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Trip Plan Tags: 
North America,
United States

Oct 8-14th w/ Brian, Ron Reynolds, Esther Kim, & Lauri Napier



See + Do

Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois

111 S. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60603
Tel: 312 443 3600

It takes several days to navigate this superb museum housing some 260,000 artworks—including some of the world's most famous masterpieces: Georges Seurat's A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, Edward Hopper's Nighthawks, and Grant Wood's American Gothic. There's an extensive Impressionist collection, and Asian holdings spanning five millennia that include one of the world's finest collections of Japanese woodblock prints. Don't miss the Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room (a reconstruction of the Chicago Stock Exchange trading floor) or the Thorne Miniature Rooms, dollhouse-size re-creations of European and American interiors from the late 13th century to the 1930s.

The museum's steps are home to two photogenic lions (circa 1893) and provide a first-rate spot for people-watching. The even better spot, though, may be the Renzo Piano–designed Modern Wing of the Art Institute, which has helped draw a fresh crowd of art-lovers to the venerable museum since its 2009 inauguration. Like a big gulp of fresh air after the dark galleries of the original building, the wing is a homage to natural light. A flying carpet of aluminum blades mounted on the glass roof, a staircase suspended on slender rods, and high picture windows set a buoyant, clean tone for the collection of postwar and contemporary art, which includes all the approved masters, from Jasper Johns to Gerhard Richter and David Hockney. An additional big plus is Terzo Piano, a contemporary Italian-accented brasserie, headed by hometown former Top Chef contender Tony Matuano; the restaurant finally offers the hangout the Institute always needed.—Updated by Raphael Kadushin

Open Mondays through Wednesdays and Fridays 10:30 am to 5 pm, Thursdays 10:30 am to 8 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 10 am to 5 pm.

See + Do

Wrigley Field, Illinois

1060 W. Addison Street
Chicago, Illinois 60613
Tel: 773 404 2827

Regardless of how the Cubs play (both the team and its fans are long-suffering), catching a game on a sunny afternoon at historic Wrigley Field is a quintessentially American, not-to-be-missed experience. All brick and ivy, Wrigley is the country's second-oldest ballpark. The scoreboard is still hand operated, all-beef hot dogs are $2.50, and Old Style is still the beer of choice for the indefatigable fans. Some locals have dubbed it the "world's largest bar," and you don't have to care about the game to have a great time.

Visit the park April through September for guided tours.

See + Do

Willis Tower (Sears Tower), Illinois

233 S. Wacker Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60606
Tel: 312 875 9696

Designed by renowned architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, this 1,353-foot landmark tower is one of the five tallest in the world (though Chicagoans, who measure buildings by the highest occupiable floor, would beg to differ). Some 1.5 million visitors take the ear-popping trip up to the 103rd-floor Skydeck every year. On a clear day you can see all the way to Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois (about 40–50 miles); step onto one of the glass-floored balconies, and you can peer past your feet all the way to the ground. Inside, there are knee-high peepholes for kids, multilanguage maps and kiosks, and interactive exhibits. The best time to beat the crowds—and catch the sunset—is after 4 p.m.

Open daily April through September, 10 am to 10 pm; October through March, 10 am to 8 pm.

See + Do

Shedd Aquarium, Illinois

1200 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60605
Tel: 312 939 2438

Encased in a handsome marble octagon overlooking the Lake, the Shedd is the world's largest indoor aquarium. If it's been a while since you've ogled aquatic life, you're in for a treat. Thanks to floor-to-ceiling viewing windows and high-tech advancements like roving underwater video cameras and a movie-theater–quality sound system, it's a much more engrossing experience than you may remember. Avoid weekends, when lines can be over an hour long, and try to catch one of the daily feedings (times vary; you'll have to ask), where you can watch divers feed nurse sharks, barracudas, and stingrays in the 90,000-gallon Caribbean Coral Reef. The newest signature exhibit is Wild Reef—Sharks at Shedd, which features over two dozen sharks and hundreds of other things you wouldn't want nibbling at your toes.

Open early September through late May Mondays through Fridays 9 am to 5 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 9 am to 6 pm; late May through early September daily 9 am to 6 pm. Late June through late August, Thursdays 9 am to 8 pm.


See + Do

Millennium Park, Illinois

Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60603

This 24.5-acre park, built on top of a former rail yard beside the Art Institute, is a welcome oasis downtown. Although the focal point is Frank Gehry's dramatic Jay Pritzker music pavilion, the real attraction is Spanish artist Jaume Plensa's Crown Fountain: Digital faces of Chicago residents are projected onto the side of a 50-foot-high tower, and periodically, often to the surprise of onlookers, the faces spit water into a shallow pool. British sculptor Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate, another popular sight, is a 66-foot-long, 33-foot-high ovaline sculpture that looks like a silvery reflective bead of mercury; it reflects the Chicago skyline and clouds above like a fun-house mirror. The park has an ice-skating rink in winter and a 300-space bike garage where two-wheel commuters can park, take a shower, rent or repair bikes, and grab a snack.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.