Architect Daniel Burnham's famous mantra was “make no little plans.” He stayed true to this rule when he spearheaded Chicago's development for the 1893 World's Fair and its opulent “White City.” More than 100 years later, the Second City is still second to none in its scope and ambition. Arts, architecture, sports, a vibrant restaurant and nightlife scene — there's no shortage of activities to fill the hours around your FMI Show experience. So take Burnham's words to heart and plan your own Chicago adventure well.
SECOND CITY SIGHTS
The newest addition to Chicago's must-see repertoire, Millennium Park is a 25-acre marvel of art and architecture. Stroll along the tree-lined paths until you come across the Frank Gehry-designed Pritzker Pavilion concert hall and adjacent Cloud Gate sculpture — both of which add a flair of art nouveau to the surrounding cityscape. Or pack a blanket and some snacks and just soak up the warmth of springtime in the city. Located between Michigan and Columbus avenues, and open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day. Admission is free.
First opened in 1930, the massive John G. Shedd Aquarium holds more than 22,000 aquatic creatures, including whales, sharks, otters — and a 75-year-old Australian lungfish named “Granddad.” The aquarium, named for a former president of the famous Marshall Field & Co. stores, also hosts a variety of ongoing and seasonal exhibits. Be sure to check out the featured lizard section, recently extended through next year due to popular demand. And don't forget about the baby beluga whale born in July of last year. An “All Access” pass costs $23 for adults, $16 for children and seniors. Open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on weekdays, and until 6 p.m. on weekends.
Nothing says springtime like a walk through the flowers. Fortunately for FMI-goers, both the Lincoln Park and Garfield Park Conservatories are holding their annual spring flower shows from February to late May. Included in this year's array are colorful annuals, perennials and a host of graceful azaleas. Want to go from one park to the other? Hop a cab for the three-mile ride, or walk if you're ambitious. Admission to both shows is free. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Also be sure to stop in and see Sue. Who's Sue, you ask? Why, none other than the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton in the world. She's waiting for you at The Field Museum, located across the street from Soldier Field on the shore of Lake Michigan. The 115-year-old museum also holds many other exhibits, including the recently added “The Ancient Americas” exhibit, which chronicles 13,000 years of the human experience in the Western Hemisphere. Admission is $12 for adults, $7 for children and seniors. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Originally built atop the ruins of Chicago's famous fire of 1871, The Art Institute of Chicago is a landmark museum and school. Home to works that collectively cover more than 5,000 years of human history, the institute examines art themes of both the present and distant past through its innovative exhibits. Featured early this month are late 19th century paintings of Picasso, Cézanne and others who fell under the charge of renowned art dealer Ambroise Vollard. Admission is $12 for adults, $7 for seniors. Children under 12 get in free. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday.
If you're more in the mood for the cutting edge, drop by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, located at 220 Chicago Ave. in the Magnificent Mile. Jasper Johns, René Magritte and Andy Warhol are just a few of the artists whose work is on display. Featured during the FMI Show will be “Defining Moments in Photography,” which examines the work of more than 50 photographers. Suggested admission is $10 for adults, $6 for seniors. Children 12 and under are free. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday. The museum is closed Mondays.
Choosing from among the numerous plays unfolding throughout the city can be tough. To make the decision easier, we've enlisted the help of Chicago Tribune theater critic Chris Jones. These are his picks.
“The Color Purple” is a musical rendition of Alice Walker's 1982 novel about a young African American girl overcoming adversity in early 1900s rural Georgia, featuring a lineup of gospel, blues, jazz and ragtime songs. The show plays at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 West Randolph St. Tickets are $28 to $85. For more information, call (312) 977-1700.
“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” a Tony Award-winning musical comedy, tells the story of six children and the pressures they face preparing for the title event. Performances take place at the Drury Lane Theatre at Water Tower Place, 175 East Chestnut St. Tickets are $58.50 to $69.50. For more information, call (312) 642-2000.
“Oedipus Complex” is an updated version of the well-known play by Sophocles, which details the tragedy of a young man who mistakenly kills his father and marries his mother. The production takes place at the Goodman Theatre, 170 North Dearborn St. Tickets are $17.50 to $50. For more information, call (312) 443-3800.
“Forbidden Broadway: Special Victims Unit” is a send-up of Broadway's best and worst through the years. On the chopping block are, among others, “Chicago,” “Mary Poppins” and “Wicked.” Playing at the Royal George Theatre, 1641 North Halsted St. Tickets are $35 to $45. For more information, call (312) 988-9000.
Quite possibly the most sensual show in town, “Light Rain,” presented by the Joffrey Ballet, is a fluid six-piece program that expresses themes of love and conflict — and everything in between. Performing at the Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University, 50 East Congress Parkway. Shows are at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on May 5, and at 2 p.m. on May 6. For more information, call (312) 386-8905.
Cheer on the Cubs as they compete inside the ivy-walled confines of the nation's oldest ballpark, Wrigley Field. They play the Washington Nationals there at 1:20 p.m. on May 6, and against the Pittsburgh Pirates at 7:05 p.m. on May 8. For tickets, call (800) THE-CUBS.
Looking for something a little more hard-hitting? Get acquainted with Arena League Football and the Chicago Rush team. They face off against the Colorado Crush May 7 at 7 p.m. For tickets, call (773) 243-3434.
Featuring relaxing treatments for both men and women, Channing's Day Spa has been a Chicago favorite for more than two decades. An array of massages, wraps, baths and peels are available separately or together as a package. For the all-encompassing experience, try “The Works.” Located at 54 East Oak St. For more information, call (312) 280-1994.
For a fantastic skyline view, hop aboard the Spirit of Chicago cruise line. Offering several options — including lunch, dinner and romantic moonlight cruises — the Spirit wines, dines and entertains its guests as it sails along the downtown span of Lake Michigan. All trips board at Navy Pier. For prices and reservations, call (866) 211-3804.
OH, WHAT A NIGHT!
It's no secret that Chicago has an Irish heritage as thick as a rolling brogue. To experience a bit of this green scene, head to one of the city's most venerated Irish pubs — Chief O'Neill's. Named for a tough-as-nails police chief from generations ago, this popular spot carries an assortment of imported and domestic brews, along with quality bar snacks such as mussels in wine. If you're hungry enough for a meal, the Chief serves up quality fare that earned a “4 fork” rating from the Chicago Tribune. Located at 3471 North Elston Ave., Chief O'Neill's is open until 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday. For more information, call (773) 473-5263.
If you're more into reds and whites than pilsners and lagers, head to The Tasting Room, a cozy wine bar that should satisfy any palate, sophisticated or not. Choose from more than 100 wines by the glass, bottle or flight. To mix things up, you can also order from its cheese and dessert menu. Located at 1415 Randolph St. and open until 1 a.m. Monday through Friday.