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ChicagoUnited States of America

The Windy City whips up a heady mix of basement blues, penthouse views, elevated rails and lake-front trails.

Chicago is the Windy City that loves the Blues, where gangsters like Al Capone ran rings round the Feds, and where the skyscrapers rose as the stock markets fell. A jangling metropolis, with a thicket of classy, glassy towers shooting skywards from the shores of Lake Michigan. All that is part of the draw to this, the third biggest city in the United States. But Chicago can surprise too.

While it has one of the busiest skylines of any American city – with four of the tallest buildings in the US – Chicago had the sense to build its streets wide. So its hundred high-rises don't leave you claustrophobic, unlike some other cities that reached for skies. And Chicago's love of wide open spaces can be seen when you scale its biggest skyscraper, the Willis Tower. Look east from one of its glass balconies, and you'll see the long green-and-gold strip of the Lakefront, with its parks and museums, beaches and piers.

'Chicago's Lawn' is what Chicagoans call it, and it's where they go to play. Lincoln Park is 13 kilometres of sandy beaches and park greenery, just a step or two from the city's central district, the Loop. Here you'll find the Lincoln Park Zoo, the oldest in the country, and Lincoln Park Conservatory, home to giant palms, rare orchids and some peace from Chicago's bustle. The Chicago History Museum is here too, and will set you straight on the Windy City's often blustery past.

The Navy Pier divides northern Lincoln Park from the southern stretch of Grant Park (and its radically different Millennium Park). The Pier takes you out into Lake Michigan, and a chance to mess about on the water – or to look back at Chicago's dramatic skyline from its Ferris wheel. You'll also see a line of white-pillared and glass-fronted museums stretching along the Grant Park area: the Art Institute Of Chicago, the Field Natural History Museum, the Museum of Science and Technology, and the Shedd Aquarium. They all do what they say on their entrance signs – educating and inspiring with some of the finest collections, and the most immersive exhibits, to be found anywhere in the world.

Culture and science may rule the Lakefront area, but commerce and shopping are kings in the busy streets of the central Loop – especially the Magnificent Mile. This luxury shopping street is packed with malls, restaurants and stunning architecture – and plenty of opportunities to exercise your credit card.

A more graceful architectural walk can be had in Oak Park, a western suburb where Frank Lloyd Wright lived and worked. Widely seen as America's best architect, he left the area with a treasure trove of buildings – including the Unity Temple, seen as the world's first truly modern building. Visit the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Museum to get an in-depth guide. Oak Park also does literature – it is home to Chicago-born Ernest Hemingway, and the Ernest Hemingway Museum And House tells the remarkable story of America's foremost storyteller.

But how about rounding your Chicago stay by fusing all four at a game of baseball at Wrigley Field. After all, this iconic stadium is where the Windy City's most vital living history is played out every season.

Chicago Travel Guide Video

Where to stay in Chicago

Downtown Chicago featuring a city

Downtown Chicago

Downtown Chicago
The Loop - Downtown which includes a river or creek

The Loop

4.5/5Wonderful!(93 area reviews)

The Loop
Magnificent Mile - River North

Magnificent Mile

Magnificent Mile
Gold Coast which includes street scenes as well as a couple

Gold Coast

Gold Coast
Lincoln Park, Chicago, Illinois, United States of America

Lincoln Park

5/5Exceptional!(4 area reviews)

Lincoln Park
South Loop featuring a city and a high-rise building

South Loop

4/5Very Good!(1 area review)

South Loop

Top hotels in Chicago

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Warwick Allerton - Chicago
Warwick Allerton - Chicago
4 out of 5
701 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL

This family-friendly Chicago hotel is located in the entertainment district, just steps away from Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Michigan Avenue. Water Tower ...

4.1/5Very Good! (11,334 reviews)

"This visit I received an upgrade to a beautiful room with a Michigan Ave view. It was lovely."…"

Reviewed on 19 Mar. 2020

Warwick Allerton - Chicago
Swissotel - Chicago
Swissotel - Chicago
4.5 out of 5
323 E Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL
NZ$207
per night
6 Apr. - 7 Apr.

Located in The Loop, this luxury hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Chicago Riverwalk and Michigan Avenue. Grant Park and Aon Center are also within 10 minutes. ...

