Chicago. An American icon. Going beyond stunning architecture and thrilling entertainment, this city has imbedded itself in the very heart of American culture. Just the name “Chicago” inspires thoughts of the notable art the historic city has inspired. Perhaps you think of the eponymous band, born and raised in the Windy City, whose 1982 smash hit “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” earned the group a Grammy nomination. Or maybe you find yourself reminiscing about the daring 2002 musical Chicago, which was based on historic events that took place within the city and won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
What about this wondrous city has inspired continual works of art? Chicago has its own heart, its own pace, and it never runs out of room for newcomers. With just under 3,000,000 residents, Chicago is the third most populous city in the United States. People have been drawn to the city for decades, and not just for the spectacular deep-dish pizza that any Chicago native will tell you is the best in the world. Located on the shores of the beautiful freshwater Lake Michigan, Chicago has inspiration, entertainment and more to offer to anyone and everyone.
But what exactly is Chicago bringing to the vacationing table? Certainly the sights, sounds and smells of the city are intoxicating all on their own, but there’s a virtually endless amount of engrossing and entertaining activities you can get up to in Chicago—in any season.
Whether you want a summer retreat, a winter adventure, a spring awakening, or a fall excursion, Chicago has so much to give to the casual tourist. Be careful, though—many tourists find themselves so in love with the city that it turns into a second home.
For a look at just some of Chicago’s thrilling activities (Stay Alfred would love to list all of Chicago’s amazing activity options, but then this blog post would become a novel), read on.
Places to Visit and Sights to See
A visit to the Windy City can take many forms—a desire to embrace the new, an urge to revisit history or simply getting away from it all. One thing is for sure, though: a vacation in Chicago won’t be complete without visiting at least a few of the city’s famously beautiful landmarks.
Have you ever stood just shy of a quarter-mile high in the sky, looking down on the earth, and pretended all the people you can see are ants navigating their way around an anthill? No? Well, now’s your chance! The Willis Tower doesn’t take its role as a “skyscraper” lightly. At 1,454 feet, the structure formerly known as the Sears Tower is the eighth tallest building in the world. Swing by Willis Tower and ride an elevator (or take the stairs, if you want an incredible workout) up 103 stories to the tower’s Sky Deck, which gives an unparalleled view of Chicago. If you already know that one quick look isn’t going to satisfy your desire for an incredible view and photo opportunity, book a two-hour dinner inside the Skydeck and take your time appreciating the Chicago skyline during sunset—all while enjoying an authentic Chicago meal featuring deep-dish pizza.
But let’s say that your trip up 103 stories of perfectly constructed steel leaves you feeling desirous of something a bit more natural. What then? Millenium Park is the place for you. Featuring hundreds of cultural programs over the course of the year, Millenium Park is abuzz with Chicagoans and tourists alike. Swing by the park this holiday season for ice skating and brilliantly illuminated trees, including the towering Millennium Park Christmas Tree, which will be erected for the 105th straight year this November. Come by the park in spring as flowers and musicians alike come out of hibernation for your viewing and listening pleasure. If you have kids, consider visiting the park during the summer when an endless series of family-friendly activities is available. Or, if you want to see the romantic beauty that the “Windy City” creates, walk through Millenium Park in the fall as red, yellow, and orange leaves swirl across the sky in an ever-changing landscape.
Any time is the best time to swing by Millenium Park’s Cloud Gate, one of Chicago’s most famous and fascinating structures. The Cloud Gate’s reflective surface and unusual shape make it the perfect place for a unique photo opportunity, and each season offers a different look!
Want to see Chicago’s beautiful modern architecture embraced by the power and grace of the Chicago River? The Centennial Fountain features a constant waterfall streaming down carefully carved cement tiers. Built in 1989, the fountain celebrates an achievement that’s more than a century old—reversing the flow of the Chicago River in 1900. The best time to stop by Centennial Fountain is on the hour—any hour—to watch the fountain blast a powerful arch of water across the Chicago River for five straight minutes.
For the Sophisticated Traveler in All of Us: Museums, Art, and Culture
You’re in Chicago! You made it! Regardless of when you have chosen to visit, we can guarantee there will be a plethora of interesting institutions to visit. Now you can indulge in all the genre-specific learning you want. With over thirty museums, cultural institutions and theaters, Chicago is guaranteed to be a lot more interesting than your sixth-grade mandatory trip to the local Lewis and Clark exhibition.
