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Layover Ideas

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The Chicago Airport System has worked hard to provide not only convenience but also attractions at Chicago’s airports. Here are a few points of interests:

Visit the Brachiosaurus Dinosaur in the B concourse of Terminal 1. Our Brachiosaurus is one of the largest mounted dinosaurs in the world. The four-story high, 72-foot long skeleton model is on loan from the Chicago Field Museum.

The Butch O’Hare WWII Fighter Airplane Exhibit is located in Terminal 2. The exhibit is a replica of the WWII F3F-4 fighter plane flown by airport namesake and US Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Comdr. Edward "Butch" O’Hare.

Also in Terminal 2 is the Kids on the Fly Children’s Exhibit. Kids on the Fly is an interactive play area that educates and entertains children up to twelve years of age and their families. The exhibit's displays include an air traffic control tower, a fantasy helicopter, a cargo plane, a luggage station, and more.

The pedestrian tunnel between concourses B and C in Terminal 1 is the location of a 744 foot long kinetic neon sculpture of light and sound titled "The Sky’s the Limit", designed by Michael Hayden.

Of course, over 100 food and retail options are available throughout the airport terminals.

Top Recommended Layover Activities:

1. John Hancock Center
875 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611 · 312-751-3681
Only 40 seconds in this building's elevator will set you stories above Chicago. Visit the third largest building in the city and enjoy views reaching up to 80 miles distant. Food and drink are available in the restaurant and lounge, and informational exhibits are on display in four different languages. Should you be in the area during Valentine's Day, you may want to skip the elevator ride and run to the top with the other participants who "Hustle up the Hancock."

2. North Avenue Beach
1600 N Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60610 · 312-747-0832
One of the metro area's most popular parks, North Avenue Beach is at its prime in the warmer months, when hordes of families, exercise nuts, and tourists flood here to do everything from sunbathe and play beach volleyball to roller-blade and and cycle along the shoreline. Across the street is the Lincoln Park Zoo.

3. Lincoln Park
2045 N Lincoln Park W, Chicago, IL · 312-836-7000
Some of the city's trendiest shops, bars, and theaters call this neighborhood home. One such attraction is the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Named after the park that encompasses its eastern border, Lincoln Park runs from Diversy Parkway to North Avenue. Lincoln Park also offers scenic ponds and walking paths, which are accompanied by the light and strong breezes from the lake and a constant view of Chicago's stunning skyline.

4. Grant Park
500 S Columbus Dr, Chicago, IL 60604 · 312-742-7529
From ice-skating in the winter to viewing blooming roses in the summer, Grant Park offers a variety of relaxing activities. You can stroll through Versailles-type rose gardens, take part in a pick-up volleyball game, or admire the lakefront views offered by the 300-acre park. Highlights include free concerts during the summer and Grant Park's Buckingham Fountain with its 133 water jets - a marvel to see.

5. Little Italy
Taylor St at Morgan St, Chicago, IL 60607
People undertaking strict diets should likely eschew this Chicago neighborhood, where the air is full of tempting aromas of deep dish pizza. Indeed, Little Italy is popular for its cozy, family-operated restaurants and unique neighborhood groceries.

6. Navy Pier
600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611 · 312-595-7437
Since 1916, Navy Pier has been home not only to the military but to scores of special attractions. Now purely commercial, the pier offers everything from an IMAX theatre to performances by a Shakespeare troupe. You can view dancing in a grand ballroom, ride the splendor of a fifteen-story ferris wheel (a replica of the one at Chicago's 1893 World's Fair), or relax to the sounds of waves quietly lapping on the lakeshore.

7. Chicago Water Tower
800 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
The Chicago Water Tower is a notable Chicago landmark that was built in 1869 and survived the great 1871 Chicago Fire. The building looks more like a palace than a water tower and features several small towers and lovely limestone brickwork. The tower is 154 feet in height and stands quite small against the area's skyscrapers. The tower no longer functions, but it was chosen by the American Water Works Association as the first American Water Landmark in the United States.

