With the upcoming Fall National Leadership Conference in Chicago, IL, FBLA members nationwide are looking forward to an awesome experience this weekend! For many of you, this will be a first-time trip to Chicago with lots of opportunities to explore the beautiful “Windy City”. To help you prepare to maximize your NFLC Chicago experience, the FBLA Social Media Ambassador team has compiled a list of 10 things you don’t want to miss out on in Chicago.
1. Visit the top of Chicago on the Skydeck
If you can only get to one stop on this list and really want to experience Chicago, this is the landmark to visit. With the Skydeck experience, you will be on an observation deck of the famous Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) with a view over the entire bustling city. It’s located only a minute’s walk away from Hilton Chicago, and offers one view you can’t get anywhere else in the city. There is even a viewbox where you can look straight down the side of the Willis Tower for the brave visitors!
2. Drop by Lincoln Park Zoo (for free!)
While big cities like Chicago can eat through your spending budget quickly, Lincoln Park Zoo is a great destination for tourists as one of the last free zoos in the nation. Although Lincoln Park is about 5 miles away from Hilton Chicago, it’s well worth the drive and has many daily activities to make your visit interesting. The zoo has constantly updating exhibits, such as the newer arctic tundra or classic sahara locations.
3. Visit Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park
Chicago’s famous Buckingham Fountain was built in 1927 and remains one of the largest in the world today. It is a true landmark of Chicago in the heart of the city, and most importantly right next to the Hilton Chicago! Grant Park, where you’ll find the Fountain, is a great place to take a walk to after a day of leadership and learning, and is conveniently one of the closest places to hang out by the Hilton where NFLC attendees stay. Not to mention the spectacular views of the downtown building skyline from right at the Buckingham Fountain base!
4. Stop by the Chicago Bean
You haven’t been to Chicago if you haven’t been the Bean. While you’re at Buckingham Fountain, just a block away is the world-famous Chicago Bean sculpture in Millenium Park. Why is this gigantic, metallic bean famous? Don’t ask us, but it’s a must-have stop while you’re staying in the Windy City. Not to mention Millenium Park is just as close to Hilton Chicago as Grant, so you won’t need an Uber to visit this one.
5. Learn about Chicago’s historically famous Jazz and Blues music
Chicago has been a hub for Jazz and Blues music for decades, hosting an annual Jazz Festival and many other events throughout the year. While you may not be able to visit the Chicago House of Blues this time around (or maybe you can!), the city is famous for the many musicians to be found on street corners and in restaurants and bars. You won’t be leaving Illinois without hearing some of that masterful music, and if you want to learn even more about the history and culture, the National Jazz Museum may be the place for you.
6. Visit Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs
While baseball season is over this time of year, Wrigley Field remains a cultural icon and active throughout the year in other events like concerts. During the season, Wrigley Field tours lead tourists through the inside and outside of the famous Field. There may not be any running this November, but keep a tour or Cubs ballgame on your Chicago checklist for the future! Did you know the Chicago Cubs were World Series Champions just 2 years ago in 2016?
7. Tour the Field Museum with the world’s largest Tyrannosaurus Rex!
If you haven’t heard of the Field Museum but enjoy science and technology, then it’s about time you did! This museum is just a 15 minute walk away from Hilton Chicago, and offers many hours of unique exhibits you won’t find anywhere else in the country. Including the world’s largest T-Rex, mummy exhibits, and cultural history from all areas of the globe, there’s no way you can run out of things to do at the Field Museum.
8. Get to the Shedd Aquarium
If there are not aquariums in your area or you have never been to one, Shedd Aquarium is the top-of-the-line indoor aquarium that you have been waiting for. Shedd is located within walking distance from Hilton Chicago, right next to the Field Museum. They have a multitude of exhibits to be discovered, as well as shows like shark-feeding happening all day long. They are open until 5pm on weekdays and 6pm on weekends, so if you can find a few hours during the day this is certainly a place to check out!
As any major city should, Chicago has no lack of tours and excursions to give you the full experience of Windy City culture. Historical tours, boat tours, and even self-guided tours are the best way to get you around to as much of the city’s landmarks as possible without having to spend hours researching by yourself. Make sure to get to the shore of Lake Michigan at one point, and then Willis Tower and a museum or two!
10. Explore Chicago’s food culture, everywhere!
Chicago is home to some of the most original food options and styles from across the globe. Famous Chicago-Style pizza or a genuine polish sausage is better had in there than anywhere else in America, and you should take advantage of that while you can! And, of course, who doesn’t love an original Chicago Rainbow Cone for after a hard day of leadership.