Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

A Chicago Sojourn

Top 10 sights in the Second City



 



Chicago is like a great big banquet – so many choices, and we had so little time. My husband Jack and I made a 24-hour stop in the “Toddlin’ Town,” which meant we didn’t have time to toddle, meander or even stroll. To reference The Blues Brothers, we felt like we were on a mission from God. Our mission: to cram as many items on my bucket list as possible into our visit. Here, in order of our exploration, is my Top 10 list for the time-limited traveler.
 

 

There are several ways to get high in Chicago; the Skydeck Chicago atop the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower is the highest at 103 stories – and features glass balconies for those who can handle them.

We chose the not-quite-as-high 360 Chicago atop the John Hancock Building because it was closest to our route, and with 94 floors, it was plenty high for us. Windows all around give a great view, especially with its proximity to the shore of Lake Michigan. We had an express pass, so waiting in line was not a problem (more about that later). The elevators, traveling at nearly 20 miles per hour, provide a swift and ear-popping ride. For those wanting an extra thrill, TILT is an enclosed steel and glass platform that moves 30 degrees from vertical, allowing participants a breathtaking view of the city over 1,000 feet below.

 

The last time I was in Chicago, when I was 12 years old, my dad took us to the Drake Hotel for lunch at the Camellia Room. I felt like a princess, and the memory has lingered. The Camellia Room is still there – for breakfast and special events. But I was not to be disappointed; the Palm Court, where we had reservations for tea, is as over-the-top glamorous as any movie set. White columns, white draperies, explosions of white blossoms and a harpist set the stage for a new memory.

We chose from 17 teas and were served dainty sandwiches and cakes on a three-tiered server. Queen Elizabeth, Princess Diana and the Empress of Japan have all had tea at the Drake. It took me an hour to get my pinkie back in place.

 

The Magnificent Mile, Michigan Avenue from the Chicago River north to Oak Street, is Chicago’s Fifth Avenue or Rodeo Drive. Noted for upscale boutiques, the street is lined with flower beds and trees, and window shopping is a major attraction. Look for famous names like Chanel, Ferragamo, Tiffany and Cartier.

The Drake is at the north end of the Magnificent Mile; just south is the Fourth Presbyterian Church, a Gothic Revival masterpiece. The carved wooden ceiling is reminiscent of a ship’s hull. Fourteen carved angels, each seven feet tall and playing a different instrument, stand high above the congregation. The stained glass is stunning, and the ivy-draped exterior features a lush courtyard where summer noontime concerts are held.

 

The Chicago Architecture Foundation hosts Chicago River cruises, which give visitors excellent views of many of the city’s greatest buildings. More than a century of architectural legacy provides not only a great history of the city, but a compendium of architectural styles. There are other cruises, but this is the best.

 

Everyone has an opinion … but I don’t know how you could beat Exchequer. We chose it because it was within walking distance of our hotel, and boy, did it turn out to be a great decision. The building has held a restaurant since the ’20s, when its first occupant was a speakeasy frequented by Al Capone. It’s been the Exchequer since 1969, and the pizza recipe is still the same: baked in a deep pan, with triple the fillings of the average pizza. We ordered a medium and still took a to-go box. The only thing better than cold pizza for breakfast is hot pizza for dinner.

 


 

What a great public space! We only explored a small corner, since we wanted to stay close to the Art Institute where the line was building an hour before opening, but it was wonderful. In the southwest corner of the park, the Crown Fountain consists of a shallow reflecting pool of black granite, 232 feet long, that’s bookended by 50-foot glass block towers. An LED display on the towers features faces of Chicago residents. Periodically, water spews out of the towers, seeming to come from the mouth of the individual pictured. It was warm when we were there, and children were playing in the shallow water – shouting with laughter when the fountains sprayed them. Just north of the fountain is another public art installation, this one a shiny, elliptical piece. Its name is Cloud Gate, though locals call it The Bean.

