While Chicago is not a city one can do justice to in one day, a well planned itinerary can definitely help you make the most of your time. How you spend your day depends on your interest and the weather. You can spend your time museum hopping or wandering along the lake front. Ideally one should try to include a mix of both indoor as well as outdoor attractions to get a feel of the city’s cultural flavor with a topping of the scenic beauty.
Start your tour of Chicago with a sampling of the architecture for which this city is famed. Take a guided tour with the Chicago Architecture Foundation. The 2-hour walking tour takes you to the oldest high-rises in the Loop and not only enlightens you about the city’s architecture but also lets you feel the pulse of the city.
Another option is to take an architectural boat tour that goes down Chicago River and out into Lake Michigan. This way you get to hear about Chicago’s history and architecture and get to see the city from a different perspective.
If you are a museum person or if you have kids with you then you will enjoy a visit to the Adler Planetarium, Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium. Of course it will not be possible to do all three in a day, so choose any two according to your interest. From the museum campus head straight to Millennium Park where there’s loads to fascinate you. Enjoy watching the changing faces of Chicagoans with water spewing from their mouth at the Crown Fountain. Walk under and around Anish Kapoor’s bean-shaped structure, Cloud Gate, and marvel at the reflection of the city’s skyscrapers in its stainless steel exterior. Millenium Park is also the site of Frank Gehry’s Pritzker Music Pavilion with the signature steel ribbons. Often during the summer, free music concerts take place so be sure to check in if you happen to be in Chicago during the summer. Millenium Park is also a great place to simply “hang out” to do some people watching.
From here you can take a leisurely stroll down Michigan Avenue till you come to the Michigan Avenue Bridge across the Chicago River. Stop here and take some photographs as the view is simply magnificent. When you’re done, proceed down the Magnificent Mile which is a bargain hunter’s paradise. The best of Chicago’s shops are in this area. Stroll along till you reach the John Hancock Building, home to the fastest elevator in the world. Ride it to the The Observatory which has the best panoramic view of the skyline of Chicago. On a clear evening you will be able to see as far as three states: Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan. Several high-tech additions have enhanced the viewer’s experience such as the “talking telescopes” with sound effects and narration in four languages. The Signature Lounge on the 96th floor is an added attraction for adults.
On Wednesdays and Saturdays, from atop you can enjoy the fireworks display over Navy Pier and then head straight for dinner at any of the restaurants that abound the places nearby.