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Founded in the early 1800s, Chicago grew up with the country, serving as the main connection between the established east coast cities and the wide open Wild West frontier. This position on the sharp edge between civilization and wilderness made the city into a crucible of innovation. Many aspects of modern life, from skyscrapers to suburbia, had their start, and perhaps their finest expression, here on the shores of Lake Michigan.
For visitors, Chicago offers the Art Institute of Chicago and a wide range of excellent museums (many of which have one day of free admission per week), restaurants, sports and highbrow cultural activities. However, its strongest suit is live music, with a phenomenal array of jazz and blues clubs.
Navy Pier Navy Pier
This family entertainment complex on Lake Michigan offers daylong fun with more than 50 acres of parks and gardens, first-rate shopping, restaurants and exciting attractions. Ride the 15-story Ferris wheel, watch world-class performers at the Skyline Stage, and tour three floors of interactive fun at the Chicago Children's Museum. For some culture amongst the commercialism, check out the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. During the summer, free entertainment is available on Dock Street. During the winter, rent skates and take a spin on the open-air rink.
University of Chicago University of Chicago
The University of Chicago has done it all, from the birth of the atomic bomb to the first living-donor living transplant to the birth of sociological study. The school was founded by the lakefront in 1891 and houses a richly detailed, gothic style campus. Take in one of many concert programs or events on campus, or take a stroll through scenic Hyde Park, the beautiful old neighborhood that engulfs the university.
Sears Tower Skydeck Sears Tower Skydeck
While no longer the world's tallest building, the 25-year-old Sears Tower still stands proud. High-speed elevators climb 110 stories to the observatory deck, and when clear, the view from 1,454 feet can be stunning. Enjoy bird's eye views of Lake Michigan, both the North and South Sides of the city, the surrounding suburbs and, on a clear day, parts of Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan. The Skydeck Tour also includes a multimedia presentation and an exhibit with information on the Sears Tower and other architecturally significant buildings.
John G. Shedd Aquarium and Oceanarium John G. Shedd Aquarium and Oceanarium
Nestled on the coast of Lake Michigan, this indoor aquatic world is home to more than 650 species of fish, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, birds and mammals from across the globe. Explore Caribbean waters at the 90,000-gallon coral reef exhibit, or watch whales and dolphins play during marine mammal shows. Eat at Soundings restaurant, where you will find a panoramic view of Lake Michigan, or in the Bubble Net food court. Aquatic souvenirs are available in the gift shop.

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