Lonely Planet's top 10 Chicago highlights
Laugh till you can not breathe at brilliantly improvised comedy
There are some biting, wickedly funny moments parading across Chicago's improv comedy stages nightly, scenarios invented moments after a booze-fueled suggestion is hollered from the darkened hall. Audience participation is a key element, and the Second City theatre made Chicago comedy synonymous with spontaneous, often fairly raunchy laughs. Since it is one of Chicago's signature nightlife experiences, seeing improvised comedy at Second City is one of the best ways to pass an evening.
A day at the beach
After the long, frigid winter, Chicagoans celebrate summer by hitting the miles of sandy beaches on the shores of Lake Michigan to spike volleyballs, splash around or spread a towel and soak up the summer sun. The stampede of joggers signals the start of the waterfront season when the weather starts to break in late April, and by the time the sweltering heat and sticky humidity of August peaks, making the water a dreamy 70 degree F (21 degrees C), Chicago's shoreline resembles Miami of the Midwest.
Shop 'til you drop
Your poor, poor feet. Just when they thought you were done after spending the day tromping up and down the Magnificent Mile with an increasingly heavy bundle of packages, you discover that you have only seen the iceberg's tip with respect to the wealth of shopping opportunities in Chicago. The Mag Mile sings the shoppers' siren song as jingling cash registers accompany the age-old lyric: "cash or charge?" The stretch of pavement on Michigan Ave in the Near North is stuffed silly with towering malls and high-end chains, such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Burberry. Things get festive around the winter holidays, with twinkling lights and plenty of window displays. But even though it may indeed be the most distinguished shopping area in town, it is only the beginning.