Image: Tribune tower
M. Spencer Green  /  AP
A statue of Nathan Hale stands at the entrance of The Chicago Tribune as tourists inspect the many historic stones from around the world in the walls of the Tribune tower building, one of Chicago's most famous examples of architecture.
updated 9/6/2007 2:32:33 PM ET 2007-09-06T18:32:33

Summer heat is winding down on the Lake Michigan lakefront and winter's cold wind is still months away, making this a great time to visit Chicago. And a few minutes on the Internet will show you there's more than enough going on to keep you entertained.

For starters, you could take in the Chicago International Film Festival coming up on Oct. 4-17, although you might need to check back later for updates to the Web site. And an exhibition titled "Stars Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination" is opening on Oct. 5 for a three-month run at the city's famed Museum of Science and Industry.

The Museum of Science and Industry is one of the city's big attractions, especially if your kids are going along. There's a World War II German submarine, the U-505, and even a coal mine. And if you click on "Exhibits" you can warm up with online versions of some of the top attractions. When your feet need a rest, take in one of the museum's Omnimax Films, such as "Hurricane on the Bayou."

For a change from science and industry, take in the Field Museum where the natural history exhibits include Sue, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex fossil. And until the end of the year, it's the home of "Darwin," a show about Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution.

It's a big city and you need a high vantage point to see it all.

Try the New Hancock Observatory atop the 100-story John Hancock Center. Get a preview of the scenery by clicking on "Attractions" and then on the three "Sample Views." If your acrophobia is under control, you can try the open-air Skywalk deck. For a different vantage point, go a few blocks to the Skydeck atop the 110-story Sears Tower.

You can't spend all your time indoors. Go to the Millennium Park next to the Art Institute and across Columbus Drive from Daley Plaza, to look at the reflections in the shiny Cloud Gate sculpture, also known as the Bean. Look under "Art & Architecture" for details on the Bean, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion and other features.

Then head over to the lakefront for some fun at the Navy Pier where you can hop on a carnival ride, board a tour boat, take in an IMAX movie or a Shakespeare play, or sample the shops and restaurants.

There's still more to see and experience. Visit the local convention and visitor bureau's ChooseChicago for a hotel-finding service, including some season specials and pet-friendly accommodations, plus a calendar of more events. "Things to See & Do" has links to attractions including the Lincoln Park Zoo (admission is free), the Second City comedy theater whose alumni have included John Candy, Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, and still more museums and the Shedd Aquarium. You'll need their maps and transportation information, as well as shopping and nightlife directories.

City Hall has its own collection of visitors' information links under "Exploring Chicago" including cultural events, maps, parks and public transit.

Expand your travel horizons across the broader metropolitan area with the help of Visit Chicagoland which touts coverage of events and attractions within 60 minutes of Chicago. Look for their link to Bike Chicagoland for an alternate method of touring the region.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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. ( 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. ( 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. ( 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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