
If arriving downtown from the south on I-94 or I-90, or from the north on I-90/94, great views can be seen as you approach the downtown skyline. If arriving on I-55 from the southwest, or on I-290 (the Eisenhower Expressway, formerly and sometimes still called The Congress Expressway) from the west, the skyline is also visible. If arriving from north or south on Lake Shore Drive (U.S. Highway 41) a scenic introduction will be provided, day or night, on what has to be the most beautiful thoroughfare in the world.
Downtown Chicago is very walkable, with wide sidewalks and minimal congestion. Walkers looking to avoid cold, heat, rain and snow find the Chicago Pedway System to be helpful. It is a system of underground, ground-level, and above-ground passages that connect downtown buildings.
The best way to see Chicago is by public transit. It is cheap (basically), efficient (at times), and safe (for the most part). The [url=http://rtachicago.com/]Regional Transportation Authority (RTA)[/url] oversees the various public transit agencies in the [wiki=61462cabe8446a2992d46010da6fb0a7]Chicagoland[/wiki] area. You can plan trips online with the RTA [url=http://tripsweb.rtachicago.com/]trip planner[/url] or get assistance by calling 836-7000 in any local area code between 5am and 1am. The RTA also has an official partnership with Google Maps, which can provide routes with public transit.
Avoid driving in downtown Chicago if at all possible.
Traffic is heavy and garages in the Loop can cost as much as $35 per day. Free websites like ParkWhiz.com and ParkingPanda.com let you book off-street parking in advance after searching by location and price, which is often discounted. Other sites like [url=http://www.chiparking.com]ChiParking.com[/url] provide tips about where to park in different parts of Chicago.
Although downtown streets are laid out on the grid, some streets have multiple levels which can confuse even the most hardened city driver. Even outside of the city center, street parking may not be readily available. If you do find a spot, check street signs to make sure that a) no residential permit is required to park, and b) parking is not disallowed during certain hours for street cleaning, rush hour or something along those lines. Parking restrictions are swiftly enforced in the form of tickets and towing - be especially wary during snowy weather.
On-street parking is handled by one-per-block kiosks, which will issue a slip for you to put in your front window. The kiosks will accept cash or credit cards. If the kiosk fails for any reason (such as the printer running out of paper), there should be a phone number to call to report it and ensure you don't receive a ticket.
Be advised: talking on a handheld cell phone while driving is illegal, and the police will write you a ticket. If you need to take or make a call, use a hands-free headset - or better yet, pull over.
Drivers on the city expressways can be very aggressive. For those used to driving on expressways in the Northeast US or Southern California, this may simply be a reminder of home. For everyone else, though, it may be intimidating.
Rental cars are available at both airports (O'Hare and Midway) as well as from numerous rental offices in the Loop as well as other locations scattered throughout various neighborhoods and in the suburbs. O'Hare has the most and largest rental car offices, with many agencies operating 24 hours.
O'Hare hasn't built any sort of consolidated rental car facility, so you'll need to proceed out the door from baggage claim and find the shuttle bus belonging to the rental company you're renting with and ride it to their office a few minutes away. (Check rates and book a reservation before boarding a bus.) Some companies are closer than others--the better companies are located just up the main airport access road, while the lower-end discount agencies might be several miles away around the other side of the airport. When returning, be sure to allow plenty of time to find the rental lot, return the car, and ride the bus back to the terminal.
Midway now has a consolidated rental facility hosting the rental counters and parking areas for all major companies. A dedicated rental facility bus for all companies picks up from the lower level of the main terminal building; once you arrive, find the counter for the company you're renting with.
Chicago has some of the least expensive taxi fares in the US for a major city. Taxis can be hailed from the street throughout the entire city, and are most plentiful in the downtown and North Side areas. Rates are regulated by the city; fares are standard and the initial charge ("flag pull") is $2.25 for the first 1/9 mile, then $0.20 for each additional 1/9 mile or $0.20 for each elapsed 36 seconds. There is a $1.00 fuel surcharge added to the initial charge. There is also a flat $1.00 charge for the second passenger, and then a $0.50 charge for each additional passenger after that (for example, if four people take a taxi together, there will be $2.00 in additional flat fees).
Rides from [wiki=6bd456184698ad38b5cac8642ae2200d]O'Hare[/wiki] and [wiki=1de2601f10671cf58bc8a43ff667ce77#By plane]Midway[/wiki] to outer suburbs cost an additional 50% over the metered fee. Give the driver the nearest major intersection to which you are heading (if you know it) and then the specific address. There is no additional charge for baggage or credit card use, although some drivers discourage credit card payments if the distance travelled is short.
If you are outside of Downtown, North Side, Near West, or Near South neighborhoods, it may be less easy to find cabs from the street and easier just to call one. Taxis typically take 10-15 min from the time you call to arrive. The principal companies are:
*American-United Taxi, ☎ +1 773 248-7600
*Checker Cab, ☎ +1 312 243-2537
*Flash Cab, ☎ +1 773 561-1444 [http://flashcab.com/]
*Yellow Cab, ☎ +1 312 829-4222 [http://yellowcabchicago.com/]
The above applies only to Chicago taxis. Suburban taxi cabs have their own fares and rates, depending on the laws and regulations of the town in which they are based.
Chicago has a bike path along the shores of Lake Michigan, making north-south travel very convenient as long as the weather is favorable by the lake. Most major city streets have bike lanes, and the biking culture is established enough that cars tend to accommodate and (grudgingly) yield to bicycles. Bike trips can also be combined with rides on the CTA. See the [wiki=9cfa1e69f507d007a516eb3e9f5074e2#Bicycles]bicycling section[/wiki] below for more details. Please note that riding bicycles on the sidewalks are illegal and may result and in a fine. Unless otherwise noted, Bicycles should be ridden on the street or bike path.
In the summer, water taxis are sometimes more convenient than the CTA, if you are traveling around the fringes of downtown. They are also a relatively cheap way to take in some offshore views. Two private companies operate water taxi services around the Loop.
Chicago Water Taxi (Wendella Boats) [url=http://chicagowatertaxi.com/]]☎ +1 312 337-1446, uses yellow boats and has three stops (Michigan Ave, LaSalle/Clark, Madison St), plus Chinatown on weekends ($2, $4 Chinatown/all day pass). Taxis run roughly M-F 6:30AM-6:30PM, Sa-Su 10:30AM-6:30PM.
Shoreline Sightseeing [http://shorelinesightseeing.com/watertaximap.html[/url] ☎ +1 312 222-9328, has blue and white boats. It is more expensive ($5-7), but it serves seven destinations including some on Lake Michigan (Union Station/Sears Tower, Wells & Wacker, Michigan Ave Bridge, Navy Pier-Ogden Slip, Navy Pier-Dock St, Buckingham Fountain, and Museum Campus). Shoreline taxis run 10AM-6PM every twenty minutes and 6PM-9PM every half hour Memorial Day-Labor Day, with occasional and less frequent service in the spring and fall.
[wiki=2880dcefa707fb35c11336aa02ed812f]Along the Magnificent Mile[/wiki] - one day and night in Chicago, with skyscrapers, shopping, food, parks, and amazing views of the city from high and low.
* [wiki=fae4078874430add0c96b040698a0292]Loop Art Tour[/wiki] - a 2 to 4 hour walking tour of downtown Chicago's magnificent collection of modern sculptures.
Chicago's set of museums and cultural institutions are among the best in the world. Three of them are located within a short walk of each other in the [wiki=699992dc4e35e9c20edc2fdba8256722]Near South[/wiki], on what is known as the Museum Campus, in a beautiful spot along the lake: the Adler Planetarium, with all sorts of cool hands-on space exhibits and astronomy shows; the Field Museum of Natural History, which features SUE, the giant Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton, and a plethora of Egyptian treasures; and the Shedd Aquarium, with dolphins, whales, sharks, and the best collection of marine life east of California. A short distance away, in [wiki=c7d32f2e653a204407804c77adbd5d49]Hyde Park[/wiki], is the most fun of them all, the Museum of Science and Industry - or, as generations of Chicago-area grammar school students know it, the best field trip ever.
In the [wiki=90d4e4d1f2b1dbbac358dd5c6e8a9830]Loop[/wiki], the Art Institute of Chicago has a handful of iconic household names among an unrivaled collection of Impressionism, modern and classical art, and tons of historical artifacts. And in [wiki=53a2761119e43637c2f339a152d8ddee]Lincoln Park[/wiki], a short trip from the Loop, the cheerful (and free) Lincoln Park Zoo welcomes visitors every day of the week, with plentiful highlights like the Regenstein Center for African Apes.
