September 19 2009 by Claudia Kunkel
Early fall is an ideal time to visit Chicago. The weather is typically mild and when the sun is shining Chicagoans don't waste a minute of it. On the weekends the beaches might still feel like summer with hoards of people soaking up the sun, playing volleyball, riding along the path on bicycles or just reading in the shade of a big tree watching the sailboats go by.
Want to veer away from the water's edge? I am amazed to find that there is always some kind of festival going on. Old Town is one of my favorite spots for great restaurants, street fairs and unique boutique's. Whether you experienced the Old Town Art Fair during the summer or are headed to the Wells Street Crush, Music and Comedy Fest in September, you will enjoy wandering through this Chicago neighborhood on a beautiful day.
An absolute must-do for first time visitors is an Architectural Tour down the Chicago River. Several different tour operators may be found along the south side of Navy Pier or on the river's edge at Michigan Avenue adjacent to the Wrigley Building. A good choice for a family, or those looking for some adventure mixed in with the history lesson, is Seadog Cruises at Navy Pier. You will be treated to knowledgeable and entertaining guides that bring the history and architecture of Chicago to life followed by a speed boat ride out in the lake offering unparalleled views of the Chicago skyline from the water - be prepared to get wet!
If you visit in early October you may be witness to one of the top 5 marathons in the world. This world class race treats participants and spectators to a course that winds through culturally diverse neighborhoods, historic landmarks, famous architecture and the lake front.
If you, like me, prefer shopping along Michigan Avenue's Magnificent Mile and a relaxing meal to a 26.2 mile run, then Chicago is the city for you. There is something for everyone from Chicago style pizza at favorites like Old Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder to fine dining prepared by some of the world's top chefs - think Charlie Trotter's or Frontera Grill/ Topolobampo by Rick Bayless.
Finally, I can't leave this city without a visit The Art Institute of Chicago. My personal favorites are the Impressionist works, and on this recent visit I was pleased to explore the newly opened Modern Wing. Of course, Chicago is home to many museums and families won't want to miss the Field Museum of Natural History, Museum of Science and Industry, currently featuring a Harry Potter Exhibition, or the Shedd Aquarium.
There are quite a few Best Western hotels in the Chicago area. If you are planning trip, be sure to check out the Best Western River North , the Best Western Grant Park Hotel or the Best Western Hawthorne Terrace Hotel.
There is never enough time to explore so I will be back!