The Loop and South Loop
Chicago Cultural Center
78 E. Washington St., tel. (312) 744-6630
Originally home to the Chicago Public Library, this edifice was built in the wake of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, which prompted the creation of an impressive series of cultural institutions in Chicago. The building's interior is a must-see, with its monumental marble staircase.
The masterpiece of engineer Dankmar Adler and architect Louis H. Sullivan, the Auditorium Building (50 E. Congress Pkwy., tel.312-922-2110, www.auditoriumtheatre.org) is a sight to behold. This building broke new ground when it was built (1887-1889), as its structure made it possible to house a large theatre, a hotel and an office building in a single edifice. Today, big Broadway musicals are put on here.
The Sears Tower (renamed the Willis Tower in summer 2009) is Chicago's tallest skyscraper. Head to the 103rd-floor Skydeck (tel. 312-875-9696, www.theskydeck.com) on a clear day to enjoy an incredible view of the city .
The Art Institute of Chicago (111 S. Michigan Ave., tel. 312-443-3600, www.artic.edu) features one of the world's richest art collections. Here you'll find the treasures of the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collections which made the Art Institute of Chicago world famous.
Millennium Park (www.millenniumpark.org) runs along the north side of Grant Park. The southern part of Grand Park was renamed the Museum Campus. The first of the Museum Campus' cultural institutions you'll see is the Field Museum (1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., tel. 312-922-9410, www.fieldmuseum.org), a fabulous natural history museum. Next are the John G. Shedd Aquarium (tel. 312-939-2438, www.sheddaquarium.org), one of the city's most popular attractions, and the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum (1300 S. Lake Shore Dr., tel. 312-922-7827, www.adlerplanetarium.org), the first public planetarium to open in the United States. It's most impressive attraction is the StarRider Theater, where projections on a giant screen give spectators the impression that they are taking a trip into space.
The Magnificent Mile
The north part of Michigan Avenue, between the Chicago River and Oak Street, has become Chicago's shopping mecca. Fashionable boutiques, high-rise shopping malls and big department stores line both sides of this stretch, known as the Magnificent Mile.
Rising up northwest of the Michigan Avenue Bridge is the remarkably elegant Wrigley Building (400-410 N. Michigan Ave.), considered by some to be the most beautiful building in town. This white terracotta tower, erected between 1919 and 1924, is vaguely modeled on the Seville cathedral.
Streeterville and Navy Pier
Museum of Contemporary Art
220 E. Chicago Ave., tel. (312) 280-2660, www.mcachicago.org
Works from the permanent collection (Alexander Calder, Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, René Magritte, Max Ernst, etc.) are exhibited on the museum's fourth floor.
600 E. Grand Ave., tel. (312) 595-7437, www.navypier.com
In addition to its IMAX cinema, this entertainment complex features an amphitheatre, a carousel and a giant, 45m-high Ferris wheel, a reminder that George W.G. Ferris invented this ride for the World's Columbian Exposition.
The Gold Coast
Make sure you visit magnificent Astor Street, which is home to a number of noteworthy residences. Notable examples are the Art-Deco buildings at 1260 N. Astor Street and 1301 N. Astor Street.
The Chicago History Museum (1601 N. Clark St., tel.312-642-4600, www.chicagohistory.org) is the city's oldest cultural institution. Chi-Town's history is told through the museum's rich collection of costumes, photos and paintings.
Lincoln Park Zoo
Most of the zoo's 1,000 or so animal residents are housed in buildings that were built during the first two decades of the 20th century. The northwest exit of the zoo leads to the Lincoln Park Conservatory (2391 N. Stockton Dr., tel. 312-742-7736), a sort of glass palace where various botany exhibits are shown.
Hyde Park and the South Side
The Museum of Science and Industry (at the corner of 57th St. and Lake Shore Dr., tel. 773-684-1414, www.msichicago.org), one of Chicago's most popular attractions, presents a series of exhibits on the various facets of science. The museum's Henry Crown Space Center is home to the Apollo 8 command module.
A stroll on the campus of the prestigious University of Chicago is an absolute must. The school was founded in 1890 by oil magnate John D. Rockefeller.
The Oriental Institute Museum (1155 E. 58th St., tel. 773-702-9520) occupies a handsome Art-Deco building dating from 1931. This remarkable museum is devoted to Near Eastern art and history and contains countless archeological treasures.
The western suburb of Oak Park is known around the world as the place where Frank Lloyd Wright created the Prairie House, heralding the birth of modern residential architecture.
A visit to Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece, Unity Temple (875 Lake St., tel.708-383-8873, www.utrf.org), built in 1906, is an absolute must. These two concrete blocks linked by a low passageway, house the church on one side and the presbytery on the other. However, it is the interior that is an absolute must-see. Wright designed everything here, right down to the smallest details thus creating a remarkably harmonious whole.