Mix New York hustle with mid-western generosity and you get Chicagoans. They have some of that rust-belt blue-collar edge along with the chic swagger of a major urban socialite. The people make the city, and the city definitely makes people. Denver and Salt Lake City have fresh air and outdoor adventure, San Diego and Miami have awesome beaches and nightlife, San Francisco and Seattle have great food and brilliant minds and New York well, they have a ton of everything. But, in my completely skewed opinion, none of these cities add up to what I think is the best city in the United States of America – Chicago, Illinois. Chicago is perfectly located for quick flights around the country.

1.CHICAGO’S PIZZA TOUR:

Chicago Pizza Tours is a fun and informative way to explore the city’s most famous culinary export. They’re well-organized if somewhat on-the-fly based on the crowd levels on any given day.

This tour has an obvious appeal to those who embrace the term “foodie.” But even if pizza is rarely a subject of conversation outside of mealtime, this is an unexpectedly informative lens through which to explore Chicago. Plus, no tour in town will leave you as well-fed.

Chicago excels at more styles of pizza than just the familiar deep dish. Many guests on our tour were surprised by the thin-crust. Up to nine guests will load into a small bus and make their way to four pizzerias during a 3.5-hour crawl. Our guide kicked things off with a little history lesson before delving into the process and technique. But this wasn’t his first rodeo; he only pontificated for so long about pizza before we arrived at the main event: the eating.

Meet at a central location downtown to start your tour.  Hear the history of the deep dish pizza while devouring a full slice at the first stop.  Following that, our bus picks you up and you’ll ride comfortably and enjoy stories from your local guide.  You’ll get the chance to literally eat your way through Chicago as you visit significant pizzerias in several Chicago neighborhoods sampling a wide range of styles and toppings from some of the best pizzerias in the world.

2.MILLENNIUM PARK AND CULTURAL AFFAIRS AND CONCERTS:

Few works of public art are more iconic than Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate (a.k.a. “The Bean”), a reflective sculpture that is nearly always surrounded by visitors snapping pictures. Elsewhere in Millennium Park, you’ll find Jaume Plensa’s Crown Fountain, which features two screens depicting an ever-changing array of locals’ faces spewing water every five minutes in the summer months. Warm weather also marks the return of public art exhibitions on the Chase Promenades, where you’ll find large scale work from contemporary artists.

The indie rock and alternative country project SUSTO centers around the lyrical narrative of singer-singer Justin Osborne. The acclaimed album Ever. Rock band Naked Giants has comprised of vocalist and guitarist Grant Mullen, bassist and vocalist Gianni Aiello, and drummer Henry LaVallee. Their debut studio album SLUFF was released last year to positive critical reviews. The band has toured with Car Seat Headrest.

This 24.5-acre park might be one of the most popular gathering spots in the city, known for its free concerts, famous public art installations and its proximity to the Loop. The centerpiece of Millennium Park is the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, a flowing Frank Gehry-designed structure that hosts of the city’s biggest outdoor festivals and concerts. You’ll also find the serene Lurie Garden, al fresco dining destination the Park Grill and pedestrian bridges that lead to the Art Institute and Maggie Daley Park. Welcome to the hub of Chicago’s front yard. 

3.CATCH UP SOME LIVE COMEDY:

Chicago’s Corey Holcomb performed his first open mic back in 1992, and he hasn’t looked back since. He concentrates most of his comic energy on the age-old battle of the sexes, doling out advice to guys to make sure they’re not ensnared by the ladies, and ensure their relationships are kept on the right track. His routines have won him numerous awards, including the Chicago Home Jam, Laffapalooza, and the Miller Genuine Draft Comedy Search.

Are you feeling lucky? Do you like standup comedy and a chance to win prizes? Well thankfully the Google Gods pointed you in the right direction! Jackpot Comedy brings the best comedians Chicago has to offer on one night and every audience member has a chance to walk away with gift cards, swag, and most importantly, laughs! Get your tickets now and don’t forget to show up, you never know when your number will be called

Alongside his stand up work, Holcomb presents his own eponymous internet radio show and lends his unmistakable vocals to a range of cartoons, including The Cleveland Show and Black Jesus. He’s also appeared in the flesh in the movies Think Like a Man Too and the Kevin Hart smash The Wedding Ringer. 

4.CHICAGO’S ARCHITECTURE CRUISES:

An architecture tour along the Chicago River has become an essential item on any local or visitor’s bucket list. While a cruise can only scratch the surface of why the city is an architectural tourist mecca, it’s a great way to become more intimate with the skyline. Although the content of all the tour offerings is remarkably similar, there are subtle differences. 

