DIY Walking Tour of Chicago

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Having spent a handful of summers, and at least one cold winter week in Chicago, I thought I’d share an easy walking tour that gives a taste of the destination which attracts 52 million visitors a year.

Come On In

It makes sense to start our walk at Chicago’s “front door,” the Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park.buckingham fountain A grand fountain built in 1927 to appear like a magnificent wedding cake. From there I would head north to see the Art Institute of Chicago. Built in classic Renaissance style, the two magnificent lions that stand guard are not mirror opposites, but two different bronze lions.

Lions RPPC

Photo courtesy of Moore’s Postcard Museum

lions at chicago institute

Check out the gift shop and determine if this museum may be worthy of a return trip. In my book it qualifies as a “must see.” Immediately across the street is the starting point of the legendary Route 66. Look up, the signs are posted high to avoid theft.

route 66 road sign

Get your kicks!

Continuing north along Michigan Avenue you’ll hit Millennium Park.

Millennium Park entrance

Shade Opportunity

There’s a lot to see here. If the timing is right, you might catch a public event such as music, movies or yoga in the park.

I know another fountain stop may sound lame, but you have to trust me on this: check out Crown Fountain.

Crown Fountain

Two glass block towers face each other, and project the faces of Chicago citizens. In traditional gargoyle style, these huge faces spew water from pursed lips toward a shallow reflecting pool. As you can see, this particular fountain is a playground for cooling off.

I also recommend seeing the Bean. It’s a mirrored sculpture – officially named Cloud Gate. A 66 foot, 110-ton reflective sculpture which just beckons for a selfie. Or two, or three. . . selfie taken at the beanselfie at the bean

cloud gate or the bean

A better look at the whole bean

Now at this point, most people would say to head to Navy Pier. A playground of sorts, with firework displays, exhibitions and other attractions that call to visitors.

Navy Pier

Navy Pier

For me, it just doesn’t capture the old time Chicago buzz I’m fond of. So my recommendation would be to continue North on Michigan Avenue and cross the historic DuSable Bridge.gal crossing a bridge

Tired Yet?

All this in only 1.5 miles! After crossing the bridge, you are now standing on the Magnificent Mile, or the Mag Mile. This vibrant, mixed-use district is in the heart of Chicago. Touted for it’s shopping opportunities (not my thing,) I think it’s one of the best examples of commercial, residential, cultural and tourist destinations. Even if shopping isn’t my thing, I can’t resist stopping at the American Girl Store – a favorite destination when our daughter was young. . .and, not so young!

american girl store

Lea is the latest American Girl

If you have the stamina, I enjoy continuing north and poking around the Gold Coast district, an affluent (think Manhattan) neighborhood with mansions, row houses and apartment high-rises. Its historic architecture and art deco elements, transport you to another era, and probably another social class!gold coast row homes

art deco window

chicago front door

That’s a Wrap!

Take Uber from here.

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