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USATourist News Magazine by Elizabeth Blair
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USATourist News Magazine

December 2009 - Chicago, Illinois
Wrigley Field

The Wrigley Field marquee is an iconic Chicago image.

In this issue:

It's currently winter here in the United States and this month we're going to cover a Midwest city that, to be honest, is best visited during the spring, summer and fall months - Chicago, Illinois. Why? The winters can be pretty rough in this part of the country, especially in cities sitting on a major lake like Lake Michigan. People seem to vanish from the streets during the cold months, but the second spring appears the streets and outdoor patios are filled with people and it stays that way until winter reemerges.

What makes the Windy City so attractive? A lot! Chicago has it all: great shopping, nightlife, dining, parks, entertainment, concerts, and festivals. As for sports, Chicago boasts four major American professional team sports (baseball, football, basketball, and hockey).

Take me out to the ballpark

As long as we're on the subject of sports; Wrigley Field has been the home ballpark for Chicago's Major League Baseball team the Chicago Cubs since 1916. Built in 1914, it was originally named Weeghamp Park, then between 1920 and 1926 it was called Cubs Park. Finally, it was renamed Wrigley Field after owner and U.S. chewing gum industrialist, William Wrigley Jr.

Baseball season in the United States lasts from early April to early November and when there is a game at Wrigley Field you can count on the crowds. If you would like a glimpse at behind the scenes and more than 90 years of history, the guided tours provide a fascinating look at this legendary ballpark.

Millenium Park

An aerial view of Millennium Park shows Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate sculpture and the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion.

Millennium Park

The 24.5-acre Millennium Park opened in July 2004 and is simply a destination in itself. Concerts (sometimes free) and festivals are frequently held here during the warm months. Anytime of day people can be found enjoying a picnic, jogging or simply taking in the ambience and art such as the Cloud Gate sculpture, interactive Crown Fountain, and Lurie Garden.

Chicago Eats

Like many cities, Chicago has several foods it's known for and Chicago-style Hot Dogs makes this local list. Hot dog stands seem to be "everywhere" in Chicago and really are even more common than traditional fast-food chains. These all-beef frankfurters (also called a "red-hot") are served on a poppy seed bun and are generally topped with mustard, onion, sweet pickle relish, tomato, a dill pickle spear, pickled sport peppers, and sometimes a dash of celery salt. Notice the popular U.S. condiment of ketchup is excluded.

Another famous local food is Chicago-style pizza. This deep-dish pizza usually consists of a thick three-inch buttery crust which acts as a bowl for the cheese and tomato sauce. This is one pizza you may want to grab a fork and knife to eat.

Chicago Dine Around

When you've had enough pizza and hot dogs, it's time to experience Chicago with some class and that's where Chicago Dine Around comes in. This is a fun way to experience Chicago. Guests are chauffeured to a Chicago restaurant for Hors D'oeuvres, then transferred to another restaurant for the main course and finally dessert at a third restaurant. http://www.chicagodinearound.com

Chicago Style Hot Dog

A Chicago-style hot dog is topped with mustard, onion, relish, tomato, a dill pickle, celery salt and sport peppers - never ketchup.

See the city from a bird's eye view

This has been a big year for one of Chicago's skyscrapers. America's tallest building had a name change: Sears Tower was swapped for Willis Tower. The naming rights had been expired for several years but this was the year Willis Group Holdings, Ltd., began leasing a portion of the building and along with the agreement, obtained the building's naming rights. The name change was official July 16, 2009. However, don't be surprised if you still hear it called the Sears Tower when visiting as many tourists and locals still refer to it as such. This 108-story building is open for sightseeing. In fact, the Skydeck is the highest observatory in Chicago. On a clear day you can see 40 - 50 miles (65 - 80 kilometers), which means you can see four states from one floor: Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.

Another popular observation tower is the John Hancock Observatory. The unique open-air skywalk sits at 94 stories above Magnificent Mile. What's between viewers and the sky? A stainless steel screen.

Tip: Plan to visit the towers during sunset for gorgeous views.

How sweet it is...

A unique and tasty Chicago business I came across is Chicago Chocolate Tours with various guided walking chocolate tours. These fun and intriguing walking tours take visitors to various bakeries, chocolate shops and other chocolate inspired locations.

Navy Pier

Navy Pier's Ferris Wheel is a replica of the Ferris Wheel first introduced at the 1893 World's Fair.

Historic Navy Pier

Historic Navy Pier is called Chicago's lakefront playground with 50 acres of rides, restaurants, shopping, boat tours, exhibitions and entertainment including the 15-story tall Ferris wheel, Chicago Children's Museum, and IMAX Theatre. There really is something for everyone here. (There's even open-air ice skating if you do visit in the wintertime.)

Transportation

When visiting Chicago, skip the rental car if you are staying in the city. Parking is extremely expensive and getting around is simple and inexpensive by foot, bus and the "L", a system of elevated trains operate 24 hours a day by the Chicago Transit Authority.

Airports

O'Hare International Airport is located about 18 miles from Chicago's downtown and Chicago Midway Airport is located less than 10 miles south west of downtown. O'Hare is one of the world's busiest airports with plenty of airline and flight options. Midway is much smaller but also served by domestic no-frills airlines, which makes for affordable U.S. and regional travel.

We hope you get to Chicago soon, it's a great city and one you don't want to miss. Visitors can receive information about Chicago's many exciting events and activities by calling toll free 1-877-CHICAGO (1-877-244-2246) or visiting http://www.explorechicago.org. The TTY toll-free number for the hearing impaired is 1-866-710-0294.

Special Deals

Save on Chicago's Hop-On, Hop-Off Tour

Chicago CityPass - Chicago CityPass is the best deal in the Windy City, giving you discounted admission to five of the city's premier attractions: Hancock Observatory, Field Museum including Underground Adventure, Museum of Science and Industry including Omnimax, Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum including Sky Theater Show, Shedd Aquarium: VIP entry including Oceanarium, Wild Reef, Amazon Rising and Special Exhibit.

Indulge at InterContinental Chicago with any of our Insider Experiences Hotel Packages.

Best Western Hotels Chicago

Chicago Getaways Fun Weekends in the Big City: 3-Day Weekend Getaways From $380.

Choice Hotels Chicago. Great hotel value in Chicago. Book direct and save.

Car Rentals in Chicago

Chicago Airport Roundtrip Transfer - Travel in comfort from the airport to your downtown Chicago hotel and back again with a Chicago Airport Roundtrip Transfer.

Chicago Grand Half-Day Tour - This comprehensive half-day tour is the perfect introduction to the Windy City. From the highlights of the North Side and South Shore, to driving virtually the entire length of the scenic Outer Drive, you'll come away with an overview of the best Chicago has to offer.

High quality up-to-date maps of each of the 50 U.S. states from maps.com the online map store.

Always the Lowest Rate Online - More Motel for Your Money at Motel 6.

Southwest Airlines Vacations Current Deals.

Enjoy 20% off worldwide with last-minute Starpick rates at Sheraton!

Winter 2010 Getaway Sale up to 50% Off.

Tis the Season for Savings with Restaurant.com.

Book flight + hotel + 4-day Ski Salt Lake Super Pass for 4 nights or more and receive the 4th ski day and night FREE! Book 10/2 - 12/15.

Written by: Elizabeth L. Blair

All Photos: © City of Chicago / GRC


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