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The Loop can be considered the heart of Chicago. Literally The Loop is the area inside the L Tracks forming a circle running above the ground bordered on the north by Lake Street, on the east Wabash Avenue, on the south Van Buren Street and Wells on the west. Although no local or traveler should think of The Loop in such basic terms. When people say The Loop they mean the area bordered by the river to the north and to the west, Roosevelt Road to the south and the lake to the east.
This area of the city was the business center of the city since before the Fire and the term The Loop was coined in the 1920s and remained strong ever since. The skyscrapers in this area are mix of art deco skyscrapers from before World War II and more modern structures. This is a great place to spend hours walking around looking at buildings, shopping, watching shows, relaxing in parks or enjoy a museum.
Sights and Activities
State Street: From the river to Van Buren is some great shopping options from small stores to department stores built in the early 20th century.
- Macy's, located in the old Marshfield's department store, is a great store that has something for everyone. There is also a good food area located in the basement. The address for Macy's is 111 N State and Phone is 312-578-8629
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There are several parks located the loop area that are great. Some of these parks are very old while others have only been added in the last decade.
- Millennium Park is a wonderful park on Michigan Ave just north of Grant Park. It is home to the world famous Bean (officially called the Cloud Gate), which gives some awesome reflections, and the Jay Pritsker Pavilion, one of the most sophisticated outdoor concert venues of its kind in the USA. Go have a wet and wild time dancing in the zero depth fountain or see some nice outdoor art in this wonderful green space. Official website: Grant Park
- Grant Park is called "Chicago's front yard," this proud park sits right in front of The Loop and bordering the lake makes for a great downtown green space. During the summertime this park hosts the majority of major festivals, concerts and evening movies in the summer. At the center of the park is the famous Buckingham Fountain.
- Northerly Island is a 91 acre peninsula that goes into Lake Michigan that is located south of the Adler Planetarium. This park used to be an airport and is now a wonderful green space. There is also a small beach located on the east side of the park.
- Museum Campus is a nice green space right in front of The Shed Aquarium and the Field Museum. This is also a good place to watch the Fire Works on the 3rd of July.
- River Walk is along the river and is a nice path to follow
The Museum Campus is located in the south east corner of The Loop area. The Field Museum of Natural History, The Shed Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium are located on the campus. The Art Institute of Chicago is located further north at the intersection of Michigan Ave and Adams St. For more information read the Museums in Chicago article.
Other Sights and Activities
- Buckingham Fountain is one of the main symbols of Chicago and located in Grant Park. This large fountain was built in 1927 and has more then 1,500,000 U.S. gallons (5,700,000 L) going in its system. Every hour on the hour the main water cannon at the center of the fountain launches a stream of water vertically 150 ft (46 m) into the air for 20 miuntes. The fountain runs everyday from 8 am to 11 pm from mid-April to mid-October depending on the weather. It was made famous as the opening shot for the TV series Married with Children
Events and Festivals
- The Chicago Gospel Music Festival is held yearly during the first weekend of June in Grant Park. It features local as well as international gospel performers over the 3-day event. The festival also includes an art fair and activities for children. Admission is free. Site links and additional information will be posted as they become available.
- Chicago Blues Festival is held yearly during the second weekend of June in Grant Park. With 6 stages and over 70 performances scheduled, this 4-day event offers the "best of the best" in blues entertainment. Admission is free. Hours are 11:00 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. daily.
- Taste of Chicago is a 10 day event beginning the last week of June and is held in Grant Park. (No, not everything is held in Grant Park, but almost...) "Taste" (as it's known locally - they drop the "Of Chicago" since everyone knows where they are...) gives visitors a chance to taste (knew that was coming, didn't you) a variety of foods and beverages from more than 70 Chicago restaurants and establishments. Cooking demonstrations are held daily at Dominick's Cooking Corner and the family can enjoy a variety of activities at the Family Village and Fun Time Stage. The Taste Stage highlights local bands throughout each day. Every evening there is a free concert on the Taste of Chicago's Main Stage (Petrillo Band Shell) featuring famous performers from around the world. Previous artists have included Sheryl Crow, Train, Los Lonely Boys, Santana and Counting Crows, just to name a few. The evening concerts begin approximately 7:00-8:00 p.m. and 3:00-4:00 p.m. on the weekend. Admission to the festival is free. Food and beverages are purchased with tickets only. Tickets are sold in strips of 12 for $8.00 and available at booths located throughout Grant Park. Food/beverage prices (in tickets) are posted on each vendor's booth. Hours are 11:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. daily. July 3rd and 4th hours are 11:00 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. Closing day hours are 11:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
All roads lead to the centre and The Loop is the centre. Trains, roads and major buses from every corner of the city go directly to The Loop.
Almost all of the CTA and Metra Trains go to different areas of The Loop. The L, which The Loop gets it name from, has several CTA train lines running on it.
Driving to The Loop is an option and there are several parking garages around however they tend to be expensive and fill up during peak times. The easiest way to get to The Loop is to take Lake Shore Drive to the Roosevelt Road exit in the south or the North Michigan Ave Exit in the north. If coming by Interstate 90/94 take any of The Loop exits.
Countless buses from the city go to The Loop. It is best to check with your hotel or host to find out the best buses to reach downtown.
During the day traffic is terrible in The Loop. It is best to park the car and walk or use public transport.
By Public Transport
There are several buses that run around The Loop that would be useful to a tourist. Here is a list of a few of them.
- Number 10 Bus runs from Water Tower on North Michigan Ave till the river then on State Street down The Loop then out to the Museum Campus and then on Lake Shore Drive south to the Museum of Science and Industry then back. This bus runs daily late morning to late afternoon Memorial Day to Labor Day, Thanksgiving to January 5 and weekends and holiday the rest of the year.
- Hub 51 is located at 51 West Hubbard near the Grand Redline stop. This is a pretty crazy club that is also a restaurant during the day time. The downstairs room is a lot fun but requires a reservation. Phone: 312-828-0051.
See also International Telephone Calls
The US Postal Service is very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS and DHL.