With your registration for the 2018 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting complete, the time has come to plan your trip to Chicago. Before buying plane tickets and reserving your hotel room, consider adding on a few extra days to explore the city. Chicago has a lot to offer.
The Annual Meeting is Oct. 19–24 at McCormick Center, which means attendees will see beautiful views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline, highlighting the city’s unique architecture. The weather in October, although unpredictable, is generally brisk and beautiful. The trees will be changing colors, and the locals will be pulling out sweaters and light jackets. Without a doubt, the sight of the lake and the skyline will draw you into the city.
Getting Around Town
Chicago is a ride-sharing city. The city has ties to investors in Uber and has passed ride share friendly legislation. Downloading a ride-sharing app, such as Uber or Lyft, on your smartphone, offers an easy way to get around town.
Alternatively, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) also runs extensive bus and train systems. Bus #3 (King Drive) can take visitors from McCormick Place down Michigan Avenue to Millennium Park, the Magnificent Mile and the Chicago Water Tower. Also, check out the city’s train system, The ‘L,’ which has been running since 1892. Apps for buses and trains are available for smart phones.
If the day is beautiful and you can only do one thing, visit the bean (officially known as Cloud Gate). Located in Millennium Park, just 2.5 miles north of McCormick Center off Michigan Ave., a visit to the bean will put you in the new heart of the city. And it will allow you to see a reflection of the many faces of Chicago. Next, explore Millennium Park and its Lurie Garden, a 3.5-acre urban retreat nestled within a 15-foot-high “shoulder” hedge. The area is designed to remind visitors of Carl Sandburg’s famous description of Chicago as the “City of the Big Shoulders.” From there, you can cross the snaking BP pedestrian bridge to Maggie Daley Park to get a closer view of the lake and see children enjoying the fanciful play gardens.
If the weather takes a turn for the worse, you can visit the Art Institute of Chicago, which is open daily until 5 p.m. (8 p.m. on Thursdays). As Chicago built its wealth in the 19th century, Chicagoans invested much of that money in impressionist art. Thus, the city’s collection of impressionists and post-impressionists, which includes Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, is considered one of the finest outside of France. Other iconic works at the Art Institute include Grant Wood’s American Gothic and Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. The Modern Wing of the Art Institute opened in 2009 and looks out over Millennium Park. It provides a home to works by Picasso, Matisse, Magritte and others.
For an evening out, consider booking tickets at Chicago Shakespeare Theater and plan to spend an evening at Navy Pier. The renowned theater will be presenting the North American premier of Nell Gwynn, the 2016 Olivier Award Winner for Best New Comedy. The romantic comedy is set in 17th century London and should set the stage for a fine Chicago evening.
Also during the day, Navy Pier offers shopping, public art, Chicago tours and more. Once on Navy Pier, take a boat ride to see the city from Lake Michigan. Remember, it will be colder on the lake. If you want to stay toasty, consider a dinner cruise on the Odyssey. Book a window table and relax as the sparkling skyline passes by while you eat.
Another popular destination is Museum Campus, which lies on the lakefront between McCormick Place and the bean. This pedestrian-friendly area includes the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium. It’s also a great place to see the Chicago skyline.
At the Field Museum, attendees may expect to see Sue, the largest, most extensive Tyrannosaurus Rex specimen ever found, in the museum’s lobby. But be warned, Sue has been moved upstairs to make room for Maximo the Titanosaur, the skeletal cast of the largest dinosaur species ever discovered. Also check out the temporary exhibit on Antarctic dinosaurs.
Chicagoans like food, and the city offers myriad restaurants worth experiencing, including food from different ethnicities and in varying price ranges. A quick Internet search for restaurants will likely point you to a noteworthy restaurant within a 15-minute walk of downtown. If you do go to Millennium Park, consider visiting Giordano’s in the Prudential Center at 130 E. Randolph St. for Chicago-style pizza.
If you make it to the Art Institute, consider eating a meal there. Restaurants are open for lunch every day and for dinner on Thursdays. Terzo Piano is headed by award-winning chef Tony Mantuano and features authentic Italian ingredients and local, organic and sustainable foods. The Museum Café is family friendly and filled with tasty and healthy foods, including salads, soups, stir fries and more.
Whether your preference is Great Lakes and gardens, architecture and dinosaurs, dinner and theater, or people watching, Chicago will deliver. We welcome you to the City of the Big Shoulders.
Lara C. Pullen, PhD, is a medical writer based in the Chicago area.