About This Place
Ol’ Blue Eyes claimed one could, “lose the blues in Chicago,” but with all due respect, Mr. Sinatra, Chicago tourists may not want to lose them at all. From powder to navy, and in all their musical implications, the blues are the key to a great time in the “Second City.”
Ride the rails of Chicago’s “El” (short for “elevated” train) on the blue line straight downtown to start the day off right at Lou Mitchell’s. Serving the best breakfast in town since 1923, Mitchell’s Belgian malted waffles and fluffy jumbo omelets get travelers fueled up to take on nearby Michigan Avenue, home to some of the city’s best shops and sights.
Along the avenue, noteworthy museums abound. Don’t miss a stop by the Art Institute of Chicago, which offers a noteworthy collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art. Or, take to higher ground for a view of not only downtown, but up to four states, from the John Hancock Observatory.
Just outside the Art Institute, Chicago visitors can play in the magnificent Millennium Park. A favorite with the city’s youngest residents, the Crown Fountain is also popular with adults. Many opt to take in summer blues concerts at Jay Pritzker Pavilion, or reflect on the gorgeous skyline with the help of the park’s centerpiece, Cloud Gate.
The architecturally minded visitor will readily notice the diamond-shaped Smurfit-Stone Building and Willis Tower, but downtown is also home to the Aqua Building. Fronted with irregularly shaped concrete balconies, this daring structure was designed to emulate rippling water.
Keeping with the aquamarine state of mind, Chi-town visitors can explore sea life at the John G. Shedd Aquarium, one of the largest indoor aquariums in the world. With interactive exhibits and a kid-sized submarine, the aquarium is a favorite destination for young travelers. The Wild Reef exhibit provides a unique look into the underwater world of over 500 species including 25 sharks, minus that pesky oxygen tank and shark repellent.
Nearby, the Chicago Children’s Museum, located on Navy Pier, offers families a chance to play together in the Inventing Lab, or dig for fossils at the Dinosaur Expedition. Couples who make their way to the end of the Pier get a romantic eyeful of indigo blue Lake Michigan and a magnificent view of the cityscape. On the journey back up the Pier, stop at Crystal Gardens for a ride on a replica of Ferris’s original wheel, which debuted at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.
Also along the blue line is the city’s oldest and largest non-profit theater, the Goodman Theatre. Productions have featured many an Academy Award winner and nominee, Pulitzer Prize winners and finalists, and playwrights such as Tennessee Williams. Chicago tourists will find the Goodman stages in a modern auditorium downtown, in the “Loop.”
Tourists willing to add a smidgen of yellow to their palettes are well rewarded when venturing to Uptown’s Green Mill. Once a speakeasy frequented by the likes of "Hustlertown’s" finest, Al Capone, the Green Mill has the skinny on world-class jazz.
For true-blue travelers, however, there is no better place to experience Chicago’s famous blues scene than the aptly named B.L.U.E.S. bar. Frankly, Frank, as far as blues lovers go, it’s still their kind of town.