The bubbling cheese on Chicago’s famous deep-dish pizza and the bright green relish on the signature hot dogs may inspire you to go back for seconds, but the city offers much more than tasty bites worth a plane ride. Chicago’s cultural and arts attractions, including world-class museums and a thriving theater and music scene, can add major points to your status. If you’re looking for an arts nirvana, Chicago is the town to be in.
It’s called the Windy City for a reason, so don’t forget to pack a jacket and scarf. It’s also possible to find great museum discounts and deals on tickets to theater and music venues online.
Masterpieces and Museums
If artistic masterpieces are on your bucket list, start your tour of the cultural hotspots at the Art Institute of Chicago, the home of the world-famous painting by Georges Seurat informally known as “Sunday Afternoon in the Park.” Prepare to be dazzled by the rest of the institute’s collection, considered one of the finest in the world. It’s the place to view priceless works like “American Gothic” by Grant Wood and “The Old Guitarist” by Pablo Picasso.
When you’re done inside, head outdoors to nearby Millennium Park, home of the iconic “Cloud Gate” mirrored sculpture. Locals call it “The Bean” because it looks like a giant kidney bean.
Insider Tip: It’s a great backdrop for selfies because of the mirrored reflection.
For a different approach to culture, the DuSable Museum of African-American History gets high marks from visitors. Additionally, the free National Museum of Mexican Art is one of only two Latino art museums in the country.
The Thrill of Discovery
If you’re still working on solving the mysteries of the world, maybe the exhibits at the Museum of Science and Industry can help you out with some answers. Located a short drive south of Chicago’s downtown Loop, the museum is a one-of-a-kind center for science and culture. Highlights include tours of a coal mine and a U-505 submarine; a 40-foot “tornado” vortex created by wind and vapor machines; a gallery of historic planes, trains and automobiles; an awe-inspiring display of preserved human embryos and fetuses; and a live chick hatchery.
The Muse and the Blues
Chicago has its own mini-Broadway strip for popular shows, but you should take a walk on the wilder side with original works produced by hard-charging local theater organizations such as Goodman, Steppenwolf, and Victory Gardens. If laughter is your favorite medicine, top off your night with a late show at the famous comedy club The Second City . The club has churned out top comedy talent – like Tina Fey, Steve Carrell and Jordan Peele – for decades.
You’ve probably heard of Chicago Blues, one of the most influential musical styles in history. You can hear the real deal in the city where it all began at clubs like Buddy Guy’s Legends, which has hosted many of the greats, and Rosa’s Lounge, located in the hipster Logan Square neighborhood. For some of the best blues, plan to attend the free Chicago Blues Festival every June with thousands of other fans.
Chicago is also home to a number of historic jazz clubs, such as The Green Mill and Andy’s Jazz Club, where you can enjoy jumpin’ and jivin’ fast jazz tempos along with slow, smooth ballads in live performances. You may need your GPS to find the clubs, but don’t worry about being late — the shows run long into the night.
If you liked these tips, be sure to check out our Facebook page for other great travel guides.