The saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. But, when it comes to Chicago – with its stunning architecture, gorgeous lakefront and beautiful seasonal vistas (and endless ways to enjoy it all) – we think the number is much higher. Sure, maybe we’re a little biased, but after a visit to the Windy City, we think you will be, too.
Kayak on the Chicago River
Chicago is cool from any angle, but the city becomes even more impressive when seen while paddling on a kayak. There are river tours for every taste, too, ranging from early-morning excursions to nighttime paddles with the city's glittering lights illuminating your route. Added bonus: All that exercise means you can indulge in more Chicago hotdogs and deep-dish pizza.
(Photo: Michael Lee/Getty Images)
Dig Into a Deep-Dish Pizza
New York pizza aficionados may turn up their noses at our unique take on the pie – more for us, we say – but we think they haven't had the right combination of thick caramelized crust, gooey cheese and sweet tomato sauce. But be warned: Deep-dish pizza isn't for meek. In other words, come hungry.
Lounge on a Lake Michigan Beach
Stretching some 26 miles and with 26 beaches to choose from, Chicago offers plenty of ways to enjoy the shores of Lake Michigan. Stay close to Michigan Avenue shopping and opt for a dip at Oak Street Beach or venture north to Montrose Avenue Beach, where volleyball and water sports reign supreme.
(Photo: Archie Wong/Getty Images)
Walk Through Lincoln Park
Lincoln Park is one of Chicago's most beloved green spaces. This verdant park is home to 1,208 acres of space for walking, biking and picnicking, not to mention the expansive North Avenue Beach. But the crown jewel of this park has to be the Lincoln Park Zoo: Founded in 1868 and home to more than 1,000 critters, this zoo is free to visit all year round.
Ogle the Fountains in Millennium Park
Odds are you'll hear the kids screaming in delight even before you get close to Millennium Park's Crown Fountain. Designed by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa, the two 50-foot glass brick towers feature periodic streams of water coming out of the mouths of the faces depicted on them, creating a perfect escape from the heat. Physical interaction with art has never been more fun.
(Photo: Westend61/Getty Images)
Embrace Winter in Chicago
We know what you're thinking: Chicago winters are tough. And while we can't disagree, we also know that they can be beautiful and, dare we say, fun. Ice-skating, sledding and snowshoeing through the city's various parks can make us appreciate even the harshest winter. Until that is, spring arrives.
(Photo: darekm101/Getty Images)
Bite a Chicago-Style Hot Dog
You would be remiss if you visited Chicago without sinking your teeth into an authentic, Chicago-style hot dog. These all-beef frankfurters are served on a poppy seed bun and topped with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, tomato, both dill pickle relish and a dill pickle spear, and just a dash of celery salt.