Top Weekend Getaways And Day Trip Excursions:

1. Sears Tower
233 S Wacker Dr, Ste 3300, Chicago, IL 60606 · 312-875-9696
Standing 1,454 feet high, this skyscraper is easily Chicago's most dominant structure. Visitors can shoot to the top of the 110-story building via a 70-second elevator ride and catch magnificent views into Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin from the 103rd floor skydeck. Informational exhibits for both adults and children teach the history of Chicago, the construction of the tower, and interesting "did you know" facts.

2. Taste of Chicago
Grant Park, Chicago, IL 60603 · 312-744-3370
The event preceeds the 4th of July. Over 100 area restaurantuers offer their fare in a Chicago style food expo. There is an entrance fee and entertainment is also offered. Go enjoy the food and listen to the music!

3. Chicago from the Lake
435 E Illinois, North Pier Docks, Chicago, IL 60611-5319 · 312-527-1977
Chicago from the Lake offers a variety of tours along the majestic Chicago coastline, including the immensely popular Architectural Cruises, which explore the Windy City's interior via the Chicago River. Make sure you bring your camera since views of the city from the river are simply unrivaled. The price of the tour includes a cup of Starbucks coffee and cookies. Tours depart every hour, seven days a week. Reservations may be made through the concierge desk at all downtown hotels.

4. Wrigley Field
1060 W Addison St, Chicago, IL 60613 · 773-404-2827
This cozy stadium's friendly atmosphere asserts a strong appeal for Chicago Cubs fans. First opened in 1914, the facility boasts ivy-covered brick walls in the outfield and a manual scoreboard that helps maintain a good-old-days ambience. The place is such a local legent that any visit to Chicago must include a day at "the old ball game." And just to avoid potential heartache: any homerun ball hit by the other team must be thrown back onto the field.

5. Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio
951 Chicago Ave, Oak Park, IL 60302 · 708-848-1976
Renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright began building this house in 1889. As his style developed, so did the home, and Wright continued to make unique additions to it to suit his personal needs. Today, guided tours showcase his studio and its chain-hung balcony, along with a playroom designed for his children that offers treetop views. The architect's signature style and taste are clearly evident throughout the intricately designed home. Tours depart from Ginkgo Tree Bookshop.

6. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
1100 N Mineral Springs Rd, Porter, IN 46304 · 219-926-7561
This national park is located southeast of the city and offers miles of riding and hiking trails and five beaches for lounging. Although an hour's drive from Chicago, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is worth time spent in the car. You can see five types of lakefront environments, including woodlands, beaches and bogs, all on a 25-mile stretch of Lake Michigan's southern shore. Don't forget to see Mount Baldy, which offers a great view of the lake from a 125-foot dune.

7. Lake Shore Park
808 N Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60611 · 312-742-7891
If location is everything, then Lake Shore Park is the best of everything. Nestled between Lake Michigan and the Museum of Contemporary Art, visitors and natives alike keep this park in constant motion. You can enjoy a leisurely stroll, watch a soccer game, or hit the outdoor track. Convenient public restrooms.

8. Gold Coast
N Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60613
Tucked between North Avenue and Oak Street along Lake Shore Drive, the Gold Coast offers some of the most desired lakeshore property in Illinois. The neighborhood, which is known for its architectural history and cultural richness, is home to some of the city's most prestigious and influential movers and shakers. Drop by one of the booming cafés, bars, or shops and see who is out.

9. Magnificent Mile & Streeterville
N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
Some of the best in shopping and dining can be found on the Magnificent Mile. Running down Michigan Avenue and bounded by Oak Street on the north and the Chicago River to the south, you will find the best of all that is expensive. Consider it the Rodeo Drive of the Midwest. If you seek a trendier, eclectic setting, go two blocks east where you will find Streeterville, a more hip section of this neighborhood.

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