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Chicago Travel Guide

flights to Chicago

Chicago's reputation is a tough one. The people are tough, the industry is tough, the politics are tough and the music is tough... About the only thing that isn't regarded as tough are the Steaks. It's a reputation born of fact, fiction and popular culture. After all the Windy City is synonymous with America's most notorious era in organised crime, it developed the high powered political regime known as the 'Machine', it is the home of the blues and birthplace of the skyscraper. It is also one of the most fascinating US Cities. In short... Chicago Rocks! There is no denying it. This is a vibrant, atmospheric and stunningly beautiful city. The incredible architecture alone is enough to make a visit worthwhile. Combine this with the acres of lush wide open parklands, arguably the best eating establishments in the country, a superb music scene, shopping par excellence, the best spectator sports opportunities in the country and entertainment rivalled only by New York and LA and you'll realise why it has remained the most popular inland city tourist destination in the country.

Before you even decide what you're going to do. Take a while to explore. It's easy enough. Just head for the Loop and hop on the El train (elevated train system). It will take you to more or less all the major landmarks and places of interest in the City centre. It's a great way to get a look at some of the stunning buildings: The awesome Sears Tower and John Hancock Building, the famously 'indestructible' Water tower and the masterfully gothic Tribune Tower. There are places you'll recognise from Movies and TV, the Richard J Daly Centre from 'The Blues Brothers', the Uptown Theatre from 'Backdraft', the Buckingham Fountain from the opening titles of 'Married With Children' and Harpo Studios - Oprah's place.

If you're a fan of museums then you're in for a real treat. The Museum of Science and Industry in Hyde Park is fantastic. There is a fully functional Boeing 727 suspended from the ceiling, a captured WWII German submarine with working periscope (for views of outside), a space centre with Lunar Lander and Orbiting Capsule, IMAX theatre, Flight Simulator and much more. The Alder Planetarium has recently been improved and now features a scale model of the Universe with a Sun the size of a room and Earth the size of a tennis ball. There is also a virtual trip to Mars as well as the original night sky exhibition. Located in Grant Park you'll find the Art Institute of Chicago, home to some 300,000 plus works of art including Monets, Renoirs and Seurats.

It is impossible to visit Chicago without coming across music of some kind, be it street musicians, live band in a restaurant or a concert at one of the City's various large venues. Of course around 75% of what you'll hear will be the Blues. Chicago is littered with clubs, bars and eating houses dedicated to their favourite music. Checkout The House of The Blues, Buddy Guy's Legends, Koko Taylor's Celebrity and Kingston Mines. Early summer sees the world famous Chicago Blues Festival at the Petrillo Music Shell in Grant Park. Started in 1984, the festival has grown to huge proportions, attracting hundreds of thousands to this amazing, free outdoor-event. The festival has seen many of the true blues masters perform, including Chuck Berry, BB King, Willie Dixon, Ruth Brown, Etta James, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy guy, Robert Cray, John Lee Hooker and Keith Richards to name just a handful.

One thing for sure when visiting the 'City of Broad Shoulders' is that you'll want to eat. The variety and price range available ensures that whatever your taste and budget there's something for you. And it's 99% sure of being delicious. From the very best Pizza available in the US to Chicago Hot Dogs and dollar tacos, Asian and African cuisine to Italian Beef and world famous Steak Houses. Arrive hungry and avoid disappointment. Check out Old Blue Eyes' favourite joint, The Pump Room. Go back to the roaring 20s at the Chicago Chop House or Tommy Guns Garage a replica speak easy with role playing staff and period entertainment. There's Ed Debevic's retro diner, which is so authentically 50s that if you get in a waitress' way she'll yell at you. Chicago loves its food so much that every year, during the week leading up to Independence Day, they celebrate the Taste Of Chicago. Up to a million people attend, to savour food prepared by local restaurateurs and cooks. With celebrity chef presentations, competitions, guest food from out of town, live music (of course) and a spectacular firework display at its finale, it has grown into the biggest outdoor public event in the City.

Robert Johnson called it 'Sweet Home'; Frank Sinatra called it 'My Home Town', and the band Chicago asked to be taken back there. Chicago's native entertainers love this place. And who could blame them. The legacy of Al Capone and his cronies has ensured that the City is literally alive with showbiz. From the world class Lyric and Civic Opera Houses to the CSO and Goodman Theatres, the Second City improv. Comedy club to the audience friendly Underground Wonder Bar, the quality of the entertainment is nothing short of superb. You can get hip at the standing room only House of the Blues or finger-pop to cool Jazz at the notorious Green Mill Club , once frequented by 'Scarface' himself. Legend states that Capone had his own private room there, which he could access via his Uptown tunnel network. The charm of Chicago is not so much its variety but the fact that everywhere you visit has a story.

In Chicago you're guaranteed never to get bored. The entertainment is non-stop. The food is out of this world. The shopping amazing! You can check out America's most famous sports teams - the Lions, Tigers and Bears... oh my! Or visit that little known Baseball Park, Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs. Checkout Navy Pier with Joes Be-Bop blues barbeque and giant Ferris wheel. Get interactive at Disney Quest. See Jerry Springer live. The list really is endless. Chicago... so easy to get to... so hard to leave!

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