Road Trip Destination: Chicago

Jeremy Fugleberg

Jeremy Fugleberg

Chicago, Chicago!

Smooth-voiced crooner Frank Sinatra knew “The Windy City” was a place to lose your blues. That magic is why it’s still a good road trip destination, despite the nine hours it takes to get there.

Navy Pier juts into Lake Michigan and makes a great starting spot for over eight million Chicago newbies every year. It’s a tourist trap, sure, but still a great destination with its variety of shops, an IMAX theater and the giant 55-foot Ferris wheel.

From there you can take a taxi, a rental bike, a water taxi, or just walk south along the shoreline to Shedd Aquarium, one of the oldest aquariums in the world. Built in 1918, the Shedd features the “Oceanarium” – a gigantic tank surrounded by rocks and trees to simulate the real world. The tank looks like part of the ocean because two-story high windows on one side of the tank look out over Lake Michigan.

Right next to the Shedd aquarium is the Adler Planetarium and the Field Museum. With over two million specimens, the Field Museum has displays covering human history, an extensive gem selection, and natural specimens of all shapes and sizes.

The Field Museum also features South Dakota’s own Sue, the world’s largest, most complete T-Rex skeleton. Dug up in 1990 near Faith, Sue was finally bought by the museum with the help of McDonald’s after a long legal battle. The promotion for Sue partially inspired McDonald’s “dino-sizing,” the bigger meal portions that led to the “super-sizing” of today.

After saying “hi” to Sue, head downtown for shopping on the “Magnificent Mile,” the much-heralded classy shopping district. Take your time window-shopping and people watching – it’s free, after all.

When you’ve had your fill of purchases and people, take a ride on Chicago’s “El,” the famous elevated train, to the Sears Tower. It’s not the tallest building in the world anymore, but the bird’s eye view of the city and lake is worth the price of the turbo elevator ride.

So if you want to have “the time of your life” like Ol’ Blue Eyes had, make the long drive to Chicago’s downtown.

#1.885619:452698583.jpg:Chicago Trip.jpg:Sue, in the Field Museum, is the largest,most complete T-Rex skeleton in the world.: