Image source: Choose Chicago
Chicago is a city that always puts its own unique stamp on things. Food? Grab a Chicago dog or delight in a deep-dish pizza. Sports? It's hard to think of a more iconic site than Wrigley Field. Shopping? Stroll the Magnificent Mile.
It's the same with the arts. From improv comedy to architectural history to one of the world's greatest art collections, Chicago has its own unique take on the ways in which we enjoy the world around us. Be sure to check out these five offerings when in the Windy City.
Chicago and comedy improv go hand in hand, with several different companies in the city. The most well known, of course, is Second City. Think of any big-name comedian of the last 50 years, and, chances are, you can trace their history back to time they spent at Second City. The tradition continues, and you can see the stars of tomorrow today in one of the revues that are performed in an intimate 350-seat theater. There are a variety of shows and ensembles performing at the Second City building.
Another prominent company is IO Chicago, which also has multiple offerings, including the Improvised Shakespeare Company. Someone throws out an idea, and they turn it into a full-fledged Shakespeare play, complete with iambic pentameter.
In 1879, not long after the Great Chicago Fire, the city's leading citizens decided to build a first-rate museum and headed off to collect pieces to put in it. The result is a facility of over one million square feet and over 8,000 objects typically on display.
Highlights include the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collections, iconic American works such as American Gothic by Grant Wood, Nighthawks by Edward Hopper, and Marc Chagall's America Windows.
Of all the great works, perhaps the best known is A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat, thanks to a scene in the 1980's movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
How many cities can you think of where a work of art is one of the first things that comes to mind as a symbol of the place? The official title of the huge metallic sculpture in AT&T Plaza at Millennium Park is Cloud Gate by Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor, but everybody calls it The Bean. As you walk around the mirrored behemoth, it reflects the surrounding skyline, and each step brings a new way to look at the city. The Bean is located just a block from the Art Institute, so it's easy to visit both in one journey.
What's better than a cruise that takes you on a river winding through a city that gives you a sense of where all the highlights are? If that same cruise is staffed by an expert in architectural history who can tell you about all of the amazing buildings that line the river.
The Architecture Foundation River Cruise lets you look up, way up, from the water up to Chicago's classic buildings while hearing someone explain when the building was erected, what style it represents, and how it contributes to Chicago's amazing skyline.
This facility, just an easy walk off the Magnificent Mile on your shopping day, offers a rotating series of exhibits that stretch the boundaries of what you'll typically think of finding in an art museum. From music to sculpture to performance, this is a place to go somewhere you wouldn't have thought an art museum could take you.
Part of the rich, vibrant culture of large cities is the opportunity they present for visitors to experience the arts. Chicago takes this tradition and adds its own unique twist.
Have you done any of these fun artsy activities in Chicago?
Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.
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Kathleen Curry and Geoff Griffin are hosts of The Travel Brigade Show - a weekly travel and destination podcast. Kathleen Curry is experienced in both the travel industry and broadcasting. She has worn the hats of travel writer, photographer, travel agent and hospitality evaluator. Her advice of, “No excuses, just travel!” reaches out to listeners who pick up on her enthusiasm for travel and benefit from her savvy advice. Her travel guilty pleasures are eating at a street-cart vendor so she can splurge later to order room service, finding deals to rack up sky miles so she can book her next flight and hoping her social security comes through some day because she has spent her future retirement savings trekking the globe.
Geoff Griffin is a reformed attorney turned travel junkie with over two decades of experience as a journalist and editor specializing in sports, outdoor recreation and travel. His current philosophy is that there are two stages in life - You’re either on a trip, or you’re planning your next trip. His travel guilty pleasure is trying recreation adventures that require the use of an expert guide to keep him from harming himself or hopping on a plane knowing nothing about his destination other than the airport code and wandering about a new town while relying on the locals to point him to the best places.
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