Chicago Holiday Attractions 2014

Chicago winter attractions

Chicago is an enchanting city in the wintertime. From the gorgeous lights and lush decorations festooning the window fronts along the Magnificent Mile to the majestic Christmas Tree in Daley Plaza, the festive holiday spirit is everywhere! If you’re looking to explore some top holiday attractions in Chicago this year, we’ve got a great selection of activities and attractions that fit the bill. Plus, you can save on all your Chicago attraction visits with one of Smart Destinations’ award-winning multi-attraction passes. Interested in some traditional winter fun? Why not go for a spin on the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park? Open until March, this family-favorite activity is a staple of downtown Chicago’s winter fun. Are you the musical type? Be sure to make some … [Read more...]

Top US Cities to Visit for the Holidays 2014

christmas-lights-chicago-300x200

What is the top U.S. city for holiday attractions? This was a question posed to me by a long-time Smart Destinations customer. Easy, right? Not so fast. Without question, New York City is a magical place to be during the most wonderful time of the year. However, after doing some research and asking some of our tour partners, I discovered there are other cities that rank right up alongside the City That Never Sleeps in terms of top-notch U.S. holiday attractions. Here are a couple of other great places to be over the upcoming holidays – and the special events they're holding in 2014. Orlando Beautiful, warm weather and endless attractions... how could you go wrong? Spending the holidays in Florida isn't for everyone, and may even seem counterintuitive, particularly to those who prefer … [Read more...]

Thanksgiving in Chicago 2014

Chicago Attractions

There’s no better way to celebrate Thanksgiving in Chicago than with a morning spent at the annual McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Conveniently scheduled to end at 11 am, it’s the perfect way to start off your Thanksgiving Day without interfering with your dinner plans. This year’s parade promises to be better than ever, with more floats, more balloons, more exciting performances and events, and even more fun for the kids. It’s been a top Chicago attraction for the last several years and it’s a definite must-see for visitors. The 2014 McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade will begin at 8:00 am and conclude at 11:00 am, running through downtown Chicago along State Street from Congress to Randolph. Stand and cheer with several hundred thousand other spectators as they … [Read more...]

Halloween in Chicago 2014

Chicago attractions

Planning on being in Chicago this Halloween and looking for some fun, festive activities to celebrate the holiday? Well, you’re in luck because we’ve put together a full line-up of fun Chicago attractions to help you celebrate our favorite fall holiday. Many of these events are longstanding Chicago traditions, so whatever you choose you’ll be sure to have a spooky good time! “Zombie Containment” Haunted House Located off of Navy Pier, this spooky marvel is Chicago’s only floating haunted house (and certainly the only floating haunted house I’ve ever seen). The Haunted House goes from terrifying at night to gently spooky by day, making it an ideal attraction for families with kids who want to partake in Halloween fun without having to navigate age-appropriate attractions. … [Read more...]

Chicago Fall Attractions

Chicago Attractions

Autumn is a wonderful time to visit the Windy City. The long lines of the summer have died down, and the cool air is a refreshing change from the humidity and heat of the last few months. But there are so many things to see and do in Chicago during the fall that it can be hard to pick just a few attractions to visit or museums to explore. So why not check out our perfect fall itinerary? Filled with top Chicago attractions and handy insider tips, this guide is sure to be of use. Enjoy the great outdoors before the chill of winter sets in. Chicago in the fall is perfect for invigorating walks and refreshing bike rides! Pick up a bike rental from Navy Pier and enjoy a leisurely waterfront ride. Or, hop aboard the ever-popular Architecture Cruise before the famed Chicago River gets a … [Read more...]

Inaugural Chicago Fire Festival Coming this October

Chicago Fire Festival

Coming this October, the latest and greatest Chicago attraction is the Chicago Fire Festival (no, it has nothing to do with the MLS team). Designed as a testament to Chicago’s growth, resiliency, and cultural diversity in the 140+ years since the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, this brand new festival is going to really knock your socks off. From exciting fire sculptures to themed entertainment and kids’ activities, the Chicago Fire Festival has got it all. The Chicago Fire Festival will be held on Saturday, October 4th on the Chicago Riverwalk. The culmination of a series of neighborhood summer festivals, this event is going to be the icing on the cake. From performances and exhibitions by hundreds of entertainers (my favorite is the Steampunk-themed boat) to the eclectic and … [Read more...]

Visiting The Brookfield Zoo

Brookfield Zoo Ticket Discount

Operated by the Chicago Zoological Society, the Brookfield Zoo is an absolute must-see for animal lovers. Larger than the urban Lincoln Park Zoo, Brookfield is home to more than 2,000 creatures – great and small. A visit here is a great complement to time spent at Shedd Aquarium; both renowned centers of conservation and education are sure to delight and inspire kids of all ages. Brookfield, Illinois is a short drive from the heart of the city – just out north of Midway Airport – but you’ll be amazed at the massive greenspace nestled in the heart of the Chicago suburbs. The Brookfield Zoo is organized into several distinct habitats and exhibits that each tell their own important narrative about conservation and the natural world. It’s large enough that we recommend reserving … [Read more...]

Visit SkyDeck Chicago

SkyDeck Chicago

Looking to make your Chicago vacation more exciting? Take a ride to the top of the world-famous Willis Tower and explore SkyDeck Chicago. The observatory deck of the building formerly known as the Sears Tower is located exactly 1,353 feet above ground level – that’s one heck of a view! The 103rd floor is an excellent vantage point for all of your panoramic views of downtown Chicago, greater Chicagoland, and even Lake Michigan. SkyDeck Chicago is a top attraction in one of Chicago’s most iconic buildings and is a must-see destination for first-time visitors.. Of course, SkyDeck Chicago is more than just an elevator ride – it’s also an informative, interactive museum for visitors to learn all about the history of Chicago. Engaging exhibits and historical photographs comprise … [Read more...]

Shark Week at the Shedd Aquarium

great white shark

Deep in the waters of the earth’s massive oceans, more than 300 species of sharks live in a shroud of mystery and myth. From coral reefs in the Indian Ocean to Caribbean Sea, sharks hunt their prey, scavenge for food, and stealthily roam the waters enjoying their status at the top of the ocean’s natural food chain. However, there’s a lot about sharks that you may not know. According to the experts at the Shedd Aquarium, there are a lot of misconceptions out there surrounding these feared creatures. That’s why—just in time for the Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week—the Shedd Aquarium is hosting the Shark Week “Shedd-ule” of Events. In fact, the Shedd Aquarium’s events are already underway. On July 5th, Shedd launched Shark Feeding Tour: Behind the Scenes in Wild … [Read more...]

Best Chicago Restaurants

Best Chicago Restaurants

Chicago has an excellent reputation for inventive, delicious cuisine that never fails to amaze. Here are a few of our recommendations for the best restaurants in Chicago.  We’ve included a diverse selection of eateries to appeal to a variety of diners, from families with kids to couples looking for something unique and romantic. Restaurants are located in Chicago and are within a short drive or walk from local attractions, so you can stop for dinner or lunch as part of a larger plan. For Families Harry Caray's 7th Inning Stretch www.harrycarays.com 835 North Michigan Avenue Level 7 Chicago, IL 60611                                     Fun, informal American Nearby Attractions: 360 CHICAGO, Water Tower Place Mall, Michigan Avenue Pizzaria da … [Read more...]