Also, Chicago has some knockout less well-known museums scattered throughout the city like the International Museum of Surgical Science and the Loyola University Museum of Art in [wiki=53a2761119e43637c2f339a152d8ddee]Gold Coast[/wiki], Chicago History Museum in [wiki=79ed40abfee4547c8d0814a37137502d]Lincoln Park[/wiki], DuSable Museum of African American History in [wiki=33748dcb2b187cb273c363df0d3f153c]Washington Park[/wiki], National Museum of Mexican Art in [wiki=547ed8b517d6aa2705f2fd3b8eeae874]Pilsen[/wiki], the Polish Museum of America in [wiki=bba4b5a3b4a589bfe0cd187433644dc3]Wicker Park[/wiki], the Museum of Photography in the Loop, and the Driehaus Museum in [wiki=8bd89ec3422669d78e6956635337b918]Near North[/wiki]. The University of Chicago, in [wiki=c7d32f2e653a204407804c77adbd5d49]Hyde Park[/wiki], has several cool (and free) museums that are open to all visitors, showcasing a spectacular collection of antiquities and modern/contemporary art.
Discount packages like the Chicago CityPASS [url=http://www.citypass.com/chicago/]]can be purchased before you arrive in town. They cover admission to some museums and other tourist attractions, allowing you to cut to the front of lines, and may include discounts for restaurants and shopping. Also, programs such as Bank of America's Museums to Go offer free admission at multiple Chicago museums for designated times which can save you a small fortune on admission fees. Ticket comparison sites like Trevii, [http://www.trevii.com[/url] automatically calculates you the best ticket option for your trip itinerary with consideration of various discount options, such as CityPASS, Bank of America's Museums to Go, age-dependent discounts, and etc.
See the [wiki=b2a0cac2017522d63f266cb0c48f9aa8]Chicago skyline guide[/wiki] to find out more about the city's skyscrapers.
From the sternly classical to the space-age, from the Gothic to the coolly modern, Chicago is a place with an embarrassment of architectural riches. Frank Lloyd Wright fans will swoon to see his earliest buildings in Chicago, where he began his professional career and established the Prairie School architectural style, with numerous homes in [wiki=c7d32f2e653a204407804c77adbd5d49]Hyde Park/Kenwood[/wiki], [wiki=c36f4caa22f92ee2d071710292b3d557]Oak Park[/wiki], and [wiki=a213b1fa13fbd95396a217c96332c7b0]Rogers Park[/wiki] - over 100 buildings in the Chicago metropolitan area! Frank Lloyd Wright learned his craft at the foot of the lieber meister, Louis Sullivan, whose ornate, awe-inspiring designs were once the jewels of the [wiki=90d4e4d1f2b1dbbac358dd5c6e8a9830]Loop[/wiki], and whose few surviving buildings (Auditorium Theater, Carson Pirie Scott Building, one in the [wiki=bba4b5a3b4a589bfe0cd187433644dc3]Ukrainian Village[/wiki]) still stand apart.
The 1871 Chicago Fire forced the city to rebuild. The ingenuity and ambition of Sullivan, his teacher William Le Baron Jenney (Manhattan Building), and contemporaries like Burnham & Root (Monadnock, Rookery) and Holabird & Roche/Root (Chicago Board of Trade) made Chicago the definitive city of their era. The world's first skyscrapers were built in the [wiki=90d4e4d1f2b1dbbac358dd5c6e8a9830]Loop[/wiki] as those architects received ever more demanding commissions. It was here that steel-frame construction was invented, allowing buildings to rise above the limits of load-bearing walls. Later, Mies van der Rohe would adapt Sullivan's ethos with landmark buildings in [wiki=27f52d7f69c8cfa6b08d2ae4632a766d]Bronzeville[/wiki] (Illinois Institute of Technology) and the [wiki=90d4e4d1f2b1dbbac358dd5c6e8a9830]Loop[/wiki] (Chicago Federal Center). Unfortunately, Chicago's world-class architectural heritage is almost evenly matched by the world-class recklessness with which the city has treated it, and the list is long of masterpieces that have been needlessly demolished for bland new structures.
Today, Chicago boasts three out of America's five tallest buildings: the [wiki=90d4e4d1f2b1dbbac358dd5c6e8a9830#See]Sears Tower[/wiki] (1st), the [wiki=8bd89ec3422669d78e6956635337b918#See]Trump Tower[/wiki] (2nd), and the Aon Center (5th) (although the local favorite is actually #6: the [wiki=8bd89ec3422669d78e6956635337b918#See]John Hancock Center[/wiki]). For years, the Sears Tower was the tallest building in the world, but it has since lost the title. Various developers insist they're bringing the title back with proposed skyscrapers. Until they do, Chicago will have to settle for having the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere with the Sears Tower, although the Hancock has a better view and is quite frankly better-looking.
Chicago is particularly noted for its vast array of sacred architecture, as diverse theologically as it is artistically. There were more than two thousand churches in Chicago at the opening of the twenty-first century. Of particular note are the so-called Polish Cathedrals like [wiki=976bbf77469ab4bfc0c203bea4309e4e#See]St. Mary of the Angels[/wiki] in [wiki=976bbf77469ab4bfc0c203bea4309e4e]Bucktown[/wiki] and [wiki=ba10923fce54ccba75c2bb0fc9120d08#See]St. Hyacinth Basilica[/wiki] in [wiki=ba10923fce54ccba75c2bb0fc9120d08]Avondale[/wiki], as well as several treasures in [wiki=bba4b5a3b4a589bfe0cd187433644dc3]Ukrainian Village[/wiki] - beautifully crafted buildings with old world flourishes recognized for their unusually large size and impressive scope. The National Shrine of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini in Lincoln Park is the masterpiece of renowned architect Leonard Gliatto.
Architectural tours cover the landmarks on foot and by popular river boat tours, or by just standing awestruck on a downtown bridge over the Chicago River; see individual district articles for details. For a tour on the cheap, the short trip around the elevated Loop train circuit (Brown/Purple Lines) may be worth every penny of the $2 fare.
Chicago's African-American history begins with the city's African-American founder, Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable. Born to a Haitian slave and a French pirate, he married a woman from the Potawatomi tribe, and built a house and trading post on the Chicago River on the spot of today's Pioneer Court (the square just south of the Tribune Tower in the [wiki=8bd89ec3422669d78e6956635337b918]Near North[/wiki]). Du Sable lived on the Chicago River with his family from the 1770s to 1800, when he sold his house to John Kinzie, whose family and friends would later claim to have founded the city.
Relative to other northern cities, African-Americans constituted a fairly large part of Chicago's early population because of Illinois' more tolerant culture, which was inherited from fervent anti-slavery Mormon settlers. As a non-slave state generally lacking official segregation laws, Illinois was an attractive place to live for black freedmen and fugitive slaves.
By the 1920s, Chicago had a thriving middle class African-American community based in the [wiki=27f52d7f69c8cfa6b08d2ae4632a766d]Bronzeville[/wiki] neighborhood, which at the time became known as "The Black Metropolis," home to a cultural renaissance comparable to the Harlem Renaissance of New York. African-American literature of the time was represented by famous and local poetess Gwendolyn Brooks and the novelist Richard Wright, most famous for his Native Son, nearly all of which takes place in Chicago's [wiki=27f52d7f69c8cfa6b08d2ae4632a766d]Bronzeville[/wiki] and [wiki=c7d32f2e653a204407804c77adbd5d49]Hyde Park/Kenwood[/wiki]. The Chicago school of African-American literature distinguished itself from the East Coast by its focus on the new realities of urban African-American life. Chicago became a major center of African-American jazz, and the home for the blues. Jazz great Louis Armstrong got his start there; other famous black Chicagoans of the day included Bessie Coleman - the world's first licensed black pilot, the hugely influential African-American and women's civil rights activist Ida B. Wells, the great pitcher/manager/executive of Negro League Baseball Andrew "Rube" Foster, and many more.
Helping to fuel Chicago's black renaissance was one of the single most influential parts of African-American history: the Great Migration. African-Americans from the [wiki=52ee55074f1808ed43a232b2ec149b95]South[/wiki] moved to the industrial cities of the North (particularly Chicago) due to the post-WWI shortage of immigrant industrial labor, and to escape the Jim Crow Laws and racial violence of the South. The massive wave of migrants increased Chicago's black population alone by more than 500,000. With it came southern food, Mississippi blues, and the challenges of establishing adequate housing for so many recent arrivals.
Black Chicago's renaissance was halted momentarily, as was the entire world, by the Great Depression. In 1937 came the creation of the Chicago Housing Authority which sought to build affordable public housing for the city. However well-intentioned, the results were not good. The largest housing projects by far were the 1940 Ida B. Wells projects; the Cabrini Green projects, which developed a reputation as the most violent housing projects in the nation; and the massive 1962 Robert Taylor Homes, which stretched for several miles. In the beginning, the housing projects were indeed decent. As the years passed, unsavory people and less maintenance proved to be the downfall of the projects. The Black Metropolis was unable to cope with this development, and surrounding neighborhoods fell with it. Today, the city has torn down most of these structures and replaced them with lower rise, mixed used buildings; which has shown to have more success than the previous dwellings.
Further damaging to Chicago's black population was the phenomenon of "white flight" that took place across the nation. Unwilling to live beside black neighbors, many white Chicagoans fled desegregation to the suburbs. This trend was accelerated by the practice of "blockbusting," where unsavory real estate agents would fan racist fears in order to buy homes on the cheap. As a result, most of Chicago neighborhoods never truly integrated at that time, and the social, educational, and economic networks that incoming non-whites had hoped to join disintegrated in the wake of fleeing white citizens.
Today, integration has come a long way and integration exists in many Chicago neighborhoods including the communities on the entire eastern half of the North Side that border the lakefront, as well as communities such as [wiki=c7d32f2e653a204407804c77adbd5d49]Hyde Park/Kenwood[/wiki], [wiki=a5c3292257e6a535dff3749f8f3a6ba1]Logan Square[/wiki], [wiki=f315d76a86efb998f2d0ea59643e998f]Little Italy[/wiki], Auburn Gresham, [wiki=9474140f2b9cb64354d903c0ae53b178]Beverly[/wiki], and Hegewisch. However, there are still parts of the city that are predominantly composed of one race.
In 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. decided to come north and chose Chicago as his first destination. However, from the moment of his arrival on the [wiki=1de2601f10671cf58bc8a43ff667ce77]Southwest Side[/wiki], King was utterly confounded. The death threats that followed his march through Marquette Park were challenge enough, but nowhere in the South was there a more expert player of politics than Chicago's Mayor Richard J. Daley. King left town frustrated and exhausted, but Rev. Jesse Jackson continued civil rights efforts in Chicago through his Operation PUSH. The 1983 election of Mayor Harold Washington, the first black mayor of Chicago, was a watershed event for Chicago's African-American population, and although long battles with obstructionist and racist white politicians lay ahead, it marked the moment when Black elected officials became major, independent forces in Chicago.
Today, comprising well over a third of the city, Chicago's black population is the country's second largest in overall numbers, after New York City. However, blacks make up a larger percentage of Chicago than they do of New York City. The large South Side is the cultural center of Chicago's black community. The South Side along with the adjoining south suburbs constitutes the largest single Black region in the entire country, and boasts the country's greatest concentration of black-owned businesses. Some Chicagoans and outsiders from other parts of the country who are ignorant of this area may tell you that it is dangerous. North Siders in general do not think much of the West Side or the South Side (similar to the way Manhattanites in New York City do not think much of the other four boroughs of that city). Although the West Side of Chicago does contain many economically challenged neighborhoods, the reality of the South Side is more complex. On the South Side there are affluent, middle class, and economically challenged neighborhoods. Affluent and upper-middle class areas on the South Side include the [wiki=8e72c2855abc380e8c82d1c9b00129d5]South Loop[/wiki], [wiki=c7d32f2e653a204407804c77adbd5d49]Hyde Park/Kenwood[/wiki], [wiki=27f52d7f69c8cfa6b08d2ae4632a766d]upper Bronzeville[/wiki], [wiki=c3790de61170b7ad11b10c501d6faae4]Chatham[/wiki], [wiki=c3790de61170b7ad11b10c501d6faae4]South Shore[/wiki], [wiki=9474140f2b9cb64354d903c0ae53b178]Beverly[/wiki], [wiki=ea6f6a42e097b7171e55ee728a3a78d9]Mount Greenwood[/wiki], [wiki=3a2e97c666ce36fe6479ee820b96206b]West Lawn[/wiki], and [wiki=4bbdf8467977ad6d76044994afb0ea56]western Morgan Park[/wiki]. Chicago is a very large city and the South Side is large, thus, many people outside the South Side may not be familiar with these affluent/upper-middle class areas on the South Side. The local newscasts also have a bad habit: When a crime happens on the North Side, the commentator will put an emphasis on the neighborhood in which it happened, which tends to not give the entire North Side a bad image. However, when a crime happens on the South Side, the emphasis is put on South Side, thus giving the entire South Side a bad image.
For those interested in African-American history, [wiki=27f52d7f69c8cfa6b08d2ae4632a766d]Bronzeville[/wiki] is a top destination. The Kenwood area also boasts interesting recent history, as it has been (or is) home to championship boxer Muhammad Ali, Nation of Islam leaders Elijah Muhammad and Louis Farrakhan, and President Barack Obama. No one should miss the DuSable Museum of African-American History in [wiki=27f52d7f69c8cfa6b08d2ae4632a766d]Bronzeville[/wiki], adjancent to Hyde Park, the first museum of African-American history in the United States. And if your interest is more precisely in African-American culture than history, head down to [wiki=c3790de61170b7ad11b10c501d6faae4]Chatham and South Shore[/wiki] to enter the heart of Chicago's black community.
Chicago is among the most diverse cities in America, and many neighborhoods reflect the character and culture of the immigrants who established them. Some, however, do more than just reflect: they absorb you in a place that can make an entire neighborhood feel like a chunk of another country. The best of Chicago's ethnic neighborhoods are completely uncompromised, and that makes them a real highlight for visitors.
Chicago's [wiki=0ccaff4596ae35b583ee3bfd068afde2]Chinatown[/wiki] is among the most active Chinatowns in the world. It even has its own stop on the CTA Red Line. It's on the South Side near [wiki=0ccaff4596ae35b583ee3bfd068afde2]Bridgeport[/wiki], birthplace of the Irish political power-brokers who have run Chicago government for most of the last century. More Irish communities exist on the [wiki=9474140f2b9cb64354d903c0ae53b178]Far Southwest Side[/wiki], where they even have an Irish castle to seal the deal. The [wiki=1de2601f10671cf58bc8a43ff667ce77]Southwest Side[/wiki] houses enormous populations of Polish Highlanders and Mexicans, as well as reduced Lithuanian and Bohemian communities.
No serious Chicago gourmand would eat Indian food that didn't come from a restaurant on Devon Avenue in [wiki=a213b1fa13fbd95396a217c96332c7b0]Rogers Park[/wiki]. It's paradise for spices, saris, and the latest Bollywood flicks. Lawrence Avenue in [wiki=8e04ad5cd9206099c6e4b089593e3c5e]Albany Park[/wiki] is sometimes called Seoul Drive for the Korean community there, and the Persian food on Kedzie Avenue nearby is simply astonishing. At the Argyle Red Line stop, by the intersection of Argyle and Broadway in [wiki=fbd94bc4d1c38d18748116fd3a704e35]Uptown[/wiki], you'd be forgiven for wondering if you were still in America; Vietnamese, Thais, and Laotians share space on a few blocks of restaurants, grocery stores, and even dentists. Neither the Swedish settlers who built [wiki=fbd94bc4d1c38d18748116fd3a704e35]Andersonville[/wiki] or the Germans from [wiki=8e04ad5cd9206099c6e4b089593e3c5e]Lincoln Square[/wiki] are the dominant presence in those neighborhoods any more, but their identity is still present in restaurants, cultural centers, and other discoveries to be made. Likewise, Little Italy and Greektown on the [wiki=9ac8e973bc77a50732f350f333e41db6]Near West Side[/wiki] survive only as restaurant strips.
A more contemporary experience awaits in [wiki=43f35cab58acc57442d1ebbfe9fbf2db]Pilsen[/wiki] and [wiki=ab0c59b7e226316a6eec9c4a92e8b3c8]Little Village[/wiki], two neighborhoods on the Lower West Side where the Spanish signage outnumbers the English; in fact, Chicago has the second largest Mexican and Puerto Rican populations outside of their respective home countries. Pilsen and its arts scene is an especially an exciting place to visit.
It's hard to imagine displacement being a concern for the Polish community on the city's [wiki=ba10923fce54ccba75c2bb0fc9120d08]Far Northwest[/wiki] and [wiki=1de2601f10671cf58bc8a43ff667ce77]Southwest[/wiki] sides. The Belmont-Central business district is what you might consider the epicenter of Polish activity. Bars, restaurants, and dozens of other types of Polish businesses thrive on this strip, and on a smaller section of Milwaukee Avenue (between Roscoe and Diversey) in the vicinity of St. Hyacinth Basilica which bears the Polish name of Jackowo - [wiki=ba10923fce54ccba75c2bb0fc9120d08]Chicago's Polish Village[/wiki]. Polish Highlanders, or Górals, on the other hand dominate the city's [wiki=1de2601f10671cf58bc8a43ff667ce77]Southwest Side[/wiki] with a cuisine and culture that is decidedly Balkan. A host of restaurants and cultural institutions visibly display the rustic touch of their Carpathian craft such as the Polish Highlanders Alliance of North America at Archer Avenue just northeast of its intersection with Pulaski Road. Taste of Polonia, held over Labor Day weekend on the grounds of the Copernicus Foundation at the historic [wiki=ba10923fce54ccba75c2bb0fc9120d08]Gateway Theatre[/wiki], draws an annual attendance of about 50,000 people and is touted as the city's largest ethnic fest.
