Make for the Magnificent Mile in America’s Second City

Skyline in Chicago
Having already been to New York, my wife and I would like to try out another one of America’s great cities. Is Chicago the right place to go? We are hoping to spend 10 days away and would like somewhere with with lots to see and do.

Having already been to New York, my wife and I would like to try out another one of America’s great cities. Is Chicago the right place to go? We are hoping to spend 10 days away and would like somewhere with with lots to see and do.

Chicago may be referred to as America’s second city but once you have been to both you’ll see that it couldn’t possibly rank behind New York. These cities each provide a wonderfully unique experience, offering completely different perspectives on big city life. Located on the vast shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago is certainly the Jewel of the Midwest and its glistening river and spectacular architecture are best seen during the summer months.

The first place to see when visiting Chicago is Millennium Park off Michigan Avenue which is home to the iconic ‘Cloud Gate’ sculpture but you won’t hear any of the locals call it anything other than “The Bean”. Rain or shine, a walk around the Bean can provide the most unique (and reflective) panoramic city views you are likely to find anywhere in the world. Millennium Park is also a nice place for a stroll with many interesting art installations, fountains, gardens, as well as the equally unique Crown Fountain and Harris Theatre.

Michigan Avenue’s ‘Magnificent Mile’ is also just a few minutes’ walk from Millennium Park. This mile or so of retail heaven is enough to keep you busy for as long as you are willing to spend, and where every kind of retail need is catered for in this 460 shop stretch. Whether it’s Bloomingdale’s or Macy’s, Niketown or Gucci, there are shops and malls to cater for every taste and budget.

Water Tower Place signals the end of the main shopping district and it is also located right next to Chicago’s highest open-air observatory that sits proudly atop of the John Hancock Tower. The John Hancock Observatory offers 360 degree views of the city, and a rolling narration by actor David Schwimmer – Yes, that’s Ross from Friends!

If you are of the opinion that higher is better then a trip to Willis Tower is a must. The 103rd story ‘Sky Deck Chicago’ is the best place to see the lake and up to four states on a sunny day. The only problem is that it is too high to get a good look at the city!

Chicago really is a city with iconic architecture that tells the story of its development. Boat tours are the very best way to appreciate the humbling height of the skyscrapers or why not take a water taxi which lets you take it all in while on your way to another great stop.

For any sports fans, there are stadia to cater for every taste with a mix of the old and the new – with one even mixing the two at once! The Chicago Bears’ NFL stadium, Soldier Field, doubles as a war monument and is one of the most beautiful stadia in the world as it seamlessly mixes an old, monumental coliseum-style exterior with a new glass and metal interior. While, the Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field is one of the most famous stadia in America and is situated in a warm neighbourhood environment with ivy-covered walls that make for an iconic photo opportunity.

If you can find the time, or have the inclination, other great tourist spots include Navy Pier, Lincoln Park Zoo and the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago.

Chicago also houses one of the most eclectic array of eateries in the Midwest, with everything from local favourites like the multi-topping ‘Chicago Dog’ hotdog, or the deep-dish pizza, to long established family restaurants in cultural hubs such as Chinatown, Greektown and Little Italy.

Where to Stay:

The James Chicago (****)

Prices start from €136 per room per night on Hotels.com

*Prices are subject to availability at the time of booking

Located in downtown Chicago, this boutique hotel is less than one block from Michigan Avenue and four blocks from the John Hancock Building, Navy Pier and Historic Water Tower. The hotel was designed by Deborah Berke, who blueprinted Calvin Klein’s stores in the 1990s. The James Chicago features concise colours with a focus on intricate textures throughout the lobby. Guests can avail of free Wi-Fi and MP3 player docks.

Hotel 71, Wyndham Affiliate (****)

Prices start from €152 per room per night on Hotels.com

*Prices are subject to availability at the time of booking

Overlooking the Riverwalk and just a ten minute walk from Millenmium Park, the 39th floor of Hotel 71 was also a filming location for The Dark Knight. Guests can enjoy stunning views of the river from this contemporary hotel which was renovated in 2011.

theWit Chicago - a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel (****)

Prices start from €170 per room per night on Hotels.com

*Prices are subject to availability at the time of booking

Overlooking the Chicago River, this hotel in central Chicago’s Theatre District offers a spa and on-site dining options, including a rooftop lounge. Modern guest rooms boast contemporary amenities such as a 42-inch flat-screen cable TV and iPod docking station at theWit Doubletree. They also include well-stocked minibars and coffee facilities.

Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago (*****)

Prices start from €170 per room per night on Hotels.com

*Prices are subject to availability at the time of booking

Featuring an on-site spa and rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, this 92-story landmark of stainless steel and glass stands proudly beside the Chicago River with spacious views of the city skyline. The luxurious rooms of Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago offer limestone bathrooms with a deep-soaking tub and in-mirror TV. Free Wi-Fi is included and most rooms feature fully equipped kitchens.

For more information and travel tips on planning your holiday visit www.Hotels.com or call 1800 55 3338 to wake up happy on your holiday!