Say Chicago in a crowded room, and you can bet that one or two people will end up making clever little jokes about Catherine Zeta-Jones, or jazz, or speakesies. And theyre right to; its a great musical. But if youre visiting Chicago any time soon, youll realise very quickly that things have moved on, and its a cultural, thriving hub of amazing restaurants, great bars and brilliant people.
And much like New York, if youre into your sightseeing, there are some terrific landmarks which will present many memorable (and possibly even amusing) photo opportunities.
Millennium Park/The Bean
Its hard to think of Chicago without thinking of the massive silver bean that is the centerpiece of AT&T Plaza at Millennium Park. Its proper name is Cloud Gate, and its a sculpture by artist Anish Kapoor, who was inspired by liquid mercury.
Its actually made of stainless steel plates which have been welded together, but none of the joins are visible as the exterior has been so thoroughly polished. Tourists and locals alike love the Bean for many reasons; it reflects the citys skyline, its strange reflective properties make for some weird pictures and its a great meeting place if you get lost. You probably wont find your reflection very alluring, but even just taking a coffee and people watching is a pleasure in itself.
The Willis Tower
This domineering building was known as the Sears Tower until 2009; its since been rebranded, and North Americas tallest building was renamed by the Willis Group as part of its lease on a portion of the tower’s space. On the subject of record-breaking heights, The Willis Tower is not to be sneered at; its the second-tallest building in the United States and the 12th-tallest in the world.
The one million people who visit every year come for the The Ledge, a glass balcony extending four feet outside the 103rd floor. The view spans over four states but may not be suitable for people who arent that fond of heights.
The Rookery Building
From the pavement, this just looks like an ordinary office building, but step inside and youll be amazed at what you see. Set in the heart of Chicagos financial district, Daniel Burnham and John Roots Rookery Building contains one of Frank Lloyd Wrights most dramatic interior compositions a beautifully illuminated central light court.
Most people take the tour; its only 30 minutes, but you should find it very informative. Youll start off downstairs, then head upstairs to see the famous spiral staircase. Take heed – if you’re going to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s work, you might want to remember that he was only responsible for renovating and brightening up the Light Court, not the whole building.The glass roof, the light fixtures and the marble give the building a thoughtful, calm air; its not to be missed.
By gum, this place needs to be seen (sorry). When work started on the building in 1920, this area wasnt office-friendly at all; there were no other major office spaces locally. Thats all changed these days, and the Wrigley Building continues to attract tourists in their thousands. The building was designed to mimic the shape of the Giralda tower of Seville’s Cathedral; the south tower was completed in April 1921 and the north tower in May 1924.
Set right on Michigan Avenue on the Chicago River, this location is also great for photographers who love architecture. You can also walk through the bottom part of the building and go into the centre to take some great pictures.
Formally known as the John Hancock Observatory, this is a place to enjoy some stunning views of Chicago; its also the ideal place to watch the air show, or heading to when there are fireworks on Navy Pier.
After a 42-second elevator ride, youll find yourself surrounded by glass walls and open skies; head to the edge and youll see the city in action, spread out beneath you. Each wall is labelled with the direction you are facing; enjoy the solitude and the quiet. Youll feel like youre suspended in time while the city carries on its business beneath you.
For an additional $7, you can enjoy Tilt, one of the newer attractions. This involves standing by a window, holding on to the bars in front of you, and then youre tilted out – so youll get a unique, downwards-facing view of the city. Probably not the best idea if you have a hangover but otherwise, it should be a thrilling experience.
Vicky Anscombe is Editor-in-Chief at Columbus Direct.If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.