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Chicago, Illinois - A Whirlwind Destination

Chicago is a bustling, energetic city that never slows regardless of the season. Located in Illinois on the shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago is known for its world-famous museums, critically acclaimed restaurants, amazing architecture, first-class shopping, rich nightlife, action-packed sporting events and a thriving theatrical scene.

Exceptional Museums
Its exceptional collection of museums encompass the Chicago History Museum (formerly the Chicago Historical Society), the city's oldest cultural institution focuses on the city's life, government and work, plus its ideas, people and architecture; the Museum of Science and Industry, the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere; the Art Institute of Chicago, one of the world's leading art museums with the largest collection of Impressionist paintings in the world outside of the Louvre in Paris; the Museum of Contemporary Art, one of the largest facilities devoted to this period; the Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Midwest’s only museum of this type; and the DuSable Museum of African-American History, named after the area’s first permanent settler.

A Waterfront Playground
Those visiting should plan on spending time at Chicago's museum campus overlooking Chicago Harbor and Lake Michigan. The scenic park conveniently joins the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, the John G. Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum of Natural History.

The Shedd Aquarium, the largest indoor aquarium in the world, offers the world's largest array of aquatic mammals, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and fish. Its Wild Reef exhibit is one of the largest and most diverse shark habitats in North America. After exploring the oceans, attendees can gaze up at the heavens in the Adler, the first planetarium in the Western Hemisphere. The Field Museum offers exciting displays of mummies, Egyptian tombs, Native American artifacts and dinosaur skeletons including Sue, the largest, most complete and best-preserved tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered.

Just north of this trio is Grant Park, home to Buckingham Fountain, the background for many photos, the Art Institute of Chicago and the new 24.5-acre Millennium Park with extraordinary architecture. The new park contains an outdoor performing arts pavilion, a year-round indoor theatre, restaurant, ice-skating rink, contemporary garden, public art, fountains, promenade, landscaped walkways and green spaces. Across the street is the Chicago Cultural Center. Described as a neo-classical masterpiece with two art-glass domes and glittering mosaic walls, its many galleries spotlight contemporary art from around town and works from around the world. Live musical performances take place during the week.

The city's waterfront playground continues with Navy Pier, the state's most popular attraction. It offers visitors a unique blend of family-oriented activities. This famous site boasts a 150-foot high Ferris wheel, a musical carousel, the Chicago Children's Museum, a wave swinger ride in Pier Park, a 3-D ride, a variety of restaurants and the very popular Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

North of downtown is Lincoln Park with the Lincoln Park Zoo, one of the nation’s oldest zoos, the Lincoln Park Conservatory and the Notebaert Nature Museum.

Renowned Architecture
Visitors from everywhere come to Chicago to admire its architecture. From historic landmarks to contemporary technological masterpieces, Chicago is built on the unique and innovative designs that have shaped American architecture. The city is a living museum thanks to the work of such greats as Daniel Burnham who created the 1909 Plan for Chicago and encouraged the development of Chicago's lakefront as park space; Louis Sullivan with his use of detail and ornaments in design; Frank Lloyd Wright, noted for his prairie-style design (illustrated in Robie House on the University of Chicago campus); a leading modern architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe; and Helmut Jahn whose thumbprint is seen around the world and at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.