Flanked by two powerful bronze lions, the Art Institute of Chicago is one of the largest and the oldest installations of its kind within the United States. With some of the world’s most iconic art featured in more than 30 distinct exhibitions, it is easy to see how the Art Institute attracts well over one million guests per year. Lose yourself on the shore of Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte. Order a drink with the patrons of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. Try to puzzle out what exactly the woman in Grant Wood’s American Gothic is looking at. Give yourself plenty of time to appreciate these works, along with 300,000 other individual pieces alphabetically arranged within their respective exhibitions for your convenience.
Worried that the bright lights and hustle and bustle of Chicago life will make stargazing difficult? Come by the dome-shaped Adler Planetarium and partake in one (or more) of over a dozen exhibitions and activities that will leave you breathless with wonder at the splendors of space. While kiddos might not be ready to fully appreciate the displays at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Adler Planetarium is guaranteed to excite attendees of all ages. Swing through the Mission Moon exhibit to visualize mankind’s first steps on the moon and let children learn the excitement of that historic moment for their first time. Learn about how our sun influences Earth and the planets closest to us in the Planetarium’s Our Solar System exhibition. Then, swing by the Telescopes: Through the Looking Glass exhibit and see if you can spot any of the planets you just finished learning about! We recommend closing your trip to Adler Planetarium with The Universe: A Walk Through Space and Time, which combines information levels comparable to those in a Neil Degrasse Tyson lecture with the thrill of watching an IMAX film.
Picture this: you exit the dark theater of Adler Planetarium only to find yourself staring down a 30-foot octopus. No, you aren’t dreaming. You’re just seeing a banner advertising Shedd Aquarium, located right next door to Adler Planetarium. Consistently in the top three attractions for tourists in Chicago, Shedd Aquarium boasts two million plus visitors per year. With 1,500 species making up a combined 32,000 animals, the aquarium at one time held the record for largest aquarium in the world, with over 5,000,000 gallons of water present at any given time. Shedd Aquarium houses a giant Pacific octopus, an alligator snapping turtle, bonnet head sharks, stingrays, piranhas, seahorses and so much more for your viewing pleasure. We can guarantee you will want to walk through each and every one of Shedd Aquarium’s remarkable exhibits. The aquarium also has a re-creation of the Amazon River, and a touch-friendly stingray exhibit. Don’t worry—we promise the stingrays won’t touch you back.
Just saying you visited Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry should be enough to convince friends and family members that you spent your vacation doing more than eating deep-dish pizza and watching the Cubs play (not that those aren’t also excellent ways to spend your vacation).
But the museum’s impressive name is far from the only reason to visit. Located between Lake Michigan and The University of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry has fascinating column-based architecture coupled with artistic engravings across its top. Filling 75 major halls, this museum features more than 2,000 science and industry–based exhibits. Conduct yourself into the Transportation Gallery, which features The Great Train Story, an exhibit consisting of a 3,500-ft. model railroad that recounts the story of train travel from Seattle to Chicago. The Transportation Gallery also possesses models of the first steam engine to exceed 25MPH and the Wright Brothers’ first airplane—all in addition to Take Flight, an exhibit highlighting the world’s first commercial Boeing 727.
Brain overloaded after all that learning? Wander outside on the south side of the museum to eat lunch on the stone steps leading down to an attractive and peaceful lagoon.
After recharging, head back inside and examine the most exciting exhibits—or take the time to visit all the remaining halls. Science Storms offers an electrifying look at nature. Science Storms features a Tesla coil, tsunami tank, 40-foot water vapor tornado and the color spectrum. The Coal Mine is located in the museum’s central pavilion and is one of the oldest halls at the museum. The hall seeks to recreate the miner’s experience (minus all the dirt and those pesky health risks) and allows guests to ride an old mine-train that will take you from feature to feature in authentic fashion. Genetics: Decoding Life is for the especially adventurous museum visitor. The hall features genetically modified frogs, mice and plants! You can learn how genetics affect humans and animals alike and watch as chicks hatch under an incubator.
