Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Chicago

Mon Jan 9, 2012 5:01am EST

A man jokingly looks under the dress of a 26-foot tall statue of Marilyn Monroe in Chicago, July 15, 2011. REUTERS/Jim Young

A man jokingly looks under the dress of a 26-foot tall statue of Marilyn Monroe in Chicago, July 15, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Young

(Reuters) - Got 48 hours to explore Chicago, the Midwest city renowned for its innovative architecture?

Chicago holds a reputation in North America for being a city of culture, with opulent art, architecture and shopping venues that appeal to people from all walks of life. One of the best ways to enjoy Chicago is on foot, but the "Windy City" on Lake Michigan also offers transit by train, bus, cab and water taxi, which can help tourists cover a lot of terrain easily.

FRIDAY

5pm - Sip a Mojito Chic cocktail made from 10-cane rum at the Lobby Bar & Lounge (1 312 836 0100) in the Marriott Hotel (www.marriott.com/Chicago <www.marriott.com/Chicago>) on the Magnificent Mile before setting out along the upscale shopping strip known for such iconic structures as the Wrigley Building and the Tribune Tower.

7pm - Enjoy spectacular views of the city and Lake Michigan while dining in the Signature Room at the 95th (<www.signatureroom.com/Home/>) on the 96th floor of the John Hancock Center on Michigan Avenue, a 100-storey building with a screened outdoor observatory. Sample cocktails or opt to eat a range of appetisers, including the baked Brie and the chipotle guacamole, instead of a full meal.

SATURDAY

9.30am - Take the Chicago Architecture Foundation Highlights by Bus tour, which covers such notable areas as the Loop, Hyde Park, the Gold Coast, the lakefront and historic neighbourhoods. The tour includes stops at works by such internationally renowned architects as Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Rem Koolhaas and others.

1.15pm - Lunch on a salad of tomato, mozzarella, basil and balsamic dressing in the Garden Restaurant (1 312 443 374) courtyard at the Art Institute of Chicago.

2.30pm - Tour highlights of the art institute galleries before heading outside to wander through nearby Millennium Park and see Anish Kapoor's reflective "Cloud Gate" sculpture shaped like a bean, Jaume Plensa's "Crown Fountain" and architect Frank Gehry's Jay Pritzker Pavilion.

5.30pm - Hop on the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise at the southeast corner of Michigan Avenue Bridge and Wacker Drive for the evening tour. Sit on the outer edge of the deck, sipping a glass of wine, and take in views of Chicago's skyscrapers while listening to the historical details about the structures.

7.30pm - Enjoy a draft beer at the historic Berghoff restaurant (1 312 427 3170), one of the city's oldest, on Adams Street in the Loop.

8.30pm - Dine on distinctive Chicago-style stuffed or thin-crust pizza at Giordano's on Jackson Boulevard (<www.giordanos.com/>).

10.15pm - Watch a spectacular fireworks display from the patio of Riva restaurant on Navy Pier (<www.rivanavypier.com/>), a cultural centre originally built as a municipal wharf and used for naval training in World War Two.

SUNDAY

9.30am - Take the scenic elevated train ride west to Oak Park from the Loop on the Chicago Transit Authority's Green Line.

11am - Tour architect Frank Lloyd Wright's home and studio. Wright lived and worked in the structure from 1889 to 1909, developing his signature American Prairie Style architecture and raising six children with his first wife.

12.30pm - Get a take away lunch at the Tasty Dog on Lake Street and eat in Scoville Park en route to Wright's Unity Temple. The temple was designed in 1905 as a place of worship for the Unitarian Universalist Congregation and has since been designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark.

2pm - Visit and tour the Victorian home where author Ernest Hemingway was born in 1899. The restored Queen Anne-style house was built in 1890 by Hemingway's maternal grandparents.

3.30pm - Stroll to the Ernest Hemingway Museum and enjoy temporary and permanent exhibitions comprised of memorabilia related to the author's life and career before heading back to the Loop.