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Quick Guide to Chicago

 Compiled by Namrata Mahajan

Chicago is a great place to visit and has consistently been ranked one of the best cities to live in. It is the largest city in the Midwest and the third largest city in the United States. This years SPSSI conference will be held at Roosevelt University located in Chicago’s “Loop” in downtown. There are a lot of places to see and things to do nearby. Below are just some of the things you may want to do while in town. Check out a great interactive map at when planning your trip. Have fun!

There are a lot of great public transportation options available in Chicago, including subways, elevated trains (also known as “the El”), and busses. Lines serve both O'Hare and Midway airports and are far cheaper than cab fare.
Sites to See
  1. Art Institute of Chicago - The institute has a collection of over 5,000 years of art. The museum features exhibitions year-round, as well as lectures, workshops, performances and more on a daily basis. Time your visit to during admission-free hours (after 5 p.m. on Thursdays- the museum is open until 8 p.m. that night) to see the Monets, Seurats, and Hoppers gratis. Located at 111 S. Michigan Ave. (
  2. Chicago River - The Chicago River is 156 miles long and flows through downtown Chicago. You can tour the River by boat, taking in the view and learning about Chicago’s architecture. Every year, the River is dyed green on St. Patrick’s Day.
  3. Garfield Park Conservatory  - Noted landscape designer Jens Jensen created one of the nation's largest conservatories in the Garfield Park Conservatory, some four acres under glass on the near west side. The Conservatory has been home to rare tropical plants for almost 100 years. Located at 300 N. Central Park Ave. (
  4. Grant Park- Grant Park on the lakefront was once a dirty rail yard, but planners and philanthropists turned it into one of America's finest urban playgrounds. Concerts and festivals abound here, but it's worth a walk around even if nothing is scheduled. Don't miss Buckingham Fountain. Located at 337 E. Randolph St.
  5. Hancock Observatory - Come kiss the sky. If you really want to see Chicago in all its glory, take a trip sky high to The Hancock Observatory. The fun starts with the adrenalin rush of ride 1,000-feet high in America’s fastest elevator. Then comes the crowning jewel: the spectacular 360° views from the 94th floor. There’s certainly a lot to see, including parts of Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois 80 miles away! But don’t worry about binoculars – they’ve got high-powered telescopes right here. Located at Hancock Center, 875 N. Michigan Avenue.
  6. Lincoln Park Zoo  - Lions, tigers, and bears, not to mention klipspringers and pygmy hippos, boast one of the city's best residential addresses, in the heart of lakeside Lincoln Park. They may be a high-maintenance wild bunch, but admission is free. Ditto for the zoo's adjacent Farm-in-the-Zoo attraction. A working replica of a Midwestern farm, it has domesticated animals, John Deere tractors (kids can climb on it), and a classic red-and-white barn. Located at 2200 N. Cannon Drive. (
  7. Magnificent Mile- If you are interested in shopping, the Magnificent Mile offers over one hundred outlets and boutiques along with cafes and high-end stores.
  8. Millennium Park- First planned in 1997 as a way to create new parkland in Grant Park and transform unsightly railroad tracks and parking lots, Millennium Park has evolved into the most significant millennium project in the world. A newer addition to Chicago, it has a bandshell and the “Bean,” a huge sculpture that is a major tourist attraction. Located at 103 N. Michigan Ave.
  9. Navy Pier- It has a carnival-type atmosphere and is a showcase for unique shops, restaurants, exhibitions, theaters, and sports. Some of the pier's attractions include Crystal Gardens, a one-acre indoor palm court enclosed in a glass atrium, the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre which features a 500-seat stage and an English Pub, an Imax Theater, the Chicago Children's Museum, and a Ferris Wheel that is 150-foot-high with 40 gondolas and thousands of sparkling lights, and much more.
  10. Sears Tower - No trip to Chicago is complete without a visit to the Sears Tower Skydeck. See breathtaking views of Chicago from North America’s tallest building. Explore the city’s rich history with the Skydeck’s new displays that bring the skyline to life. Located at 233 S. Wacker Drive.
  11. Wrigley Field - One of America's smallest, oldest, and best-loved ballparks, Wrigley is home to the Chicago Cubs. Tickets are not always easy to get for a Chicago Cubs game, but the experience is worth a little added expense. Get there early to watch batting practice - at no extra charge!
Things to do
  1. Watch a play or show at local theaters. Wicked, Aladdin, and the Blue Man Group are all available to watch.
  2. Catch a Cubs baseball game at Wrigley Field.
  3. Meet a local- Want a local to show you around? Arrange for a rendezvous with a Chicago Greeter . The program, sponsored by the Chicago Office of Tourism, links visitors with local residents who will spend two to four hours guiding a walkabout based on your interests. (
  4. Watch Oprah Winfrey’s show- Tickets to live tapings are free via phone at (312) 591-9222. However, tickets aren't easy to score. Be prepared to redial and redial and redial. Located at Harpo Studios, 1058 W. Washington St.
  5. Taste of Chicago - From June 27- July 6, the 28th annual Taste of Chicago will take place. Each day more than 60 local restaurateurs will offer a delicious combination of ethnic items, family favorites, exotic and Chicago specialties feeding more than 3 million people in Grant Park, in downtown Chicago. Entertainment is also provided every day by a variety of musical performances on multiple stages. Admission to the Taste of Chicago is free! Located at 296 S. Columbus Drive.

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