To get up close and personal with some animals that haven’t been genetically modified, visit the Lincoln Park Zoo. Not only was this zoo founded in 1868, making it one of the oldest in the U.S., but it also features free admission for all! Encompassing a full 35 acres, the Lincoln Park Zoo hosts approximately 1,100 animals comprising 200 species. The zoo’s variety of giant cats, polar bears and penguins, apes and macaques, rhinos and seals, and predatory birds ensures you’ll get an awesome look at majestic animals in re-creations of their natural habitats. Lincoln Park Zoo even has a farm-in-the-zoo exhibit that shows children what farm life is like, displaying chickens, pigs, and a daily real-time milking of dairy cows. Experienced staff are always on hand to answer questions from inquisitive kids!
While each of the attractions above merits a visit, you deserve to know that there are still plenty of other museums and cultural attractions for you to visit while in Chicago. Some are big, some are small, and each one offers a distinct experience. The Field Museum of Natural History The Field Museum of Natural History was consistently the most visited attraction in Chicago in the early 2000s, and with good reason—anyone with an interest in history could spend countless hours wandering and studying the museum’s many natural history exhibits. The Garfield Park Conservatory is one of the largest indoor gardens and greenhouses in the United States. The Chicago Botanic Gardens and Morton Arboretum have even more beautiful plants to take in. For a slightly different zoo experience, you can go to the Brookfield Zoo, which has a layout designed with moats and ditches, while still featuring 450 species across 216 acres.
Deep Dish Dive into The Windy City’s Classic Restaurants
Honestly, what is a vacation if not a chance to eat all day long? With over 8,000 restaurants scattered across the city, Chicago seems to be actively encouraging this lifestyle. Unfortunately, we can’t discuss all these restaurants—or even all the ones that just serve pizza. What we can do is give you a taste of a few of Chicago’s most famous food attractions.
Let’s get down to brass tacks: where’s the beer, where’s the pizza, and how do you get both in authentic Chicago style? By the way, if you skipped to this section to read about Chicago’s classiest restaurants, don’t worry—that’s coming up. But first, for the Chicago beer experience, we must recommend the Chicago Beer Experience Beer Tour. Offered in multiple locations in Chicago, this walking tour lets you pause between bars to view historic Chicago landmarks, learn the city’s history, and sip on a variety of draft beers the entire time. Led by a knowledgeable guide, the tour stops at four pubs where you can grab a Chicago hotdog or another frothy beer!
For a similar experience that is more food oriented than beer oriented, check out the Famous Tastes of Chicago Food Tour. Limited to groups of six, this tour offers a more personal experience that sees you trying the cuisine from a half-dozen of the Windy City’s quintessential eateries, featuring deep-dish pizza, Italian beef sandwiches, chocolates, brats and more.
It’s perfectly understandable if you’re thinking “Hey look here buddy, I didn’t come to Chicago to do my tours on foot like some kind of marathoner.” If you like the idea of getting some brews in your stomach and seeing the city, but not the idea of walking around the city with those brews inside you, The Barrel Run is the tour for you. Get whisked from the city’s most delicious distilleries to the winning wineries to the best breweries. The tour is over three hours long, but the only walking you have to do is from the barrel-shaped bus to the heated (or air-conditioned, depending on the season) alcohol stations. A word of caution: toward the end of this tour you might be stumbling more than walking. Alternatively, take the “gangster tour,” which takes you across portions of Chicago that were particularly prominent back in the city’s gangster age. Food is still included, of course.
Moving away from tour options, here’s another classic Chicago restaurant possibility: Pequod's Pizza. Everyone knows you have plenty of great pizza joints to choose from when visiting the Windy City. Deciding which one is the best is simply a matter of experimentation combined with individual preferences. However, there’s a reason Pequod’s Pizza has been in business for over 25 years. With a lively atmosphere, creative whale-based art, nearby bars, and its famous caramelized crust, Pequod’s has survived the test of time. Whether you want the traditional Chicago deep-dish pizza, pan pizza, or an exotic custom-designed pizza, Pequod’s is there to satisfy. The only kind of pizza they don’t serve? Mediocre pizza.
