The Midwest is often ignored in favor of the American coastal regions in terms of vacations. However, I'd have to argue against that decision. The Midwest has a lot to offer from St. Louis to Kansas City, Tulsa, Little Rock, all the way up to Chicago, the big Windy City and the largest metropolitan area in middle America. There's tons of fun to be had in good ole' Chicago and I'm here to lay it all out for you straight. When you're looking for a perfectly spectacular student trip destination, an educational trip, or exciting graduation vacation, look no further.
1. Field Museum of Natural History
I absolutely adore all things natural history and I think you will too when you learn that the Field Museum is one of the top natural history museums in the country behind the Smithsonian of Washington, D.C. Here you can meet Sue, the largest and most complete T-Rex ever found, explore an ancient Egyptian tomb, and even see how DNA shapes lives and our futures. Permanent and temporary exhibits run the whole gamut of scientific topics with interactive displays for optimal learning and fun.
2. Navy Pier
Arguably the best boardwalk in the country, Chicago's Navy Pier is covered head to toe with attractions, amusements, and dining. More than your average boardwalk, the Navy Pier is home to the Pepsi Skyline stage, an IMAX Theater, the Chicago Children's Museum, Shakespeare Theater, and a full botanical garden conservatory among other spectacular venues. Visit the amusement park rides, take part in the laser tag maze or arcade games, or head over to shop and eat along the 2,000 foot long promenade running perpendicular to the Pier.
3. Shedd Aquarium
The largest indoor aquarium in the world, Shedd Aquarium in Grant Park is conveniently located to excite your senses, wow you with knowledge, and propose new experiences. With several notable animals and fantastic exhibits, it's hard to choose just a few. However, some of the best include the beluga whale enclosures in the Abbott Oceanarium, the Caribbean Reef exhibit with 360 degree views of the tropical creatures' tank, and Wild Reef where you can meet all sorts of dangerous looking animals.
4. Museum of Science and Industry
Housed in the former Palace of Fine Arts used in the 1893 World's Fair, the Museum of Science and Industry is the largest science museum in the western hemisphere. The curation and design of the museum is so fantastic and expansive that you won't be able to see everything to the fullest in a single day. Explore a full-size replica of a coal mine, view a German war submarine captured during WWII, and the Apollo 8 shuttle among other sensational exhibits.
5. Grant Park
Like all giant cities, public spaces are a necessity for the continued sanity and recreational personality of a population. But not all public spaces are as diverse and utterly stunning as Grant Park. This large urban park contains several of the city's most popular museums including the Art Institute of Chicago and a second park district, Millennium Park, home to the Field Museum. Stroll the gardens, take a picture in front of the grand Buckingham Fountain, or attend one of the marvelous public events that take place year round including Lollapalooza and movies in the park.
6. Lincoln Park
Grant Park's sister space, Lincoln Park is a lovely 1,200 acre park development along the shores of Lake Michigan. Technically, this ranks as Chicago's largest park and holds the honor of hosting the Lincoln Park Zoo, Lincoln Park Conservatory, and the Chicago History Museum which holds famed possessions once owned by Abraham Lincoln. The beauty of the park, however, lies in its sensational landscaping with lily pools, natural ponds with wildlife, animal sanctuaries, and an abundance of publicly designed statuary throughout the park.
7. Lincoln Park Zoo
Open 365 days a year in brilliant Lincoln Park, the area's best and most popular zoo draws in thousands of visitors every year for its exotic and lovely animals, beautiful habitats, and incredible atmosphere. As one of the oldest zoos in the U.S., Lincoln Park Zoo has had over a century to develop some of the best animal care practices as well as cater to the desires of the visiting public. See animal favorites like lions, tigers, and bears alongside sea lions, birds of prey, and much more.
8. Chicago Theatre
From the majesty of the grand auditorium to the plush luxurious red curtain, architectural details, and elegant staircase, the Chicago Theatre is more than just a center for performing arts but a work of art itself. The grand lobby was modeled after the Royal Chapel at Versailles, remarking on the intense attention to detail and breathtaking aesthetic grandeur. Come down and take a tour of the building, learn about its history, and stay for a fabulous performance ranging from opera to comedy acts.
9. Magnificent Mile
The Fifth Avenue of Chicago, the Magnificent Mile is Chicago's premier shopping district with upscale, designer labels and an attention to fashion. With labels like Cartier, Coach, Gucci, Burberry, Chanel, and Giorgio Armani, the Magnificent Mile is Chicago's best and highest level of elegance. While you're in the area, check out the many fabulous dining establishments like Les Nomades, FIG + OLIVE, and Labrolia.
10. Wrigley Field
Chicagoans are a passionate people and they surely love their sports. Wrigley Field is the centerpiece of this love with the fighting Chicago Cubs. Built in 1914, this historic field has been encouraging a love of America's favorite pastime for over 100 years. Come by for a game or just a tour of the historic ballpark and learn about the famous players over the years.