Who knows the best places in Chicago to visit, eat, drink, shop— maybe even go for a run? A local, of course! Here’s our list of hotly contested favorites from a survey of Bank of America’s nearly 7,000 employees who live and work in Chicago.
Favorite neighborhood: Lincoln Park
This iconic lakefront neighborhood is easily accessible from the Loop and just north of the Magnificent Mile. It offers great places to run and bike, a mix of restaurants and bars, and a lively weekend scene. There is great shopping—without the downtown hustle — at small boutiques on favorite streets like Armitage Avenue and Halsted Street. Located in the heart of the neighborhood is the Lincoln Park Zoo, a favorite among families and free of charge.
Favorite museum or cultural attraction: Shedd Aquarium
One of the most family-friendly attractions in Chicago, Shedd Aquarium anchors the city’s Museum Campus, right near the Field Museum and the Adler Planetarium. Star exhibits include a 90,000-gallon-tank Caribbean Reef, Amazon Rising’s flooded forest, the Abbott Oceanarium’s Pacific Northwest Coast exhibit, and Wild Reef’s Indo-Pacific habitat. New this year is the Stingray Touch exhibit that allows guests to get hands-on with cow-nose and yellow spotted rays. The aquarium houses 32,500 animals — including sharks, beluga whales, dolphins, otters, penguins, and jellies. Be sure to stop by and see Nickel, the turtle that swallowed a coin that can’t be removed. When you’ve had enough of the life aquatic, the Shedd has stellar views of downtown that can be seen from its terraces.
Favorite park: Millennium Park
Millennium Park, located in the heart of downtown Chicago is an oasis of green that offers everything you could want in a public space. The 24.5-acre park features a number of iconic attractions that draw millions every year. A giant steel sculpture gives back reflections of the city’s skyline — and its visitors. The Crown Fountain is two glass towers that feature images of local Chicagoans and overlooks a black granite reflecting pool. The Jay Pritzker Pavilion is the setting for outdoor concerts, public gardens, outdoor dining, a performing arts theater and much more. Not bad for a green space that was built on top of what was originally a rail yard and parking garages.
Favorite music spot: Jay Pritzker Pavilion
The Jay Pritzker Pavilion is the venue of choice to hear many musical styles, free of charge in an open-air setting. The pavilion includes a state-of-the-art sound system that closely replicates an indoor concert hall experience. On summer nights, visitors bring friends, set out picnics and listen to music while a breeze comes off the lake.
Favorite landmark: Buckingham Fountain
Since 1927, Buckingham Fountain, located in Grant Park is one of Chicago’s most famous attractions. The beaux art beauty, modeled after a fountain at Versailles, features four sea horses symbolizing the states that border Lake Michigan. The fountain operates daily from April through mid-October. Water shows, where the central jet shoots up to 150 feet high, are scheduled every hour on the hour. After dusk, lights and music, adorn the fountain.
Favorite shopping: The Magnificent Mile
Chicago’s Magnificent Mile—often referred to as The Mag Mile—is a 13-block stretch of North Michigan Avenue that links the Loop with the Gold Coast. Dotted with restaurants, upscale shopping and hotels, it is a prime window-shopping destination. The Mag Mile is a great walking street, with architecturally significant buildings at every turn.
Favorite place to view marathon: Any of the 29 diverse neighborhoods
One of the most popular places to cheer on Bank of America Chicago Marathon runners as they start and finish is in Grant Park. The race begins there and travels through 29 diverse neighborhoods until it ends up back in the park. The 29 neighborhoods that make up the course include New East Side, Streeterville, Magnificent Mile, The Loop, River North, Near North, Old Town, Old Town Triangle, Lakeview East, Park West, Lincoln Park, West Loop Gate, West Loop, Greektown, Near West Side, Little Italy, University Village, Illinois Medical District, Pilsen, East Pilsen, Chinatown, Bridgeport, Park Boulevard, Bronzeville, The Gap, South Commons, South Loop, Prairie District and Central Station. No matter where you are in the city, you can cheer on your favorite runner.