The Chicago Riverwalk is a continuous walkway and recreation zone that runs along the Chicago River, connecting the Lake Michigan lakefront with the heart of downtown Chicago. The Riverwalk was opened in phases, and it contains restaurants, bars, kayak and boat rentals, bike rentals, concert stages, and general park facilities.
In mid-2015, the second phase of the total Riverwalk plan opened, and the Chicago Riverwalk now extends from Lakeshore Drive to La Salle Street. This phase contains a number of food vendors on both banks of the Chicago River, providing visitors, residents, and nearby office workers plenty of options for a meal, a cup of coffee, or glass of wine. Food vendors along the new section of the Riverwalk include O'Briens Riverwalk Café, City Winery, and Flander’s Belgian Beer & Fries. The last phase of the Riverwalk, which extends to Lake Street at the confluence of the Main Stem of the Chicago River with the North Branch and the South Branch.
The Chicago Loop is Chicago's downtown business district, and the second largest business district in the United States. Aside from the many businesses located there, the Loop is home to many of Chicago's best museums, restaurants, universities, and tourist attractions. It has also become a popular place to live in the city. Visitors who wish to stay in the downtown area have a wide variety of hotels to choose from within the Loop.
One of the most famous buildings in the area is Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) where you can take an elevator to the Skydeck for the best view of the city. Go for a stroll through Millennium Park to enjoy the fountains, gardens, and the famous Cloud Gate, nicknamed the Bean. Another well-known park is Grant Park, where you'll find Buckingham Fountain. Notable museums within the Chicago Loop district include the Art Institute of Chicago and the Field Museum.
With more than 20 million artifacts, the Field Museum of Natural History is an engaging museum filled with both interactive and imaginative displays. The big attraction is the Tyrannosaurus rex named "Sue," a 13 foot (4 meter) tall, 41 ft (13 m) long beast who menaces the grand space with ferocious aplomb. The most complete T-Rex ever discovered, it takes its name from Sue Hendrickson, the fossil-hunter who found the 90 percent complete skeleton in South Dakota in 1990.
Dinosaurs loom large in the Field Museum. At the Evolving Planet exhibit, you can also watch staff paleontologists clean up fossils, learn about the evolution of the massive reptiles, and even learn about Homo sapien's evolutionary ties to the extinct beasts. Away from the prehistoric giants, the “Inside Ancient Egypt” exhibit recreates an Egyptian burial chamber on three levels. The mastaba (tomb) contains 23 actual mummies.
The Chicago Lakefront Trail is an 18 mile paved trail that runs alongside Lake Michigan, within the city limits of Chicago, Illinois. The trail is open for walkers, runners, skaters, and cyclists, earning it high praise as a popular spot for outdoor recreation activities.
The trail provides some of the most spectacular views of Chicago’s shoreline and skyline. As you venture out on the Chicago Lakefront Trail, you’ll find hydration stations, washrooms, and concession stands as well. Chicago Lakefront Trail passes through Lincoln Park and the Lincoln Park Zoo, as well as the Navy Pier. Other sights of interest include Buckingham Fountain and the Shedd Aquarium / Field Museum. The southern terminus on the Lakefront Trail is at the South Shore Cultural Center.
The Hard Rock Café Chicago has been serving the Chicago River North area since its opening in 1986. River North borders the Magnificent Mile, is just across from the Loop, and a few blocks west of Michigan Avenue, a vibrant and popular dining and nightlife district.
Be sure to order Hard Rock’s signature food offerings like the Legendary Burger and drinks like Rockarita. Check the menu for house made local entrees that have a touch of Chicago flavor as well. Like other Hard Rock Cafes around the world, the Hard Rock Café Chicago features music memorabilia on the walls, with an emphasis on funky styles. Be sure to tour the restaurant and see various guitars, platinum records, and more. There are numerous concerts and events taking place at the café throughout the year, so be sure to check the Hard Rock Café Chicago events page for details and reservations.
Northerly Island is located in the heart of Chicago’s Museum Campus, near Soldier Field and just south of the Adler Planetarium. The island was designed by Daniel H. Burnham, the architect of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Burnham envisioned a park with harbors, beaches, lagoons, large open green spaces, and striking views of the lake and skyline. The 91-acre Northerly Island was selected as one of the sites of the 1933-34 World’s Fair in Chicago, “A Century of Progress.” The park increased to its current size of today and by the 1940’s, Northerly Island had a beach, a few paths and walkways, and a small airport known as Meigs Field. In September 2015, a new 43-acre nature area opened on Northerly Island, creating a green oasis in the middle of the bustling city. The nature area features a mile-long interior park trail, overlooks, and a five-acre lagoon that connects to Lake Michigan. This allows for fish to enter the lagoon, providing excellent fishing opportunities.
The Harold Washington Library Center is the main branch of the Chicago Public Library system. When it opened in 1991, the ten-story library was the largest public library in the world.
Located in Chicago’s South Loop, its design is based on the winning submission in a 1988 architecture contest. The contest was to design the new library called for by then-Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, the city’s first African American mayor. The Harold Washington Library Center is more than just a traditional library for books. Here, you can research your ancestry in their online genealogy databases. There’s free Wi-Fi throughout the building, art on display from more than 50 artists, music practice rooms, a Maker Lab, and book clubs and reading events for your children. Be sure to visit the glass-domed Winter Garden atrium on the library’s 9th floor as well.
Chicago is known as the home of the blues, so it is fitting that one of the most popular venues for live music in the city is the House of Blues. However, this local outpost of the national chain isn’t just a venue for blue musicians (and in fact, if the best blues acts are what you want to see, there are better venues in the city), but rather a showcase for international musical acts of every genre. Opened in 1996, the concert house, which was modeled after an opera house in Prague, has hosted some of the world’s most renowned musicians, including the Who, Pearl Jam and Al Green.
On nights when there are no ticketed acts, the Back Porch Stage offers shows with a $10 cover, which is waived if you dine in the restaurant before the show. The restaurant also serves lunch Monday through Saturday, and every Sunday, the House of Blues hosts its World Famous Gospel Brunch at 10:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
The Prairie Avenue Historic District is a Chicago South Side historic district that was once one of the city’s most prestigious neighborhoods. From 1872 – 1904, following the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the area became known as “Millionaire’s Row”, with mansions owned by the likes of Philip Armour, Marshall Field, and George Pullman.
Prairie Avenue Historic District first became known as the site of the Battle of Fort Dearborn in 1812. It housed a cottonwood tree that stood on the site as a memorial marker, later replaced with a bronze statue, and was recognized as Chicago’s first landmark. In the 1900’s, due to the growth of downtown and the spread of noise and pollution in the Near South Side, the district fell out of favor. By 1915, residences began to be replaced by industry. And, by 1944, only 11 residences remained. The Prairie Avenue Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and was designated a Chicago Landmark in 1979.
Experience entertainment fit for a king at Medieval Times in Chicago. The huge stone towers of the Schaumberg Castle house a rousing dinner and action-packed show that attracts travelers to the Windy City for a ringside seat at the tournament. Guests enjoy a full medieval-style feast (vegetarian options available) — no utensils allowed! While devouring the four-course meal, visitors can cheer and leer for their favorite armored knights throughout the show and its jousting tournament, horsemanship and falconry. Adult beverages are available for purchase from the full bar before, during or after the show, and travelers can also pop by the castle for a night of chivalry, sustenance and libations.