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This is an area of Illinois that 2,700,000 people live in.
Springfield, the state capital, is about 180 miles to the southwest of Chicago, while Whiting is 15 miles to the southeast.
Dynamic and truly international, Chicago is renowned for the Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. You'll also find the Art Institute of Chicago and Six Flags Great America while you are here.
Escape the adult world for a while and throw yourself into a realm of imagination at the Chicago Children's Museum and the Lake County Fairgrounds. If you're looking for even more family fun, head on to the Kane County Fairgrounds and Wagner Farm.
Watch in awe as aquatic animals pass through the water at John G. Shedd Aquarium.
You can take loads of photos with the leathery lizards and warm-blooded mammals at the Brookfield Zoo and the Lincoln Park Zoo. Together with a zookeeper presentation at the Farm-in-the-Zoo, you're sure to have an unforgettable day.
Find your way to a trackside seat and feel the vibrations as the vehicles take off at the Richard Petty Driving Experience, the area's number-one destination for motoring enthusiasts.
Wine expert or not, a day of sampling the different blends at the region's wineries won't let you down. If you'd like to visit more than one, add the Lynfred Winery, the Fox Valley Winery and the Valentino Vineyards to the schedule. It doesn't matter what order you choose. They are all fantastic!
Even if you're not feeling lucky, you'll still have fun at the Hollywood Casino and the Rivers Casino. Perhaps you also want to pull up a chair at the Harrah's Casino or the Grand Victoria Casino.
Want to learn about some of the local plant species? Spend a morning at the Chicago Botanic Garden or Garfield Park Conservatory. Many also enjoy roaming around Lincoln Park Conservatory and the Emily Oaks Nature Center.
Pack a picnic hamper and enjoy the leafy, green surroundings of Millennium Park and Lincoln Park. Grant Park and Morton Arboretum are two more pleasant spots to while away a lazy afternoon and finally read that neglected book of yours.
Whether you're on the hunt for a map or a few pointers, the staff at Oak Park Visitors Center should be able to help you out.
If the sun's out, the glittering, mirror-like surface of McCullom Lake is a beautiful sight.
Be sure to take a bit of time to explore the lovely stretches of coastline, such as North Avenue Beach and Illinois Beach State Park. You could also test out the water temperature at Montrose Beach and Ohio Street Beach.
Want to escape the stress of the city? Make your way over to Deer Grove Forest Preserve and Northerly Island Park. Nature-loving tourists will also have a terrific time at Kent Fuller Air Station Prairie and Oak Ridge Marsh Nature Park.
Don't forget to make time for some of the many cultural spaces in the area. The Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum and the Driehaus Museum offer a range of collections that are sure to capture your interest. Equally rewarding are the Billy Graham Center Museum and the Aurora Regional Fire Museum.
Drop in at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry or the International Museum of Surgical Science to see an eclectic range of interesting displays and artifacts. For a comprehensive scientific experience, you should stop at Cernan Earth and Space Center and the Museum of Science & Industry.
Some people think of natural museums as the domain of children, but the fascinating collections at the Field Museum of Natural History and the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum show that there's a good deal to keep the adults interested as well. The Oriental Institute Museum and the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian are also well worth checking out.
Do you love art? You'll discover galleries of all kinds here. Stop by the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Lake County Discovery Museum and see the best of what this creative city has to offer. If you have time afterwards, the Smart Museum of Art and the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum are also well worth your time.
The past comes alive at the Chicago History Museum and the Glessner House Museum thanks to their excellent range of thoughtful exhibits. The Dupage County Historical Museum and the Joliet Area Historical Museum are also worthwhile choices.
The University of Illinois Chicago and the Aurora University are certainly worth visiting, even if you're not that into history. When it comes to days of old, the stories are countless. The Chicago Cultural Center and the Merchandise Mart are also great places to stop by.
Michigan Avenue Bridge will be of interest to travelers who love civil engineering.
Discover the region's spiritual side and take some time to reflect at Holy Name Cathedral and Unity Temple. If you'd like to check out some more religious sites, keep your eyes peeled for tours at the Anshe Emet Synagogue and Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church.
Before you pack your suitcase and head off home, make sure you visit a few of Chicago's lesser-known attractions. The Newberry Library and the Cloud Gate are a couple of possible options. Also, contemplate a trip to the Grohe America and the Visual Arts Center if you've got the time.
Built in 1893, this downtown Chicago hotel offers a convenient location across from Grant Park and close to Lake Michigan.
Situated near the airport, this hotel is 0.4 mi (0.6 km) from Allstate Arena and within 3 mi (5 km) of Rivers Casino and Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. Rosemont Theatre and MB Financial Park at Rosemont are also within 3 mi (5 km).
This Magnificent Mile hotel is located among Chicago's world-class shopping, restaurants and attractions. The Navy Pier, Millennium Park and Art Institute are less than a mile away.
This 1925 Beaux Arts-style Chicago hotel is steps from Millennium Park, 2 blocks from Macy's and the Art Institute, and 1 mile from Lake Michigan, Magnificent Mile shopping, and Wrigley Tower.
This 1927 landmark Chicago hotel is a half block from Michigan Avenue/Magnificent Mile shopping, two blocks from Oak Street shopping and Water Tower Place. Lake Michigan is three blocks away.
Inn of Chicago is a half-block from the Magnificent Mile and 2 blocks from the landmark Tribune Tower. Millennium Park, Navy Pier, and the Art Institute of Chicago are among the many attractions within 1 mile.
Located on Michigan Avenue in the middle of Chicago's Magnificent Mile, this 1920s Italian Renaissance hotel is surrounded by fashionable shops, 1 mile from Lake Michigan and the Art Institute.
Across from the greenery and attractions of Grant Park, the Essex Inn is 3 blocks from the Loop business district and Lake Michigan, 4 blocks from the Art Institute, and a mile from Loop theaters.