The five Great Lakes together form one of the largest masses of freshwater on Earth, containing around 20% of the world's surface fresh water alone, and Chicagoans enjoy flocking to the beaches of Lake Michigan. Chicago has great beaches and anyone can show up and swim. There are no admission fees on the city's miles upon miles of beaches, and nearly the entire waterfront is open as public beach and parkland; what amounts to terrific planning by the city. The water is quite warm in the summer and early fall (check with the NOAA for temperatures [url=http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/ofs/lmofs/fore_temp.shtml]).]The Chicago shore has been called the second cleanest urban waterfront in the world, and that's really saying something for a metropolitan area of nearly 10 million people. Bacteria levels in the water do force occasional closures, but they are very rare. Lifeguards will be posted when the beach is officially open.
Oak Street Beach and North Avenue Beach (in the [[Chicago/Near North|Near North[/url]] and [wiki=53a2761119e43637c2f339a152d8ddee]Lincoln Park[/wiki]) are the fashionable places to sun-tan and be seen and are usually crowded due to their proximity to downtown and area hotels. [wiki=a213b1fa13fbd95396a217c96332c7b0]Rogers Park[/wiki], [wiki=ec15ace58f223292220dc54bfeac206d]Edgewater[/wiki], and 35th Street Beach allow visitors more individual space and an enjoyable vibe as well. [wiki=c7d32f2e653a204407804c77adbd5d49]Hyde Park's[/wiki] Promontory Point is beautiful, and offers skyline views from its submerged beach by the rocks, although a swim there is technically against city rules. Hollywood Beach in [wiki=ec15ace58f223292220dc54bfeac206d]Edgewater[/wiki] is the main gay beach. Montrose Beach in Uptown is the city's largest beach and hosts a large dog beach and a full service, outdoor restaurant in addition to July 3 fireworks and a variety of live music events. A large bird sanctuary and one of the few hills in Chicago are also located near Montrose Beach.
Volleyball tournaments are occassionally held at Chicago beaches. The city has 33 beaches of various sizes within the city limits alone. There are additional beaches in the northern suburbs as well.
Where there are beaches, there are waterfront parks. During the summer months, the parks are a destination for organized and impromptu volleyball and soccer games, chess matches, and plenty more, with tennis and basketball courts dotted along the way.
There are also terrific parks goin inland. In the [wiki=90d4e4d1f2b1dbbac358dd5c6e8a9830]Loop[/wiki], Grant Park hosts music festivals throughout the year, and Millennium Park is a fun destination for all ages, especially during the summer. In [wiki=c7d32f2e653a204407804c77adbd5d49]Hyde Park[/wiki], Midway Park offers skating, and summer and winter gardens in the shadow of the academic giant, the University of Chicago, and Jackson Park has golf, more gardens and the legacy of the city's shining moment, the 1893 World's Colombian Exposition. In [wiki=27f52d7f69c8cfa6b08d2ae4632a766d]Bronzeville[/wiki], Washington Park is one of the city's best places for community sports. Lincoln Park contains the Lincoln Park Zoo and the Lincoln Park Conservatory. And that's just a brief overview. Almost every neighborhood in Chicago has a beloved park.
Chicago is also home to the Bloomingdale Trail/606. This is a linear park in the sky. This elevated greenway, created from railroad right-of-ways and its viaducts, is 2.7 miles, running through several Chicago neighborhoods, and complete with walking paths, bike lanes, benches, flowers and plants. This type of linear park, over former rail lines, is the third such type in the entire world, after a nearly 3 mile long version in Paris, and a 1 mile long version in New York City.
If you're absolutely determined and you plan carefully, you may be able to visit Chicago during a festival-less week. It's a challenge, though. Most neighborhoods, parishes, and service groups host their own annual festivals throughout the spring, summer, and fall [url=http://explorechicago.org/city/en/supporting_narrative/events___special_events/special_events/mose/chicago_neighborhood.html].]And the city has several in the winter. There are a few can't-miss city-wide events, though. In the [[Chicago/Loop|Loop[/url]], Grant Park hosts Taste of Chicago in July, the largest outdoor food festival in the world; and there are four major music festivals: Blues Fest and Gospel Fest in June, Lollapalooza in August, and Jazz Fest in September. All but Lollapalooza are free. The Chicago-based music website Pitchfork Media also hosts their own annual three day festival of rock, rap, and more in the summer at Union Park on the [wiki=9ac8e973bc77a50732f350f333e41db6]Near West Side[/wiki].
With entries in every major professional sports league and several universities in the area, Chicago sports fans have a lot to keep them occupied. The Chicago Bears play football at Soldier Field in the [wiki=699992dc4e35e9c20edc2fdba8256722]Near South[/wiki] from warm September to frigid January. Since the baseball teams split the city in half, nothing seizes the Chicago sports consciousness like a playoff run from the Bears. Aspiring fans will be expected to be able to quote a minimum of two verses of the Super Bowl Shuffle from memory, tear up at the mention of Walter Payton, and provide arguments as to how Butkus, Singletary, and Urlacher represent stages in the evolution of the linebacker, with supporting evidence in the form of grunts, yells, and fists slammed on tables.
The Chicago Bulls play basketball at the United Center on the [wiki=9ac8e973bc77a50732f350f333e41db6]Near West Side[/wiki]. They are an exciting team to watch, led by star Derrick Rose. The Chicago Blackhawks share quarters with the Bulls. As one of the "Original Six" teams in professional hockey, the Blackhawks have a long history in their sport, and the team is experiencing a renaissance after capturing the Stanley Cup in 2010 for the first time in 49 years and winning two more championships in 2013 and 2015. Home games for both teams tend to sell out, but tickets can usually be found if you check around. Both the Bulls and the Blackhawks play from the end of October to the beginning of April.
It's baseball, though, in which the tribal fury of Chicago sports is best expressed. The Chicago Cubs play at Wrigley Field (the oldest National League ballpark and the second oldest active major league ballpark) on the North Side, in [wiki=d3cd612a24939ccf3c8af5a9a883c070]Lakeview[/wiki], and the Chicago White Sox play at U.S. Cellular Field (Comiskey Park, underneath the corporate naming rights) on the South Side, in [wiki=0ccaff4596ae35b583ee3bfd068afde2]Bridgeport[/wiki]. Both franchises have more than a century's worth of history, and both teams play 81 home games from April to the beginning of October. Everything else is a matter of fiercely held opinion. The two three-game series when the teams play each other are the hottest sports tickets in Chicago during any given year. If someone offers you tickets to a game, pounce.
There are plenty of smaller leagues in the city as well, although some play their games in the suburbs. The Chicago Fire (Major League Soccer) and Chicago Red Stars (National Women's Soccer League) play soccer in the suburb of Bridgeview, the Chicago Sky play women's professional basketball at the UIC Pavilion on the [wiki=9ac8e973bc77a50732f350f333e41db6]Near West Side[/wiki], and the Windy City Rollers skate flat-track roller derby in neighboring [wiki=c6dd4ad42eda4a72ed9944fb183c407b]Cicero[/wiki]. Minor league baseball teams dot the suburbs as well.
While college athletics are not one of Chicago's strong points, Northwestern football (in [wiki=5621c53bd6d14a0d06bd34ea173f2fbe]Evanston[/wiki]) and DePaul basketball (off-campus in [wiki=b309fb8c3947d10b9347855db160e239]Rosemont[/wiki]) show occasional signs of life. If you find yourself in [wiki=c7d32f2e653a204407804c77adbd5d49]Hyde Park[/wiki], ask someone how the University of Chicago football team is doing - it's a surefire conversation starter.
Modern American comedy - the good parts, at least - was born when a group of young actors from [wiki=c7d32f2e653a204407804c77adbd5d49]Hyde Park[/wiki] formed The Compass Players, fusing intelligence and a commitment to character with an improvisational spark. One strand of their topical, hyper-literate comedy led, directly or indirectly, to Shelly Berman, Mike Nichols & Elaine May, Lenny Bruce, M*A*S*H and The Mary Tyler Moore Show; another strand, namely The Second City, led to Saturday Night Live and a pretty huge percentage of the funny movies and television of the last thirty years. Still in Chicago's [wiki=53a2761119e43637c2f339a152d8ddee]Old Town[/wiki] (and few other places as well), still smart and still funny, Second City does two-act sketch revues followed by one act of improv. If you only see one show while you're in Chicago, Second City is a good choice.