 

Always high on lists of the best art museums in the country, the Art Institute of Chicago is home to an amazing array of paintings, sculptures, decorative arts and much more. The Impressionist collection is outstanding, as is the collection of American artists’ works. The oldest portion of the museum is classic; the newest, the Modern Wing, was designed by Renzo Piano. A pedestrian bridge connects this part of the museum to Millennium Park.

 

Along Lake Michigan, Grant Park is a 319-acre green space dating back to 1835. Foresighted citizens pressured the city to save the lakeshore from commercial intrusions. It stretches from Millennium Park on the north to the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum and the Adler Planetarium on the south. Its centerpiece is the massive Buckingham Fountain, one of the largest fountains in the world, consisting of basins stacked like a wedding cake in the center of a large pool. Its 134 jets spray 14,000 gallons of water per minute. Dancing waters shows are presented on the hour throughout the day, with lights and music added at night, and it’s in operation from May through mid-October, depending on the weather.

 

Completed in 1930, the Shedd Aquarium was built in the Beaux Arts style of the Art Institute and the Field Museum. It was the first inland aquarium with saltwater tanks in addition to freshwater; a million gallons of sea water from Key West were transported to Chicago to fill the tanks. Additions in 1991 and 2003 almost doubled the space in the aquarium. The Abbott Oceanarium is home to beluga whales, white-sided Pacific dolphins, sea otters and seals, while the Wild Reef is inhabited by sharks, stingrays and many varieties of live coral.

 

Parts of the collections in the museum predate the building – they were exhibits gathered for the 1893 Columbian Exposition. With the popularity of the exhibits, the idea of establishing a permanent museum took root. It was 1921 when the doors of the present building were opened to the public. The Field was the first museum to exhibit African elephants taxidermied in a realistic manner, thanks to Carl Akeley, considered the father of modern taxidermy. Next to the elephants is one of the museum’s biggest stars: Sue, the largest, most complete, best preserved Tyrannosaurus rex in the world. At 42 feet, she’s a whopper.

The breadth of exhibits in the museum is mind-boggling – archaeology, paleontology, biology, geology. I’ve run out of ologies but I’m sure they have more!

 


 

►Tips for Travelers


You really don’t want to drive your car into downtown Chicago. Parking is difficult and expensive. Instead, investigate CITYPASS. I was shocked at the general admission prices at the museums and attractions, but with CITYPASS, you can also get expedited entrance, giving you more time to see more.
 

We were hosted by the Virgin Hotel in the 1928 Art Deco-style Dearborn Bank Building. It has no fancy lobby, and while a number of historic touches have been preserved, the rooms are strictly 21st century. Amenities include lots of tech features, but my favorite thing was the little red refrigerator – just fine for our pizza. Best of all, it was within walking distance for everything on my bucket list.

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »You Might Like

A Texas Trifecta

Quick getaways don’t get much more stellar than the DFW satellite cities of Irving, Plano and Grapevine – plan a trip down I-35 and prepare for enjoyment.

Speaker Box: May’s Show Saturation

Exceptional May concerts coming to the Jones Assembly and Tower Theatre; Ariana Grande lights up the Chesapeake Arena.

Magic Carpet Ride

If redecorating is on your mind this spring, find a dose of design magic in these carpets and rugs from local retailers.

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

May 2019

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

Start your Sunday morning by perfecting your practice during our outdoor yoga class. Enjoy the beauty of yoga outdoors in the glow of the Ferris Wheel lights! This class welcomes all levels, from...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wheeler Ferris Wheel
1701 S. Western Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73109
View map »

More information

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

MILLER IN MAY HOME TOUR HIGHLIGHTS CHARACTER AND CHARM The 20th anniversary of Miller's beloved home tour Miller Neighborhood's most popular event is back for 2019… and...

