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Best Places to Visit In Chicago

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Other Famous Attractions and Things-to-do

The Lakefront

Chicago's Lakefront offers a number of attractions, all advantaged by the shore of Lake MichiganAlmost all of the major attractions in Chicago are close to the shore of Lake Michigan and this was a feat of planning rather than "happenstance".  With nine, public lakefront harbors and 26 miles of unobstructed shoreline, the founding fathers of Chicago made sure the lake shore would be accessible to Chicago’s citizens and visible to them as often as possible. Although we have covered the city's major attractions on other pages of our Chicago Guide, here are a number of additional attractions along  or near the Lake that are very popular.

Chicago Lakefront Trail

The Chicago Lakefront Trail is an 18-mile paved path that runs along beaches, through parks, and past museums, from Hollywood  Avenue on the North to 79th Street on the South. You can traverse this trail by bike, roller blade or on foot. Bicycles are available to rent at various vendors at parks and beaches along the way.

A Lakefront Trail  is map available from the Chicago Park District website. (If the PDF does not load, try entering  http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/  and use their search tool for "Lakefront Trail map".)

Beaches

Although there are 31 beaches along Chicago’s lakefront, the two most popular are Oak Street Beach and North Avenue Beach.

Oak Street Beach

Oak Street Beach is one of the most popular beaches in ChicagoOak Street Beach is located along Chicago’s Gold Coast, just north of the Miracle Mile, and within walking distance of popular hotels. It is across the street from the Drake Hotel, and adjacent to  some of the City’s wealthiest neighborhoods. 

Oak Street Beach is a premier people watching beach – it's the perfect place to see and be seen on a hot summer day. It is also a perfect spot to relax after dark and take in Chicago’s spectacular skyline. Oak Street Beach also features “Beachstro,” a restaurant/bar on the sand that serves casual, upscale dining.

North Avenue Beach

North Avenue Beach, adjacent to Lincoln Park, is a beach for everyone: singles, families, locals and visitors. Its most unique attraction is its ocean-liner-like beach house, which features: an outdoor restaurant/bar, concession stand, beach chair rental, bike and sports equipment rentals, restrooms, and outdoor showers. The current beach house was built in 2007, but the design closely replicates the original, which dated from the start of the Great Depression (1929).

North Avenue Beach is also the site of Chicago’s Annual Air and Water Show, the largest free show of its kind. The event takes place over one weekend in August, and, according to the City’s Tourism Department, more than 2 million people attend every year.  See this section of our Guide to Chicago for more information on the Air and Water Show.

Grant Park

Grant Park, often called Chicago’s “front yard”, encompasses 319 acres along Chicago’s lakefront between Randolph Rd. on the North and Roosevelt Rd. on the South. It is the site of the Art Institute of Chicago, Buckingham Fountain, Chicago’s Museum Campus, and Millennium Park, as well as miles of beautiful walking paths and gardens.

Grant Park is host to Chicago’s largest festivals, including: the Taste of Chicago, The Independence Day Fireworks Show and Concert (on July 3), Chicago Blues Festival, Chicago Jazz Festival, and Lollapalooza (a contemporary music fest).  See this section of the ThereArePlaces Chicago Guide for details on the most popular of these festivals.

Millennium Park

Cloud Gate is one of many popular artistic installations in Millennium ParkMillennium Park is Chicago’s newest downtown park (2004) and a great place to spend a leisurely day biking, walking the gardens or viewing the public art exhibitions.

It is also home to Pritzker Pavilion, where the Grant Park Music Festival takes place all summer long. The Music Festival provides visitors with free evening concerts performed by the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus. For a schedule of concerts, go to  the official website for the Festival.

If you are visiting between September and May, you may enjoy indoor music and dance at the Park’s Harris Theater. Millennium Park is also home to some unique art exhibits, including: the Cloud Gate (shown above), an interactive, reflective sculpture; Crown Fountain – featuring two glass towers showing a series of photographs at each end of a reflecting pond; and the Boeing Galleries featuring outdoor sculpture exhibits on the east and west side of the park. To find up-to-date information about events at Millennium Park, visit its official website.

 

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Places  Described On This Page

The Lakefront
Chicago Lakefront Trail
Oak Street Beach
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Grant Park
Millennium Park

 

 

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