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Often referred to as “The Windy City,” Chicago is known for its welcoming atmosphere and the many tourist attractions that draw more than 50 million visitors each year. Here are some places to visit in Chicago that you won’t want to miss.

  1. Outdoors and Water
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    • Navy Pier is a busy place for families to enjoy amusement park rides including a carousel, Ferris wheel and a miniature golf course. The pier stretches out onto Lake Michigan, so there’s an incredible view of this enormous lake.
    • Millennium Park is in the center of the city and functions much like a town square. You’ll find gardens, architecture, walking areas and occasional concerts here.
    • The Chicago Riverwalk provides a spectacular walkway along the Chicago River. It covers six blocks in the downtown area and is ideal for seeing the sights and doing some people watching.

  2. Explore the Culture
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    • The American Writers Museum includes exhibits, photo galleries and tributes to authors. This is an educational experience with interactive exhibits and interesting book-related art throughout.
    • Visit the Art Institute of Chicago to see a variety of art expressions, including Impressionist art. Medieval art, sculptures, photography and textile design are some of the art displays showcased in the museum.
    • Shedd Aquarium lets you observe marine life from the Caribbean, the Amazon and the Pacific Northwest. Coral reefs, exotic rainforests and the Great Lakes exhibits create interest and provide an entertaining aquatic tour.

  3. View the Art Al Fresco in the City
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    • Chicago has some unique sculptures and fountains in various outdoor areas of the city. The Buckingham Fountain is an elaborate fountain with bronze sea horses at the base, and the fountain sprays water up to an impressive 150 feet.
    • A Picasso sculpture on Washington Street in the Daley Plaza is a great photo op. The untitled statue stands 50 feet high and is an incredible display of public artwork. And it’s free.
    • Another interesting sculpture is the flamingo designed by Alexander Calder. The Flamingo is located in a plaza in Chicago’s Loop. It’s painted a bright red color and reaches up 53 feet, so you can’t miss it. Visitors can walk under its leggy design.

  4. Entertainment and Shopping
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    • The Second City Comedy Club offers nights of entertainment and laughter. The club opened in 1952 and has debuted some of the most popular comedians over the years. This is where many of them got their start before moving into show business. You can enjoy food and beverages delivered to your table while you watch the shows.
    • The Magnificent Mile is an area of upscale shopping and dining in the Michigan Avenue District. It’s a full square mile packed with boutiques, spas, restaurants, pubs and hipster locals. Indulge in a spa treatment and grab a signature cocktail at one of the bars.
    • Lookingglass Theatre Company on Michigan Avenue holds literary performances, plays and holiday events. Check the calendar of events for dates and times during your vacation to see what’s happening. Many of the popular performances sell out, so you might consider ordering tickets online ahead of time.

  5. Sample Local Beer
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    • Local beer is flourishing and gushing out of kegs in Chicago. There are many breweries but three noteworthy ones are included here. Lagunitas Brewing Company opened in Lincoln Park in 2014. The sprawling 4,000-square-foot taproom has plenty of room for visitors to belly up to the bar. Sixteen beers are on draft and food is also available. You’ll find this beer carried in a lot of restaurants and stores, too.
    • Goose Island Beer Company was one of the trailblazers in the craft beer business before it took off. The company originally started with a North Branch Chicago River location for a brew pub in 1988. The success lead to a brew house that was opened in 1995. There, the brewmasters offer tours, fermenters are housed and a taproom allows for tasting craft brewskis.
    • Revolution Brewery ranks as one of the top 50 craft brewing companies in the United States based on its overall sales volume. That means lots of beer lovers approve. The original location on Logan Square offers bar food and weekend brunches in addition to the beer. The Avondale location opened two years after the Logan Square bar in 2012. Free tours are offered at the Avondale location.

Chicago is spread out over a lot of territory. When choosing your vacation rental home, you can either focus on the main area of the city where you want to spend your time or rely on the light rail or public transportation buses to get you to the sites. The city is experienced with getting locals and tourists where they need to go.