Photos: Chicago style

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  1. Windy City high

    A view of the Chicago skyline with Lake Michigan in the background from atop the Sears Tower Skydeck observation tower. Completed in 1973, the Sears Tower is the tallest building in the U.S. and a popular location for tourists. (Tim Boyle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Artsy avenue

    Two lions guard the entrance to The Art Institute of Chicago along Michigan Avenue. The institute was founded in 1879 as both a museum and school. (Jeff Haynes / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Rinse and spit

    Austin Hilsmier, then 3, from Chicago, looks back at his mom as he plays in Crown Fountain at Millennium Park. (Charles Rex Arbogast / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Monumental view

    Visitors to Chicago's Millennium Park pass by the Millennium Monument. (M. Spencer Green / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A cloud's reflection

    Tourists gather under Anish Kapoor's "Cloud Gate" sculpture in Millennium Park. (Charles Rex Arbogast / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Running the shore

    A man jogs along the Lake Michigan shoreline in Chicago. (Charles Rex Arbogast / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Great day for a stroll

    A woman pushes a baby buggy through a small playground nestled in downtown Chicago's Grant Park. (M. Spencer Green / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Bonding time

    A male trumpeter swan at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo takes his newly hatched offspring into the swan pond for a swim. (Greg Neise / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Botanic Garden

    The Chicago Botanic Garden features 23 beautiful gardens and three native habitats set on 385 acres of rolling hills and tranquil lakes. The garden is open year-round. (CNSCVB.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Aquamarine awe

    Visitors check out the three-million gallon Oceanarium exhibit at the Shedd Aquarium. The Oceanarium is the largest indoor marine mammal facility in the world and one of the few aquariums in North America to display Pacific white-sided dolphins and beluga whales. Cutting edge innovations introduced by the Shedd over the years has helped change the experience for visitors at aquariums around the country. (Nam Y. Huh / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Preserving history

    The Evanston Historical Society, at the Charles Gates Dawes House in Evanston, Illinois. The chateauesque mansion of former U.S. vice-president Charles Gates Dawes, is three-and-a- half stories, has 25 rooms, six bedrooms, seven bathrooms and 11 fireplaces. This national historic landmark's exhibits focus on Evanston history. (CNSCVB.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Academic aerial

    Northwestern University, in Evanston, Illinois. Founded in 1851, this renowned educational institution is rich in history and architecture. (CNSCVB.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Cycling heaven

    Two cyclists pedal along Lake Michigan in Chicago, during the early morning hours. Chicago has earned the reputation as a bike friendly city. (Charles Rex Arbogast / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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updated 8/7/2006 12:36:54 PM ET 2006-08-07T16:36:54

Shopping the Town:Michigan Avenue is often touted as a shopper's paradise, and I'll admit it has a great lineup of big-name designer boutiques and multilevel high-end shopping malls. But that's all stuff you can find in any other big city. For more distinctive items, head to the city's residential districts, where trendy independent clothing boutiques sit next to eclectic home-design stores filled with one-of-a-kind treasures. The home-decor shops along Armitage Avenue cater to stylish young families with plenty of spending money; Wicker Park and Bucktown attract edgy fashionistas with a range of funky clothing shops. Southport Avenue (near Wrigley Field) and West Division Street (south of Wicker Park) are the newest up-and-coming shopping meccas -- with no nametag-wearing conventioneers in sight.

Soaking Up Sun at Wrigley Field: It's a Chicago tradition to play hooky for an afternoon, sit in the bleachers at this historic baseball park, and watch the Cubbies try to hit 'em onto Waveland Avenue. Despite being perennial losers, the Cubs sell out almost every game; your best bet is to buy tickets for a weekday afternoon (although you'll often find season ticket holders selling seats at face value in front of Wrigley right before a game). Even if you can't get in, you can still soak in the atmosphere at one of the neighborhood's many watering holes.

Playing in the Sand: If you're staying at a downtown hotel, you can hit the sands of Chicago's urban beaches almost as quickly as your elevator gets you to the lobby. Oak Street Beach (at Michigan Ave. and Lake Shore Dr.) is mostly for posing; North Avenue Beach, a little farther north along the lakefront path, is home to weekend volleyball games, family beach outings, and a whole lot of eye candy. You probably won't do any swimming (even in the middle of summer, the water's frigid), but either beach makes a great place to hang out with a picnic and a book on a warm afternoon.

Raising a Glass (or a Coffee Cup): Chicago has its share of trendy lounges that serve overpriced specialty martinis. But the heart of the city's nightlife remains the neighborhood taverns: places with no attitude, minimal decor, and a convivial spirit, where you can have a conversation without being drowned out by the hoots and hollers of drunken frat boys (although there are plenty of bars catering to that particular demographic).

My favorites include the Red Lion Pub (2446 N. Lincoln Ave.; tel. 773/348-2695) in Lincoln Park; Miller's Pub (134 S. Wabash Ave.; tel. 312/645-5377) in the Loop; and the Map Room (1949 N. Hoyne Ave.; tel. 773/252-7636) in Bucktown. If you prefer to keep things nonalcoholic, grab coffee and dessert at either of my two favorite cafes: Third Coast (1260 N. Dearborn St.; tel. 312/649-0730) on the Gold Coast, or Uncommon Ground (1214 W. Grace St.; tel. 773/929-3680) in Wrigleyville.

For a complete listing of what to see and do in Chicago, visit the online attractions index at Frommers.com.

Frommer’s is America’s bestselling travel guide series. Visit Frommers.com to find great deals, get information on over 3,500 destinations, and book your trip. © 2006 Wiley Publishing, Inc. Republication or redistribution of Frommer's content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Wiley.

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