Welcome to a fabulous, fun, sophisticated town. Chicagoans love their city, and for good reasons. We are all (well, almost all) familiar with the cultural panache of New York City, but mixed with Midwestern friendliness and an ease of getting around, Chicago has diverse and still ethnic neighborhoods, a history of trendsetting architecture and a cheerful mood.
Fortunately, October is a great time to visit. The fall weather is reliable and lovely. Notice the large raised gardens that divide Michigan Avenue and create a downtown park in the midst of traffic. The Chicago River runs through the middle of town, giving a waterfront to businesses, homes and pedestrians who are several blocks from the lakeshore. And Millennium Park anchors the center of the city with its open spaces and aggressive architectural structures.
There is so much to see in Chicago as it is, not to mention trying to get it all in while still getting the most of out the meeting. So here is the Cliffs Notes version of my Chicago.
The Bean is our affectionate name for the Cloud Gate, a sculptural icon of metal fashioned to resemble a giant drop of mercury. Walk under the Bean to get a unique optical experience. Take a picture of the skyline in the background and your own reflection in the Bean.
The Crown Fountain (or “Spitting Fountain” as my kids call it) is an interactive digital fountain that periodically spits out water. Kids love to splash around in the zero-depth pool in between the two columns.
The Pritzer Pavillion is a concert venue designed by Frank Gehry and sets the tone for this very modern space.
Travel by Water
Wendella Boat Tours offer a Chicago River architectural tour. Pick up the boat at the base of the Wrigley Building on the north side of the bridge. While there, stop in the Chicago Gallery, located on the first floor of the Wrigley Building, to see a good collection of Audubon prints.
Chicago is linked together by water taxis. The water taxis run along the river and between Navy Pier and the Museum campus.
The Field Museum is one of the world’s great museums of natural history. The Evolving Planet is a permanent exhibition that moves the visitor through the different time periods of evolution. Watch the floor, which is a road map through the time periods and major natural events.
The Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium are a reasonable walk from the Field Museum, parking garage and water taxi.
The Art Institute of Chicago is at the south end of Millennium Park. This is a great museum and worth a visit, even if you don’t look at a single painting. The new Modern Wing is a work of art itself. The north wall is a panel of windows and lets in natural light for the artwork. Gazing out through these windows, you get a spectacular view across Millennium Park, with the Gehry bandshell framing the Chicago skyline.
is a restaurant and bar in the Hubbard street corridor, which is the newest hip neighborhood. 112 W. Hubbard Street, 312.222.4940.
has an outdoor terrace that overhangs the Chicago River, an upstairs restaurant and a downstairs bar. 600 W. Chicago Avenue, 312.822.9600.
Vertigo Sky Lounge
is an indoor/outdoor club on the rooftop of the Dana Hotel; we like to call it the “hallmark of hip.” 2 West Erie, 312.202.6060.
is a hotel with a super chic restaurant and a top floor bar. 201 N. State Street, 312.467.0200.
The Terrace Bar
at the Trump Tower Building is a beautiful indoor/outdoor space with a gorgeous view of the city. The setting is relaxed and sophisticated. 401 N. Wabash Avenue, 16th floor, 312.588.8600.
is a restaurant right across from Millennium Park. This is the place to go for exotic beer and food, including elk carpaccio and Irish curry fries. 24 S. Michigan Avenue, 312.372.4243.
Off the Beaten Path
Chicago loves its runners. A favorite run is along the lakeshore, where a wide path extends for miles both north and south of downtown. Alternatively, rent a bike at the north end of Millennium Park or at Navy Pier and bike along the lakeshore. An overpass allows for crossing Lake Shore Drive and a visit to the free Lincoln Park Zoo. Or stop at Oak Street Beach for a swim or for lunch at the beachside restaurant.
The Morton Arboretum is a 1,700-acre museum of trees and shrubs. Located in Lisle, it is a 30-minute drive from the city. The Arboretum has miles of hiking trails and a children’s garden that adults themselves can get caught up in for several hours.
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About the authors: Michelle Andreoli, MD, is a comprehensive ophthalmologist in practice at the Wheaton Eye Clinic. She loves a great pear martini and an amazing pair of shoes.
Ruth Williams, MD, is a glaucoma consultant and partner at the Wheaton Eye Clinic and is the Academy’s secretary for member services; in that role, she represents the interests of the YO Committee to the Academy Board of Trustees. Dr. Williams is the nominee for 2011 president-elect of the Academy.