Art Institute of Chicago (111 S. Michigan Ave.; tel. 312/443-3600): A must-see for art lovers, the Art Institute manages to combine blockbuster exhibits with smaller, uncrowded spaces for private meditation. Internationally known for its French Impressionist collection, the Art Institute can also transport you to Renaissance Italy, ancient China, or any number of other worlds.
Field Museum of Natural History (Roosevelt Rd. and Lake Shore Dr.; tel. 312/922-9410): Its grand neoclassical entrance hall will make you feel you've entered somewhere important (the towering figure of Sue, the largest T-rex skeleton ever uncovered, enhances the dramatic impression). The Field can easily entertain for the whole day. Exhibits range from ancient Egyptian mummies to a full-size Maori meetinghouse to stuffed figures of the notorious man-eating lions of Tsavo.
John G. Shedd Aquarium (1200 S. Lake Shore Dr.; tel. 312/939-2438): Sure, you'll find plenty of tanks filled with exotic fish, but the Shedd is also home to some wonderful large-scale re-creations of natural habitats. Stroll through Wild Reef and you'll see sharks swim overhead. The lovely Oceanarium, where you can watch a dolphin show, features floor-to-ceiling windows; you'll feel as if you're watching outdoors, even on the chilliest Chicago day.
Museum of Science and Industry (57th St. and Lake Shore Dr.; tel. 800/468-6674): I've been coming here for years, and I still haven't seen it all. Although all the exhibits promote scientific knowledge, most have an interactive element that makes them especially fun for families. But it's not all computers and high tech. Some of the classic exhibits -- the underground re-creation of the coal mine and the World War II German U-boat -- have been attracting crowds for generations.
Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio (951 Chicago Ave., Oak Park; tel. 708/848-1976): The Midwest's greatest architect started out in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, and his house -- now a museum with guided tours -- gives a firsthand look at his genius and his influence. The surrounding neighborhood, where Wright's Prairie-style homes sit side by side with rambling Victorian villas -- is an eye-opening lesson in architectural history.
For a complete listing of what to see and do in Chicago, visit the online attractions index at Frommers.com.
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