Chicago River at Night

Chicago is the major metropolis of America's heartland, with three million people hustling and bustling in the city of skyscrapers that appears to rise straight out of the waters of Lake Michigan, in northern Illinois. Once a gangster's hang-out synonymous with infamous names such as Al Capone and Bonnie and Clyde, the 'windy city' today has a squeaky-clean reputation as an international business and commercial capital boasting an eclectic mix of architecture, world-class theatre, art exhibitions, fantastic music and super-enthusiastic sportsmanship.

Chicago emerged as a rough and tough survivor after being destroyed in the Great Fire of 1871, and a huge influx of immigrants from all over the world in the early 20th century brought with them a determined spirit infusing the city with ethnic diversity and the unmistakable sound of Chicago-style blues music. Chicagoans have built a city that is to be reckoned with, boasting soaring skyscrapers like the Sears Tower (one of the tallest in the world); thriving ethnic neighbourhoods; a lakefront business district, the re-energised downtown; unbeatable shopping along the famed Michigan Avenue; and top-class sports teams.

One thing that does not attract visitors to Chicago is the weather, which, because of its geographical location is breezy at best, and freezing and gale-ridden at worst. It is possible to ignore the weather though, especially in summer, when getting caught up in the myriad of things to do, see and experience in this Midwestern metropolis - there are 30 excellent museums alone.

Staff Tip

“My top tip for Chicago would be to take to the water! The river boats operate like tour buses with some fantastic ‘hop on, hop off ‘stops. It’s definitely a great way to see the city from a different point of view. You can also take a stroll through the President’s and First Lady’s neighborhood and sneak a peek over the secret service barriers to the Obama family home. If you find yourself peckish, swing by the Frontera Grill, its owned by Rick Bayles, one of America’s many celebrity chefs and the ‘eggs plus menu’ is worth the wait!
And no trip to Chicago would be complete without learning more about its most tumultuous period – the prohibition era, during the twenties, a time synonymous with Al Capone, Speakeasy culture and the rise of the Untouchables. Try one of the many tours available.”

Jennifer Mulligan, Chicago

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