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Chicago (IL)

Chicago represents everything that's right about the American metropolis. It blends world-class infrastructure with home-grown values in a high-energy setting, adding thriving financial, cultural and entertainment sectors. Whether viewed from the top of the Sears Tower or worked out in the street-level blues clubs, Chicago inspires visitors to clear their schedules, stay longer and return again as soon as possible. From the moment tourists touch down at Chicago Midway International Airport, they're overwhelmed with things to do.

Lake Michigan fronts the Chicago skyline, with Michigan Avenue hugging its shore. Chicago hosts a booming convention industry, so there are plenty of hotels near Chicago city center. Rates actually go down over the weekend as conventioneers head home.

The scope of attractions in this city is daunting, and while it's impossible to see everything in one visit, there are a few highlights that shouldn't be missed. Chicago's museums are among these, especially the Museum of Science and Industry, the Field Museum and the Chicago Art Museum. The world's first steel-and-concrete skyscraper rose over the Chicago skyline in the 19th century, and many visitors consider a trip to the top of the Sears Tower – Chicago's tallest building – a must.

In the evening, attention shifts to the affluent neighborhoods of the North Side, where boutique accommodation in Chicago is at its best. Chicago is a bastion of blues and jazz, and some of the best clubs are here in the North Side. Diehard fans of blues will want to time their visit with the annual Chicago Blues Festival (June). Just be sure to book well in advance.

For more information on hotels and landmarks in the different areas of Chicago, click on the interactive Chicago map on the left-hand side of the page.

Chicago insider travel tip: The best Chicago pizza.