While all the tours featured practically identical scripts, the style and personality of the guides are key to the experience. My guide on Shoreline’s bare-bones Bright Star delivered a spiel that sounded more scripted and less extemporaneous than the competition. He exuded a kind of low-grade ironic hipster vibe. Amusing for a while, it eventually turned kind of smug (referring to the pride the city felt when the river’s water quality had been upgraded from “highly toxic” to merely “polluted” and that David Letterman had called the busts outside the Merchandise Mart “The Pez Hall of Fame”). It probably went over the heads of the group of eighth-graders from Romeo, Michigan, onboard.

The tour guide on the spartan Wendella exemplified one of the problems with the ultra-tight time frame. Like Ol’ Man himself, the river boat just keeps rollin’ along; unlike a land-based tour, there is no time to stop and absorb, and the tour guide barely takes a breath. Packing in facts and figures, names and dates, she kept it remarkably fresh and enthusiastic, even if she had a little trouble pronouncing some of the architects’ names (an architect might shorten Hellmuth Obata & Kassabaum to HOK) and her explanation of what makes a building postmodern—just calling it “contextual”—was kind of befuddling.

5.WEIRD MUSUEMS :

While the Art Institute Of Chicago, the Field Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art are some of the most iconic art stops in city is also full of ancient amputation devices and the largest collection of toby jugs in the world. This unusual art scene often gets overshadowed, but it is definitely worth the visit. To help you get off the typical museum path, we’ve compiled a list of the ten most unusual museums in the Windy City.

Inside some museums, you can find an Austrian amputation saw circa 1500, iron lungs, and early heart valves. In addition, there is a Hippocrates sculpture and a room full of cadaver murals. It’s not exactly for the faint of heart, but it’s a fascinating museum and the perfect place for aspiring surgeons. In the museum, there are thousands of rare and old coins, a million-dollar briefcase, and a giant rotating cube filled with one million dollars.

On your way out, you’ll receive a bag with 300 dollars. Unfortunately, the money is shredded and uncirculated, so good luck trying to actually put it to use. Many of the works are from local churches and religious buildings; however, there are also secular works from nearby homes and businesses and even a stained-glass portrait of Michael Jordan. The entrance is free, and you can still browse while eating that ice cream cone you bought on the pier.

6.GARFIELD PARK CONSERVATORY:

Considered revolutionary when it first opened in 1908, the Garfield Park Conservatory was described as a work of “landscape art under glass.” The structure replaced three small Victorian glass houses that were built in Chicago’s West Park System in the 1880s.

The structure, one of the largest conservatories in the world, was quite unlike its nineteenth-century predecessors. Jensen wanted the exterior to emulate the simple form of a Midwestern haystack. Inside, he displayed plants in the ground as opposed to potted containers. Jensen also hid pipes and other mechanical systems behind beautiful walls of stratified stonework, and created magnificent views across the landscape.

The community-run Garfield Park Conservatory harbors various gardens and also acts as both a study space and an artistic collection. Upon entry, the Palm Garden welcomes visitors with a gush of moist, humid air and striking shades of green. The Show House, filled with exotic flowers and colored glass, acts as nature’s art gallery.

Every year, different plants are showcased in new arrangements, all of which were grown at the conservatory. The conservatory also offers light shows for each garden, uniquely connected to the nature of that plant, or group of plants, and how light affects plant anatomy. There are several indoor gardens to visit in the greenhouse, but it’s the outdoor public garden that attracts flocks of visitors, plant enthusiasts, and botanists. 

7.ICE SKATING :

Skate under the Chicago skyline and within eyeshot of the Chicago Christmas Tree at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park. Admission to the rink is free, and you can rent skates for $13–$15. The most popular time to hit the rink is in the evening, so show up earlier if you don’t feel like waiting in line for your chance to slide around. Take advantage of free skating lessons on Fridays at 11am and Saturdays and Sundays at 9am. If it seems too warm to skate, call ahead—this rink is open through March 8, weather permitting.

This neighbor to Millennium Park is home to a  place that meanders through snow-dusted pine trees, whimsical play spaces, and around soaring climbing walls. Its path is twice the length of a lap around a traditional skating rink which also means you should check the Zamboni schedule to avoid the lengthy ice resurfacing times. Another tip: bring your own skates or buy a fast pass to skip the rental line.