4.4/5Excellent! (4,868 reviews)

"The "Urban Experience Fee" is a bit much. I mean, either add that amount into the room rate, make it optional or don't charge it. LOCATION is great! Staff attentive!"…"

Reviewed on 25 Mar. 2020

Swissotel - Chicago
The Whitehall Hotel
The Whitehall Hotel
4 out of 5
105 E Delaware Pl, Chicago, IL
Free Cancellation
NZ$133
per night
26 Apr. - 27 Apr.

Located in Near North Side, this romantic hotel is steps away from 900 North Michigan Shops, John Hancock Center and Water Tower Place. Michigan Avenue and State ...

4.1/5Very Good! (10,037 reviews)

"I liked the vintage charm with a modern twist. It was a great location within walking distance of Michigan Avenue and all the stores."…"

Reviewed on 21 Mar. 2020

The Whitehall Hotel

Popular activities in Chicago

Navy Pier
Image for Navy Pier

Navy Pier

4.5/5(64 reviews)

One of Chicago’s most popular attractions, especially on a hot day, with its fun fair, boats, circus and theatre.

Wrigley Field
Image for Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field

4.5/5(21 reviews)

A big piece of Chicago's soul, an ancient stadium that keeps alive the quirky, edgy madness of baseball.

Millennium Park
Image for Millennium Park

Millennium Park

4.5/5(73 reviews)

See mind-bending sculptures, a musically-inspired lawn and giant water fountains that double-up as video screens.

McCormick Place
Image for McCormick Place

McCormick Place

4.5/5(21 reviews)

Attend an event at the United States’ largest convention center, which features hyper-modern facilities and huge exhibition spaces connected by promenades and sky bridges.

Sears Tower
Image for Sears Tower

Sears Tower

4.5/5(39 reviews)

The Willis Tower is at its best when you're dangled over one of its glass-bottomed balconies 396 metres above Chicago.

Art Institute of Chicago
Image for Art Institute of Chicago

Art Institute of Chicago

4.5/5(32 reviews)

The Art Institute Of Chicago's far-ranging and brilliant collections make it one of the world’s finest art museums.

Top activities in Chicago

Chicago CityPASS: Admission to Top 5 Chicago Attractions
Image for Chicago CityPASS: Admission to Top 5 Chicago Attractions

Chicago CityPASS: Admission to Top 5 Chicago Attractions

94% of travellers recommend
NZ$171
Per adult
Skydeck & The Ledge Tickets at Willis Tower
Image for Skydeck & The Ledge Tickets at Willis Tower

Skydeck & The Ledge Tickets at Willis Tower

84% of travellers recommend
NZ$41
Per adult
Go Chicago Explorer Pass: Choose 3, 4 or 5 Top Attractions
Image for Go Chicago Explorer Pass: Choose 3, 4 or 5 Top Attractions

Go Chicago Explorer Pass: Choose 3, 4 or 5 Top Attractions

80% of travellers recommend
NZ$128
Per adult
Art Institute of Chicago
Image for Art Institute of Chicago

Art Institute of Chicago

92% of travellers recommend
NZ$55
Per adult
Helicopter Flight Experience
Image for Helicopter Flight Experience

Helicopter Flight Experience

96% of travellers recommend
NZ$260
Per adult
The Chicago Theatre Marquee Tour
Image for The Chicago Theatre Marquee Tour

The Chicago Theatre Marquee Tour

92% of travellers recommend
NZ$28
Per adult

Reviews of Chicago

4.7

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
116
5 - Excellent 74.83870967741936%
4 - Good
35
4 - Good 22.580645161290324%
3 - Okay
4
3 - Okay 2.5806451612903225%
2 - Disappointing
0
2 - Disappointing 0%
1 - Terrible
0
1 - Terrible 0%

4/5 - Good

Verified traveller

16 Feb. 2020

A great place to visit, love all difference architectures.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

1 Feb. 2020

Great architecture, and a lovely walk by the lake

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

24 Jan. 2020

Great city lots to see and do

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

1 Jan. 2020

Clean, well laid out city with lots great attractions and amenities. Excellent nightlife and shopping.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

27 Dec. 2019

Reminded me of New York except more relaxed and Chicago sleeps

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

14 Dec. 2019

Andy's Jazz Club. Awesome night.

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