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Chicagoland Sights & Events

Chicago has become known as a destination of spectacular sights and fun times. Whether strolling along the gracious Magnificent Mile or the venerable galleries of the Art Institute, or wandering a little farther out to the Botanic Garden or the historic Pullman District, one is always discovering a city full of wonders, in and out of doors. The communities are as vibrant as the treasures they celebrate, and the bustling energy of each neighborhood, village, and city bursts out many times of year in parades, musical events, theater, and so many other cultural experiences worth exploring.

  Museums. Chicago has been known at least since the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 as a showplace of regional and world culture. Today it boasts tens of museums, including the ever-beloved Art Insitute, the always interesting Field Museum of Natural History, Shedd Aquarium, and Adler Planitarium at the Museum Campus, the exciting Museum of Science and Industry in Hyde Park, and many fantastic smaller museums such as the Chicago Historical Society, the DuSable Museum of African American History, the International Museum of Surgical Science, the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Polish Museum of America, the Oriental Institute, the Smart Museum of Art, the Spertus Museum of Judaica, and the Swedish American Museum, among many others.

The Field Museum
Field Museum
  Historical Landmarks. Although certainly a "new" city by the standards of world history, Chicago has packed plenty into its two centuries of existence. Although best known in the cultural consciousness for its 20th Century connotations, the architectural character of Chicago actually includes many structures from the Victorian period and it is just as much a 19th-Century city as Paris or San Francisco. Some fine examples such as the Glessner and Henry B. Clarke Houses in the Prairie Avenue Historic District, the Hotel Florence in the Pullman Historic District, and the Jean Butz James Museum in Highland Park are open to the public. Less ornate but no less compelling are the vestiges of Chicago's pioneer days, visible in a particularly picturesque ensemble in Deerfield Historic Village in Deerfield.

The Hotel Florence
Hotel Florence

  Architectural Landmarks. On the cutting edge of four architectural revolutions: The Chicago School, the Prairie School, the International Style, and the Postmodern Style, Chicago has risen to the very top of architectural showplaces in the last hundred years. Its splendors are visible to all, from the majestic, recently refurbished Reliance Building (a masterpiece of the Chicago School, that now hosts the Hotel Burnham), to the Prairie School museums of The Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park and the Robie House in Hyde Park, to the architectural history lesson available by cruising up and down the Chicago River or hiking around in the Loop and other neighborhoods, delights best experienced through the tours of the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

Unity Temple in Oak Park
Unity Temple

  Cultural Landmarks. Chicago has celebrated the traditions of dozens of countries, yet remained a centerpiece of Americana. In addition to the museums and vintage structures, Chicago has a wide range of places known and loved for their associations, from athletic venues like Wrigley Field and recently re-invented Soldier Field, to mainstay restaurants such as pizza-lovers' Giordanos and upscale Charlie Trotters, to comedy clubs like the Second City, to stage theaters like Steppenwolf, to vintage movie palaces like the Music Box, to outdoor Meccas like the Botanic Garden, the Morton Arboretum, and the Garfield and Lincoln Park conservatories, to places of worship such as the Baha'i Temple in Evanston, magnificent Christian edifices in the Cathedral District, and many other impressive structures in the greater area. In addition, the city is blessed with scores of ethnic neighborhoods like Chinatown, the (hispanic) Pilsen, African-American Bronzeville, Polish Belmont-Central, Irish Bridgeport, Swedish-themed Andersonville, German-themed Lincoln Square and an authentic Japanese shopping center in Arlington Heights.

Scottish Rite Cathedral
Scottish Rite
  Festivals. More perhaps than any other city of its size in America, Chicago is known for its summer festivals, when restless city-dwellars who have hibernated for the winter frolic in the city's parks and ethnic neighborhoods. Highlights include city-sponsored events such as the Jazz Festival, Blues Festival, Taste of Chicago culinary festival, Outdoor Film Festival, Venetian Night maritime festival, the Air and Water Show, Jazz Festival and Celtic Fest, as well as neighborhood events like the 57th Street Art Fair in Hyde Park, the Artists of the Wall Festival in Rogers Park, the Old Town Art Fair, the Fiesta del Sol in the Pilsen, the Newberry Library Book Sale, the Sheffield Garden Walk, and the Ukrainian Fest. Chicago also celebrates the autumn with "Chicagoween" and the winter holidays with tree-lighting ceremonies.

Ships in Kenosha
Days of Discovery
Kenosha Harbor
  Parades. Chicago, with a political framework scaffolded by strong opinions and a culture that prides itself on both its work and its play, is a city that loves a good parade. The city hosts parades downtown for Columbus Day, Halloween and Thanksgiving, as well for St. Patrick's Day; there is also a well-loved South Side St. Patrick's Day Parade on the city's Far Southwest side. The Far Northwest neighborhood of Sauganash hosts a Fourth of July Parade, while Chinatown on the Near South Side has several parades each year, celebrating traditional Chinese holidays such as the Chinese New Year and China Day. Many other neighborhoods and suburbs have parades during the year for many occasions.

St. Patrick's Day
South Side
St. Pat's Parade

Shows and Competitions. The city and local organizations sponsor a number of exciting displays and athletic events. There are fireworks every weekend at Navy Pier during the summer months, and the city puts on an extravaganza with synchronized music at Grant Park on the Fourth of July. The Air and Water show in August offers a chance for planes and boats to show off at Lake Michigan. The "Light the Night" walk, a popular fundraiser held in September, offers residents an opportunity for a "magical" evening stroll along the lake. La Salle Bank sponsors the Chicago Marathon in October, an expiring 26-mile run through downtown Chicago and many of its neighborhoods.

Fireworks at
Navy Pier
  Entertainment. In addition to the many yearly events and celebrations, Chicago is of course an urban center full of daily opportunities for culture and recreation. With restaurants offering almost every type of cuisine imaginable, shops with products from Africa to Poland and everything in between, music of every style, genre, and ethnicity, and film and theater options to rival coastal cities, there is never a dirth of possibilities when it comes to a fun, fascinating evening out. On top of that are Chicago's famous (sometimes infamous) sports teams and their historic venues, as well as a wide variety of opportunities to get involved in arts, crafts, fitness and athletics in a hands-on way. It's definitely a city where there's always something to do or see -- whatever your tastes, habits, or lifestyle.

Wrigley Field
Wrigley Field

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