Where were we? Right on the Magnificent Mile. Well, the Mag Mile has so many things to offer that a newcomer would completely get enchanted just taking in all the view. What does stand out is the John Hancock Centre, coming in at number four in the highest buildings in Chicago. Named after John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company, the Centre boasts of 100 stories, reaching about 1120 ft. from the ground. The building has both commercial as well as residential accommodations available, and houses the third highest private accommodation in the world.  The Centre has an observatory – John Hancock Observatory – which provides a panoramic view of the magnificent city. It contains Chicago’s one and only Skywalk, which is the major attraction of the building.

A city as teeming with people and buildings as Chicago, you would think it is an unlikely venue for an extensive network of parks. But not the case. Chicago houses about 570 parks spread over 7500 acres – a staggering 8 % of its total area! An ideal resting spot for the tired heels, the parks of Chicago are a treat to explore. Along with beaches, playgrounds, gardens, museums, skating rinks, etc., the Chicago Park District is an awesome place to spend a leisurely afternoon. Some popular parks include the Millennium Park, Grant Park, Lincoln Park, Jackson Park, etc. The parks also have Art Partners who provide creative content to the areas and in return, they get access the space inside the park district for their own purpose. Some major art organizations are the patrons of the parks, making them an enriching experience.


Speaking of nature, the next logical destination that comes to mind is a zoo, and behold, Chicago excels in this area again! The Brookfield Zoo is a well spread out zoological park, covering 216 acres and accommodating around 450 species of animals. Opened in 1934, the zoo used an innovative system of moats and ditches rather than the then traditional concept of cages, to separate animals from visitors. This innovation was quickly replicated all over the world. The zoo has a veterinary hospital, a children’s zoo, and a famous central fountain. Its major exhibits include the Western lowland gorilla, Cockatoo, dolphins, elephants etc. with seasonal special exhibits including stingrays, sharks, and animated dinosaurs, among others. The Brookfield Zoo has been privileged to receive services from some of the best trainers and conservationists in the world and it’s a must when visiting Chicago.

Talking about zoos, the only fitting counterpart would be to have an aquarium and this is exactly what Chicago has – the Shedd Aquarium. Opened in 1930, the aquarium, which was for a short time span, the largest indoor aquarium in the world, is also known for its architecture. Built on Greek lines, the designs are filled with octagonal structures, Doric columns, aquatic motifs, etc. But the main attraction is of course, the sea life. Housing nearly 1500 species of fish, birds, marine mammals, insects and snakes, the aquarium has five permanent exhibits. The Amazon rising provides a recreation of the Amazon River and its surrounding jungle, with the walkthrough housing 250 different species. The Caribbean Reef has a diver who interacts with animals at the same time as talking to visitors. It has a large circular tank, providing best walk-round viewing.


Waters of the World exhibits a wide range, varying from mantilla frogs, octopus to alligators, sea horses and river otters. It gives an exciting experience of true ocean life in an indoor form. The Wild Reef holds several species of sharks, corals, in an amazing 400,000 gallons filled underground area. And lastly, we have the Abbott Oceanarium, which has two levels. The top level has a viewing area, meant for the aquatic show and the lower level enables viewers to experience the Beluga whales and dolphins right in front of them. The aquarium has a yearly footfall of over a million visitors, and after knowing about the uniqueness of this place, it is no wonder!

About Author:

Arie Boris has extensive travel industry experience, including business and sales development for commercial aviation, the International emergency assistance & travel insurance industry and a national association of travel agents. He was a contributing editor to several print and Internet travel publications, including Fieldings’ Worldwide Cruise Guide and was part of the start up team for CruiseCritic. He has written over 400 cruise ship reviews. Arie also produces and hosts Cruise Gourmet Voyages, a variety of fundraising & theme group cruises for various charitable and arts organizations. He has produced theme cruises for a variety of special interest groups including opera, comedy, spiritual retreats and fan clubs for TV shows like Dark Shadows and Dancing with the Stars!