The Chicago Theatre#12 in Best Things To Do in Chicago
Aside from Cloud Gate and Buckingham Fountain, The Chicago Theatre's red and yellow marquee is perhaps one of the city's most recognizable landmarks. Illuminating North State Street at the northern edge of the Loop, The Chicago Theatre first opened its doors in 1921 as an extravagant movie theater and performance venue. Throughout its history, the theater has hosted such big names as Duke Ellington, Diana Ross and Lewis Black in addition to screening blockbuster flicks. Though the theater fell into disarray in the '70s, new management and a full renovation in the '80s helped return the venue to its former glory. Today, the theater is still used for a variety of comedic, theatrical and musical performances.
According to past patrons, the theater's historic appearance enhances the overall experience of catching an event here. If you're unable to score tickets to an event, travelers recommend participating in a one-hour theater tour, which are offered daily at noon (excluding Thanksgiving, Christmas and select event days) and take you through the lobby, into the theater and backstage. And remember, cameras and video cameras, including those on cell phones, cannot be used during tours or performances.
The Chicago Theatre is situated a block south of the Chicago River and a few blocks northwest of Millennium Park. The Lake and State/Lake L stations sit within walking distance of the venue, and a parking garage is located at the corner of North Wabash Avenue and East Randolph Street. Fees apply for parking in the garage; showtimes and ticket prices vary by day and performer. Theater tours cost $15 for adults and $10 for children 12 and younger. (Tour rates are covered for visitors with Go Chicago Cards.) Venue facilities include restrooms, concessions stands and merchandise booths. For a detailed schedule of upcoming performances and tour times, visit The Chicago Theatre's website.
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#1 Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain
Often referred to as "Chicago's front yard," Grant Park is a 319-acre swath of green space that starts at the eastern edge of the Loop and stretches down to the northern fringes of the Near South Side. First-time visitors should plan on spending a fair amount of time in Grant Park: This is where you'll find several of Chicago's most popular things to do, including The Field Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago and Shedd Aquarium. (Millennium Park also rubs elbows with the northwest corner of Grant Park.) Baseball diamonds, flower gardens, walking paths and wide-open grassy terrain are available as well.
At the heart of Grant Park is Buckingham Fountain. One of the largest fountains in the world, this tiered water feature boasts 133 jets that shoot water as high as 150 feet into the air during 20-minute choreographed displays (which take place every hour on the hour between 9 a.m. and 10:35 p.m. from April to October). At night, the fountain's performance is accompanied by lights and music.
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