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Chicago see + do

Chicago is home to such a diverse range of powerhouse museums that you could spend an entire visit reeling through the city's galleries. The Art Institute of Chicago—specifically its Impressionist collection—is the one thing you must not miss. But the Field Museum's natural history holdings are just as impressive (they include the world's largest Tyrannosaurus rex, with the shortest name: Sue). And the too-often-overlooked Museum of Contemporary Art brings in large-scale exhibits of contemporary artists, such as Jeff Koons. Other crowd-pleasers—depending on the crowd you're with—include the Adler Planetarium, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Shedd Aquarium, and your choice of the Hancock Observatory or the Sears Tower Skydeck. Chicago's performance calendar is equally robust. Second City continues to be a genuinely funny comedy club; the Steppenwolf Theatre is one of the country's most innovative companies (its original production of August, Osage County swept the 2008 Tony Awards); and the Lyric Opera of Chicago still dares to stage Wagner's 15-hour masterpiece, the Ring Cycle, in one week, as the composer intended For the latest lineups and showtimes, check Time Out Chicago.

Chicago's other big lures are those that draw both locals and visitors into the sunlight. The city's sandy lakeside beaches are crowded through the summer; Millennium Park has become an urban meeting point; and the Lincoln Park Zoo is a tranquil refuge, framed by the Gold Coast's venerable skyscrapers. Nothing pulls more people outside, though, than a Cubs game at Wrigley Park, followed by a celebratory round of barhopping in surrounding Wrigleyville.

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Architecture, Chicago

The downtown Loop is a living museum of beautiful and significant buildings. Two great periods of innovation mark Chicago's architecture. The first followed the...more

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Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago

It takes several days to navigate this superb museum housing some 260,000 artworks—including some of the world's most famous masterpieces: Georges...more

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Biking, Chicago

Chicago has 22 miles of lakefront bike paths. Rent a set of wheels (for about $10 per hour) at Bike Chicago (five locations including Navy Pier and North Avenue...more

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Field Museum, Chicago

Lions and tigers and bears are the main attraction at this huge natural history museum, filled with interactive exhibits about planet Earth. Highlights include...more

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Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago

Occupying a beautifully landscaped strip of park in between the perfectly manicured streets of tony Lincoln Park and the shimmering waters of Lake Michigan, the...more

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Millennium Park, Chicago

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...more

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Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago

The MCA recently reasserted its position as one of the country's leading contemporary art museums with a highlights show that trotted out permanent-collection...more

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Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Tour a captured U-505 German Sub, take a trip into a coal mine, walk through a model of the human heart, or watch genetically engineered chicks hatch at this...more

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Shedd Aquarium, Chicago

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...more

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Theater/Music, Chicago

Chicago offers some of the best live theater and concerts in the nation. Steppenwolf Theatre is the city's most famous performance venue, counting John...more

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



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