To understand why Chicago boasts 32 million domestic leisure travelers and over 1.3 million overseas visitors each year one really has to experience the ‘Windy City' for themselves. Chicago is the largest city in the Midwest and the third most-populous city in the United States. Located at the southwestern tip of Lake Michigan, Chicago has something to offer every type of visitor. Families will want to check out the LEGOLAND Discovery Center and thrill seekers of all ages can face their fears and take in the wondrous views provided by Skydeck Chicago at the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower). Cultural enthusiasts will relish the city's renowned comedy and theatre troupes, including The Second City, while sports buffs will quickly understand why The Sporting News named Chicago the best sports city in the United States in 2006. Chicago lays claim to franchises in all four major sports leagues including the MLB Cubs and White Sox, the NHL Blackhawks, the NBA Bulls, and the NFL Bears (one of the last two remaining charter members of the NFL). Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs, is the second oldest active major league ballpark, and the Chicago Marathon is one of the five World Marathon Majors.
While undoubtedly one of the United States' major metropolises, Chicago pays homage to Mother Nature with its 7300 acres of municipal parkland, including 29 public beaches along historic Lake Shore Drive. Visitors to these beautiful beaches can enjoy bike rentals and a refreshing dip in Lake Michigan. Lincoln Park stretches 5.5 miles along the waterfront and features the Lincoln Park Zoo, which is home to more than 1,000 animals. Grant Park, flanked by the aforementioned Museum Campus, is home to the beautiful Buckingham fountain and also hosts the immensely popular Taste of Chicago culinary event and Lollapalooza music festival each summer. Millennium Park, one of the city's newest additions, offers visually stunning attractions such as the stainless steel Cloudgate sculpture, while also providing for ice skating in the winter and the interactive Crown fountain in the summer.
Navy Pier once again highlights the importance of Lake Michigan as a defining factor in Chicago's identity, and, as Chicago's number one tourist attraction, is certainly not to be missed. The 3,000 foot long pier boasts a 150 foot-tall Ferris wheel that attracts more than 8 million people annually. Navy pier is also home to various exhibitions throughout the year and is an embarkation point for tour and excursion boats, such as the popular Tall Ship Windy.
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