Chicago, the windy city, has something for everybody. Numerous hotels and guesthouses catering for all tastes and budgets.
The best way to take in Chicago's breathtaking skyline is to seek out one of the highest vantage points in the city. Among the most popular sites for viewing are the Sears Tower Skydeck – located on top of a building that was once the tallest in the world before the Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia controversially took that distinction in 1998 – and The Hancock Observatory, which sits atop a 100-storey tall skyscraper.
For shoppers, a stroll down the Magnificent Mile is a must. Located on a one-mile stretch of North Michigan Avenue, the famed street exhibits as many boutiques, sports shops, souvenir shops, restaurants, and hotels as any visitor could need.
The city is also a haven for music lovers, and has a reputation as a home to some of the US's niche music markets. Jazz, soul, and folk bars are a regular feature on the streets of the inner city and the Chicago Jazz Festival held every year around early September is a must.
As in all major US cities, the country’s national sports are well represented. The Chicago Cubs (baseball ), Bears (American football ), Bulls (basketball ) and Blackhawks (ice hockey ) play regularly and, depending on the stage of the season, tickets are usually available from the box office at each stadium.
One of the most visited attractions, the Chicago Cultural Centre, regularly hosts film, art, and music exhibitions. Among the facilities open to the public are a dance studio, a music café, and a poetry centre.
Tours of the building are also available. The centre’s interior, which contains many marble, mosaic, and brass structures, is of interest to architects. It is worth noting that tour groups are limited to a maximum of 20 people.
If outdoor pursuits are more your thing, Chicago has plenty to offer. There are almost 600 parks to choose from in the city, covering a total of 8,100 acres. Among the best are Garfield and Lincoln Wildlife Reserves, which are filled with protected species of animals and plants.
The city is also home to America’s oldest planetarium, the Adler, which specialises in space science exhibits, with many astronomical tools on display. Completely free to the public, staff at the planetarium often organise shows in the three large onsite theatres.
United offers direct flights from Shannon Airport to Chicago O'Hare throughout the summer. For more details see www.shannonairport.ie