When traveling, some of the best experiences come from those sites you see on foot—and without any admission fees. For one such experience in Chicago, I suggest a trip down The Magnificent Mile (Chicago’s premiere shopping area), followed by lunch or dinner at the Chicago Riverwalk.
Even if you’re not a shopper, I promise that there is a lot to see along the way, such as the Water Tower that survived the Chicago Fire of 1871, the historic Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower. And yes, this is a “touristy” thing to do, but it’s worth check out at least once.
Start at John Hancock Center, one of Chicago’s iconic skyscrapers. From here, you can go up to the observation deck (for a fee), or depending on time of day, take the elevator up to The Signature Lounge on the 96th floor. You can enjoy spectacular views, light fare and drinks, all while skipping the line and the price of admission.
From the John Hancock Center, you can head to Water Tower Place on the next block south. If you are a shopper, you may want to cruise quickly through the multiple levels, which include most of the regulars you’d expect, plus some notables like American Girl Place and Vera Bradley. (If you don’t get your fill here, you may want to head across the street to the 900 North Michigan Shops.)
Not a shopper? Skip this and go across the street to the actual Water Tower. This castle-like structure was built in the 1860s to pump and store water. It became a famous landmark when it was one of the few structures to survive the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. A modern day tourist stop, you can also wander inside to see work from local photographers and artists.
From the Water Tower or Water Tower Place, continue your walk south past everything from Tiffany & Co., Burberry and Salvatore Ferragamo to Nike Chicago, Under Armour and the Disney Store. You’ll also pass a slew of well-known hotels and restaurants, including one of the Gino’s East pizza locations I recommend and at least one of the Garrett Popcorn Shops that come recommended by Racertrips™ Ambassador Coach Denise.
As you approach the Chicago River, you’ll find the historic Wrigley Building (built in 1924) on the west side of the street and the neo-Gothic Tribune Tower on the east side. From here, you can cross over the Chicago River to the River Walk. On your way, look down at the river and imagine it being an odd day-glo green. If you’ve ever heard the stories about Chicago dying the river green for St. Patrick’s Day, this is where it happens.
Angi is a co-founder of Racertrips.com and has completed more than a dozen half marathons and 6 marathons, including the Chicago Marathon (3 times), the Paris Marathon, and the Rock N Roll Marathon in D.C. She’s now training for the 2019 Chicago Marathon and 2019 Marine Corps Marathon. Although Angi technically ran track in high school, she didn’t become a serious runner until she was in her 30s, when she began traveling with friends to run half marathons. It was those travel experiences that helped to inspire the idea for Racertrips!