 The ice skating rink is a popular attraction for tourists and locals alike. It’s especially beautiful after dark, with the tall buildings to the west, and Cloud Gate reflecting the city lights to the east.

8.EXPLORE CHINATOWN :

When approaching Chinatown, it’s hard to miss the giant red pillars signaling the heart, otherwise known as ‘Old Chinatown.’ One thing that really stands out is the richThe buildings are all beautiful in design, with walls supported by detailed street art murals and sculptures; everything seems to have its own unique story, in a way that isn’t always so apparent.

One of the largest Chinese malls in America is a two-story outdoor mall consisting of a variety of shops and restaurants. Another thing to take note of is the beautiful architecture of the Square; every minute detail is clear and precise. Since opening in 1993, the Square has been a popular mainstay of the Chicago Chinatown and a perfect way to spend the day.

Chicago’s Chinatown is one of the oldest in the United States. Chinese people came to the Midwestern city after escaping from increasingly high racial tensions in California around 1870. Present-day Chinatown was established in 1915 after people moved south from the Loop. From 1915 to now, the Chinese community built a strong community in the neighborhood. Chinatown is flush with colorful shops, restaurants, medicine shops, markets, murals and more. While there are so many options, here are our top choices of what to do while you’re in Chinatown.

9.LINCOLN PARK ZOO:

See some 1,200 animals from apes to zebras to flamingos—at one of the last free zoos in the country. The 35-acre attraction connects visitors with animals from all over the world, and a variety of seasonal events and special programming keep locals coming back again and again and that too for free.

The zoo also plays host to special events throughout the year, including outdoor yoga sessions, Summer Wine Fest, Craft Brews at the Zoo and kid-friendly sing-alongs. Check the zoo’s website for an updated roster of events happening during your visit.

Of course, the zoo’s main attraction is its inhabitants. From mammals (beavers, lions, otters and bears) to birds (penguins, eagles, and parrots) to reptiles (snakes, crocodiles and turtles), there’s something for every animal lover at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Plus, there are always new additions, which means plenty of incredibly adorable baby animals every time you visit. It’s easy to see hundreds of creatures in a single day, as space’s terrain is very walkable, even with little ones in tow.

Gather your flock of friends and head to Zoo Year’s Eve at Lincoln Park Zoo! This special ticketed event will take place under the glow of ZooLights Presented by ComEd and Invesco QQQ is one of Chicago’s most beautiful parks. It’s the best way to experience the countdown to 2020.

9.SHIT FOUNTAIN:

Chicago is a city filled with renowned artwork, and for 12 years one of those pieces has sat quietly outside museum walls in a courtyard of an apartment building.

It’s a water fountain with a blue-tiled base surrounded by bright, leafy trees and is meant for all the community … to remember to pick up after their dogs. Atop that tiled base is a bronze coil of dog doo-doo, spouting a gentle stream of water, and displays the straightforward, “S— Fountain” name on all four sides.

The bronzed “coil” sits proudly atop a marble pillar on Augusta boulevard, daring all dog walkers to dare leave behind a “pile”. Water ripples from the top of the statue as a sublet war cry to all 4-legged passers-by to keep on walking.  The gross fountain is on private property, but that hasn’t stopped sight-seers from taking a peak and snapping a poop themed profile pic of their own. If you’re interested in checking out the turd memorial, remember to respect the homeowners and stick to the sidewalk.

The art piece is located in a residential area of Ukrainian Village. The Area is definitely worth exploring after visiting the Shit Fountain. When it comes to parking, it may be difficult to find it, but at the same time, you are able to find FREE spots. FREE and FREE. Worth going to at least once for a good laugh!

10.CLOUD GATE:

Cloud Gate, aka “The Bean”, is one of Chicago’s most popular sights. The monumental work of art anchors the city’s downtown park, reflecting the city’s famous skyline and the surrounding green space.

Cloud Gate is British artist Anish Kapoor’s first public outdoor work installed in the United States.

The 110-ton elliptical sculpture is forged of a seamless series of highly polished stainless steel plates, which reflect Chicago’s famous skyline and the clouds above. A 12-foot-high arch provides a “gate” to the concave chamber beneath the sculpture, inviting visitors to touch its mirror-like surface and see their image reflected back from a variety of perspectives.Inspired by liquid mercury, the sculpture is among the largest of its kind in the world, measuring 66-feet long by 33-feet high.

The Bean is one of the top things to see The bean is a large public sculpture that was unveiled at the opening of Millennium Park in 2004. It now serves as a famous symbol of Chicago and is one of the city’s most photographed attractions.

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