Improvisational comedy as a performance art form is a big part of the Chicago theater scene. At [wiki=d3cd612a24939ccf3c8af5a9a883c070]Lakeview[/wiki] and [wiki=fbd94bc4d1c38d18748116fd3a704e35]Uptown[/wiki] theaters like The Annoyance Theater, I.O., and The Playground, young actors take classes and perform shows that range from ragged to inspired throughout the week. Some are fueled by the dream of making the cast of SNL or Tina Fey's latest project, and some just enjoy doing good work on-stage, whether or not they're getting paid for it (and most aren't). There's no guarantee that you'll see something great on any given night, but improv tends to be cheaper than anything else in town, and it can definitely be worth the risk. Another popular theater experience is the comedy/drama hybrid Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind, offering 30 plays in 60 minutes every weekend in [wiki=fbd94bc4d1c38d18748116fd3a704e35]Andersonville[/wiki].
Steppenwolf, in [wiki=53a2761119e43637c2f339a152d8ddee]Lincoln Park[/wiki], is Chicago's other landmark theater. Founded in 1976, they have a history of taking risks onstage, and they have the ensemble to back it up, with heavyweights like Joan Allen, John Malkovich, and Gary Sinise. Steppenwolf isn't cheap any more, but they mix good, young actors with their veteran ensemble and still choose interesting, emotionally-charged scripts. It's the best place in town to see modern, cutting-edge theater with a bit of "I went to..." name-drop value for the folks back home.
Most of the prestige theaters, including the Broadway in Chicago outlets, are located in the [wiki=90d4e4d1f2b1dbbac358dd5c6e8a9830]Loop[/wiki] or the [wiki=8bd89ec3422669d78e6956635337b918]Near North[/wiki]. Tickets are expensive and can be tough to get, but shows destined for [wiki=a06fb2a659cca1664a18d9082d5a70fb]Broadway[/wiki] like The Producers often make their debut here. For the cost-conscious, the League of Chicago Theatres operates Hot Tix [url=http://hottix.org/],]which offers short-notice half-price tickets to many Chicago shows.
One theater to see, regardless of the production, is The Auditorium in the [[Chicago/Loop|Loop[/url]]. It's a masterpiece of architecture and of performance space. Designed by Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan, who were on a commission from syndicate of local business magnates to bring some culture to the heathen city, it was the tallest building in Chicago and one of the tallest in the world at the time of its opening in 1889, and it's still an impressive sight, inside and out.
Chicago has a strong, passionate bicycle culture, and riding opportunities abound. Pedaling your way around the city is one of the best ways to get to know Chicago. And the terrain is mostly flat - a boon for easy-going cyclists! If you don't have a bike, that's no problem. [url=http://bobbysbikehike.com/]Bobby's Bike Hike[/url] has the official city concession, with a central bike rental location near Navy Pier, at the old North Pier at 465 N. McClurg Court. In June 2013, the [url=http://divvybikes.com]Divvy bikeshare system[/url] launched in Chicago. Tourists can buy a 24-hour pass that includes an unlimited number of 30-minute rides for $9.95.
The scenic Lakefront Trail runs for 18 continuous miles along the city's beautiful shoreline, from Hollywood Beach in Edgewater to the magnificent South Shore Cultural Center. Even while riding at a moderate pace, travelling downtown along the lakefront can be faster than driving or taking the CTA! If you're starting from downtown, you'll be at the approximate midpoint of the trail. Head south if you want a speed workout with fewer crowds, or north to see more of the locals at play.
Further inland, many streets have bike lanes, and signs direct riders to major bike routes. The City of Chicago maintains helpful [url=http://chicagobikes.org/]bicycle resources online[/url], including major civic bike events and (slow) interactive maps of major streets with bike lanes.
Bicyclists have to follow the same "rules of the road" as automobiles (stop at red lights and stop signs, etc). Bicycle riding is not allowed on sidewalks (except for children under age 12). This rule is strictly enforced in higher density neighborhoods, mostly areas near the lake, and is considered a criminal misdemeanor offense. You must walk your bike on the sidewalk.
CTA buses are all equipped with front bike racks, which carry up to two bicycles, and 'L' trains permit two bicycles per car except during rush hour (roughly 7-9:30AM and 3:30-6:30PM weekdays, excluding major holidays on which the CTA is running on a Sunday schedule). With the buses, inspect the rack closely for wear or damage and be absolutely certain that the bike is secured before you go, lest it fall off in traffic (and be immediately flattened by the bus). The CTA will fight tooth and nail to avoid reimbursing you for the loss, and the driver might not stop to let you retrieve it.
Bikes may be rented from the North Avenue Beach House ([wiki=53a2761119e43637c2f339a152d8ddee]Lincoln Park[/wiki]), Navy Pier, ([wiki=8bd89ec3422669d78e6956635337b918]Near North[/wiki]), the Millennium Park bike station ([wiki=90d4e4d1f2b1dbbac358dd5c6e8a9830]Loop[/wiki]), and from several bike shops in the city. Another option is to contact the terrific [url=http://workingbikes.org/]Working Bikes Cooperative[/url], an all-volunteer group of bike lovers that collects and refurbishes bikes, and then sells a few in Chicago to support their larger project of shipping bikes to Africa and South America. You could buy a cheap bike and donate it back when you're done, or even spend a day or two working as a volunteer.
For an opportunity to connect with the local bike community and take a memorable trip through the city, don't miss the [url=http://chicagocriticalmass.org/]Critical Mass[/url] rides on the last Friday of every month, starting from Daley Plaza in the [wiki=90d4e4d1f2b1dbbac358dd5c6e8a9830]Loop[/wiki] (5:30PM). With numbers on their side, the hundreds or even thousands of bike riders wind up taking over entire streets along the way, with themed routes that are voted upon at the outset of the trip. Anyone is free to join or fall away wherever they like. Police are generally cooperative - take cues from more experienced riders.
The major supermarket chains in Chicago are Jewel Osco, Mariano's, Food 4 Less, Aldi, Whole Foods Market, and Trader Joe's. In addition, the nation's three largest discount store chains Walmart, Target, and Kmart have several stores in Chicago as well. 7-Eleven convenience stores are usually found every couple of blocks and are always open 24-7, but have limited selection and high prices. The Walgreens drug store chain which is based in the city are also ubiquitous throughout Chicago with many locations open twenty four hours a day. Competitor CVS also has many locations in the area.
Due to its huge expat and immigrant population, Chicago also features a large variety of ethnic grocery stores, including Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Polish, and Mexican.
Chicago's most prominent contribution to world cuisine might be the deep dish pizza. Delivery chains as far away as [wiki=492379b2b8f7ac3f7cc8e0ca6254f4b1]Kyoto[/wiki] market "Chicago-style pizza," but the only place to be sure you're getting the real thing is in Chicago. To make a deep dish pizza, a thin layer of dough is laid into a deep round pan and pulled up the sides, and then meats and vegetables - Italian sausage, onions, bell peppers, mozzarella cheese, and more - are lined on the crust. At last, tomato sauce goes on top, and the pizza is baked. It's gooey, messy, not recommended by doctors, and delicious. When you dine on deep dish pizza, don't wear anything you were hoping to wear again soon. Some nationally-known deep dish pizza hubs are Pizzeria UNO and DUE, Gino's East, Giordano's, and Lou Malnati's, but plenty of local favorites exist. Ask around - people won't be shy about giving you their opinion.
But deep dish is not the end of the line in a city that takes its pizza so seriously. Chicago also prides itself on its distinctive thin-crust pizza and stuffed pizzas. The Chicago thin crust has a thin, cracker-like, crunchy crust, which somehow remains soft and doughy on the top side. Toppings and a lot of a thin, spiced Italian tomato sauce go under the mozzarella cheese, and the pizza is sliced into squares. If you are incredulous that Chicago's pizza preeminence extends into the realm of the thin crust, head [wiki=1de2601f10671cf58bc8a43ff667ce77#Mid-range]south of Midway[/wiki] to Vito and Nick's, which is widely regarded among local gourmands as the standard bearer for the city.
The stuffed pizza is a monster, enough to make an onlooker faint. Start with the idea of a deep dish, but then find a much deeper dish and stuff a lot more toppings under the cheese. Think deep-dish apple pie, but pizza. Allow 45 minutes to an hour for pizza places to make one of these and allow 3-4 extra notches on your belt for the ensuing weight gain. Arguably the best stuffed pizza in town is at Bella Bacino's in the [wiki=90d4e4d1f2b1dbbac358dd5c6e8a9830]Loop[/wiki], which somehow is not greasy, but other excellent vendors include Giordano's, Gino's, and Edwardo's.
This may come as a surprise to New Yorkers, but the Chicago hot dog is the king of all hot dogs - indeed, it is considered the perfect hot dog. Perhaps due to the city's history of Polish and German immigration, Chicago takes its dogs way more seriously than the rest of the country. A Chicago hot dog is always all-beef (usually Vienna beef), always served on a poppy-seed bun, and topped with what looks like a full salad of mustard, diced tomatoes, a dill pickle spear, sport (chili) peppers, a generous sprinkling of celery salt, diced onion, and a sweet-pickle relish endemic-to-Chicago that is dyed an odd, vibrant bright-green color. It's a full meal, folks.
