Chicago…what to do?

I’m flying into Chicago today on business and I’ve got all afternoon to check out the sites before meeting-up with Random Esquire for a bite this evening.  So I was really wondering what I could do in Chicago on a free afternoon?  I mean…I’m a tourist and my options are open and I want to do “touristy things”.

So after a bit of research and some suggestions by my Twitter friends, I came up with some ideas on what I can do later today…

Lincoln Park Zoo

1. Lincoln Park Zoo. Now I’ve been told by Random Esquire that the other zoo in Chicago is the better one.  However, this one is still supposed to be pretty decent and it’s free…which goes a long way with me.  Now, at this point Chicago is supposed to have “scattered thundershowers” during the day, meaning it could be dry or it could be a downpour. Knowing I’m not going to melt (and also knowing that my hair isn’t going to get messed up), it doesn’t really bother me one way or the other in terms of the weather.  However, if it rains most of the afternoon and I’m supposed to have supper with a friend…well, I just don’t think the zoo will be in my plans.  If it’s scattered clouds, though, I’m in because I’m a huge fan of zoos and would love to visit this one.

Shedd Aquarium

2. Shedd Aquarium. I’ve read and heard that this place is pretty kick-ass.  Other than, say, Sea World…I don’t recall ever being to a real aquarium before.  From the pictures I’ve seen online, it looks incredible.  From dolphins to octopus, from sharks to penguins…this aquarium looks like it has it all.  The only problem is that it’s $26.95 for general admission and an extra $2 if I want to catch Fantasea, which is their aquatic show with whales, dolphins, & penguins. So as much as I’d love to go here, dishing out $30 seems a bit much.

Buckingham Fountain

3. Buckingham Fountain. This is the fountain that was in the opening credits of Married…With Children, which was one of my favorite guilty pleasures growing up. Apparently the fountain runs from 8am thru til 11pm.  Where it’s supposed to rain today (ugh), I don’t know if I’ll be checking it out.  Of course, it all depends on where I am and what the weather is like.  Maybe I’ll be able to check it out at night before I head back to my hotel?

4. Sears Tower. Well, it’s no longer called “Sears Tower”.  The new name is “Willis Tower”.  As you may or may not know, I’ve got an incredible fear of heights. A couple of years ago I was in Toronto (ironically with the same sales rep I’m in Chicago with) and we both went to the top of the CN Tower for a bite to eat. It scared the crap out of me but I felt it was important to try to attack my fears head-on. The Willis Tower has a skydeck available where you can actually walk out and…well…see for yourself:

 

Chicago Skydeck

Chicago Skydeck

Chicago Skydeck

Yeah…wish me luck on this one.  Yeesh. But at only $15.95, it’s probably going to be worth it.

Adler Planetarium

5. Adler Planetarium. I’ve always wanted to visit a planetarium.  As a kid, I remember being fascinated by the universe.  Of course, when I was a kid, Pluto was still a planet.  For $10, it doesn’t seem like a bad price to pay…I just don’t know if it’s something I’d enjoy as an adult without my kids there with me.

The Field Museum

6. The Field Museum. From what I’ve read, this is a museum of natural history.  After visiting the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History in Washington last year, I’m not 100% sure I’d want to spend $30 to go through a museum that was free (and probably better) in another city. I understand that they need to make money in order to survive, but that just seems a bit steep to me…not to mention I’d like to see a museum or exhibit that I’ve never seen before.

MCA Chicago

7. Museum of Contemporary Art. This museum intrigues me. I’ve never been considered an “artsy” guy, but I’m certainly open to seeing things in a new light and experiencing new things.  I’ve never really seen a “contemporary art” exhibit of any kind before, so this seems like something that could be quiet entertaining.  The icing on the cake with this museum is that it’s free on Tuesdays all year long.  Umm…score?  In addition, there are free 45-minute guided tours that take place.  This seems like a good way to spend an hour or more.

MSI Chicago

8. Museum of Science & History. This is another museum that could bring out the kid in me.  Again, this place would probably be more fun to experience it with my kids.  The price, at least, is a bit more affordable at $15 per adult.  I dunno…it just doesn’t jump out and scream at me as something I’d love to visit.

Art Institute of Chicago

9. The Art Institute of Chicago. I was told that this was an amazing museum to see.  Again, I’m all about trying out new things so this intrigues me.  From what I can tell, the majority of the exhibits (or all of them?) either are about Chicago or are by Chicagoans (Chicagonians? Chicago-ans?).  So if I’m going to get a real sense of the local culture, I should be able to find it here.

Wrigley Field rooftop seating

10. BASEBALL!!! Okay, I’m fully aware that Chicago has both the White Sox and the Cubs to go see…and while note a huge baseball fan, I always do my best to check out a local baseball game whenever I’m in a city that has an MLB team.  Turns out, my sales rep is in corporate meetings on today but they’re also taking place tomorrow while we’re visiting a customer.  He went and asked if the two of us could join them tomorrow night for their “team building event”, which just happens to be the Chicago Cubs taking on the Oakland A’s at Wrigley Field…one of the most iconic baseball stadiums in all of baseball.  What could be better?  Well, to my knowledge Wrigley Field is the only venue in Major League Baseball that has buildings surrounding it that you can watch the game from.  So the deal is that these rooftops are now licensed venues that allow you to enjoy the game in an entirely unique way…and I’ve seen the rooftops on television numerous times, so they’re iconic in a way.  Turns out, my company has reserved one of the rooftops for us to watch the game…all you can eat & all you can drink.  So yeah, it’s gonna be a GREAT night tomorrow!!

So there ya have it.  Those are my choices this afternoon (minus tomorrow’s baseball game, obviously).  I’ll let you know what I end up doing with pics (of course) as soon as I get the time to do it.

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