The modern-day city of Chicago little resembles that which is depicted in the gangster movies of the 1920’s and ‘30’s.
Chicago takes great pride in its culture, with several museums including the outstanding
Art Institute of Chicago, rivalling any of its kind in the world. The internationally acclaimed Chicago Symphony Orchestra presents more than 150 concerts each year, whilst more than 200 small theatre companies perform throughout the year. In contrast to the bustling downtown area, the tranquil parks and sandy beaches of Lake Michigan are just a few minutes away, whilst at night, it’s difficult to resist the lure of Rush Street’s jazz and nightclubs or the plethora of traditional American eateries.
Mention food in Chicago to those who have not visited and pizza may well spring to mind, and whilst the locals still take their pizzerias very seriously, the city has become exceptionally creative with its food scene. Indeed, the Mayor of Chicago was even able to attract the ‘James Beard Awards’, the Oscars of the food world. From Vietnamese pho to Mexican carnitas, from a chicken, apple and cranberry hot dog at ‘Hot G Dog’ to a 20-course meal spread over 3 hours at award-winning ‘Aliana’s’, Chicago makes it almost impossible to go hungry!
Sports form a major part of the Chicago lifestyle and on any given day, it’s almost a certainty that there will be a sporting event that is taking place, so if you’re a fan of baseball, American football, basketball, hockey or soccer – ‘Chicago Fire’ play in the Eastern Conference of the Major League – then be sure to catch a game. Of the seven stadiums in the city, the most famous is Wrigley Field, home to the Chicago Cubs baseball team and the second oldest ballpark still operating in the US.
Dip into Chicago’s underworld on a 2-hour guided tour of sites such as the scene of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, where the city’s gang war reached its bloody climax in 1929. You’ll explore crime scenes in the Lincoln Park, Miracle Mile and Old Town neighbourhoods, you’ll see where gangster John Dillinger stood just before his death, and you’ll learn how some of the world’s most notorious mobsters – the most renowned of them all being Al Capone – operated at large for so long.
We wouldn’t necessarily call this a ‘hidden secret’ but would nonetheless strongly recommend a visit. The Shedd Aquarium is a 75-year old institution, home to more than 30,000 underwater creatures and 1,500 different species, whose natural habitat are the world’s oceans, rivers and reefs, but which are now housed in this huge indoor aquarium. You’ll see sharks patrol overhead, stingrays swim below your feet, penguin glide through icy water and dolphins pirouette through the air.
For a diverse perspective of Chicago and its history, take the Chicago Land and River Architecture Tour, a narrated city tour by coach followed by a cruise along the waters of the Chicago River. You’ll view of some of Chicago’s most famous buildings, including the John Hancock Tower, Willis Tower, Adler Planetarium and the Tribune Tower. You’ll sail along the lakefront, with views of Buckingham Fountain and Chicago Harbour, all offering a thorough insight into the architecture that has shaped the Chicago of today.