From popular Rembrandt masterpieces to recent works by lesser-known artists, the Art Institute of Chicago houses one of the finest art collections in the world. Spanning centuries of human creativity, exhibits include a distinguished collection of prints and drawings, an internationally acclaimed collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, sculptures, photographs, Asian, African and American arts, architectural drawings, textiles and more. Many pieces are on loan from the famed Terra Foundation for American Art. Educational programs and guided museum tours are available. Art books, reproductions, postcards and other items are available in the museum shop. Free public lectures are given during weekends.
Cloud Gate is an iconic Chicago sculpture located in Millennium Park. Its highly reflective surface appears to be seamless, but is actually made up of 168 stainless steel plates that were welded together. Its legume-like shape has earned it the nickname "The Bean" among Chicago residents, and is a must-see attraction while in downtown.
Pick up free city guides (available in various languages) and information on the events and attractions of the city. While you are at the Chicago Cultural Center, browse the various art galleries and find out about the weddings and cultural performances organized in the premises. Grab a coffee at the Randolph Café and some artifacts from the shop next to it. If you like this place, do some serious thinking about volunteering for some work for the cultural center. For details on parking, accessibility, and membership check the website.
Millennium Park is one of the newest additions to Chicago's many wide-open urban spaces, and is host to a range of indoor/outdoor activities for the entire family. You can listen to top musical events at the outdoor pavilion, or glide across the bustling ice skating rink come winter. For a bit of the park's history, be sure to take a peek at the Peristyle, a replica of the curving row of paired Greek columns that were on the corner of Grant Park near Michigan and Randolph from 1917 to 1953. While in the park one cannot afford to miss the Cloud Gate Sculpture, a three-storied structure built with 110 tons (99790 kilograms) of steel. It is called The Bean by the residents.
Enjoy Cycling? Bobby's Bike Hike offers you the chance to see Chicago's major attractions on an informative cycling tour. They offer a variety of tours including the 'Lakefront Neighborhoods Tour', 'Kids Edition' and 'City Lights at Night Tour'. The tours are leisurely paced, so you don't have to worry about not being able to keep up with the cycling group. The cycles provided are 'Schwinn Beach Cruisers' and helmets are also offered. People of all ages will enjoy these tours and it is a great and informative way to experience the sights and sounds of the city of Chicago.
A must for nature lovers, this sprawling compound of foliage comprises 23 different gardens ranging from formal British rose gardens to tranquil Japanese islands. A series of waterways connect the lushly landscaped hills and acres together. The scenic vistas here rival those of the older, European gardens. Pack a lunch and spend the afternoon wandering among the sculpted shrubbery. This peaceful escape from the city is a rare find. A restaurant and cafe are on site.