On a recent whistle-stop tour, I found Chicago to be an amazing and beautiful city, full to overflowing with diversity and richness.
After checking in at modern and centrally located Hotel Chicago Downtown, I walked over to Millennium Park to check out Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate sculpture, affectionately known as “The Bean,” because of its shape. With the light gradually disappearing from the evening, the reflections of the surrounding buildings on its shiny surface made for a great photo opportunity and a perfect introduction to the city.
Historic Macy’s on State Street
My starting point the next morning was Macy’s department store on State Street. I was able to experience over 150 years of retail history at this impressive store, which was previously Marshall Fields. The store reminds me of Selfridge’s in London, and interestingly enough, Mr. Gordon Harry Selfridge himself worked at the store for 25 years before heading to England to make his fortune. Looking up, I found the largest Tiffany glass vaulted ceiling in the world, made up of over 1.6 million pieces. The installation took two years to complete and involved 50 artisans.
After stopping by the Visitor Information Center to pick up a Visitor Savings Pass that could be used for 10 percent off both at the State Street store and at Macy’s Water Tower Place on the Magnificent Mile, I got ready for some serious retail therapy.
For lunch, I headed to the Walnut Room, one of numerous restaurants that can be found within the store. This is a great place to not only enjoy scrumptious food (I had a fabulous chicken pot pie), but to also take in the grand surroundings – high ceilings, Circassian Walnut panelling and a large fountain. The restaurant is the longest continuously running restaurant in the U.S. and has been open since 1907.
Macy’s State Street Chicago Visitor Information Center in Illinois
Architectural River Cruise
After all that shopping, I headed out to explore the city in a completely different way. During a 90-minute cruise with Chicago’s First Lady River Cruises, I learned all about the design and architecture of more than 50 buildings located along the city’s riverfront. The very first skyscraper in the world was erected in Chicago in 1844. Since then, there have been many iterations and the city now has over 300. History and the modern era have collided and created an impressive amalgamation in Chicago.
Chicago, Illinois skyscrapers and architecture
Attractions for the Whole Family
My next stop was The Field Museum, located on Chicago’s Museum Campus. I walked through the various exhibits, including the Evolving Planet and Ancient Americas exhibits, to learn all about the world of natural history. And my visit would not have been complete without meeting “SUE,” the world’s most complete T. Rex ever found. Named after the woman who found her in 1990, 67 million-year-old SUE would have weighed in the region of nine tons.
A brilliant place to end my day was Chicago 360. This observation floor located 1,000 feet above the Magnificent Mile provides outstanding views. Fancying a little thrill, I stepped into TILT, and leaned out 30-degrees over the city below. After I’d scared myself silly (but it was worth it), I grabbed a cocktail at the bar and watched the sun go down as the night lights of the metropolis illuminated the skyline.
All in all, Chicago is the city that has it all. I only scratched the surface of everything that’s available to visitors, so be sure you spend enough time in “The Windy City” on your next US-bound holiday!
TILT, Chicago evening city skyline view
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