Ketchup is regarded as an abomination on a proper Chicago-style hot dog. Self-respecting establishments will refuse orders to put the ketchup on the dog, and many have signs indicating that they don't serve it; truly serious hot dog joints don't even allow the condiment on the premises. The reason for Chicago's ketchup aversion is simple - ketchup contains sugar, which overwhelms the taste of the beef and prevents its proper enjoyment. Hence, ketchup's replacement with diced tomatoes. Similarly, Chicagoans eschew fancy mustards that would overwhelm the flavor of the meat in favor of simple yellow mustard. And for the hungry visiting New Yorkers, the same goes for sugary sauerkraut - just no.
At most hot dog places, you will have the option to try a Maxwell Street Polish instead. Born on the eponymous street of the [wiki=9ac8e973bc77a50732f350f333e41db6]Near West Side[/wiki], the Polish is an all-beef sausage on a bun, with fewer condiments than the Chicago hot dog: usually just grilled onions, mustard, and a few chili peppers.
In a tragic, bizarre twist of fate, the areas of Chicago most visited by tourists (i.e., [wiki=90d4e4d1f2b1dbbac358dd5c6e8a9830]the Loop[/wiki]) lack proper Chicago hot dog establishments. If you are downtown and want to experience a Chicago hot dog done right, the nearest safe bet is [wiki=8bd89ec3422669d78e6956635337b918#Eat]Portillo's[/wiki]. Although, if you're up for a little hot dog adventure, you can eat one right at the source, at the [wiki=53a2761119e43637c2f339a152d8ddee#Budget]Vienna Beef Factory deli[/wiki]. Sadly, both baseball parks botch their dogs, although the 2011 return of Vienna Beef as the official hot dog of Wrigley Field is a step in the right direction.
The Italian Beef sandwich completes the Chicago triumvirate of tasty greasy treats. The main focus of the sandwich is the beef, and serious vendors will serve meat of a surprisingly good quality, which is slow-roasted, and thinly shaved before being loaded generously onto chewy, white, Italian-style bread. Two sets of options will come flying at you, so prepare yourself: sweet peppers or hot, and dipped or not. The "sweet" peppers are sautéed bell peppers, while the hots are a mixed Chicago giardiniera. The dip, of course, is a sort of French dip of the sandwich back into the beef broth. (Warning: dipped Italian Beefs are sloppy!) If you are in the mood, you may be able to get an Italian Beef with cheese melted over the beef, although travelers looking for the "authentic Italian Beef" perhaps should not stray so far from tradition.
The Italian Beef probably was invented by Italian-American immigrants working in the Union Stockyards on the [wiki=1de2601f10671cf58bc8a43ff667ce77]Southwest Side[/wiki], who could only afford to take home the tough, lowest-quality meat and therefore had a need to slow-roast it, shave it into thin slices, and dip it just to get it in chewable form. But today the sandwich has found a lucrative home downtown, where it clogs the arteries and delights the taste buds of the Chicago workforce during lunch break. Some of the city's favorite downtown vendors include Luke's Italian Beef in the [wiki=90d4e4d1f2b1dbbac358dd5c6e8a9830]Loop[/wiki] and Mr. Beef in the [wiki=8bd89ec3422669d78e6956635337b918]Near North[/wiki], while the Portillo's chain is another solid option.
See [wiki=7c1ffd425d79e37db6484020b3e1c0c3#Day_5_.28Saturday.29:_Visiting_Chicago]The Jazz Track[/wiki] for a wealth of information about current and historic jazz clubs in Chicago.
The Lower Mississippi River Valley is known for its music; [wiki=ac69cbc800b7f96e0f5f588b7d032949]New Orleans[/wiki] has jazz, and [wiki=0d4202ede83d91da6cd4482e1ca91783]Memphis[/wiki] has blues. Chicago, though located far away from the valley, has both. Former New Orleans and Memphis residents brought jazz and blues to Chicago as they came north for a variety of reasons: the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 brought a lot of itinerant musicians to town, and the city's booming economy kept them coming through the [wiki=9cfa1e69f507d007a516eb3e9f5074e2#African-American history]Great Migration[/wiki]. Chicago was the undisputed capital of early jazz between 1917-1928, wih masters like Joe King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Jimmie Noone, Johnny Dodds, Earl Hines, and Jelly Roll Morton. Most of Chicago's historic jazz clubs are on the South Side, particularly in [wiki=27f52d7f69c8cfa6b08d2ae4632a766d]Bronzeville[/wiki], but the North Side has the can't-miss Green Mill in [wiki=fbd94bc4d1c38d18748116fd3a704e35]Uptown[/wiki].
The blues were in Chicago long before the car chase and the mission from God, but The Blues Brothers sealed Chicago as the home of the blues in the popular consciousness. Fortunately, the city has the chops to back that up. Maxwell Street [url=http://maxwellstreet.org]]([[Chicago/Near West Side|Near West Side[/url]]) was the heart and soul of Chicago blues, but the wrecking ball, driven by the University of Illinois at Chicago, has taken a brutal toll. Residents have been fighting to save what remains. For blues history, it doesn't get much better than Willie Dixon's Blues Heaven Foundation ([wiki=699992dc4e35e9c20edc2fdba8256722]Near South[/wiki]), and [wiki=27f52d7f69c8cfa6b08d2ae4632a766d]Bronzeville[/wiki], the former "Black Metropolis," is a key stop as well. Performance venues run the gamut from tiny, cheap blues bars all over the city to big, expensive places like Buddy Guy's Legends ([wiki=90d4e4d1f2b1dbbac358dd5c6e8a9830]Loop[/wiki]) and the original House of Blues ([wiki=8bd89ec3422669d78e6956635337b918]Near North[/wiki]).
But don't let yourself get too wrapped up in the past, because Chicago blues is anything but. No other city in the world can compete with Chicago's long list of blues-soaked neighborhood dives and lounges. The North Side's blues clubs favor tradition in their music, and are usually the most accessible to visitors, but offer a slightly watered down experience from the funkier, more authentic blues bars on the South and Far West Sides, where most of Chicago's blues musicians live and hang. If one club could claim to be the home of the real Chicago blues, Lee's Unleaded Blues in [wiki=c3790de61170b7ad11b10c501d6faae4]Chatham-South Shore[/wiki] would probably win the title. But there are scores of worthy blues joints all around the city (many of which are a lot easier to visit via public transport). A visit to one of these off-the-beaten-path blues dives is considerably more adventurous than a visit to the touristy House of Blues, but the experiences born of such adventures have been known to reward visitors with a life-long passion for the blues.
Although playing second fiddle to the blues in the city's collective consciousness, jazz thrives in Chicago, too, thanks in no small part to members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and their residencies at clubs like The Velvet Lounge and The Jazz Showcase (both of which see regular national acts) ([wiki=699992dc4e35e9c20edc2fdba8256722]Near South[/wiki]), The New Apartment Lounge ([wiki=c3790de61170b7ad11b10c501d6faae4]Chatham-South Shore[/wiki]) and The Hideout ([wiki=976bbf77469ab4bfc0c203bea4309e4e]Bucktown[/wiki]), with more expensive national touring acts downtown at The Chicago Theater ([wiki=90d4e4d1f2b1dbbac358dd5c6e8a9830]Loop[/wiki]). If you are staying downtown, the Velvet Lounge will be your best bet, as it is an easy cab ride, and its high-profile performances will rarely disappoint.
Fans should time their visits to coincide with Blues Fest in June, and Jazz Fest over Labor Day Weekend. Both take place in Grant Park ([wiki=90d4e4d1f2b1dbbac358dd5c6e8a9830]Loop[/wiki]).
[wiki=bba4b5a3b4a589bfe0cd187433644dc3]Wicker Park[/wiki] and [wiki=976bbf77469ab4bfc0c203bea4309e4e]Bucktown[/wiki] are the main place to go for indie rock shows: the Double Door and the Empty Bottle are the best-known venues, but there are plenty of smaller ones as well. In [wiki=d3cd612a24939ccf3c8af5a9a883c070]Lakeview[/wiki], the Metro is a beloved concert hole, with Schubas, Lincoln Hall, The Vic, and the Abbey Pub nearby (the latter on the [wiki=ba10923fce54ccba75c2bb0fc9120d08]Far Northwest Side[/wiki]). Other mid-sized rock, hip-hop and R&B shows take place at the Riviera and the awesome Aragon Ballroom in [wiki=fbd94bc4d1c38d18748116fd3a704e35]Uptown[/wiki]. The [wiki=699992dc4e35e9c20edc2fdba8256722]Near South[/wiki] has become an underrated destination for great shows as well.
