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Chicago is home to a wide variety attractions, from iconic sculptures and beguiling landscapes to lively entertainment districts and historic skyscrapers. Each neighborhood exhibits a unique identity often anchored by a park or landmark. Downtown Chicago contains a wealth of noteworthy destinations such as Cloud Gate (commonly known as The Bean), Navy Pier, and Buckingham Fountain. The Chicago Riverwalk features spectacular views of the city while the Chicago Lakefront Trail offers plenty to do along Lake Michigan. Several beaches along this trail are popular destinations in the summertime.
Chicago Restaurants and Nightlife
Although famous for comfort food like deep dish pizza and hot dogs, Chicago is also home to one of the finest culinary scenes in America. You can’t go wrong with Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse, but spots like Avec, Alinea, and Girl & the Goat feature more modern takes on fine dining. If you’re in the mood for BBQ, Lem’s has been serving up delicious rib tips since 1954. While Chicago has plenty of neighborhood joints with tasty fried foods and standard pub fare, the city also boasts an amazingly diverse array of world cuisines. Whether you love Indian, Thai, Ethiopian, or Mexican food, Chicago has you covered.
When it comes to nightlife, Chicago has something for every crowd. Wrigleyville and Lakeview are your best bets for finding a sports bar where you can buy beer by the pitcher and watch your favorite teams on a big screen. If you prefer to dance, you might find your way to Smart Bar, Studio Paris, or any of the clubs in the LGBT-friendly neighborhood of Boystown. In River North, you can’t miss the upscale lounges filled with the city’s chic professionals. Areas such as Wicker Park and Logan Square contain hip watering holes frequented by artists, musicians, and comedians. Pilsen, on Chicago’s South Side, features many popular dive bars as well as the music venue Thalia Hall.
Since hosting the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893, Chicago has cultivated countless cultural institutions to become a world leader in science, philosophy, and the arts. The Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Museum of Science and Industry, Adler Planetarium, and Lyric Opera are just a few examples of the city’s cultural beacons. But culture is not limited to museums and theaters — Chicago is also hailed as one of the blues capitals of the world, as evidenced by the lively sounds still found at Buddy Guy’s Legends.
Chicago has numerous public transportation options to help its residents get around. The famous “El” or elevated train system is ideal for navigating to and from downtown, and the Chicago Transit Authority also operates a large number of bus lines around the city. Those living in the suburbs can take advantage of the Metra rail system and Pace bus service. For traveling long-distance, the city offers two international airports, O’Hare and Midway, as well as train and bus services provided by Amtrak, Megabus, or Greyhound. Parking and traffic congestion vary from neighborhood to neighborhood, so it’s important to figure out whether or not it will be easy for you to own a vehicle. With so many transit options available in Chicago, those without cars can certainly traverse the city with ease.