Don’t be surprised to see visitors and locals alike striking all sorts of odd poses in front of The Bean, an iconic art installation in the middle of Chicago.
There’s something about the mirror-like surface of the massive stainless steel structure that encourages people to literally bend over backwards.
Stand and watch and you’ll see the young and agile snapping mobile phone pictures while contorting their bodies to see their reflections emblazoned on the legume-shaped attraction.
Officially named Cloud Gate, the sculpture was created by Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor and is the centrepiece of AT&T Plaza at Millennium Park.
Another art installation that leaves a lasting impression is the Agora, the name of a group of 106 headless and armless iron sculptures at the south end of Grant Park.
Designed by Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz, the statues were made in a foundry near Poznan in Poland between 2004 and 2006.
The Chicago Park District brought the work to the city as a permanent loan from the Polish Ministry of Culture.
The striking sculptures, which are 2.7 metres tall, are made from a hollow, seamless piece of rusted iron and have a bark-like texture.
Walk through the figures and there are some that are placed in groups and face each other while others look away and are by themselves. The Agora leaves plenty of scope for the imagination.
Later in the day we visit the Museum of Contemporary Art, which was established in 1967 and is one of the world’s largest contemporary art venues.
The Art Institute of Chicago is another must-see with the greatest Impressionist collection outside Paris.
The city is also known for its striking architecture and the best way to enjoy it is aboard
Chicago’s First Lady river cruise. It is a great way of discovering the various styles of historic and modern designs passing under 13 bridges and learning about more than 50 buildings.
The city became the home of the first US skyscrapers after the destruction caused by the Great Chicago Fire that led to the largest building boom in the history of the nation.
In 1885, the first steel-framed high-rise building, the Home Insurance Building, rose in the city as Chicago ushered in the skyscraper era.
Today, Chicago’s skyline is among the world’s tallest and most dense.
Take a seat on the First Lady’s top deck and enjoy the informative and entertaining
commentary provided always by a volunteer from the Chicago Architecture Foundation.
Cruising along the Chicago River is a great way to see everything from tiny buildings to
skyscrapers in all their glory and hear the stories behind them.
You learn how the city grew from a small back-country outpost into one of the world’s most important crossroads in less than 100 years.
The cruise includes details of the 333 W Wacker building with a green glass curved facade, the iconic Wrigley Building on celebrated Magnificent Mile, the Tribune Tower, Willis Tower and Trump Towers.
But for the best bird’s-eye views head to 360 Chicago high above the city’s famed
Magnificent Mile, where you will be whisked 94 floors straight up to see the city’s skyline, beaches and lake front.
It’s an amazing experience and if you have a good head for heights you may like to try The Tilt – a glass window that literally tilts out over the Magnificent Mile from the viewing deck.
The Ledge at Skydeck Chicago is another heartstopper; it has a glass balcony 103 floors over the city. I step out gingerly and peer below, which is unnerving, but the views across four states from the top of Skydeck’s home in Willis Tower are stunning. It is the US’s highest observation deck.
Chicago is the third most populated city in the US with more than 2.7 million residents and is surrounded by lots of parks, gardens and recreation places.
Locals love to enjoy their beautiful parks and walks along Lake Michigan, one of the five Great Lakes of North America. It is the only lake located entirely within the US and it’s home to Navy Pier, located on the south-west shores of the lake.
The pier, which is 1010 metres long, is Chicago’s number one tourist attraction with lots of Children’s entertainment. Further along the lake, you will find Shedd Aquarium, which is home to 32,000 animals from aquatic habitats around the world.
You will see penguins fly through chilly waters, dolphins leap into the air, monkeys scamper across rainforest trees and stingrays swim below your feet.
As for the city, I have to agree with the late Frank Sinatra, Chicago is my kind of town.
YOUR CHICAGO ADVENTURE STARTS HERE