Ever seen a 12-foot wiener proudly displayed above a restaurant? If not, you clearly haven’t visited Portillo’s Hot Dogs. The walls of Portillo’s are festooned with Chicago memorabilia, including the original Chicago Blackhawks’ 1938 Stanley Cup banner. In addition, the restaurant has silly decorations and photos of the many famous people who have come to enjoy Chicago’s best bratwurst, burger, or beef sandwich. Established in Chicago in 1994, Portillo’s is a must visit for all hotdog, or even just food, enthusiasts. Note: the best time to visit Portillo’s is when you’ve worked up one heck of an appetite.
All right, newlyweds and foodies, here’s the moment you’ve been waiting for: the classiest restaurants in Chicago. For a true lesson in elegance, we suggest visiting The Rosebud. This longtime Chicago restaurant, reputedly Frank Sinatra’s favorite place to eat, serves classic Italian delicacies. The floor is a fine wood finish, the tablecloths a brilliant white, and the restaurant is well illuminated with a sparkling light. All of the Rosebud’s beauty, however, pales in comparison to the attractiveness of the food it features. Fresh-cut vegetables, perfectly seared meats, and delectable desserts are all served with perfectly balanced garnishes. Dress for the occasion, order a bottle of wine, and take your time looking over the menu and enjoying your meal—this isn’t a dining experience you’ll want to rush. If you’re visiting during a warmer month, grab a table somewhere in the middle of the restaurant to fully appreciate the artistic photography on the walls as well as the restaurant’s many attractive features. When visiting in the fall or winter, take a seat by the window and watch the leaves or snow swirl around the Rosebud, adding to the romantic atmosphere.
Or you could have your meal served to you by someone who looks like Frank Sinatra. Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab offers classic steak and seafood fare, all brought to you by tuxedo-clad waitstaff. The stone crab alone has made this restaurant into one of the most universally beloved icons in all of Chicago. It also offers kids’ menus, vegetarian and gluten-free options, and an extensive cocktail and beer list. Featuring ever-changing wine lists and holiday discounts, Joe’s offers a spectacular dining experience in every season.
Last but not least, go to Bavette’s Bar and Boeuf to feel like you’re dining in the age of gangster-controlled Chicago. This dimly lit bar and restaurant combines romantic lighting with classic brick architecture—all of which makes the place feel straight out of the 1950s. Put on your grandparent’s finest clothes, order a Don Draper-–style whiskey neat, and return to a simpler time. Bavette’s differs from a traditional steakhouse by offering a full-service bar to graciously meet all your cocktail needs. Embracing a minimalistic take on traditional French decoration, this restaurant aims to “blend fine dining with unabashed fun.” Complete with ornate chandeliers, red leather booths, and fast-paced jazz, Bavette’s Bar and Boeuf is the only restaurant that lets you enjoy modern meals while feeling transported back in time.
Getting Around in Style
You probably (wisely) left your car at home when you came to Chicago. Fortunately for you, there are a lot of ways to get around in Chicago. Most Windy City natives have learned to dive from their third-story brownstone apartments and ride their briefcases across waves of wind until they are ceremoniously dropped off at their place of work. However, we don’t recommend this form of travel for anyone not born and raised in Chicago. Here are some transportation methods that don’t require years of dedicated windsurfing training.
Now, we’re mostly going to discuss some of Chicago’s more unique travel options, but you should know that the standard options you expect to see in large cities are still readily available. When in doubt, you can always call a taxi or Uber. Chicago’s bus system is extremely convenient and will take you to near or faraway places, regardless of where you are in the city. Many bus routes even show pleasant views of Lake Michigan and give riders a glimpse of animals at the Lincoln Park Zoo.
The Navy Pier Trolley is a particularly excellent form of public transportation in Chicago, not least because it is entirely free. Moreover, the trolley cuts a swath through some of the busiest parts of downtown, saving you from the hassle of getting caught up in traffic jams. The Navy Pier Trolley is perfect for visitors who want an efficient way to get from the city’s shopping centers to the wide-open spaces along the shore of Lake Michigan. If you’re considering visiting Chicago during the holidays and picking up some presents, parcels, or totes, know that the Navy Pier Trolley will be perfectly suited to meeting your hands-free travel requirements. No system is perfect though—the Navy Pier Trolley is limited to one giant loop, so it won’t necessarily be able to drop you off right at your lodgings or next destination.
