This seemingly fluid stainless steel structure was inspired by mercury, one of two elements that are liquid at room temperature. The rounded surface allows the observer a 66-foot panoramic reflection of Chicago. Most amazing is the nighttime reflection which is awash in the glow of the city lights.
The Willis Tower Skydeck sits almost atop the 108-story building - located on the 103rd floor. Elevators take you up to the top in 60 seconds and you can actually feel the change in pressure as you ascend. The Willis Tower is the second tallest building in the Americas after One World Trade Center in New York.
This theater was built in 1921 when showbiz was at its glitziest. The theater at that time was called Balaban and Katz Chicago Theater after the men who ran it. Fifty years later, the theater was in decline and finally closed in 1985. It reopened in 1986 at an extravagant cost and with much fanfare - Frank Sinatra performed at its reopening. The theater, which took the inspiration for its design from l'Arc de Triomphe, regularly schedules performances of all types.
If you're standing in front of Buckingham Fountain, and feel a sudden urge to sing Sinatra's "Love and Marriage" when the center jet shoots water straight up into the air, there's a reason! The rococo fountain, inspired by the Latona at Versailles, was featured prominently in the opening credits of "Married...With Children." Dedicated in 1927, the fountain has been a centerpiece of downtown Chicago long before the sitcom about Al and Peg Bundy's dysfunctional family.
This 3,300-foot pier is one of the first places you should visit if this is your first time to Chicago. A ferris wheel, great photo opps, a nice view of the city skyline, and a variety of restaurants and bars to choose from, Navy Pier is a perfect family activity.
Downtown Chicago Riverwalk is an all-day adventure and tours for any personality type are available. Foodies can join the Chicago Riverwalk Food Tour where you get a sampling of the Windy City's most interesting refreshment spots. Millenials can participate in the Segway Tour where you can glide through the city on those two-wheeled contraptions. Or, just do it the old-fashioned way and meander along the river with your honey.
Popular because of its irreverence, "Shameless" has been a Showtime fixture since 2011. With a series this long it has garnered quite the following. You can see some of this following in Chicago, loitering about outside the house in which many of the Gallagher family antics take place. Keep in mind that late spring to early fall are the nicest times to visit climate-wise but there will be a larger crowd there.
Even abandoned rail lines can be reused! Once known as the Bloomingdale Line, it has been repurposed as a multi-use recreational trail. You can bike, jog, or walk your way through the 2.7-mile well-kept path - as long as you do it between 6 AM and 11 PM.
The Chicago Cultural Center is the home of the largest single Tiffany piece in the world - a resplendent dome designed by J.A. Holtzer. It tops a room of ornately carved Carrara marble. Free admission is just icing on the cake; this museum should be at the top of your list of things to do while in Chicago.
Once called the John Hancock Observatory (it is located in the John Hancock building), the 360 Chicago offers unparalleled views of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan. You will pay for the experience, though -the lowest admission price is about $19 per person. For the most memorable experience, time your visit to coincide around dusk when the city and skyline are swathed in an array of colors like an artist's palette.
Locally known as the Michigan Avenue Bridge, this drawbridge was officially named DuSable in honor of the area's first non-native resident who lived here in the late 1700s. The movable bridge is also noted for its four bridge houses which are intricately and ornately carved with bas-relief depictions of Chicago's history. The DuSable Bridge is a perfect combination of grand architecture and precise engineering.
The Gothic Revival watertower was built in 1869, a time when such watertowers were architectural marvels instead of urban blights. It was used to hide the less attractive standpipe - and this particular standpipe was pumping water from Lake Michigan. Contrary to popular belief, it was not the only building to survive the Great Fire of 1871 in Chicago but it was certainly the most recognizable.
In the John Hancock building of Chicago hangs Wolfgang Buttress' masterpiece - sculpture of 3,115 lights. Meant to depict the starry night sky of a less populous city each light is contained in a hand-blown glass bulb. The sphere hangs precariously in the lobby set against the backdrop of a black ceiling and reflected by a round mirror on the floor - making the iridescent lights stand out. Interestingly, the lights are positioned according to mapping done by astrophysicist Dr. Daniel Bayliss.
Is this the beginning or the end? If you were traveling westward, it would have been the beginning. But, if you came from the west, it would have been the end of your journey on Route 66. However, it is mounted so that it is facing travelers coming from the east and driving westward so it's fair to say that this stop is the beginning. Don't forget to stop at the Art Institute of Chicago right across the street which houses priceless works such as American Gothic and Water Lilies.
It's not a replica of dinosaur feces; rather it is an eye-popping reminder for people to pick up after their pets. Plopping the poop in a fountain of water is purposely distasteful - that is also a reminder that poop left on the ground makes for a dirty environment and can leach into our water. Gauging by the clean area surrounding the fountain this humorous admonishment seems to be more effective than the usual sidewalk sign.