Things to do in Chicago, IL

Get Your Bearings in Chicago

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Avoid:

Criss-crossing the city. Traffic and parking searches will eat up your time and money. Better to pick a neighborhood and explore it.

Hot Tips:

Seeing a lot of museums and sites? Get a Chicago City Pass to save money on admissions.

Caution:

Chicago tacks a lot of add-on taxes to hotel bills, so budget accordingly.

Avoid:

Paying the daily parking fee at your hotel. Ditch your car, and take cabs or public transportation. Chicago's traffic is bad and parking is expensive.

Hot Tips:

Ethnic restaurants are often a better value than downtown restuarants.

Be Sure to Sample:

Deep-dish pizza. Cliche, yes, but the quintessential Chicago experience.

Take It or Leave It:

The Park at Rosemont, near O'Hare Airport, is a new open-air mall filled with bars and other entertainment. But the sheer size and national-chain vibe is a little overwhelming.

Hot Tips:

Chicago's smaller clubs and bars are just as fun as the big ones.

Caution:

Sales tax is a whopping 9.25 percent.

Best Local Souvenir:

Nothing says Chicago more than a jersey, hat or T-shirt from Chicago's sports teams or stars on the Bears, Bulls, Cubs, White Sox or Blackhawks.

 

 

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Things to do in Chicago


Chicago is known for...

Five of Chicago's most unique features and characteristics.

1. The Arts:

Comedy, theater, art, music, culture - Chicago has all of it in world-class forms. The Second City comedy club spawns some of Hollywood's biggest stars, including Tina Fey and Stephen Colbert. Chicago's theater scene rivals New York City's, with acclaimed actors, dancers and shows. And the city is a hot spot for music, from the massive Lollapalooza festival to intimate jazz and blues shows, plus the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Many of the art world's masterpieces hang in The Art Institute of Chicago. Or, just down the street is a relatively new art icon, the mirrored sculpture, Cloud Gate (aka "The Bean").

2. Sports:

Chicagoans LOVE their sports teams. Perhaps it's most beloved team is the football team, the Chicago Bears, (or "Da Bears," as they were called in a famous "Saturday Night Live" sketch about the team's fans). But there's also deep love for the Chicago Cubs, the Chicago White Sox, the Chicago Bulls, and the Chicago Blackhawks, who have won three Stanley Cups in recent years. The sports bar hub is around historic Wrigley Field, where the Cubs play, in a north side neighborhood known as "Wrigleyville." There, you'll always find crowds watching sports in the TV screen-covered bars.

 

3. Neighborhoods:

The city is characterized by an incredible diversity of cultures and lifestyles. Each neighborhood has an identity, a contradiction in nightlife, attractions, dining and ambiance. Officially, more than 180 neighborhoods are distinguished, from historic college areas to gentrified hotspots. Up-and-coming areas like Humboldt Park and Pilsen neighborhoods brim with Latino culture, while the young professionals pile into the West and South Loop neighborhoods. Artsy types and hipsters mix in Bucktown, Ukranian Village and Wicker Park, while the frat boy crowd parties in Wrigleyville. The well-to-do appreciate the designer boutiques and gourmet dining in the Gold Coast and Streeterville.

4. Politics:

Chicago is proud to be home to President Barack Obama, but residents are less proud of their local government. Illinois is synonymous with political corruption - two recent governors have ended up in jail - and the city's reputation isn't much better. Former Mayor Richard J. Daley, a Democrat, had such power over the city in the mid 1960s and 70s that he and his supporters became known as the "Democratic machine," able to elect whomever they wanted. While more transparent now, the city remains a Democratic stronghold. The current mayor, Rahm Emanuel, is Obama's former Chief of Staff.

5. Architecture:

Chicago's world-famous skyline reflects powerhouse names in architecture like Ludwig Mies van de Rohe and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. Architecture itself is the city's biggest attraction. The tour business thrives on showcasing these award-winning designs. You can walk, kayak, sail and even helicopter past the sites. Structural creativity reaches more than just eye-catching views. The stunning architecture in Millennium Park (especially the concert area at Jay Pritzker Pavilion), as well as the winding ribbon design of nearby Maggie Daley Park, bring gorgeous design and iconic images to the lakefront.