As the name implies, the Navy Pier Trolley ends at the Navy Pier. Getting off the trolley at a pier might leave you in the mood for some water transportation, which Chicago has in spades. The Chicago River Boat Architecture Tour takes participants on an in-depth tour of the fascinating architectural splendors that the Windy City is known for. An expert on Chicago architecture will provide you with down-home knowledge of some of the city’s most iconic structures. This tour lets old meet new as you learn about the old Gothic towers and modern skyscrapers. This tour adjusts to individual tastes and client needs. For example, if you want the tour to have more of an architectural than a historical focus, your knowledgeable Chicagoan guides will be happy to make that adjustment for you.
Ever been in a taxi? How about a water taxi? The Chicago Water Taxis offer an experience similar to that of the Chicago River Boat Architecture Tour, and at a fraction of the cost. True, you won’t have a knowledgeable guide to tell you about the cool architecture you’ll see, but you will get to appreciate those same pieces of iconic infrastructure. Hop on a cute yellow boat to take in the height of Willis Tower from the water. The Chicago Water Taxi is a great way to get around the Chicago River without committing yourself to an entire afternoon’s worth of activities.
It can be tough to shake off the urge for a post-binge nap after enjoying one of those famous pizzas. For travelers who want to burn a few calories in their treks across town, Divvy is the perfect transportation option. Divvy is Chicago’s bike-sharing program that has 580 stations scattered across the city. Here’s how it works: rent a bike from one station, cycle yourself all around the city, and then, when you’ve biked yourself silly, return your Divvy. Any Divvy bicycle can be returned to any Divvy station, so you can plot out an elaborate course across the city without fear of having to do a return trip. Although you’ll also be fine if you just play it by ear and ride where the wind takes you, you might want to have a route in mind when you borrow a bike—or you could find yourself riding in circles until you’re too dizzy to properly divvy.
The last transportation option we’ll recommend is largely for couples, given its romantic nature. Horse-drawn carriages will pull you around Chicago, letting you take your time looking at the Windy City’s sights without having to be aware of your immediate surroundings. Bonus points for riding in fall or winter, when the shifting of leaves and snow gives you even more to appreciate.
Join the Crowd: Shopping, Sports, and Festivals
Chicago is the perfect place to blend in with the crowd. Whether you’re at a sporting event, a play, an art show, a comedy show, or are simply passing the time at one of Chicago’s memorable festivals, Chicago is the place to be for live entertainment.
Baseball fans already know Chicago is home to the impressive Wrigley Field and the even more impressive Major League Baseball team the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs broke a long-time losing streak in 2016 when they won the World Series for the first time in over a century. Having finally put the infamous curse of the billy goat to rest, the Cubs are back on track as one of America’s premier baseball teams. Check them out in person at Wrigley Field any time during baseball season, which runs from mid-March or early April to late October or early September. Even if the Cubs aren’t playing during your Chicago visit, Wrigley Field alone is worthy of your time. Built in 1914, the baseball field is the second oldest in the United States, just two years younger than Boston’s Fenway Park. Although the field still has its old-timey charm, multiple renovations have allowed for seating of up to 41,160 Cub enthusiasts. Get yourself a ticket to a Cubs game, get yourself a beer (or two), get some snacks ahead of time so you don’t miss any action, and enjoy watching Chicago’s favorite baseball team do what it does best.
The Magnificent Mile, despite its name, is not a 1600-meter foot race. Rather, the Magnificent Mile is Chicago’s number one shopping district. Stretching down Chicago’s north side, the Magnificent Mile mixes well-known Windy City architecture with a plethora of shops catering to the every need of tourists with money burning holes in their pockets. Fashion outlets, sweet shops, avant-garde stores, and upscale cafés live between buildings like the 100-story John Hancock tower and the historic 182-ft Chicago Water Tower. The Mile has so many fascinating and varied shops that one trip through all of them should provide you with everything you need to finish your gift shopping for an entire year. Located just inland of the Navy Pier, the Magnificent Mile has easy access to the Chicago trolley system that allows for hands-free travel, so you can keep track of all your new purchases.