The Park West in [wiki=53a2761119e43637c2f339a152d8ddee]Lincoln Park[/wiki] has light jazz, light rock, and other shows you'd sit down for; so does Navy Pier ([wiki=8bd89ec3422669d78e6956635337b918]Near North[/wiki]), particularly in the summer. The venerable Chicago Theater in the [wiki=90d4e4d1f2b1dbbac358dd5c6e8a9830]Loop[/wiki] is better-known for its sign than for anything else, but it has rock, jazz, gospel, and spoken-word performances by authors like David Sedaris. The world-renowned Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is the main bulwark in the city for classical and classy jazz, with occasional curve-balls like Björk. You'll find musicians from the CSO doing outreach all over the city, along with their counterparts at the Lyric Opera. Both are in the [wiki=90d4e4d1f2b1dbbac358dd5c6e8a9830]Loop[/wiki].
A few big concerts are held at the UIC Pavilion, the Congress Theater, and the United Center on the [wiki=9ac8e973bc77a50732f350f333e41db6]Near West Side[/wiki] every year, and some huge concerts have taken place at Soldier Field ([wiki=699992dc4e35e9c20edc2fdba8256722]Near South[/wiki]). The Petrillo Bandshell in Grant Park and the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, both in the [wiki=90d4e4d1f2b1dbbac358dd5c6e8a9830]Loop[/wiki], tend to host big, eclectic shows and festivals in the summer, which are sometimes free.
Otherwise, most big shows are out in the suburbs, primarily at the Allstate Arena and the Rosemont Theater in [wiki=b309fb8c3947d10b9347855db160e239]Rosemont[/wiki], the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park, Star Plaza in [wiki=c5376d00573c5858adf7ed894d0491b9]Indiana[/wiki], and the Alpine Valley Music Theater over the [wiki=5aeb407b7ca7f3fe0dc50003b1e0712f]Wisconsin[/wiki] border in [wiki=1b8621aaa9b80c44380b9634b89d7709]Elkhorn[/wiki]. You'll also have to head out to the suburbs for Ravinia, which features upscale classical, jazz, and blues outdoors throughout the summer. See [wiki=61462cabe8446a2992d46010da6fb0a7]Chicagoland[/wiki] for details on suburban venues.
The first Internet cafe in the United States was opened in Chicago, but they never really caught on here. There are still a few, though; check individual district articles. If you have a computer with you, free wireless Internet access is now standard-issue at coffee shops throughout the city including major ones like Starbucks. Most hotels above the transient level offer free Wi-Fi, too.
The good news is that all branches of the Chicago Public Library system offer free internet access, via public terminals and free, password-free, public wireless. If you do not have a Chicago library card, but you have a photo ID that shows you do not live in Chicago, you can get a temporary permit from the library information desk. (If you are from Chicago and don't have a library card, though, all you can get is a stern look and a brief lecture on how Chicagoans need to support the library system.) The most centrally located branch is the giant Harold Washington Library in the [wiki=90d4e4d1f2b1dbbac358dd5c6e8a9830]Loop[/wiki], but there are branch libraries in every part of the city - again, see individual district articles. Only Harold Washington and the two regional libraries ([wiki=8e04ad5cd9206099c6e4b089593e3c5e]Sulzer[/wiki] and [wiki=1de2601f10671cf58bc8a43ff667ce77]Woodson[/wiki]) are open on Sundays.
312 was the area code for all of Chicago for a long time; it's still the code of choice for the [wiki=90d4e4d1f2b1dbbac358dd5c6e8a9830]Loop[/wiki], and most of the [wiki=8bd89ec3422669d78e6956635337b918]Near North[/wiki] and [wiki=699992dc4e35e9c20edc2fdba8256722]Near South[/wiki]. 773 surrounds the center, covering everything else within city limits.
Suburban areas close to the city use 847 (north/northwest), 224 (north/northwest), 708 (south), 815 (southwest), 630 (west), and 219 (northwest Indiana).
The Tribune is Chicago's oldest daily, recently converted into a tabloid format for newsstand purchases. New ownership has shed much of the Trib's former prestige with a debt-leveraged purchase and forced bankruptcy, widespread staff layoffs, and an ill-advised redesign.
* The Sun-Times is Chicago's other "major" newspaper. It has a long-standing reputation for aggressive (some might say "sensationalist") investigative journalism. It has also been teetering on the verge of oblivion for some time.
* Redeye is a free weekdays-only newspaper produced by the Tribune. Although its covers appear to report from some parallel universe where topics like sandwiches and being tired at work are the top stories of the day, it does have basic news coverage inside along with entertainment gossip.
* The Defender is Chicago's biggest African-American daily, and it played a major role in the city's African-American history. Its distribution network today is comparatively small, though.
* Hola Hoy produces a free Spanish-language newspaper with wide distribution.
* The Reader is a free weekly newspaper distributed throughout the city each Wednesday. It includes extensive listings of arts, music, and events. Nobody knows more about Chicago than the Reader, but it's definitely oriented toward locals.
* Crain's is a long-standing weekly newspaper covering the Chicago area business community, with a dash of politics and lifestyle - definitely worth a look if you're in town on business.
* New City is a free weekly alternative arts and entertainment magazine, distributed every Wednesday. Event listings and local content are skimpy, but it is free.
* Time Out produces a weekly magazine available at most newsstands and bookstores. Its listings for events, bars, and restaurants are by far the most comprehensive and easiest to use for visitors to the city.
* Free weekly LGBT newspaper.
* The Daily Herald is wide serving suburban newspaper based in Arlington Heights, a Chicago suburb.
There are places of worship all over the city; the front desk of your hotel will almost certainly be able to direct you to one nearby. Otherwise, the following are centrally located in either the [wiki=90d4e4d1f2b1dbbac358dd5c6e8a9830]Loop[/wiki] or the [wiki=8bd89ec3422669d78e6956635337b918]Near North[/wiki], unless otherwise noted.
For churches of specific Orthodoxies, check in neighborhoods that feature communities with ties to that region. There's a majestic Orthodox church in [wiki=bba4b5a3b4a589bfe0cd187433644dc3]Ukrainian Village[/wiki], for example. Evangelical Christian ministries are mostly on the South Side, with some historic churches in [wiki=27f52d7f69c8cfa6b08d2ae4632a766d]Bronzeville[/wiki]. For the Baha'i faith, visit the Baha'i Temple in [wiki=60647228d49487766544c8973ba7f856]Wilmette[/wiki], easily accessible by the CTA Purple Line.
* Modern Orthodox Judaism. In a remarkably beautiful building by the lake. Shacharit Su 8:30AM, M, Th 6:45AM, Tu W, F 7AM; Mincha Su-Th 7:45PM.
* Sunday worship 9:30AM, 11AM, and 6PM.
* Everyday worship 11:30 AM Aarti.
* Conservative Judaism. Shabbat services Sa 9:15AM.
* Traditional Judaism. Shachris Sa 9AM, Su 9:30AM; Mincha Sa 3:45PM, Su 4:15PM, M-F 1:05PM; Maariv 4:45PM.
* Liberal Reform Judaism. Torah study Sa 10:30AM; Shabbat Eve service F 6:15PM, Sunday service 11AM.
* OCA parish with services in English. Saturday Great Vespers 4:30pm. Sunday Liturgy 9:15am. Wednesday Daily Vespers 6:30pm.
* M-F 10:30AM-5:30PM. Friday prayers: Khutba 1:05PM / Aqama 1:30PM (1st Friday Jamaa), Khutba 2:05pm / Aqama 2:30pm (2nd Friday Jamaa).
* 25 miles southwest of Chicago. Call temple to schedule priest services.
* Flagship of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago. Sunday Masses at 7am, 8:15am, 9:30am (incl sign language), 11am, 12:30pm, and 5:15pm. See website for Saturday, weekdays, and Holy Days schedules, as well as other sacraments.
* Episcopalian services. Office hours M-F 9am-4pm. Eucharist Su 8am, 10:30am; W 5:30pm; Th,F 12:10pm
Here's a quick list of foreign consulates in Chicago:
Forest preserves are prevelant on the far north, northwest, and southwest sides, and into the nearby [wiki=61462cabe8446a2992d46010da6fb0a7]Chicagoland[/wiki] suburbs. They are excellent for biking, jogging, picnics, and various outdoor activities.
* Toyota Park in Bridgeview, IL is an outdoor stadium that hosts several sporting events and concerts including the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer. It is located on Harlem Avenue south of the Stevenson Expressway/Interstate 55. An express bus runs from the Midway station on the CTA Orange Line on event days.
* The Brookfield Zoo, which is Chicagoland's other world-class zoo, is loacted in nearby Brookfield, IL. Though not accessible via the CTA, the Hollywood station on METRA's Burlington Northern line is 2 blocks away. It is located on 31st Street close to the Eisenhower Expressway/Interstate 290.
* [wiki=5621c53bd6d14a0d06bd34ea173f2fbe]Evanston[/wiki] is over the northern border of Chicago. In addition to Northwestern University, the city has a vibrant downtown area, some historical homes scattered about, and a lovely lakefront. Just beyond that is [wiki=60647228d49487766544c8973ba7f856]Wilmette[/wiki], with the fascinating Baha'i Temple. Both suburbs are accessible via the CTA Purple Line.
