Previously occupied by rail yards and parking lots, Millennium Park is now Chicago’s premier green space, located in the heart of downtown. It’s the perfect place for those looking to discover a state-of-the-art collection of architecture and art, for little to no cost. The park’s 25 acres include hundreds of free cultural programs including concerts, exhibitions, tours and family activities. Here are some of the top spots:
• Catch a show at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, which hosts performances ranging from classical ballet and contemporary dance to classical, opera and folk music.
The event calendar can be found here.
• Dine at the Park Grill, a 300-seat restaurant located in the McCormick Tribune Plaza at Michigan Avenue and Washington Street. It’s open all-year long, and in the warm-weather months an outdoor patio is added for an exceptional view of the city skyline.
• Take a picture in front of Cloud Gate, the massive, stainless steel bean structure that’s become Chicago’s signature landmark. In its mirror-like surface you’ll see your own reflection and the stunning downtown skyline.
• In the summer months cool off by splashing around Crown Fountain, a reflecting pool bookended by 50-foot towers. The towers project video images from a broad social spectrum of Chicago citizens, a reference to the traditional use of gargoyles in fountains, where faces of mythological beings were sculpted with open mouths to allow water, a symbol of life, to flow out.
• During colder months ice skating at Millennium Park is one of the city’s most popular winter activities with the rink’s skyscraper views, festive music and charm. The rink is outside along Michigan Avenue (between Washington and Madison Street). Skating is free if you have your own skates; $10 to rent skates.
• Take a walk through Lurie Garden’s narrow pathways and sculpted hedgerows, perennial plants and cherry trees for a moment of respite.
• Spread out a blanket on the Great Lawn in front of the Pritzker Pavilion for any of the free events each day. The Pavilion is the centerpiece of Millennium Park, known for its trademark curving plates and stainless steel beams, and there’s often a show going on.
The Grant Park Music Festival organizes free concerts by popular bands and classical ensembles including the Grant Park Orchestra.
A visit to Chicago would not be complete without a stop in Millennium Park, and it won’t cost you a cent.
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