Chicago ("The Windy City") is a US American city in the north-east of the state of Illinois. It lies at the south-western bank of Lake Michigan and has about 2.8 million inhabitants. That makes it the third biggest city in the USA after New York City and Los Angeles. Chicago is connected to the Atlantic Ocean and New York City by the Great Lakes and the Erie Canal. The Illinois Waterway is the connection to the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi. The city has an area of 588.3 km² and is divided into 77 community areas. It is crossed by the Chicago River, which is crossed by about twenty bridges including the State Street Bridge and the Canal Street Railroad Bridge. There is a humid continental climate with hot summers and cold winters. The weather is generally considered to be very changeable. Chicago is mainly known for its high winds, which are most noticeable in spring and autumn.
The variety of sights in Chicago is incredibly great. In the middle of the city, you find Grant Park, one of the greatest city parks in the USA. It accommodates Buckingham Fountain and the Millennium Park. The latter is one of the city's most important tourist attractions. It is a centre for music, art, architecture and landscape design with numerous free concerts, performances and exhibitions as well as ice rinks in winter. It fascinates with attractions like Jay Pritzker Pavillion, Crown Fountain, Lurie Garden and the Cloud Gate sculpture. The Chicago Riverwalk is equally popular with the locals and tourists. It reflects the city's history because modern and early American architecture stand next to each other here. Chicago is world-famous for its wide range of museums. Significant examples are the Art Institute of Chicago, Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Peggy Notebaert Museum and the Chicago Cultural Center. Other sights are the Adler Planetarium, one of the world's oldest planetariums, and the Clark House Museum, which was built in 1836 and is the city's oldest building. Chicago has a significant theatre culture with about 250 professional ensembles and 115 theatres. The city is considered the birthplace of modern improvisational theatre, which was inspired by Bertolt Brecht's theatre theories. The highlight of the theatre scene is the yearly Chicago Theatre Week in February, during which more than 100 productions are staged.
Chicago is world-famous for its architecture. It is considered the birthplace of skyscrapers because the first skyscraper with a steel skeleton was built here in 1889. Downtown Chicago, which is called "The Loop", is an accumulation of modern architecture, which was built upward due to lack of space. The Loop is the second largest commercial district in the USA after Midtown Manhattan. Impressive buildings are the Willis Tower (formerly known as "Sears Tower", the city's highest building), the John Hancock Center, the Trump Tower and the Tribune Tower. Chicago is an excellent destination for connoisseurs. The city is a melting pot of cultures with many international restaurants. Specialities like deep-dish pizza, stuffed pizza and the Chicago-style hot dog are a must for every visitor. Chicago is the third city after New York City and San Francisco which has a city edition of the Guide Michelin. The main shopping street is Michigan Avenue, which has a wide range of shopping centres, flagship stores and tourist shops. The parallel running State Street is even more attractive to tourists because it accommodates many shops with reasonable prices. You get inexpensive souvenirs in chemists such as Wallgreens and CVS. Family highlights are the world-famous Lincoln Park Zoo and Chicago Children's Museum. Chicago has a very lively music scene. There are countless blues bars with live music. Travellers find great pubs close to the universities.
Many active holidaymakers head for the Lakefront Trail, which runs along the coast of Lake Michigan for almost 30 kilometres. It is lined by a number of beaches, volleyball and baseball fields, playgrounds as well as tennis and football ("soccer" in American English) fields. The trail is particularly suited to cyclists, joggers and strollers. The three skate parks are very popular as well. If you are in need of a rush of adrenaline, you should go jet-skiing or flyboarding. In Daley Park, travellers find several gardens, summer and winter ice rinks and chess tables. Navy Pier accommodates the Shakespeare Museum and the famous Navy Pier Amusement Park, which offers many attractions such as the Ferris Wheel. In addition, Chicago is the ideal travel destination for golfers because they can pursue their hobby on numerous golf courses here.
Chicago is easy to reach from within and outside of North America. The city has two airports: O'Hare International Airport and Chicago Midway International Airport. In addition, it is an important traffic and rail hub between the East and West Coast. Travellers who did not bring their own car can reach the city in an Amtrak train or use the Greyhound and Megabus long-distance coaches. Holidaymakers easily get from sight to sight in the city centre using public transport. It is not advisable to go by car here because the parking areas in the city centre are very expensive.