Thirteen things to do in Chicago. As the summer travel season approaches, I checked out my home base on Tripadvisor. I wanted to learn what tourists will be doing when they visit, and to see if out-of-towners see a side of Chicago I miss.
1. Millennium Park. A beautiful sea of green grass and trees in an urban setting. Great for outdoor concerts in summer. In winter, it's home to the skating rink and the official city Christmas Tree. Home of The Bean (aka Cloud Gate). I'm here whenever I'm downtown because I work across the street.
2. The Magnificent Mile. This strip of Michigan Avenue is gorgeous, with high-end stores and terrific architecture. It's the face we want to show the world, which makes this like our living room.
3. Garfield Park Conservatory. A world-class indoor garden. Colorful and fragrant and exotic. A great thing to do on a rainy day.
4. The Art Institute. The building itself is a work of art. Seeing those lions out front always makes me happy. Inside ain't too shabby, either. Photography, sculpture, stained glass, American Gothic, Nighthawks, Sunday on la Grande Jatte ... I don't go here anywhere near often enough.
5. Chicago River Walk. It makes me happy to see this growing in popularity. The River isn't as breathtaking as Lake Michigan, but it gives you a more intimate view of the City. It's also a great place to people watch, with its bistros and ice cream parlors and kayak rentals.
6. Wrigley Field. The most beautiful ballpark in the country. Home of the Chicago Cubs. Bricks and ivy and history. Babe Ruth played here. If you don't know that I think this place is spectacular, you don't visit this blog often.
7. Architecture River Cruise. We're back to The River. This tour takes you by all the high hard ones: The Merchandise Mart, The Wrigley Building, Sears (Willis) Tower, Marina City ... All the landmarks I pass by without appreciating them. Shame on me.
8. Museum of Science and Industry. Oh my God. This place is a delight. It's massive and it's got something for everyone. Tour a real submarine, see the world's biggest Lego sculpture, watch chicks hatching, ride down into a coal mine, watch a Charlie Chaplain silent movie ...
9. Willis Tower Skydeck. Formerly known as Sears Tower. I have not been back since the name changed. I am that petty.
10. Navy Pier. The most touristy thing on this list. Worth it for the view of the city from The Ferris Wheel. Lake Michigan always makes my heart swell a bit and the fireworks are gorgeous. Just please, don't go to Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville. No offense to Jimmy, but it doesn't belong here. If you eat here, have the pizza at Giordano's.
11. Field Museum. Devoted to natural history. Meet Sue, the most largest and most complete T. Rex in the world. She's not the only dinosaur, but damn, she's breathtaking. A lot here about evolution, a lot about conservation. I prefer #8 to this one, but it's a matter of taste and interest. (My Cousin Rose adores this place.)
12. Cultural Center. If you like stained glass, you want to come here. This is the original Chicago Public Library, it's over 100 years old, and it is highlighted by two stained-glass domes. It's free, too! There's always a photo exhibit or a concert or something to entertain you.
13. Lincoln Park Zoo. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! And aardvarks and toads and plenty of birds. I've heard good things about the craft brews, too. To be honest, I never go here. There's another nearby zoo -- Brookfield Zoo -- that I prefer. It says a lot that Chicagoland can support two zoos.
How well would you do as a tour guide in your hometown?
Please join us for THURSDAY THIRTEEN. Click here to play along, and to see other interesting compilations of 13 things.