Photo courtesy Illinois Office of Tourism

“Chicagoans love their city” is a pervasive impression one gets when visiting America’s third-largest burg. Throngs of people enjoy, celebrate and participate in their energetic metropolis.

Walkable highlights include downtown amid the skyscrapers, the streets beside and over the Chicago River, and nearby Lake Michigan, which creates a massive backdrop for the city. Chicagoans create a “happy hour” that lasts all day.

Hitting the pavement on the Magnificent Mile, residents and tourists become a part of the cityscape as they pose for selfies among famous landmarks. In Millennium Park, Cloud Gate, the stainless steel sculpture often called The Bean, invites people to capture their reflections with the remarkable skyline behind them. Crowds gather on foot, scooters and bicycles to enjoy the humanity and urbanity.

Nearby, sounds pulsate from the outdoor amphitheater, site of numerous performances and where the city symphony has rehearsals and concerts in the summer. From late spring to early autumn, the Windy City’s usually mild weather keeps pedestrians outside with a levity that lasts until well into the night.

Photo courtesy Illinois Office of Tourism

The gleaming, blue-and-gray buildings don’t compete with each other; rather, they stand in architectural harmony and frame Lake Michigan with its ripples and waves. There, hydrotherapy is the vibe as people roll up their pants to splash in the water. Thousands of sailboats and powerboats are anchored in shallow spots. On the Chicago River, people take water taxis. Kayaks are frequent in both bodies of water while bicycles and pedi-cabs wheel down the streets.

Provocative, engaging sights put their stamp on this cultured city. In Congress Plaza, The Bowman and The Spearman, gigantic bronze sculptures of Native Americans, by design do not carry weapons to symbolize peace. Elsewhere, fountains, gorgeous clock faces and the moss-covered Fourth Presbyterian Church (featured in the movie My Best Friend’s Wedding) delight the senses.

Excitement abounds. Window washers at incredible heights terrify and impress passersby. Brave souls ascending the Willis Tower (once the tallest building in the world) step onto the Sky Deck for a notable tourist accomplishment. Some intrepid people have climbed the skyscraper; one even dressed as Spiderman. When he reached the top, police arrested him.

A bus tour or boat cruise is a relaxing way to view and learn about the city. History, ambition and the evolving curiosity of visionaries multiplied in great force to create Chicago. You even notice that electric lines are underground, so views are uninterrupted and picturesque.

Chicago is also romantic. Love is in the air with couples day-drinking on balcony decks or sitting on steps lining the river as kayakers paddle past. Whether dining al fresco, watching street performers, admiring a drum corps or listening to live music, you find yourself ruminating on the city’s inspiration.

Professional sports teams (Bulls, Bears, Blackhawks, Cubs and White Sox) and theaters keep residents and tourists entertained year-round. Foodies savor the city’s pizzerias and international districts. Dinner at the Greek Islands restaurant, which flies in seafood from the mother country, is easily followed by dessert at the Artopolis Bakery for espresso and pastries.

The Children’s Museum, the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Shedd Aquarium and the Adler planetarium are all family-friendly. Navy Pier, magical by itself, provides a respite from sightseeing; you can ride the Ferris wheel or flying swings, watch the gulls or eat from a food truck.

Regardless of the specific location, stroll hand in hand with your loved ones. Be a part of Robert Johnson’s famous blues song and ask, “Baby, don’t you want to go … to my sweet home Chicago?”

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