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Chicago - Blues, jazz and fine dining in modern America

Situated on Lake Michigan, Chicago is often referred to as the USA's "second city".

The city has risen through its notorious 1920s gangster-ridden prohibition past to become one of America's most popular cities to live and work in.

Most modern cities now have a Ferris wheel offering views of the city below but did you know that Chicago was one of the first cities to build one? The original Ferris Wheel was constructed in 1893 for the World's Columbian Exposition. Unfortunately demolished in 1906, what a trend they started!

Well known for its cultural festivals and fine dining, Chicago offers a great balance of work and play in a historic modern city.

If art is your passion you must visit the Art Institute of Chicago with its collection of 30,000 works of art.

Home of the Blues and Jazz, you'll always find somebody singing and playing on a street corner or in the grassy park area along the harbour front and every year Chicago comes alive with music and food festivals centered in Grant Park and rippling throughout the city.

You can see the city for yourself with this Chicago webcam.

Top 5 things to do in Chicago

Willis Tower

At the time of completion in 1974, the 108-story Willis Tower was the tallest building in the world.

Previously called the Sears Tower, the sky scraper is still the tallest building in the USA.

If you are after the highest building vantage point in the United States then the Skydeck Chicago is where you must go.

Located on the 103 floor of the Willis Tower, the Skydeck gives you a fantastic view over Chicago and for an additional thrill you can step out into one of the glass boxes which extend out about a meter from the building's edge.

The Skydeck is open all year round from approximately 10am until 8pm. Pre-booking tickets during summer will save you having to wait in the long queues.

Field Museum

The Field Museum of Natural History sits on Lake Short Drive, next to Lake Michigan, and holds collections that contain over 21 million specimens.

The museum boasts some prize exhibits including "Sue", the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus currently known.

As well as the many permanent exhibitions on display the museum has one of the most comprehensive natural history libraries available to the public including a photo archive containing 250,000 images which can now be viewed on-line.

The Field Museum has also opened up viewing access to the Regenstein Laboratory and visitors can watch as conservators work to preserve and study anthropological specimens from all over the world.

The museum is a top attraction in Chicago so pre-booking tickets from the website is a must during the busy summer seasons.

Grant Park

Grant Park is situated right in the CBD of downtown Chicago and hugs Monroe Harbor as it sweeps around the marina.

Often called Chicago's front yard, Grant Park is host to some of the biggest events in the city such as the Taste of Chicago food event and Chicago Jazz Festival.

The park's most notable features are the Millennium Park with its Jay Pritzker Pavilion and Buckingham Fountain, one of the largest fountains in the world.

The fountain operates form April to October with periodic water shows and evening colour light show.

Within the park area you will also find the Arts Institute of Chicago, Abraham Lincoln Monument and the Museum Campus.

Shedd Aquarium

Shedd Aquarium opened in 1930 and today the aquarium contains over 25,000 fish, was for some time the largest indoor aquarium in the world and was the first inland aquarium with a permanent saltwater fish collection.

Located in the Museum Campus, Grant Park area, it contains 1500 species including fish, marine mammals, birds, snakes, amphibians, and insects.

There are five permanent exhibits at the Shedd: Amazon Rising, Caribbean Reef, Waters of the World, The Oceanarium, and Wild Reef.

Younger kids can have fun in the Polar Play Zone, dressing up as a penguin and sliding down ramps while the older kids may appreciate the aquatic show where marine mammals and their trainers entertain the audience up to six times a day.

Check the website for opening times, events and ticketing.

Magnificent Mile

The Magnificent Mile, sometimes referred to as The Mag Mile, is the portion of Michigan Avenue in Chicago, extending from the Chicago River to Oak Street.

The nickname was given to the city's most prestigious residential and commercial thoroughfares in the 1940s by real estate developer Arthur Rubloff and it has stuck ever since.

You will find everything here from various mid-range and high-end shops to retail stores, fine restaurants, museums and motels.

In addition, numerous prestigious buildings are located along the Magnificent Mile, such as the Wrigley Building, the John Hancock Center, the Old Chicago Water Tower District, Tribune Tower and the Allerton Hotel

During the summer, the "Gardens of The Magnificent Mile" festival event occurs - a self-guided landscape display walking tour.

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