Chicago, the state of Illinois, the "Windy City". The third most populous city in the United States. Perhaps, the most underestimated by tourists. Let`s imagine we’ve got a week to see the sights: which seven wonders can the city offer us?
1. Millennium Park
The park is open all year round, from 6 am to almost midnight. If you haven’t heard anything about it and doubt whether just another park can take your breath away, you simply have to see pictures giving a bird’s-eye view of this place. This is an unbelievable, futuristic place. A snake-shaped bridge is linked to its southern part. Flashmobs are held on the bridge nearly every day – the most unexpected flashmobs you can imagine. Millennium Park is the place where city’s Christmas tree is put up for the Christmas season. Besides, the greatest modern sculptor Anish Kapoor helped to decorate the park: his work Cloud Gate whose weight is 110 tons is a must-visit for every tourist. Locals have given it a dozen nicknames and other terms of endearment.
There are two categories of Chicago dwellers: those who say “John Hancock Observatory” and those who have already got used to its new name: “360° Chicago”. Anyway, this is a building that has an observation deck which gives a proper panoramic view of the city – an absolute must-visit. If you are into fashion, austere and sophisticated “braiding” on the façade of the building will remind you of Balmain and Herve Leger’s collections simultaneously. Recently, one more “bait” for visitors has opened: Tilt Attraction or Tilt Ride – the platform tilts downwards 30 degrees and you have to hold on to it as long as you can. It’s not an easy thing to do given the fact that there’s a bar next to the Tilt Ride: it is one of the best bars in the city, with the most famous bartenders in the northern hemisphere. Outside the windows, at a height of 94 floors, the Tilt Ride commands a breathtaking view of the territory spanning as many as four states!
3. Art Institute
Even if you’re not very keen on modern art, you must go to the Art Institute of Chicago – a museum of contemporary art with an incredible collection of 300 thousand showpieces. New York’s legendary Metropolitan Museum of Art and Berlin's Hamburger Bahnhof (Museum for Contemporary Art) have been hunting for many of its showpieces for several years in a vain attempt to acquire them. This place also offers a beautiful view of the Millennium Park where we set off from.
4. Garfield Park
It is the largest botanic garden in terms of the area covered by greenhouses and variety of species. Special three-week expeditions from botany departments of the best universities of the world as well as occasional film-shooting expeditions are launched here. Every three months, garden workers put up their famous interactive shows which mark the change of seasons. You can find out exact dates for every year on the official website of Garfield Park.
Chicago boasts one of the few free zoos left in the country – it can be found in Lincoln Park. 1200 animals live there. By the way, every group of animals enjoys their own specially made houses and dens which have amusing names: the Lion Palace, the Monkey Bath, etc. Since the zoo is situated within the territory of a nature reserve, there is no better place for a family weekend. At night, the place looks simply magical: its lighting and decorations have been designed by winners of Gaudi Architecture Contest, so you won’t leave disappointed.
6. City beaches
If you happen to be in the city in the summer, you are bound to go to one of the city beaches: they are Blue Flag beaches of the highest standard in terms of cleanness, with dozens of options for leisure activities. Music festivals are often held on beaches: from June till August music is blasted out by Lollapalooza, Chicago Blues, Mamby on the Beach, West Fest and so on and so on, to suit every taste. All the city beaches are officially opened on May 27 every year.
7. Willis Tower
We have recommended one observation deck offering a panoramic view but we can’t help offering one more: the Willis Tower. This 110-storey building is the tallest building in the USA – it leaves even grand New York skyscrapers behind! The view which makes your heart skip a beat – it’s a panoramic view of the city seen from the roof deck whose glass floor lets you see the city life pulsating underneath. You remember that Chicago is the Windy City, aren’t you? This weather peculiarity multiplied by Chicagoans’ love of open spaces and high-rise constructions may greatly displease long-haired travelers: their hair will get tangled a lot in the wind. Unless you want to leave a clump of your hair and loads of tears in this wonderful city, prepare something to cover your head with, beforehand – or buy some headwear here. And get ready to be taken aback by Chicago!