Remember when Ferris Bueller skipped school and danced to ‘Twist and Shout’ on top of a parade float through downtown Chicago? If the answer is no, you probably have never seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. And if you’ve never seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, you should rent it immediately and watch it. Ferris Bueller’s parade scene is not only one of the most iconic movie scenes of all time, but it also sparked my desire to visit Chicago at a very young age. So when my little brother moved to Chicago after graduating college, I was thrilled to have an excuse to finally visit. I only spent three days in the city, but we managed to accomplish a lot in just a short period of time. Chicago is a beautiful city (much cleaner than New York) and has a bunch of cool things to see.
As Ferris Bueller so famously said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Here are some things you should definitely not miss if you visit the Windy City.
John Hancock Tower. Ladies, if you want to poo with a view, pay a visit to the women’s bathroom at the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor of the John Hancock Center. Prior to visiting Chicago, everyone told me that I had to visit the Skydeck at the Willis Tower to get the best view of the city. Unfortunately, when we got to the Willis Tower, the forecast was foggy and security was deterring people from going up due to poor visibility. At first I was bummed because the Willis Tower was the #1 on my to-do list. Luckily, my brother suggested we visit the Signature Lounge in the John Hancock Tower instead. Talk about a view! The lounge had the most beautiful panoramic view of any city I have ever seen. And the women’s bathroom features an entire glass wall with an even better view than in the bar (sorry, boys). I spent about 15 minutes in the bathroom taking selfies along with every other girl in there trying to do the same – 100% worth it.
Magnificent Mile. Fifth Avenue, Rodeo Drive, Michigan Ave. What do all of these famous streets have in common? Shopping!! If you love to shop, or even if you don’t love to shop but want something fun to do, take a stroll down Michigan Ave (aka The Magnificent Mile). The Magnificent Mile is filled with upscale boutiques, top rated hotels, and incredible restaurants. Plus, the architecture and views of the Chicago River along Michigan Ave are hard to pass up. If you haven’t completely maxed out your credit card, head south to “Museum Row” for a cultural fix. Depending on what you’re in the mood for, you’ll find archaeology and history at the Field Museum, penguins at Shedd Aquarium, and some of the best views of Chicago’s skyline at the Adler Planetarium.
Millennium Park. I had no idea this photogenic green-way had so much to offer. First, off, no visit to Chicago is complete without visiting Cloud Gate, which can be found in Millennium Park. Cloud Gate, also know as, “the bean,” is a stainless-steel sculpture in the shape of a kidney bean, and provides endless opportunities for reflections of the city (and is also ideal for taking selfies). Nearby, the Crown Fountain features two 50-foot glass towers at each end of a reflection pool. The towers project video images of Chicago citizens squirting water out of their mouths. We saw many children running and splashing in the water that comes out of the fountain. It was a very unique art piece and definitely worth checking out. Millennium Park is also home to the Pritzker Pavilion, which is a futuristic looking outdoor music venue. From an architectural standpoint, this state-of-the-art pavilion is absolutely stunning.
Chicago Riverwalk. I could have spent all afternoon wandering around the riverwalk, not only because it was incredibly scenic, but because there is so much to do. First off, the river water is a beautiful turquoise color. I had never seen such a vibrant colored river in the heart of a city before. Secondly, the Riverwalk has great places to eat and drink, and plenty of unique activities. You can hop on a Chicago Water Taxi to see the sights from the water, or book an outing with Wendella Sightseeing to experience Chicago’s Architectural Tour. We saw a lot of people being active – whether they were kayaking in the river or riding Divvy bikes along the walkway. I know its kinda tacky but there’s also an Island Party Hut Tiki bar which is a tropical oasis filled with live music, delicious barbecue, and fruity cocktails. But for me, wandering around with my camera in hand and taking in the beauty of the city was more than enough for me.
Navy Pier. Locals might see it as a tourist trap, but I really enjoyed visiting Navy Pier. It’s located right on the water and houses some of Chicago’s most iconic restaurants, an outdoor beer garden and the Centennial Observation Wheel; a large Ferris wheel that offers incredible views of the Chicago skyline. If you’re afraid of heights, you can also catch a performance at the Shakespeare Theater, also conveniently located in Navy Pier. We didn’t ride the Ferris wheel but we walked around the pier, grabbed a few beers at a local concession stand and enjoyed the beautiful views of the water. Especially if it’s a nice day, I’d recommend stopping by.