Region: American Midwest
Time Zone: Central Time Zone
Best for: Food, Shopping, Sightseeing
Don't miss: The Chicago Riverwalk
Fun Fact: In 1900, engineers reversed the natural flow of the Chicago River to keep sewage from polluting Lake Michigan, the city's freshwater supply.
There's always something to chow down on in Chicago. Whether it's the iconic deep dish pizza or Red Hots (Chicago's own take on hotdogs), there are great eats on every corner. But before you think about eating hotdogs with ketchup, try the local fave--a mustard, relish, onion, tomato, pepper + pickle combo. And while you're satisfying your senses, visit the famed Maxwell Street to try polish sausage.
Take in Chicago sip by sip with a long list of local breweries. You'll find exciting brewpubs and microbreweries peppered around the city, most of which offer tastings or tours.
Go back in time with a visit to Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. With 100 years of history, the field--with its ivy-covered walls and hand operated scoreboard--is a point of pride for Chicago.
A city can be the sum of its parks--and between Lincoln Park, Grant Park and Millennium Park, Chicago does not disappoint. Each offers a day and an experience unto itself, from the Lincoln Park Zoo and marinas, to Grant Park's Buckingham Fountain and renowned concert scene (Lollapalooza, anyone?), to Millennium Park's and it's iconic sculpture, Cloud Gate (aka The Bean).
From the Art Institute of Chicago to the Field Museum of Natural History and Shedd Aquarium, Chicago's museums and cultural institutions rank among the world's best. Art lovers won't want to miss the Art Institute's collection, which boasts Grant Wood's American Gothic and Edward Hopper's Nighthawks, as well as masterpieces by Picasso, Van Gogh, Seurat and more.
The Great Lake
Double-dipping allowed. Chicago boasts 26 free and picture-perfect beaches along the shore of Lake Michigan, miles of lakefront trails for running, biking and exploring, and tons of options for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages. Navy Pier offers a lakefront promenade with restaurants (including the world-famous Billy Goat Tavern of SNL fame), shopping and an amusement park. Their Centennial Wheel ferris wheel is a can't miss--with breathtaking views of Chicago and Lake Michigan.