If you're in the mood for a bit of culture, Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) is worth a visit. One of the largest facilities devoted to modern art in the US, the MCA offers exhibitions of (they claim) “the most thought-provoking art created since 1945”. The MCA documents contemporary visual culture through painting, sculpture, photography, video and film, and performance. It’s easy to get to, has a passable restaurant, a fab 300-seat theatre, and a terraced sculpture garden with a great view of Lake Michigan.
220 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611 Tel: 312.280.2660Website: mcachicago.org
The Art Institute of Chicago is well worth a visit. The arts are not usually my thing, but the collection here is very varied and packed with works from numerous well-known artists. As a relative novice when it comes to art appreciation, the audioguide proved a real boon for getting the most out of the visit. The building is light and airy, and situated in a wonderful spot on the shores of Lake Michigan.
Art Institute of Chicago111 South Michigan AvenueChicago+1 (312) 443-3600www.artic.eduNearest metro stations: Van Buren/Millennium
Soak up the atmosphere before a Cubs game at historic Wrigley Field with brunch at Uncommon Ground, a continental style cafe-bistro on a tree-lined avenue. Renowned as much for its contemporary local art and live music, as for the fantastic food (do try the omlettes) all made with local, organic ingredients.
3800 N. Clark Street, Chicago,
Nearest CTA station, Addison (Red-line).
One of the world's great art museums, from Monet to Chagall, fantastic artifacts from Chicago's architecture history (the best in the US by far) including the trading room from Louis Sullivan's legendary (and much lamented) Chicago Stock Exchange. You could spend a week there, but plan a long afternoon. The admission is whatever you wish to pay. There's food inside and out. Grant Park and the Buckingham Fountain (and Lake Michigan) are just outside. www.artic.edu/aic/index.php
111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois - at Monroe. CTA "El" ("The Loop") to Adams Street, walk a block east to the museum; www.artic.edu/aic/index.php
One of the city's least-know jewels, despite being housed in the grandest piece of classical architecture on one of the busiest stretches of Michigan Avenue. An unusual thing in America, the whole place is free to the public.
It is primarily a museum and performance space, with a busy schedule of exhibits and performances. On Saturdays, they often have midday dance classes for young and old (great fun, even if you just watch).
The Chicago Symphony and Opera both offer free performances in the opulent Preston Bradley Hall, covered in glass mosaic, beneath the world's largest Tiffany dome.
On Michigan Avenue, at Randolph. Half a block away from the Loop trains, served by several buses and underground garages;
Chicago's finest 'pork project' in decades, it features surprising architecture and art that are all interactive in some way. In nice weather, you'll find dozens or hundreds of kids playing at Crown Fountain, with two towering digital screens showing the smiling faces of Chicagoans in slow-motion.
The city also offers free performances in the Gehry-designed Pritzker Pavillion. There's a bike centre to rent or stow a bike, a large garden, skating rink, restaurant and spectacular views of both the lake, and the most elegant stretch of Michigan Avenue.
My favorite part? The world's only Gehry bridge, which meanders like a lazy stream, and leaps across Columbus Avenue, tranporting you into another large park.
On Michigan Avenue between Randolph and Monroe.
One block from the Loop, served by every elevated train in the city, numerous buses, and several underground garages; www.millenniumpark.org/
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