Are you a culture vulture? Art junkie? Museum hawk?
There are a few cities in the United States where you can go to get your fix.
Where a wealth of history, knowledge and intrigue is waiting to be seen, heard and felt. No one leaves Chicago with the feeling that something was missing, mainly because the Windy City has something that appeals to everyone’s exceptional variety.
The Windy City
Chicago is considered the heart of America’s Midwest, a region full of culture and great people. It’s the biggest city in the state and third largest in the country with almost three million residents. It is located in the northeast of Illinois, situated on the shores of Lake Michigan. It’s famous for its impressive architecture, abundance of museums and deep dish pizza.
Credit: City Running Tours Chicago
Chicago has close to one hundred museums and art exhibitions, as well as many more historical sites. If you plan on visiting many of these locations, consider getting a Go Chicago Card for discounted tickets. Some of the Museums have free days as well, so check before your visit.
The Museum Campus
Three major attractions can be found right next door to each other on what is called the Museum Campus on the Lake Front. The most popular is the Field Museum of Natural History with a collection of over 20 million specimens from all over the world, in areas of anthropology, botany, zoology, geology and much more. The star of the show is Sue, the largest and most complete skeleton of a T-Rex in the world.
Credit: chris friese
Built in 1930, the Adler Planetarium is America’s oldest, and still working its space age magic today. It has three theaters, many space science exhibitions, hands on activities and shows. It also has great views of the Chicago skyline.
The most visited attraction in Chicago is the Shedd Aquarium, which also opened in 1930. Today, it houses one of the most impressive collections of aquatic life in the US, with more than 1,500 species of fish for a total of 25,000. There are many different exhibitions representing salt water habitats from around the world.
The Art Institute Of Chicago
Located in Grant park, the AIC is the second biggest in the United States and one of its most popular. It houses 260,000 works of art, spanning 5,000 years of various cultures. Its crown and glory however, is a world renowned collection of great impressionist and post impressionist paintings, including 30 works by Monet.
Credit: CJ Schmit
The Museum of Science And Industry
The MSI is the most massive science museum in the western hemisphere. It has more than 2,000 exhibits on display in 75 large showrooms, with a WWII German submarine and the Apollo 8 Space ship being just two of them. This place is great for kids, but even makes adults giddy with excitement. It’s a truly mind-boggling museum.
We have hardly scratched the surface. Don’t miss the Museum of Contemporary Art or the Chicago History Museum. There are many museums celebrating cultural diversity, others promoting the architectural splendor of the city and several specifically for children.
You could easily spend a week exploring the delightful halls of Chicago’s world class museums and never get bored. But if you do, there is plenty of theatre, dance, sports, gastronomy, and nightlife to keep you occupied.
When To Go
The best time to visit Chicago’s museums is year round during the week when there are less crowds and better chance of free admission.
Annually the average high temperatures are 40°F (4.5°C), low temperatures are 59°F (15°C), and precipitation is 3 inches (75mm) each month.
Getting There & Around
The best way to get to Chicago is to fly into Chicago O’Hare International Airport and take a taxi 18 miles (29km) to the city center.
The best way to get around is to walk, bike, or the metro system.
- Mid-range accommodations: $100-150
- Meals: $15-25
- Bottle of beer: $3.50
- Take a bike tour in the city. If you want to get even crazier, take a night tour.
- Watch a baseball game at the famous Wrigley Field.
- Pack and dress in layers. Bring a lightweight windbreaker. After all, it’s the Windy City.
- Even think about leaving Chicago without trying the famous deep dish pizza.
- Be put off by the abrasive attitude that many residents of Chicago are known for.
- Miss a stop at the Chicago Tribune Building.
- There are over 200 theaters in Chicago.
- Downtown Chicago is know as “The Loop” in reference to the elevated L Train.
- Lincoln Park Zoo is the oldest zoo in the U.S.
Feature Image Credit: Alan Light