* The Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, IL is a 385 acre garden featuring 25 display gardens, four natural habitats, and 2.5 million plants. Though not accessible by the CTA, the Braeside station along METRA's Union Pacific North line is nearby. It is located on Lake Cook Road near the Edens Expressway/Interstate 94 and US Route 41.
* In the same category as the Chicago Botanic Garden is the Morton Arboretum in western suburb of Lisle, IL. It hosts over 186,000 catalogued plants, the largest restored Prairie in Chicagoland, 16 miles (26 km) of hiking trails and nine miles (14 km) of roadways for driving/bicycling on 1700 acres. The Lisle station on METRA's Burlington Northern line is about 2 miles away. It is located on IL Route 53 near the Reagan Tollway/Interstate 88.
* [wiki=4d2cfcec90b26a440583307f0ad9f1b7]Naperville[/wiki] has a wonderful and trendy downtown area. It boasts numerous restaurants, shops, and a riverwalk. It is located on The Reagan Tollway/Instertate 88 or near the Naperville Station on METRA's Burlington Northern line.
* [wiki=771905445678f7266f10b13eca70864d]Schaumburg[/wiki] is the shopping hub of Chicago's Northwest Suburbs. It's home to one of the top 10 largest malls in the United States, Woodfield Mall, and has a wide range of shopping and entertainment offerings. It is located off of the Jane Adams (I-90, Kennedy from O'Hare Airport to Chicago) about 15 miles northwest of the Chicago O'Hare International Airport.
* [wiki=c36f4caa22f92ee2d071710292b3d557]Oak Park[/wiki] was the home of architecture legend Frank Lloyd Wright. The village boasts many houses that were designed by him and his home and studio are now a museum. Walking tours to see his designs are a must for anyone who appreciates architecture. The museum and beautiful downtown Oak Park are loacted near the Oak Park CTA Green Line station or not too far from the Eisenhower Expressway/Interstate 290.
* [wiki=61462cabe8446a2992d46010da6fb0a7#Lake_County]Ravinia[/wiki] is the summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The arts and crafts style architecture coupled with a dazzling array of acts make this a classic summer destination for Chicagoans and tourists. Bring food, a blanket, wine, and a citronella candle; buy anything you forgot on-site. The Ravinia Park station on METRA's Union Pacific North line stops at the park gates and a return train waits for late-ending concerts. It is located on Half-Day Road about a mile from the Edens Expressway/Interstate 94 and US Route 41.
Six Flags Great America has the biggest and wildest roller coasters in Illinois. It is located off of Interstate 94 in [wiki=4fd4e32c354eb7e6ebb69d9fc6cadc28]Gurnee[/wiki].
* Historic [wiki=0e5cc20b48b72a1eb22907e6090b87cb]Galena[/wiki], is great for hiking, sightseeing, and antiquing. Drive here in just over 3 hours via Interstate 90 and US Route 20.
* [wiki=b84101cc04ae61192a110bcde4d4d17f]Peoria[/wiki] is in some ways a miniature Chicago. It is located about about 3 hours southwest of Chicago via Interstates 55 and 74.
* [wiki=a06e61518895001c35679b226022196b]Springfield[/wiki] is the Illinois state capital and a city closely tied to Abraham Lincoln. This final resting place of the 16th president of the United States is located about 3 1/2 hours south of Downtown Chicago on Interstate 55.
* Starved Rock State Park, defined by its numerous canyons and waterfalls, sits on over 2600 acres. It is located near the junction of Interstates 39 and 80, about 2 hours southwest of Downtown Chicago.
* The [wiki=7b18dd1cb21f2a3531496c08409a7703]Quad Cities[/wiki] bridge the Mississippi River forming a unique metropolitan area on the border of [wiki=0daaf4a9abe3920c453a7f1f82a9bb19]Iowa[/wiki] and Illinois. They sit about 3 hours west of Downtown Chicago on Interstates 80 and 88.
The [wiki=e1c746f9823308bc543b0fd8d29f6af0]Indiana Dunes[/wiki] are a moderate drive away, and are also accessible via the South Shore commuter rail. If you've enjoyed the beaches in Chicago, you owe the Indiana Dunes a stop - that's where all the sand came from. Taking the Skyway/Interstate 90 to the Indiana Toll Road is the easiest way to visit.
* [wiki=01d4848202a3c7697ec037b02b4ee4e8]Gary[/wiki] is just over the border on the Skyway, with a skyline that rivals Chicago's for strength of effect - industrial monstrosity, in this case - with casinos, urban ruins, and a few entries by Prairie School architects Frank Lloyd Wright and George Maher. You can drive to Gary on the Indiana Toll Road/Interstates 80/90.
* [wiki=7f264fbfd800eff20a29e1f7ede264f1]South Bend[/wiki] is about a two hour drive to the east or a simple ride on the South Shore from Millennium Station. It is most famous as the home of the University of Notre Dame but also has a history as the location of former automobile manufacturer Studebaker. Another half an hour drive east to Elkhart County will land you in Northern Indiana Amish country. Both are accessible via the Indiana Toll Road/Interstates 80/90. The South Shore terminates at the South Bend Airport.
* [wiki=8b9c1179fe8a1c342a1950be99ac9c90]Indianapolis[/wiki] is about a three hour drive southeast of Chicago and is worth a visit if you have time. Just follow Interstate 94 to Interstate 65.
* Also just over the Skyway (before you reach Gary) is [wiki=a8b686e7704a83ef7f6fc9dd912faca3]East Chicago's[/wiki] bizarre 19th century planned community, Marktown, which looks like a small [wiki=64f607906be7598a02d75dbc1e979662]English[/wiki] village totally incongruous with the gigantic steel mills and the world's largest oil refinery which surround it.
Further along the lake from the Indiana Dunes are Michigan's dunes and summer resorts in [wiki=109a8a2039943a1fb596aee6b77aeec2]Harbor Country[/wiki]. Keep your eyes open because notables such as former Mayor Richard M. Daley, University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer, and others summer here. This region, well-known for its wineries and fresh fruit, is about an hour and a half drive from Chicago on Interstate 94.
* [wiki=479e654fd18f5f41acc7b050702b157c]Saint Joseph & Benton Harbor[/wiki] are two towns about 2 hours northeast of Chicago. St. Joseph sits on a bluff that overlooks Silver Beach State Park and Lake Michigan. The view will knock your socks off - especially at sunset. St. Joseph has numerous shops and various festivals throughout the summer. It is easily accessible via Interstate 94.
* [wiki=72bb7863865813f614137193f914254d]Grand Rapids[/wiki] is the second-largest metro area in Michigan and is home to a thriving craft beer industry. Annual festivals such as ArtPrize and Laugh Fest draw thousands to the area. Additionally, many great restaurants and activities populate this growing city and Lake Michigan's picturesque beaches are only 30 minutes away. Take Interstate 94 to Interstate 196.
* [wiki=1206c1cb107044f291a52d53fc9ec748]Detroit[/wiki] has many of Chicago's most hated sports rivals. Although it has fallen on hard times, it has a musical and architectural heritage comparable to the Windy City. It is a little over 4 hours away on, you guessed it, Interstate 94.
[wiki=a8577f2f664d3e38b010809e88996d8f]Lake Geneva[/wiki], across the [wiki=5aeb407b7ca7f3fe0dc50003b1e0712f]Wisconsin[/wiki] border, is the other big summer getaway. Nearby are the Kettle Moraine state parks, with good mountain biking.
* [wiki=c4d658dc24c5ccc43d519268ddfaca85]Madison[/wiki] is located about two and half hours from Chicago on I-90 and via Van Galder buses. It is a vibrant city home to the giant University of Wisconsin and is known for its lively downtown, thriving culture, and beautiful scenery.
* [wiki=effc4bc76d86b41cbeed8e03884dcf87]Milwaukee[/wiki] and its venerable breweries are less than two hours from Chicago on I-94, via Amtrak, and by intercity bus services.
* [wiki=b68b87586a74bcfe90f1d93eb1eeb107]Spring Green[/wiki] is an easy weekend trip from Chicago, about three and a half hours from town on I-90. It's the home of two unique architectural wonders: Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent estate Taliesin, and Alex Jordan's mysterious museum The House on the Rock.
* The [wiki=9bf14ac79e7e6b7b8e0f0ad4dcf40b0f]Wisconsin Dells[/wiki] are another (wet) summer fun destination, just three hours north of the city by car (I-90/94), also accessible by Amtrak train.
*[wiki=d0984bb4b1da0d1fa298d0c38919665a]Cedarburg[/wiki] is a popular festival town with a charming downtown featured on the National Register of Historic Places. It is located 20 miles north of downtown Milwaukee. Take 1-94 to Milwaukee and continue north on I-43.