Chicagoans call Cloud Gate “the Bean” due to its shape, but it’s an awesome piece. The Bean is favorite photo spot among locals and visitors and it’s worth the short trip from the hotel. it’s a completely stainless steel structure with great views of the city skyline, both reflecting in the Bean and as the backdrop.
Millennium park was part of a revitalization project that resulted in a wonderful public space. Besides Cloud Gate, you can wander through lots of outdoor art including the “face towers” which spout water during the summer. You can also hang out at the Pritzker Pavillion during the summer. The Lurie Gardens are also open to the public and should be bursting with local native wild flowers in May.
Right across from Millennium Park is the Art Institute of Chicago, a well-known and beloved destination. They have an incredible collection of art, ranging from the ancient to the modern. There is something for every artistic taste. It was a wonderful impressionist collection and impressively new modern wing. Hours are 10:30 am to 5:00 pm all week except Thursdays when the hours are 10:30 am to 8:00 pm. General admission is $23.00 but there can be discounted prices for Chicago and Illinois residents.
The Shedd is one of my favorite destinations in Chicago. It has a great conservation program and the aquarium’s first priority is the well-being of the animals. Visit with tropical fish, dolphins, beluga whales, penguins and sharks! If you’re an animals aquatic fan, I would recommend the full pass. It includes pretty much everything you’ll want to see. Ticket prices vary depending on the type of pass. The hours are 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday and 9am – 6pm Saturday and Sunday during the conference
The Adler has a prime location as the landmark farthest east on the museum campus peninsula. It has great views of the cityscape, but more importantly, has interesting exhibits on the solar system, the milkyway and other astronomical phenomena. Their skyshows are one the best ways to get a good look at the Chicago’s night sky, any time of the year. The Adler’s hours are 9:30 am to 4 pm Monday to Friday and 9:30 am to 4:30 pm Saturday and Sunday. General Admission is $28.00.
Have you ever seen “The Night at the Museum” with Ben Stiller? The enthusiastic t-rex who likes to play fetch is the Field Museum’s one and only Sue. She proudly guards the entrance of the Field Museum. In addition to Sue, the Field Museum has lots of unique exhibits. Some exhibits are permanent while others rotate. Check the Field’s website for information on current exhibits.The Field is open 9 am to 5 pm everyday and ticket prices vary depending on package.
Lincoln Park Zoo is located a little north of the hotel, a short EL ride, in Lincoln Park. The Zoo is a well-known destination in Chicago. Another great perk is free admission. During April and May, the Lincoln Park Zoo is open 10 am to 5 pm.
A unique museum north of the hotel but reasonably close. A great place for those interested in journalism and broadcasting. Fun fact: National Public Radio’s local station WBEZ, home station of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me and This American Life, broadcasts from Navy Pier. General admission is $12 and the museum’s hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10 am to 5 pm.
An interesting museum that presents exhibits on the history and development of surgery and related health and medical subjects. General admission is $15 and the museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 4 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm.
Michighan Ave, dubbed as the Magnificent Mile, is practically right outside the Hyatt’s doors. Michigan Ave is the place for beautiful storefront windows, great architecture and a chance to pick some famous Garrett’s popcorn.
There are plenty of more destinations and attractions in Chicago that I haven’t had a chance to mention. Check out Chicago’s landmarks, attractions and more at Choose Chicago. It’s a great resource with itinerary, event and destination suggestions for your visit.