When people from the Netherlands go to the States, Nine out of ten times they go to New York. And do not get me wrong. New York is absolutely worth it. But for a change, this story is not about New York. This story goes about the Windy City, Chi-town. The city you know as Chicago. I immediately liked it since I set my first step into the city. And when I am really honest: I liked it better than New York. You might even say I have gotten a little crush on Chicago. And to convince you, I will give you my list of 7 fun (and most of them free) things to do in Chicago.
One of the reasons I got a crush is the large number of street art on display throughout the city. Let me start with the most famous one: the Cloud Gate. It gives you a surreal sight of its surroundings when you look into its shiny surface. Locals quickly gave this piece of art a place in their hart. And it comes to no surprise to me that they now call it ‘The Bean’. It is one of the best artworks I have ever seen. The Cloud Gate stands in Millennium Park and in this park there is even more to see. You can also find Crown Fountain there. It consists of two high glass blocks which lite up beautiful at night. On the blocks they show inhabitants living in Chicago. On the picture you see water flowing from the girls mouth. This stands for live and is a funny reference to mystical creatures who normally spray water into a fountain. All over town you will find different art objects which you can see for free.
The highest skyscraper of Chicago, counting 110 stories, is Willis Tower. But locals still call it Sears Tower after its previous owner. It used to be the biggest skyscraper of the world till 1998 and the highest building of North America till 2012. This is not the case anymore but it is still a magnificent building to see. They have placed glass cubes outside the building. They call them the Ledge and are 412 meter above the ground. You can visit them on the Skydeck. It is a lot of fun to do if you are not afraid of heights.
John Hancock Center a.k.a. 360 Chicago
Another tall building in Chicago is the John Hancock Center. Nowadays they call it 360 Chicago because you have a 360 degrees view of Chicago and Lake Michigan. You can also experience the view for just the price of a couple of drinks. Just visit The Signature Room on the 95th floor of the building. This is a bit cheaper than a visit to the 360 observatory which lies on another 94th floor. By the way, you can look down in the Tilt on the same floor.
You cannot miss the L in downtown Chicago. It subway runs above the street in a big circle in the Loop district. It gives you a nice and different view of downtown Chicago and is a lot of fun to experience. The L is unique to Chicago. Where else do you so explicitly see the subway above ground in such a visible way.
Chicago River walk
Do you want to walk around and take in the different skyscrapers and drawbridges in Chicago? Than take a walk alongside the Chicago River. Did you know that they changed the loop of the river in de 19th century. The river became contaminated by sewer water. As a solution for the problem they dug out different canals which connected Lake Michigan all the way to the Mississippi. This caused the change of the loop. The last couple of years the municipality placed a footpath alongside the river and this gives you a different and spectacular view of the city. Do not forget to sit down and relaxed sometimes.
Enjoy a game outside the stadium
Of course you can also enjoy the great American Sports in Chicago. Go to a basketball game of the Chicago Bulls, visit a baseball game of the Chicago White Sox or the Chicago Cubs or an American Football game of the Chicago Bears. I have seen several baseball games in the past so for a change I decided to experience a Baseball game outside the stadium of the Chicago Cubs on a terrace. It is called Wrigley Field and it is truly a magnificent stadium. It is the second oldest stadium (1914) in the Major League Baseball and home of the Cubs for over 99 years. It just breathes history and the people you see walking around the stadium are a lot of fun to watch. Also make sure you take a look at the buildings around the stadium. The owners placed bleachers on top of their houses which they rent out during match days. I did not do this but it was a lot of fun to watch.
Take a picture of the Skyline from an alternative location
If you take the water taxi from Shedd aquarium to Navy Peer you can take beautiful photographs of the skyline of Chicago. The ride is not expensive and it is a nice alternative way to take a picture. You can also walk to the end of Northerly Island (near the Adler Planetarium) and take a picture from there. But the ones I took from the boot where better. Of do both because the walk on Northerly Island is really nice. Do you want a more industrial look and feel? Go to Pim Tom Memorial Park. The result is below.
This is just the top of the iceberg of activities in Chicago. Of course there is more to see but these are my favorites. Which places did you see in Chicago?