Cost: $10 - $30

Where:
Miller Neighborhood
NW 10th to NW 16th, N Villa to N May
Oklahoma City, OK  73107
View map »


Sponsor: Miller Neighborhood Association
Telephone: 405.642.5982
Contact Name: Elizabeth Beard

More information

Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the...

Cost: Adult: $20 Seniors and Children: $15

Where:
Regatta Park Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73119
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma River Cruises
Telephone: 405-702-7755
Contact Name: Che Loessberg
Website »

More information

OKC's premier chamber orchestra, the Oklahoma Virtuosi, presents their season finale concert.  Concert will include: St. Paul's Suite Op.29 No.2 by Gustav Holst,...

Cost: Free

Where:
21C Hotel
900 W. Main St.
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
View map »


Website »

More information

As the first anniversary of her sixth album Conversation With A Ghost approaches in June, Italian-born and Austin-based singer-songwriter Giulia Millanta possesses a...

Cost: $15-$20

Where:
The Blue Door
2805 N. McKinley Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
View map »


Sponsor: The Blue Door
Telephone: (405) 524-0738
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

Piedmont Airlines will be hosting a Information Session for ramp agent jobs at Embassy Suites in OKC. Please plan to spend up to 3 hours with us, as we will have you fill out applications, listen...

Cost: Free

Where:
Embassy Suites
1815 South Meridian Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73108
View map »


Sponsor: Piedmont Airlines
Telephone: 704-359-2477
Contact Name: Nick Calo
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

Watch happy hour turn to golden hour while we fill the air with live music. For 5 consecutive Tuesday evenings, we invite OKC to come out after work to enjoy a variety of food, views,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Chisholm Creek
1316 W Memorial Rd
Oklahoma City, OK  73114
View map »


Sponsor: OkSessions.com
Contact Name: James
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

A nationally touring exhibit “Bison: Ancient. Massive. Wild.” will open May 24 at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. This exhibit explores the significance of...

Cost: $4 - $6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

More than 90 visual artists will line the streets of the Historic Paseo Arts District, selling original artwork in a wide variety of media, from painting and photography to wood and jewelry, and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Paseo Arts District
3022 Paseo
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Paseo Arts Association
Telephone: 405-525-2688
Contact Name: Paige Powell
Website »

More information

Enjoy all your favorite activities at the Orr Family Farm for a special price! Admission is only $8 per person on this day only.

Where:
Orr Family Farm
14400 S. Western Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73170
View map »


Telephone: 405.509.9312
Contact Name: Lauren Daughety

More information

"Sandy Magrath: Dogs of the Southwest" art exhibit will be open May 1 - June 30, 2019, at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. A meet the artist reception will be 3:30 -...

Cost: $6 adults

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Stacy Moore
Website »

More information

A nationally touring exhibit “Bison: Ancient. Massive. Wild.” will open May 24 at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK. This exhibit explores the significance of...

Cost: $4 - $6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

James Bailey from Missoula, Montana, is ARTSPACE at Untitled's visiting Artist in Residence; his exhibition, Map-ify, is on view May 9th through July 6th.  "My work examines...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405.815.9995
Website »

More information

Save $5 on a Dual Park Pass this Memorial Day Weekend! Get a full day of fun at Andy Alligator’s Fun Park and Water Park for only $29.99. A Dual Park Pass includes Unlimited Rides &...

Cost: Save $5 on a Dual Park Pass!

Where:
Andy Alligator's Fun Park & Water Park
3300 Market Place
Norman, OK  73072
View map »

More information

Escape the ordinary, and learn about OKC from a different point of view. Relax in the climate controlled cabin on one of our 65’ cruisers, or enjoy the breeze on the...

Cost: Adult: $20 Seniors and Children: $15

Where:
Regatta Park Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73119
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma River Cruises
Telephone: 405-702-7755
Contact Name: Che Loessberg
Website »

More information

America’s largest interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel. At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: $59.95

Where:
The Skirvin Hilton
1 Park Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: The Dinner Detective
Telephone: 866.496.0535
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags