Chicago (2 days)


According to Wikipedia, "Chicago is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Illinois, and the third-most populous in the United States, following New York City and Los Angeles."


Here we quote the best way to travel in Chicago provided by wikiVoyage, a multilingual, web-based project to create a free, complete, up-to-date, and reliable worldwide travel guide. Wikivoyage is hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit organization that also hosts a range of other project such as Wikipedia. Please edit the articles and find author credits at the original wikiVoyage articles on Star articles - Chicago, Along the Magnificent Mile, Loop Art Tour. Content on wikiVoyage can be shared under a Creative Commons License.


Part 1: Understand.


Chicago was known as a fine place to find a wild onion if you were a member of the Potawatomi tribe, who lived in this area of Illinois before European settlers arrived. It was mostly swamps, prairie and mud long past the original settlement by Jean Baptiste Point du Sable in 1779, the establishment of Fort Dearborn in 1803 and incorporation as a town in 1833. It could be argued that nature never intended for there to be a city here; brutal winters aside, it took civil engineering projects of unprecedented scale to establish working sewers, reverse the flow of the river to keep it out of the city's drinking supply, and stop buildings from sinking back into the swamps — and that was just the first three decades.


Chicago became a waypoint between the Great Lakes and the Wild West, where boats came to drop off settlers, and load crops and other goods from the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains.


Part 2: Get Around


Navigating Chicago is easy. Block numbers are consistent across the whole city. Standard blocks, of 100 addresses each, are roughly 1/8th of a mile (200 meters) long. (Hence, a mile is equivalent to a street number difference of 800.) Each street is assigned a number based on its distance from the zero point of the address system, the intersection of State Street and Madison Street. A street with a W (west) or E (east) number runs east-west, while a street with a N (north) or S (south) number runs north-south. A street's number is usually written on street signs at intersections, below the street name. Major thoroughfares are at each mile (multiples of 800) and secondary arteries at the half-mile marks. Thus, Western Ave at 2400 W (3 miles west of State Street) is a north-south major thoroughfare, while Montrose Ave at 4400 N is an east-west secondary artery.


In general, "avenues" run north-south and "streets" run east-west, but there are numerous exceptions. (e.g., 48th Street may then be followed by 48th Place). In conversation, however, Chicagoans rarely distinguish between streets, avenues, boulevards, etc.


Several streets follow diagonal or meandering paths through the city such as Clark St, Lincoln Ave, Broadway, Milwaukee Ave, Ogden Ave, Archer Ave, Vincennes Ave, and South Chicago Ave.


By public transit

The best way to see Chicago is by public transit. It is cheap (basically), efficient (at times), and safe (for the most part). The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) oversees the various public transit agencies in the Chicagoland area. You can plan trips online with the RTA trip planner or get assistance by calling 836-7000 in any local area code between 5AM-1AM. The RTA also has an official partnership with Google Maps, which can provide routes with public transit.

CTA

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) operates trains and buses in the city of Chicago and some of the suburbs. Put simply, the CTA is Chicago. It is a marvel and a beast, convenient, frustrating, and irreplaceable. Even if you have the option of driving while you're in town, no experience of Chicago is complete without a trip on the CTA.

The CTA refers to its entire train system as The 'L'. The CTA inherited the name from its predecessor agencies that ran elevated trains, but now refers to all trains, including subways, as The 'L'. All train lines radiate from the Loop to every corner of the city. The "Loop" name originally referred to a surface-level streetcar loop, which pre-dated the elevated tracks. That any form of transportation preceded the present one may come as a surprise, given how old some of the stations look, but they work.


Metra and South Shore

  • Metra, ☏ +1-312-322-6777. Runs commuter trains for the suburbs, providing service within Illinois, to Kenosha, Wisconsin, out west, and to the far south and southwest suburbs. Metra trains are fast, clean, and punctual, but unpleasantly crowded during rush hour. Generally, every car or every other car on the train has a bathroom.

Metra's Electric Line provides service to the convention center (McCormick Place), Hyde Park (Museum of Science and Industry, University of Chicago), and the Far Southeast Side's Pullman Historic District and Rainbow Beach. The Electric Line is fast, taking at most 15 minutes to reach Hyde Park from the Loop. Unfortunately, service outside of rush hours is infrequent (about once/hour), so be sure to check the schedules while planning your trip.

  • Northern Indiana Commuter Transit District (NICTD), ☏ +1-219-926-5744. Operates the South Shore Line railroad. The South Shore Line railroad runs commuter trains between the Millennium Park Metra station in downtown Chicago and the South Bend, Indiana airport. South Shore trains cannot carry passengers whose journey is entirely within the State of Illinois, except to and from the Hegewisch station on Chicago's far southeast side. Although the South Shore Line receives some subsidies from Metra, it is not part of the Metra system and does not accept Metra or CTA tickets.

Pace


Pace runs buses in the suburbs, although some routes do cross into the city, particularly in Rogers Park at the Howard (Red/Purple/Yellow Line) CTA station, the Far Northwest Side at the Jefferson Park (Blue Line) CTA station, and at the 95th Red Line CTA stop in the far south side. In addition to its regular fixed-route service, Pace provides two types of paratransit services within the areas served by Pace and the CTA. ADA Paratransit Service is provided to passengers who have been previously certified as disabled. Call-n-Ride service is provided in some suburban areas where there is insufficient demand to justify regularly scheduled service. Call-n-Ride passengers must call in advance to arrange pickup and drop-off.


By car


Avoid driving in downtown Chicago if at all possible. Traffic is awful, pedestrians are constantly wandering into the street out of turn, and garages in the Loop can cost as much as $40 per day (although services like SpotHero may have more reasonable prices). And while downtown streets are laid out on the grid, many have multiple levels which confuse even the most hardened city driver. Even outside of the city center, street parking may not be readily available. If you do find a spot, check street signs to make sure that a) no residential permit is required to park here and b) parking is not disallowed during certain hours for "street cleaning", rush hour or something along those lines. Parking restrictions are swiftly and mercilessly enforced in the form of tickets and towing — be especially wary during snowy weather.


By Taxi


Chicago has some of the cheapest taxi fares in the U.S. Taxis can be hailed from the street throughout the major tourist areas, and are strictly regulated by the city.


By bicycle

Chicago has a bike path along the shores of Lake Michigan, making north-south travel very convenient as long as the weather is favorable by the lake. Most major city streets have bike lanes, and the biking culture is established enough that cars tend to accommodate and (grudgingly) yield to bicycles. Bike trips can also be combined with rides on the CTA, and Chicago's new bike-sharing program DIVVY has docks near many major stations. See the bicycling section below for more details.


By water taxi

In the summer, water taxis are sometimes more convenient than the CTA, if you are traveling around the fringes of downtown. They are also a relatively cheap way to take in some offshore views. Two private companies operate water taxi services around the Loop.


Part 3: Itinerary


Day 1: Along the Magnificent Mile


Most of Chicago lives in apartments, bungalows, condos, and houses on the North Side or the South Side, but this is where they all come together: to work amid the skyscrapers of the Loop, to relax in the parks and beaches along the lake, and to blow their hard-earned cash in the department stores on the Magnificent Mile. In this itinerary, you'll follow Michigan Avenue as it evolves from shopping district to recreation space, and then you'll take a turn into the canyons of the commerce-oriented Loop before heading off for a terrific dinner.


You're walking for most of this itinerary, so wear comfortable shoes, and dress for the weather (and the climate). If it's a warm day in the spring, summer, or early fall, bring a small towel for splashing in the fountains at Millennium Park. This route starts in the Near North, proceeds to the Loop, veers off to the Near West Side, and returns to the Near North. Although the route is very straightforward and easy to follow, you may wish to print out the articles for those districts, if only for a few alternate recommendations and further illustration of what you'll see along the way.

If you skip the shopping and stick with your feet, the day won't cost very much. Only dinner, the Art Institute, and the Hancock/Sears Tower will put any kind of crimp in your wallet. To cut out the taxi fares, get the exact addresses from the Near North, Loop, and Near West Side guides, and plot public transit routes using the CTA Trip Planner.


1. Morning

Start early! On your way out of the hotel, ask the concierge whether the water is flowing at Buckingham Fountain yet; this will be important later. Grab a quick pastry and cup of coffee or juice to tide you over for the next couple of hours.

If you're starting on the CTA, take the Red Line subway to the Chicago stop, and walk three blocks east, toward the lake. Skip a couple paragraphs ahead and begin there, as you'll be walking right by the Water Tower.

Otherwise, take a taxi from your hotel to the Hancock Center. This is only the third-tallest building in Chicago (fifth-tallest in the United States), but it's better-liked and better-looking than the other two, and it definitely has the best view. Take an elevator up to the 360 Chicago Observatory on the 94th floor. Admission is $22 adult, $15 child (or get the Sun and Stars ticket to return in the evening for $26.50). Survey the city and the lake, and be sure to look south, for there lies the day's conquest. There's a bar with expensive drinks one floor up. Don't booze it up now, but you might come back for drinks later on. One block south, at Michigan and Chicago, have a look at the old Water Tower. This is a Chicago icon, and the most famous survivor of the 1871 Chicago Fire, along with the less-celebrated Pumping Station on the other side of Michigan Avenue. Street performers may be in the small square behind the Water Tower. (Don't bother tours of the interior, though — it's been scrubbed of any historical traces, and is occasionally used as a gallery space now.) Behind the pumping station on Chicago Ave is a turn-of-the-century firehouse; not quite as old as the other two, but it's still in use, and you'll see members of the Chicago Fire Department (human and canine) relaxing out front if they're not away on a call.

Now, you have two options. If you're in the mood for sand, head east down Chicago Avenue. You might check to see if the Museum of Contemporary Art has any interesting public art outside its building at Mies van der Rohe Way. When you've reach the end of Chicago Avenue, turn left and walk a few blocks north. Use the pedestrian tunnel to cross under Lake Shore Drive. You are at Oak Street Beach. You should have a nice view of Lincoln Park and the North Side. When you're done, walk back the way you came, or take a taxi directly to the Tribune Tower — back-tracking will make it kind of a long walk.

Alternatively, skip the beach and stroll down Michigan Avenue. This is the heart of the Magnificent Mile, with block after block of fashionable department stores. Pop into as many as you like, but this is expensive territory — and remember, you'll be carrying whatever you buy for the rest of the day. (That said, if cost is not a concern, stores will be more than happy to have packages wrapped and sent to your hotel while you carry on.) You'll want to backtrack to 900 N Michigan and Water Tower Place, and then keep heading south on Michigan. When you've almost reached the river, stop. On your left is the Tribune Tower. Walk along its north and south walls; embedded in them are stones from famous sites across the country and around the world. Bore your family with your knowledge of history.

Now, cross over to the west side of the street and look for a curious opening in the sidewalk. There might even be a placard advertising a restaurant down there. Descend to lower Michigan Ave. At this point, your heart will be racing and you will fear for family's safety. Perhaps a scene from Adventures in Babysitting will play in your mind. Fight these feelings; there is nothing to fear.

Walk to the corner, towards the river, and you will see the Billy Goat Tavern. This legendary haunt for Chicago newspapermen was made famous by John Belushi's "cheeseburger-cheeseburger-not-Coke-Pepsi" sketch on Saturday Night Live. Go in and have a quick, cheap lunch.


2. Afternoon

When you are finished eating, head back upstairs and cross the river. If you are lucky, the bridge will be temporarily raised for some water traffic. Regardless, take in the views both east to the lake and west inland.

Millennium Park begins at Michigan and Randolph, although most of the action is a little further south, closer to Madison. If it's warm, this place will be hopping. Don't miss The Bean (you'll know it when you see it) or the giant projection fountains. Get your feet wet — you've done plenty of walking already, and there's plenty more ahead of you. (If you were hoping to have your kids burn off any excess energy, let them go buckwild in the fountain.) Then continue down Michigan to Adams, where two lions guard the entrance of the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago. (Admission is $25 for adults, $19 for teens, students, and seniors, free for younger children.) Choose a couple areas of interest and check those out; perusing the whole collection would take you the better part of the day. There are some iconic American paintings (Wood's "American Gothic" and Hopper's "Nighthawks") and a number of seminal European paintings (most notably Seurat's "A Sunday Afternoon at La Grande Jatte").

Once you're finished browsing, continue south on Michigan to Congress Parkway. At the corner are the colossal stone walls of The Auditorium Theatre, designed by the great Louis Sullivan (with Frank Lloyd Wright toiling as his apprentice), once the tallest building in Chicago. A tour or a show here is well worth the cost, if you can arrange it. Have a look inside the grand lobby and the staircase if it's open, and leave before someone kicks you out.

Turn around and head back north for two blocks to Jackson, and then turn left. In the sky are the looming black metal blocks of the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower). Until 1998, it was the tallest building in the world, and until 2014 in North America. If you didn't go to the Hancock Observatory earlier, you can have a look from the SkyDeck at the Willis Tower instead ($25 adult, $17 child). It's probably late in the afternoon by now, and most Chicagoans are beginning their commute home. The streets of the Loop will be full of the rumble of elevated trains and the air of people who are tired from a full day's work.


3. Evening

If you're a train geek and you have some time left before dinner, it might be worth your while to continue west on Jackson, cross the river, and then turn left on Canal St. to check out Union Station. Once, all the railroads in America ran through Chicago, and you can still catch traces of that in this monumental neoclassical building. It will also be full of people on their way home from work, catching Metra trains for the suburbs. Join the march between the giant marble columns and down the grand steps, and where the falling baby-carriage climax of The Untouchables was filmed. (Please remove actual babies from carriages before attempting to re-enact the scene, though). Check out the enormous atrium and its long, stately wooden benches. Hang out for a few minutes if you're not in a hurry — this is a great spot for people-watching — or head back out to the street. Time to decide: what do you want for dinner? Armed with your guide for the Near West Side, catch a cab and tell the driver to take you to Little Italy or Greektown, just west of the Loop. (If the weather's favorable, you can walk to Greektown in a few minutes). Have a nice, long, leisurely dinner at a family-run restaurant. You'll be spoiled for choice. If you'd prefer to stay closer to the Loop, try Bella Bacino's for the best stuffed pizza in Chicago — and, by definition, anywhere.

If the concierge told you that Buckingham Fountain is on, and if it's near 8PM, catch a cab to Grant Park, and head to the fountain. When night falls, the water dances and soars and is illuminated by lights. Celebrate a successful day in Chicago with an ice cream cone from the Bobtail stand near the fountain.

Otherwise, have the cabbie take you to Michigan and Randolph, and walk north on Michigan, back towards the river. On the bridge, have another look east and west. Cross the river; the building on your left is the Wrigley Building. (It will be impossible to miss.) Look down Michigan at the lights and the people for a memorable view. If you're a fan of coming full circle, you might take a taxi back to the Hancock Center for drinks on the 95th floor, and see how the night view compares to the one you saw at the start of the day.


4. Stay safe

Once again, Chicago's climate is not to be underestimated. Bundle up in winter and keep hydrated in the height of the summer. You're unlikely to encounter any safety concerns during the day, save for the remote possibility of pick-pockets in crowded areas. After dark, don't stray more than a couple of blocks from Union Station and Little Italy/Greektown. Both are safe for tourists, but there are some rough areas within walking distance.


Day 2: Loop Art Tour


Most visitors to Chicago make a point of visiting the endless collections at the Art Institute, but many overlook the world-class collection of public art on display throughout Chicago's commercial center. The Loop is a veritable open air museum of sculptures by the world's most famous modern artists (Picasso, Calder, Miro, Lewitt, etc.), and it's all, of course, free. These monumental sculptures are both a part of Chicago's distinctive character and a major source of civic pride. This itinerary will guide you along an efficient route to visit all the most famous of Chicago's downtown public art installations, as well as more than a few lesser-known gems.


Chicago's wealth of public art is also a great excuse to get out and enjoy the city in all its aesthetic glory. A major side benefit of this walking tour is that you'll quickly get to know the Loop and its main streets. The tour takes you past many of the Loop's most prominent landmarks, like Millennium Park, the Chicago Theater, the Chicago Board of Trade, the various central plazas, and the Sears Tower.


You won't need to bring much else besides this article. If you are planning on doing the full itinerary, be sure to wear comfortable shoes. In total, it's a 2.7 mile-walk (4.3 km), and that doesn't include time spent indoors. Inclement weather will make the walk less enjoyable, but only a real storm or the most frigid weather would really stop you from making the journey. Check the weather before you head out and bring rain/snow gear as appropriate. Don't forget your camera and consider bringing along the Wikivoyage map of the Loop, in case you want to stop in a cafe or finish with a beer.


One of the best things about public art is that you get to enjoy it without paying any money. The only costs you'll encounter are from the many temptations along the way. If you want to visit the Art Institute at the beginning, that will be $25 for adults and $19 for teens, students, and seniors; the Sears Tower Skydeck at the end will set you back $12.95/adult, $9.50/child. Set out in the morning or the afternoon, just so long as you'll finish the trip before dinner time, when many of the buildings close, denying you access to any indoor sculptures.


1. Art Institute


The walk begins at the world famous Art Institute of Chicago, and the more ambitious might want to plan an extra several hours at the beginning of the day to see some highlights from its collections (for information on how to get here, check the guide to the Loop). Don't wear yourself out before you begin the walk, though! There are several interesting public statues on the grounds of the Institute that don't require admission fees. You are walking north anyway, so take a look at the three rather famous statues in the North Garden. Hold Calder's whimsical Flying Dragon and Sir Henry Moore's pondering Large Interior Form in your mind — you'll see two monumental echoes of these two statues farther on. The other statue on hand is David Smith's Cubi VII, the seventh such statue in a series displayed around the world. At first glance David Smith's work looks like a boxy, metal tree, but there's more to it than that. Smith's metal sculptures are oddly textured, causing the steel faces to catch light in a different way for every new day.


2. Millennium Park


Across Monroe Street, Millennium Park's Crown Fountain (Jaume Plensa) comes into view, and makes an impression! These two mini-skyscrapers project faces of Chicagoans, who occasionally spew water through their "mouths" into the large black granite fountain between them. If you've brought kids along, now is a good time to collect their shoes and let them splash around a bit.

Continuing northwards, you'll see the hard-to-miss Cloud Gate (Anish Kapoor). Better known as The Bean, it's a kidney-shaped structure of smooth stainless steel weighing 110 tons. It's the favorite sculpture of Millennium Park's throngs of visitors, as it reflects the surrounding skyscrapers (and tourists) like a funhouse mirror. That and it is rather graceful, isn't it?


After taking either artistic or goofy photos with the Bean, head east through the park, around the edge of the huge Pritzker Pavilion (Frank Gehry). Its giant steel trellis performs an important function besides aesthetic appeal; it supports much of the stage's sound and lighting systems. At the eastern edge of the pavilion (and of Millennium Park), take the long, winding BP Bridge over Columbus Drive and be sure to stop along the way to enjoy the views of the skyline and Lake Michigan.


3. Aon Center Plaza


After crossing the bridge, you are in Grant Park. Turn left, head up to Randolph Street and cross it to Aon Center. There is not a single setback on Aon Center, and you can walk right up to the base and look straight up 83 stories to the 1136 foot pinnacle. The plaza is pleasant enough and there are two Sounding Sculptures (Henry Bertoia) at the southeast and southwest corners. These "musical sculptures" are inspired by the image of Midwestern wheat fields swaying in the breeze. These wheat stalks are hollow and made of thin copper, so when the wind blows (and it always blows in the Windy City), the rods produce a strange metallic music. Follow the plaza around to the west of the tower past some smaller statues and Richard Hunt's Winged Form (his more spectacular Freeform is yet to come), then head down the steps onto Lake Street.


4. Thompson Center


Continue a couple blocks to State Street and turn left. The giant Chicago sign on the left is one of Chicago's most famous landmarks, at the Chicago Theater. Walk past the theater and then turn right onto Randolph Street. Two blocks more and you will be before one of Chicago's most distinctive buildings, the Thompson Center (named for an Illinois governor). In the plaza on Randolph stands one of Chicago's most famous statues, Jean Dubuffet's Monument with Standing Beast. It's a strange sculpture of white, organic shapes, with thick black outlines, and usually a host of kids running in and out of it.


Make a point of wandering past the curved glass walls of the Thompson Center into its enormous atrium. The building is often compared to a spaceship, but few spaceships can claim the collection of public art that the Thompson Center has. Once you've finished inside, head back out to Randolph, turn right and head to the corner at LaSalle Street. Look across LaSalle and look up. Up on the State of Illinois Building is Richard Hunt's three ton, 2.5 story-tall, flame-like Freeform sculpture. If your neck starts to ache from looking up so much, look back down LaSalle and head south a block before turning left on to Washington Street.


5. Daley Center


Two blocks down Washington and you are at the Daley Center and Chicago's most famous work of art, the Chicago Picasso. Resembling an elephant, a sphinx, or whatever your mind comes up with, the Chicago Picasso was the first monumental public art downtown (donated by the artist) and sparked the spate of public art acquisitions that you are now enjoying. It was "controversial," however, when it first arrived for its "abstract" "non-traditional" design. But the reactionary grumps have bit their tongues (after having removed their feets from their mouths) and the statue is celebrated today by a city that loves art. Kids, in particular, enjoy sliding down the statue's base.

Turn around and look across Washington Street for Joan Miró's Chicago, a strange surrealist, anthropomorphic figure. The fork on its head is said to represent a star.


Go down Dearborn Street one block and take a left onto Madison Avenue to make a quick venture into Three First National Plaza (70 W Madison St). The atrium is attractive and full of plants, complemented by one very large Sir Henry Moore statue, Large Upright Internal/External Form. Henry Moore's titles are purposefully devoid of descriptive content. He argued:

All art should have a certain mystery and should make demands on the spectator. Giving a sculpture or a drawing too explicit a title takes away part of that mystery so that the spectator moves on to the next object, making no effort to ponder the meaning of what he has just seen.

If the two Henry Moore statues you've seen today made an impression, you may want to plan a visit to his Nuclear Energy statue in Hyde Park.


6. Chase Plaza


Head back to Dearborn and continue south. Dominating the next block is the curved Chase Tower and the large plaza at its feet. Courtesy of the Russian-Jewish painter Marc Chagall, this plaza has become a must-see attraction for art lovers in Chicago. The Four Seasons is a 70 foot long mosaic/mural featuring light-hearted surrealist depictions of Chicago. After you have finished here continue south on Dearborn Street.


7. Federal Plaza

Two blocks down Dearborn from Chase Plaza is Federal Plaza, a full city block planned by renowned modernist architect Mies Van der Rohe. In the center of the plaza is the second Alexander Calder statue of the day, The Flamingo. Whimsical and constructivist (meaning: constructed of big industrial materials bolted together) are not words that usually belong side by side, but both Calder statues of the day nonetheless fit this description. The giant "Calder-red" flamingo poses a graceful, curving counterpoint to the hard edges and straight lines of the surrounding skyscrapers that reflect the statue in their windows.

The next sculpture is eight stories tall, but easy to miss! Head south across Adams Street and then head around to the backside of the building on the left. Behind this building and on the side of another is Sol Lewitt's monumental, yet very understated Lines in Four Directions. The sculpture consists of four giant panels covered in long strips of aluminum painted white, facing in four directions (hence the title). Similar to David Smith's Cubi VII back at the Art Institute, the emphasis here is on how one work of art can change depending on its environment and the position of the viewer. Depending on where you are standing, and the day's lighting, different patterns will emerge as the light hits the differently aligned aluminum strips.

If you are feeling tired, now is a good time to call an early day — you've already seen the most famous of Chicago's downtown sculptures. Otherwise, head south on to Jackson Boulevard and make a right.


8. CBoT


The Metcalfe Federal Building's lobby on the left at the intersection of Jackson and Clark contains another larger than life statue. Frank Stella has created a whole series of Moby Dick related abstract sculptures; this one is named after a specific chapter, The Town-Ho's Story. It's a terrific mess of 13,000 lbs. of steel and aluminum. The link to Melville's novel is not very clear, but the sculpture is impressive and purposefully abrasive.

The next block of Jackson Boulevard is the gigantic Art Deco Chicago Board of Trade Building (CBoT). The main lobby itself is a work of art, and a good quick stop along the way. From here turn up LaSalle Street. Turn left at Adams Street and cross the intersection to stop in the building at 190 South LaSalle Street to admire its beautiful lobby. The high vaulted ceiling is covered with $1 million of gold leaf, but lest you strain your neck, focus your attention on the large bronze statue at the end of the room, Chicago Fugue (Sir Anthony Caro). The statue is a cubist jumble of musical instrument-like shapes: a keyboard, organ pedals, cymbals, and any others you may "find" in it. The lobby's leather couches are another good reason to come in here, by the way.


9. Willis Tower

The final stretch of the tour takes you another three blocks west on Adams Street. When you reach Wacker Drive, turn left around the Sears Tower and head into the main lobby. The Sears Tower likely needs no introduction, but the massive art installation inside is less well known. In the Heart of this Infinite Particle of Dust is the last of the day's sculptures, by Jacob Hashimoto. The cloud-like work is made up of 7,000 individual disks suspended from the ceiling, with varying lengths of string. Your tour ends here in the Sears Tower, and you might want to take this opportunity to ride the 20 miles per hour elevator to the Sears Tower Skydeck for some grand views of the journey you've just taken.

If you are thinking of dinner at this point, you are just a block away from the Quincy L station — you have your choice of neighborhoods to visit for dinner. Some especially good "ethnic" dining options not too far from the Loop are in Greektown a short walk across the river, Chinatown to the south (Red Line), and authentic Mexican cuisine in Pilsen (Pink Line).




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