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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.
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.
Representing the spirit of American shopping, this well-known stretch of Michigan Avenue has something for everyone in hundreds of trendy stores, one-of-a-kind galleries, Chicago souvenir shops and mouth-watering bakeries and cafes selling anything and everything. During the holiday season, check out the decorations that make the mile look even more magnificent. Hardcore shoppers will want to start at the north end, a cluster of three malls: Chicago Place Mall, Water Tower Place and the 900 North Michigan Shops. Store hours vary.
Travel from ancient civilizations through modern times, viewing remnants of bygone cultures and traditions at The Field Museum. Get the inside story on Sue, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaur skeleton, or view preserved man-eating lions and other animals. For a truly subterranean experience, check out the Underground Adventure, an exhibit dedicated to soil and how it sustains life, or just relax at one of several places to eat. Free for members, teachers and military personnel. Chicago residents receive a discount.
From its versatile journey as a crucial dock for freights, to becoming a training complex for the Navy during World War II, and to finally being redeveloped as a massive one-stop entertainment destination on Chicago's Lake Michigan shoreline, the Navy Pier has participated in a rather adventurous century-old sojourn. This 3,000 foot (1,010 meter) long pier named in honor of the Great War's naval veterans hosts a legion of recreational options that span museums, restaurants, retail, entertainment and outdoor activities. A whirlwind attraction that juts out into the Great Lake, the highlight of the pier is the iconic Ferris Wheel that spins rapidly, with the urbane Chicago skyline in the backdrop. Dinner cruise ships ply the waters around the pier, inviting visitors to step aboard a vibrant extravaganza that ends in fireworks on Wednesday and Saturday nights. The pier is also home to the botanical Crystal Gardens, the Chicago Children's Museum, and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater that showcases Shakespearean productions.
Wrigley Field is one of the country's oldest ballparks and also one of the prettiest. You won't find any Astroturf here because the fans would not allow it. The real grass is kept a lush green, and the ivy grows thick and heavy along the outfield walls. Now home to the Chicago Cubs, at one time the Chicago Bears football team played here. Even if you are aren't a sports fan, you will enjoy a visit to this stadium. There's enough sense of history to satisfy anyone looking for a slice of the past. Make sure to grab a hot dog and a beer before finding your seat to watch the ballgame. Don't have a ticket? You can try to get a free peek of the game at "The Knothole" - a 20-foot (6 meter) long rectangular opening on the Sheffield Avenue side of the stadium. Don't forget to check out the statue of famed radio and television broadcaster Harry Caray outside.
The Oriental Institute Museum allows you to travel to distant and ancient civilizations without leaving Chicago. Part of the University of Chicago campus in Hyde Park, the Institute Museum features outstanding anthropological and archaeological exhibits about the early human civilizations that developed in the East. Visitors can reflect on man's accomplishments as they examine rare artifacts from historic nations including Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Iran and Palestine. Afterwards, browse the "Suq" (Arabic for "market") for Eastern finds and unusual gifts. Guided group tours and workshops are available. Photography is permitted in the museum and galleries. Photographs can also be ordered from the photographic archives. Admission is donation based, with a suggested USD10 for adults and USD5 for children 12 and under.
The Museum of Science and Industry makes science fun with interactive, educational exhibits that stretch the imagination. Spend time in a 16-foot (4.8-meter) heart as you learn about how yours works. Find out how technology has influenced history by stepping back in time on "Yesterday's Main Street." Watch action-packed films in the museum's giant-screen Omnimax Theatre or take a ride down a coal mine. And don't leave without picking up some great souvenirs at The Big Idea museum shop. Omnimax requires additional fee. Parking available in underground garage.
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.