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. Artbooks, reproductions, postcards and other items are available in the museum shop.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The origins of this huge downtown park date back to the 19th Century. Spread across 319 acres (129 hectares), Grant Park is nestled between Michigan Avenue and Lake Michigan. Inspired by French parks, it has geometric layouts that are entwined by bridges, huge lawns, trails, artworks, monuments, marinas, sports fields and many gardens. The iconic Buckingham Fountain, Millennium Park, Museum Campus and Petrillo Music Shell are some of its popular attractions. Grant Park is also home to major festivals and cultural events in the city.
Ever since maestro Theodore Thomas first raised his baton at the Auditorium Theater in 1892, the world knew that this was a first class orchestra to be reckoned with. That reputation has continued through such legendary conductors as Fritz Reiner and Sir George Solti. The group found its own home at Orchestra Hall in 1905. In 1997, after an extensive renovation, Orchestra Hall was re-christened Symphony Center, a place dedicated to educating young and old alike about classical and jazz music. Under the baton of Daniel Barenboim, the orchestra has continued its tradition of quality musicianship.
"The city is our museum," claims this historic museum. The CAF highlights Chicago's diverse architecture and design through a multitude of lectures, exhibits and educational programs. For a hands-on experience, take the Loop Walking Tour-a two-hour daily tour that explores the national landmarks downtown. The CAF Architecture River Cruise offers a river's eye view of the city and highlights more than 50 historic sites along the Chicago River. Many galleries are houses which include the famed ArcelorMittal CitySpace Gallery. Even though admission is free, reservations are advised.
The Loop is a central part of the Windy City and is named after the streetcars' looping route. It is among the four downtown community areas in Chicago. This vibrant neighborhood is a lovely place to explore. You will find many tall buildings in this part of the town as it is not only a cultural center but a commercial hub as well. These include the Chicago Board of Trade Building, Aon Center and Willis Tower (The Sears Tower). Some of the interesting sites to visit are the Art Institute of Chicago, Federal Reserve Bank Money Museum, The Daley Center, City Hall, Grant Park, Millennium Park, Cadillac Palace Theater, Reliance Building, Chicago Cultural Center, Lyric Opera, Goodman Theatre, LaSalle Bank Theater, Chicago Theatre and the Chicago Riverwalk.
Pritzker Military Library was established in 2003 by Colonel James N. Pritzker in Chicago. Featuring over 700,000 items tracing the military history, this is one of the few research libraries dedicated solely to literature and ephemera on military. Open to public, the award-winning library often organizes interesting critically acclaimed exhibitions and programs throughout the year. Needless to say, this makes for an interesting visit.