Why do over 50 million people visit Chicago every year?

17 May 2016 | by Les Roches


Known as the Windy City, the Second City, and the City of Big Shoulders, Chicago has also lent its name to a river, a band and a Broadway musical. It’s a city of contrasts: a skyline of soaring towers rising from a flat plain. But though its urban attractions get most of the attention, Chicago’s is also a landscape of extraordinary natural beauty, edged by eighteen miles of landscaped lakefront and threaded by a scenic system of rivers and canals.

In addition to its iconic Chicago School and Prairie School architecture, Chicago has a rich cultural scene crowned by the Art Institute of Chicago, which houses one of the best collections in the world. A lakefront Museum Campus encompasses the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum, the science-focused Field Museum, and the Shedd Aquarium.

Theater fans will find shows to rival Broadway – and Broadway shows for half the price – at Tony-awarded theaters like the Steppenwolf, the Goodman and Victory Gardens. And Chicago is also seen as the birthplace of improvisational comedy (at The Second City and iO Theater) and has been seminal to the evolution of musical genres including blues, jazz, house music and soul.

Victory Gardens

Often referred to as a city of neighborhoods, Chicago can feel like a small town when you’re immersed in an enclave like Wicker Park, Logan Square or Ukrainian Village. Midwestern friendliness also contributes to the neighborly feeling, with strangers stopping to offer directions or trade jokes about local sports teams.

Speaking of sports, Chicago is regarded as one of America’s top sports cities, with major league teams in baseball, basketball, football and hockey. There are even two Major League Baseball teams – the Cubs and the White Sox – and a historic ballpark (Wrigley Field) built in 1914.

Wrigley Field

Over 50 million people visit Chicago annually, many of them accommodated by the more than 37,000 hotel rooms available in the Central Business District. Chicago is home to McCormick Place, the premier convention center in North America and host to 3 million business people a year. Others come for the celebrated dining scene and Magnificent Mile shopping. But whatever the hook that draws you to Chicago, you’ll appreciate its unique blend of high culture and low key attitude. And you’ll understand why it’s a city that perfectly represents its place in the center of America’s heartland.

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