Top Student Destinations: Chicago

For the best of the Midwest, only one city can offer your student group many of the same sites and sounds like the East and West Coast big cities. As soon as you roll into the Windy City, stop by Cloud Gate (commonly known as "The Bean") to see the city skyline reflected behind you -- then choose where your adventure will take you next.

Okay, you're probably pretty hungry. Here are your best options -- Chicago-style deep-dish pizza or a Chicago-Style hot dog! Try Gino's East on Michigan Avenue for a pie beyond compare, and check out the autograph wall to see which celebs may have sat at the very same booth as your group! For hot-dog lovers, stop by Gene and Jude's stand for the best dog topped with mustard, relish, chopped onion, tomato slices, a pickle spear, sport peppers, and celery salt.

Next on your list is -- well, you have a lot of choices! For an educational experience that's as fun as it is beneficial, stop by some of Chicago's top-rated museums. The Shedd Aquarium is one of the world's largest indoor aquariums, housing more than 32,000 sea creatures. Wade through exhibits such as Amazon Rising, the Carribean Reef, Waters of the World, and the Oceanarium to see stingrays, octopi, jellyfish, beluga whales, dolphins and much more.

For more land-centered history, head over to the Field Museum of Natural History, claiming another Chicago title for one of the largest museums of its kind. See animal exhibits like Mammals of Africa, Underground Adventure and Evolving America to view up-close elephant and lion specimens, and most infamously, the most complete T-Rex fossil in the world. If you're looking for something beyond the natural Earth, blast off into the Adler Planetarium, home to three full-size theaters, extensive space science exhibitions, and a significant collection of antique scientific instruments and print materials. The Adler's Doane Observatory is one of the only research-active, public urban observatories where the public can see planets, stars, and galaxies up-close and in person.

If you've had your fill of knowledge for the day, Chicago offers countless entertaining sites and wonders that your student group will go crazy for. Stroll down Navy Pier for tons of shops, restaurants, boutiques, and of course, to ride the 15-story high Ferris wheel. To catch a concert, see sculptures, or sprawl out on the 7,600-acre grass, make Millenium Park a top priority.

For those who aren't scared of heights, the journey to the top of America's tallest skyscraper, Willis Tower, and lean on the glass in the observation deck for the thrill of seeing the city far below. Alright alright, maybe heights aren't your thing. How about shopping? Conquer the Magnificent Mile (Michigan Avenue) for high-end shopping you won't find anywhere in the Midwest.

Phew! Looks like you have a lot on your plate. Better get going on your student trip to Chicago right away!