Located at the South end of the Magnificent Mile is one of the Windy City’s crowning performing arts center—the Chicago Theatre. This theater puts on amazing shows every week from a variety of sources. The holidays see Christmas-themed plays and pageants coming to the theater, but you’re guaranteed a range of interesting shows no matter what time of year you visit. Just between mid-November and the end of 2018, the Chicago Theatre will be hosting Conan O’Brien, the Trailer Park Boys, Anita Baker, and Common. The theater has lush red-velvet seats, and 3,600 of them to boot. We could tell you about the special history of the Chicago Theatre, but it’s really better to hear it straight from the source. Stop by any day at the lunch hour, noon until 1:00, for a fun, history-filled journey through the Chicago Theatre’s mass of artistic accomplishments!
Chicago has a multitude of festivals you can consider attending based on your personal preferences. But we’re here to talk about two festivals that are almost guaranteed to appeal to anyone. Let’s start with Baconfest. An entire festival dedicated to—you guessed it—bacon. Taking place in April, Baconfest sees the best bacon-based chefs and drink mixologists in the entire city and puts them all in one incredibly good-smelling spot. The festival advertises itself as a “bacon lover’s nirvana,” and if anything, it’s being humble. This festival has an endless series of meals and drinks, each one prominently featuring delicious bacon-y flavor. There are also raffles, awards, and several kinds of non-bacon entertainment available. Vegetarians dragged to Baconfest by their meat-eating friends will be pleased to learn that a portion of proceeds from Baconfest go to helping Chicago’s hungry, and over 1.2 million meals have been donated since the festival began just over 10 years ago.
Another beloved festival option is Whiskyfest. Usually available about a month before Baconfest, Whiskyfest offers exactly what you’re expecting: Scotch whisky. Tasting booths staffed by well-informed whisky and bourbon brewers offer diverse tastes of Whisky. Whiskyfest has a larger price tag than Baconfest, but participants get to sample from a huge selection of the world’s highest quality whisky (among other alcohols). With a selection of over 350 whiskies from across the globe, you won’t have to worry about running out of booths to attend. This is your chance to learn more about the whisky distillation process, finally nail down your favorite kind of whisky, and do a lengthy series of taste tests with thousands of other whisky enthusiasts. Be sure to have a safe method of transportation planned out in advance!
No worries winter fans, the Chicago festival scene has your needs covered too. The Christkindlmarket Chicago festival is a celebration of European tradition and German culture with Chicago charm added in for good measure. Christkindlmarket originated in Nuremburg, Germany, in the 1600s. At its founding, Christkindlmarket was one of the only holiday festivals in the world. In 2018, the market has spread across the globe, and Chicago has been a proud host of Christkindlmarket for over 20 years. The celebration offers holiday cheer, exceptional food and gift stands, and the opportunity for families and couples to start forming their own unique holiday traditions.
There is no best time to visit Chicago; the Windy City has memorable experiences year round.
Where do you stay?
Why, with Alfred of course! Stay Alfred makes your Chicago lodging decision obvious. A trip to the Windy City should be one of the best times of your life. Anywhere you visit, staying in a hotel is going to be an option. With that option comes loud next-door neighbors, a lack of privacy, and no claim to call the place your own. Instead, why not take your visit to the Windy City to the next level with a stay in one of Stay Alfred’s hip buildings?
Stay Alfred at The Ace on Ashland features a private deck, floor-to-ceiling windows that allow you to appreciate the Chicago skyline, quartz countertops, and a community deck built onto the roof of the building that makes it easy to wind the day down with a nice view and like-minded company. That’s in addition to all the amenities you would find at a hotel, and it doesn’t end there. Stay Alfred at The Ace on Ashland is nestled in the East Village, a revitalized neighborhood with no shortage of bars and restaurants to choose from. Staying at the Ace on Ashland gives you the perfect balance of easy access to Chicago attractions while letting you appreciate a quiet neighborhood when you want to relax after a fun-fueled trip through the city.
For those looking to stay in the heart of downtown Chicago, we offer Stay Alfred at The Seneca. This apartment building breathes class, from stately entrances to elegant room stylings complete with all the hotel-style amenities. Featuring a 24-hour fitness center, a game room, a rooftop terrace, and a perfectly pleasing fireplace in the main lobby, Stay Alfred at The Seneca has everything a traveler could want to ensure the evening is as entertaining as it is relaxing. Maintain the security and comforts of home while living in style within walking distance of the John Hancock center, Chicago’s famous Lakefront Trail, and plenty of stores and exotic restaurants to make your stay complete.