Photo: Children playing in a water fountain

At Millennium Park's Crown Fountain, water appears to shoot from the mouths of Chicagoans. Their images are projected on large LED screens.

Photograph by Annie Griffiths, National Geographic

Chicago sits on Lake Michigan’s southwestern shore, the epicenter of activity during nice weather, particularly at Millennium Park. You can easily spend hours at two of the park’s main attractions—a video fountain and the ever-popular “Cloud Gate,” Anish Kapoor’s sculpture more commonly known as “The Bean.” To fully experience Chicago’s waterfront location, head to Navy Pier with its Ferris wheel, boardwalk rides, and free shows. You can also rent bikes at the pier from Bike Chicago for free-wheeling tours of the city. The Chicago Architectural Foundation also offers tours. For a change, try looking down, instead of up, at the buildings. From the John Hancock Center’s 94th-floor observation deck, you have views not only of downtown Chicago, but also of Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and other parts of Illinois.

Where to Play

At the Field Museum visit Sue, the most complete and best-preserved T. rex skeleton discovered to date. The Shedd Aquarium introduces you to reptiles from the Amazon, fish from the Caribbean, and at the Polar Play Zone, your kids can put on a penguin suit and waddle around the South Pole. During baseball season, head to Wrigley Field for a baseball game.

At Day’s End

Don’t leave Chicago without figuring out what your family’s favorite pizza joint is (if you can agree). Locals recommend Gino’s East or Lou Malnati’s.


For the Cubs’ game schedule, go to

Chicago’s official tourism site is

Based on articles from National Geographic Traveler and compiled by Stephanie Robichaux

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