Illinois’ most populous city, Chicago, features a number of tourist attractions, including Wrigley Field, Millennium Park and Michigan Avenue, which is home to the Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. If you are looking to stray off the beaten path with some crazy fun activities, the Windy City has a lot to offer.
Chicago is home to a number of skyscrapers, perhaps most famously the 108-story Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), the 96-story Trump International Hotel and Tower and the 83-story Aon Center. Instead of simply riding an elevator up to the tops of one of these giants, try putting your body to the test by walking or jogging: taking the stairs the whole way. According to the International Student Identity Card, you may even be able to participate in an organized skyscraper race, such as Go Vertical Chicago, wherein participants race up the Willis Tower to raise money for cancer. If you do make it to the top of the Willis Tower, try putting your nerves (or fears) to the test by going out on the Skydeck, a transparent glass enclosure, including the floor, which is 1,353 feet above the city streets.
Not Your Typical Dance Club
If you're tired of the same old dance clubs with the same setups, lights and blaring music, Chicago offers some interesting alternatives. For youngsters, the CAN TV studio on South Green Street may be a fun destination. During the week, the studio films "Chic-A-Go-Go," a dance party/romp that is open to the public. An animatronic rat, Ratso, hosts the event, and there are often guest bands, rappers or DJs. If that's a little two edgy for you, try checking out Arkadash Cafe. This late-night Turkish restaurant features trained belly dancers, and also has a dance floor so you can shake your stuff.
Imagine eating a Civil War-themed breakfast and listening to banjo music, all while enjoying a plethora of Abraham Lincoln paraphernalia, such as murals and glowing signs. If this sounds interesting to you, look no further than Chicago’s Lincoln Restaurant, a place so wacky that comedians Conan O’Brien and Andy Richter have even filmed a segment there. For late-night coffee, stop by a Pick Me Up coffee shop, which is open till 2 a.m. and offers free refills all night.
Exploring the Strange Side of Chicago
Chicago’s past is haunted with the ghosts of notorious gangsters, gruesome murderers and other bizarre characters. If you are looking to explore the strange side of Chicago, go on a Weird Chicago Tour (see Resources). Some of the tour options include visiting the hangouts of Al Capone, and retracing the actions of serial killer H.H. Holmes.
Drop In On Oprah
If you find yourself in the West Loop region of Chicago, try stopping by Harpo Studios, where Oprah Winfrey records her popular talk show. Although you could reserve tickets in advance and sit in the studio audience, it would be more spontaneous to simply visit the studio and see if you could meet with or interview Oprah. You can tell security that you have a health, fitness or lifestyle question that only she can answer.
- chicago sky image by SKYDIVECOP from Fotolia.com