My body being used to European time (most of the time), I often wake up in America quite early (usually around 3 or 4am). I don’t know what it is, but I love the feeling of being awake when the rest of the world still seems to be asleep (is it only me?)
So when the sun starts to rise and shortly before people begin floating the streets like little ants; that’s when I tie into my sightseeing tour 🙂 Not only is the city wrapped in a majestic light and atmosphere, but also are the common tourist spots a lot less crowded!
As I’ve mentioned in many previous blog posts, I love using google maps to get around in any city. Before I leave the hotel, hostel, overnight-stay… I make sure I’ve marked the spots I would like to see and downloaded an offline map. With a power bank in my backpack, I am ready to hit the streets 🙂
Here are a few tips and ideas of what to do in Chicago:
1// Cloud Gate (= the Bean)
The huge mirror ball in the middle of all the giant skyscraper is probably what comes to one’s mind when hearing Chicago. It not only made it to the top of the list because of it’s fame and popularity, but also because I recommend going there first thing in the morning before all those people-ants come out 🙂 I arrived at Millenium Park around 7.30 am and couldn’t believe that I almost had the whole thing to myself!!
2// Buckingham Fountain
Unfortunately it started to rain like crazy when I arrived at the Buckingham Fountain – one of the world’s largest fountains. During the spring, summer and autumn months there is a water display every hour.
I imagine it to be really spectacular and beautiful during warmer days when the shows take place. But for now a photo of grey sky and a fountain with no water is all that I have. (I’m sure I get there again and can serve with a better photo ;))
3// Chicago Riverwalk
As the name reveals, the Riverwalk is a paved boulevard a little over 1 mile leading alongside the river. Little picknick spots, cafes, restaurants, bars, or gardens line the other side of the riverwalk.
It is said to be especially pretty during sunset.
4// Navy Pier
To my surprise Navy Pier was listed as Chicago’s most visited and popular tourist attraction (I always thought it would be the Bean… You’ll never stop learning right?!). The about 1 km long pier showcases a children museum as well as a ferris wheel.
If the city’s weather is cold or windy, it is especially cold and windy on the pier. Yet I believe that with a big jacket and maybe some gloves it is worth a visit – from there you’ll have a great view over the cityscape of Chicago.
During summer the beaches might be a great option and way to spend your time.
Oak Street Beach
North Avenue Beach
6// Skydeck views
It’s the tallest building in the city. I’m sure you’ve somewhere seen a picture of it before: It’s special feature is a glass box 1,353 feet above the ground.
The entrace costs $24 per person of the age 12 and up.
7// Flamingo wall
As much as I love exploring a city’s major sights, I find a lot of joy in wandering around the streets off the beaten path, discovering some not so obvious tourist spots and just soak in the city’s spirit.
The pink Flamingo wall is what I found this time. Isn’t it pretty?
Overall conclusion / tips:
Chicago is a great city and I am happy I got to see it, yet if you have the choice I would recommend visiting during the warmer months (Mai – September). In winter the chances of rain, heavy wind and general cold temperatures are really high and might interfer with your toursit activity plans. I can only speak for myself, but I find that sunny days and warm weather makes a city much more attractive.